Why You Should Still Celebrate Employee Appreciation Day

Yep. It’s a week away.

We deem the first Friday in the magnificent month of March each year as Employee Appreciation Day.

Those with a cynical point of view believe organizational leaders only do something “cool” for employees on this day to serve their own needs.

That’s why people have asked whether organizations should still celebrate Employee Appreciation Day? 

Unappreciated Employees 

Before tackling whether you should celebrate Employee Appreciation Day, discuss with your fellow leaders and managers what happens when employees don’t feel appreciated?

I have asked this same question of thousands of managers around the world when conducting training sessions. It could have been in one of several Western European countries. Or it might have been in the United Arab Emirates or India. And, of course, in the United States or Canada.

Here’s what many of the managers said who knew they needed to do better at recognizing their staff.

Unappreciated employees are often disengaged. Recent Gallup polls suggest that 56 percent of employees are not engaged. 

When you don’t feel valued, then you are less likely to be a productive team member. You likely already know that unappreciated staff feel like they want to leave their manager and the organization they work for.

Unappreciated employees lack motivation and don’t want to be at work. So, they are more likely to be absent from work. Or they experience presenteeism, where their feelings about the organization influences low productivity and they’re not fully functioning in the workplace.

Unfortunately, there will be times when unappreciated employees feel stuck or trapped. They might end up sabotaging their work or negatively affecting others. 

The bottom line is that unappreciated employees are unhappy people.

Should You Celebrate Employee Appreciation Day? 

Let’s examine some reasons it is important to celebrate a day like Employee Appreciation Day. 

I think it is important to celebrate a day like Employee Appreciation Day because: 

1. It’s an opportunity to build awareness of the importance of appreciation and recognition in our daily lives.

2. Leaders need to put their money where their mouth is when they support something like Employee Appreciation Day.

3. I also think it is a reminder for you to stop and evaluate where your organization stands regarding appreciating people. Do you appreciate people for who they are and recognize people for what they do? 

Building awareness of the importance of appreciating and recognizing employees is essential. We count awareness to be two-thirds of the solution to any cultural behavioral change in an organization. That goes the same for employee recognition and appreciation as well. 

That’s why you must have an active recognition communication calendar. Keep the message of the importance of recognition alive and well. Set the expectations for leaders and employees to appreciate and recognize one another. Then hold people accountable. Provide everyone with resources, job aids, videos, and materials to learn how to give recognition to people the right way. 

Leaders need to make both a personal and an organizational commitment to Employee Appreciation Day. From a recent poll that we conducted, over half of the respondents did not know if their organization was doing anything special for their employees next week.

It doesn’t have to be a big deal. Sending out a printed postcard from your manager, emailing out of a special ecard from your leaders, points to redeem for something worthwhile. For those able to work onsite and meet in person, you can arrange for food items to be delivered with a message, or even serving breakfast or lunch. 

And it is a time for you and all your leadership team to evaluate how you are doing with appreciating and recognizing one another. 

What do you need to stop doing?

  • Should you revamp asking for recognition moments at the beginning of your meetings because they elicit silence?
  • Eliminate just saying “good job” or “well done”. Get more specific with your expressions of recognition. 

Is there anything you should start doing?

  • When was the last time you had a two-way, one-on-one session, with each of your staff?
  • Do you know each of your employees’ recognition preferences? 

Which things do you continue doing?

  • Maintain any traditions that you have developed with your staff. Things like themed pot-luck lunches whether in-person or shown remotely via video conferencing.
  • Keep your email etiquette respectful and express thanks and appreciation for tasks completed and requests accepted.

Plan out what your organization or just your department is going to do to celebrate Employee Appreciation Day.

Recognition Reflection: How does your organization meaningfully celebrate Employee Appreciation Day?

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