More Than Cookies in the Breakroom: Make Employee Appreciation Day Matter

“Hey, boss, Employee Appreciation Day is coming up.

Great. Let’s go all-out: Draft an email that we can send out to everyone saying how much we appreciate them. And remind them that they’re our greatest asset.”

As silly as that might sound, it probably isn’t far off from conversations taking place right now. Many companies simply don’t know how to show appreciation to employees, and while that might not have been a major problem in the past, in these times of worker shortages and The Great Resignation, you’ll do well to step up your appreciation game.  

First, let’s state the obvious: Money works. Everybody likes it, each person can use it however they choose. And, you can connect it to your organization’s performance. The problem: Once money is spent, the “thank you” might be forgotten. 

Also, make sure you know what will be appreciated. Don’t assume that, just because you love sausage-and-cheese baskets or tickets to an accordion festival, your workforce will love them as well. Ask a few employees what their coworkers will value so your acts of appreciation won’t fall flat. 

With these basics as a foundation, following are some appreciation approaches used by employers in our area and beyond that you might be able to learn from.

Make It Tasty

Tasty treats rank high with employees. Especially if they show a willingness to go beyond the expected. Take it from a few First Person Advisors clients. Crew Carwash occasionally has a food truck come to its offices. Wabash Valley Power Alliance is setting up an onsite coffee bar with donuts and other sweet treats. And, Krieg DeVault plans to give employees lunch bags that say “You Are Appreciated” filled with healthy snacks and a $10 gift card to a lunch spot of their choosing.

Make It Fun

Show your appreciation by showing your people a good time. During last year’s Employee Appreciation Day, Krieg DeVault hosted a companywide Zoom trivia game with cash prizes. In the past they played a “Four of a Kind” game, sending one playing card to each employee with the assignment to find the three others with the matching cards and then taking fun pictures as four of a kind. Each person in a completed quartet gets a $50 prize … as well as a good time and a lot of camaraderie.

Make It Personal

Good managers send personal notes to each person they supervise, thanking them for their work supporting the team’s success. Mailed to the employee’s home, the note makes a bigger impression than an email. Bonus: Studies suggest the time you spend pondering gratitude will improve your well-being. 

Make It Clever

Putting consideration into something shows thoughtfulness. For example, to show its appreciation, Wabash Valley Power Alliance likes to leave treats – popcorn, gum, candy, etc. – on employees’ desks with clever notes attached. For example, a pack of Extra Gum came with a note saying, “Thanks for going the extra mile!”

Make It Come from the Top

While many firms say they let individual offices or departments handle employee appreciation efforts, they shouldn’t be responsible for delegating all of the gratitude. Anything you do should include a message from the top. For example, First Person Advisor’s very own President & Chief Strategy Officer, Mark Minner dedicates time each week during an All Team Gathering to celebrate employee birthdays and work anniversaries. He also recognizes excellent individual and team performance and opens the floor to those wanting to give a few additional “kudos.”

Make It “Braggable”

Clearly, showing appreciation is the primary goal behind Employee Appreciation Day, but if you do it right, you’ll send your workforce into the world bragging about what a great organization they work for – and attract more workers you can appreciate. Wabash Valley Power Alliance likely achieved this by delivering snack boxes to employees’ homes during the COVID shutdown. And, of course, the Crew Carwash crew probably likes to brag about the times their company rented out Top Golf and space at Lucas Oil Stadium.

Make It Ongoing

Sure, celebrate Employee Appreciation Day on March 4 … but don’t make appreciation a once-a-year thing. Find ways to show your gratefulness on an ongoing basis. For example, Crew Carwash makes expressions of gratitude – including sweet treats, quality company apparel and fun outings – sporadically throughout the year. The element of surprise adds to the appeal and sends a message of appreciation all year round … which is when you need it most.

Like this blog? Share it!

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin