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9 Ways to Celebrate Employee Appreciation Day

Three cheers for Employee Appreciation Day! Here are 9 ideas to celebrate with your team this year.

Bailey Keppel
Bailey Keppel
4 min read
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Happy Employee Appreciation Day from our team to yours!

That’s right, the first Friday of March marks a day of gratitude and recognition for those you work with all year long. It’s a day dedicated to giving thanks to a hard-working employee, cohort, department, or even your entire company.

Employee Appreciation Day always falls on the first Friday of March, which makes this year's date Friday, March 5. To help you better plan an act of kindness for your employees in the future, here are the dates for the next five years:

  • 2022: March 4
  • 2023: March 3
  • 2024: March 1
  • 2025: March 7
  • 2026: March 6

Odds are, you’re wondering, “how should I celebrate?” So we’re here to give you some ideas. Below are nine ways you can show some love to your employees this year for any team size or budget.

1. Cater Lunch

Employees enjoying a catered lunch

Have you ever met somebody who doesn’t like free food? Me neither.

An easy and affordable way to show your thanks is to buy lunch for your team or department. Take a quick poll at the beginning of the day to see what everyone’s in the mood for, and you’ll have everybody excited for noon.

If your company is working remotely, try sending an e-gift card to each person for a food delivery service, such as DoorDash or Postmates. Then schedule a virtual team or company-wide lunch so everybody can enjoy a meal together!

2. Have a Team Happy Hour

Bring everybody together at the end of the workday for a well-deserved happy hour! Spending time with colleagues outside of the office is a great way to build rapport and have a little fun.

Happy hours (these days) don’t always have to be at the bar. You may notice a better turnout if you host it at a local pizza joint, casual restaurant, or even somebody’s home.

If your company is working remotely, have everybody grab a glass and host a virtual hangout for the last hour of the workday. Showing your business’s fun side is important when it comes to employee appreciation, retention, and relationships.

3. Make the Day Sweet (Literally)

An easy, cost-effective, and kind way to say “I appreciate you” is by bringing in some sweet treats. Whether they’re homemade or store-bought, your employees are sure to enjoy cookies, donuts, brownies, or all of the above!

Want to make it extra special? Find out what everybody’s favorite desserts are (discreetly) and be sure to include them in the selection.

A modification for remote working may be to deliver a candy box or desert palette to your team members’ homes. Otherwise, the e-gift card idea can be used in this case as well.

4. Give Awards or Shoutouts

Employee being recognized and congratulated in front of team

Step one to appreciation is recognition, and Employee Appreciation Day is the perfect occasion to give some kudos.

Highlight people individually for their specific achievements, efforts, or attitudes at work. You can make your ceremony formal or silly depending on your company’s culture and preferences. Some award examples may be:

  • Employee of the month.
  • Department MVP.
  • Most improved.
  • Best team player.
  • The growth driver.
  • Number one motivator.
  • Salesperson of the year.

Your awards may be grounded in true metrics, though it’s just as important to recognize employees for personality and overall contributions—especially for those in roles without measurable results.

Consider giving tangible prizes to each winner, such as a trophy, a gift card, additional PTO, or anything else within the bounds of your company’s budget and abilities.

Everybody likes feeling highlighted, so awards or simple shoutouts say a lot about your company’s employee appreciation efforts all year long. Ceremonies can also be held virtually, so remote teams—take part!

5. Write Thank You Notes

The classics never die. A simple, hand-written thank you note goes a long way in expressing your gratitude for an individual. It costs next to nothing, yet means the world to the recipient.

In your note, be sure to include a specific task, accomplishment, or personality trait you appreciate about that employee and highlight why it makes them invaluable on your team.

6. Utilize Your Recognition Platform

Does your team currently use a recognition platform to demonstrate praise?

GoSite uses Bonusly as a platform to send points (i.e. money) to people every day for going above and beyond by helping a colleague, taking on a task, or just being a great coworker.

Whichever platform your company uses, dive in deep on Employee Appreciation Day! Send extra points or give an additional compliment to say “we love having you on our team.”

7. Have a Break Room Party

Employees enjoying pizza together in the break room

Why wait until after hours to have some fun? Instead, organize an on-site team lunch to get everybody together in celebration of Employee Appreciation Day.

Opt for providing snacks, refreshments, or even a catered lunch. This is easy to do on any budget and one of the most fun ways to celebrate with one another.

Working virtually? No problem! Schedule a 30- 60-minute virtual team lunch for everybody to come together, eat, and just socialize.

8. Offer a Half-Day

Surprise everybody by letting them off a little early this year. Nothing says “you’re valued” like being rewarded with a head start to the weekend.

If approval is granted, make sure everybody truly enjoys the half-day and that employees and upper management alike actually sign off.

9. Make Every Day Employee Appreciation Day

What’s more important than celebrating today, is making your employees feel valued 365 days a year.

Perhaps the best way to honor the holiday is by making the day feel only slightly more glorious than any other workday would. Ideally, you’ll have message boards, regular email announcements, or other programs in place to display employee milestones and accolades.

Your work environment and relationships will thrive when employees feel acknowledged and appreciated.

Bonus Tip

For more industry-leading news—including tips on how to improve company culture and employee engagement—be sure to subscribe to the GoSite blog!

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Bailey Keppel
Bailey Keppel
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