Employee Appreciation Day: How to show staff you value them

20 Feb 2023

Grab your diary as Employee Appreciation Day is fast approaching. The annual celebration falls on the first Friday in March, so, in 2023, it’s on Friday 3 March.

Now, before you start panicking, there’s no need to blow your annual budget on an all-expenses-paid trip to Disneyland. It’s the small things that make a big difference. Even uttering those two little words – ‘thank you’ – can go a long way.

Employee appreciation is always welcome in the workplace, but it’s particularly important in the current climate. A combination of the pandemic and the cost-of-living crisis means that workers’ priorities have changed.

Employees now expect a positive, flexible workplace where they feel valued. If not, they’ll leave for pastures new. That’s why Great Place To Work®, the global authority on workplace culture, says that recognition is ‘absolutely essential in a great workplace’.

So, Employee Appreciation Day is a great reminder to prioritise thanking your staff for their invaluable contribution to your company’s success.

To help you kick-start the workforce worship on Employee Appreciation Day – and beyond – this guide covers:


    • What Employee Appreciation Day is
    • The benefits of showing staff you value them
    • How to show appreciation to your employees


What is Employee Appreciation Day?

As the name suggests, Employee Appreciation Day is an annual event for employers to show their appreciation for employees with a metaphorical high-five.

Designed to boost employee happiness, staff morale, and employee wellness, it’s all about going the extra mile by reinforcing how grateful you are for their continued efforts toward achieving your company goals.


Where did Employee Appreciation Day originate from?

The annual day for appreciating employees didn’t exist until 1995. Before that, the only work-related appreciation day was for upper management – Boss’s Day – which has been around since the 1950s!

Employees have Bob Nelson, a founding board member of the Recognition Professionals International, to thank for introducing Employee Appreciation Day. He created the concept to encourage bosses to return the favour and give thanks and recognition to their staff.


The benefits of showing staff you value them

There’s no denying that a positive culture of employee appreciation helps to create a feel-good atmosphere in the workplace, but let’s explore some of the other benefits of spreading joy at work:


Improved performance

When asked what the most important thing a company can do to support you to produce better work more often, the top answer from employees was ‘personal recognition‘.

Our own research backs this up with 74% of employees agreeing that they would be encouraged to work harder after receiving recognition (such as gift card rewards) as it shows that their employer values them.


Increased loyalty

Recognising and rewarding employees can help to drive loyalty. According to one study, receiving a reward from an employee can increase an employee’s loyalty to a company by as much as 84%.


Improved job satisfaction

When we quizzed employees on recognition and rewards, three out of four of them said that a staff recognition programme made them feel valued and demonstrates that the company cares about them. So, employee appreciation equals higher job satisfaction.


Better employee engagement

Having a company culture of formal recognition and positive feedback can help to boost employee engagement. In fact, employee appreciation has such an impact on positive team morale that staff are 2.7 times more likely to be highly engaged if they think they will be recognised.


A feeling of belonging

Lack of appreciation can impact employees’ career decisions, with 54% of workers saying they would leave their job if they felt that they didn’t belong at the company.

Employee recognition helps forge a closer connection where employees can see that they contribute to the overall success of the company and fosters a workplace environment where they want to work.


Recognition is contagious

If we feel good, we want others to feel good too. That’s why employees who receive appreciation are more likely to replicate the positive experience by celebrating and appreciating their colleagues with what is known as peer recognition.


Attracting and retaining top talent

Replacing an employee is a costly business. The recruitment process is estimated to cost between six and nine months’ salary on average. Employee recognition can help cut these costs as it has a positive impact on retention.

Plus, the cost of living crisis has resulted in 68% of job seekers looking more closely at the benefits listed on job ads, so promoting your employee appreciation program could also help with talent acquisition.


How to show staff you value them on Employee Appreciation Day

From office karaoke to longer lunches, create a culture of recognition with these effective ways to show your workforce how much they matter to your business.


1. Recognise all of your employees

Employee Appreciation Day is a time to celebrate your entire workforce, including in-office, hybrid, and remote employees. Rather than just recognising high-performing employees or higher-ranking staff members, taking the extra time to thank individual employees equally will help with team building as it makes everyone feel better connected to your business.


2. Get personal

Employees favour recognition with a personal, human touch, which explains why the UK’s Top Employers in 2023 offer a ‘super-personalised‘ employee experience.

Ideally, your appreciation should acknowledge each individual’s unique contributions and highlight how their accomplishments have directly contributed to the goals of the company.

Plus, where possible, add a personal touch by communicating the appreciation either face to face or with carefully crafted handwritten notes.


3. Be specific

Rather than giving employees a generic thank you, drill down further and highlight how their spreadsheet skills, customer service excellence, or ability to fix photocopier paper jams specifically feeds into your company values and culture.


4. Invest in your employees’ professional development

Reward employees with opportunities for career growth. A culture of learning with regular access to courses, talks, and qualifications can help to boost staff retention, team performance, and business growth. That’s why ‘lots of career opportunities‘ is one of the reasons given for the strong company cultures featured on Glassdoor’s 10 best places to work in the UK.


5. Share appreciation from the top

Employee appreciation from your CEO can help to underline the importance of each individual to the success of the business.

Whether in the form of a handwritten personal note, a shout-out on your company’s social channels, or on office bulletin boards, personalising the message with details about the individual’s specific contribution can make a huge difference by making them feel valued and seen by your company’s top decision-makers.


6. Introduce peer-to-peer recognition

As well as offering appreciation from above, give your people the opportunity to nominate office employees for praise. Our research found that four in five employees find satisfaction in peer-to-peer recognition as praising each other helps to bring a sense of community to the workplace.


7. Cost-of-living support

As the cost-of-living increases, 74% of UK workers are worried about their financial situation and almost 30% of them need help with expenses, such as energy, commuting, and food.

So, consider how you can show your appreciation for staff by supporting your employees with some form of financial help or by offering access to:


    • Free meals or a selection of treats and favourite foods in the workplace
    • Supermarket gift cards and eGifts via our online platform, Hawk Select Groceries


8. Become a flexible workplace

Repay your team for their dedication by giving the gift of time on Employee Appreciation Day. Whether it’s coming in late, enjoying a longer lunch break, or sending them home early, offering flexible hours is the perfect gift if you’re not in a position to give monetary recognition and will go some way to supporting a healthy work-life balance.


9. Host a group activity

Are you ready to perform a duet of ‘Don’t Stop Believin’’? Karaoke is just one of the ways you can show your appreciation by treating your employees to social events or happy-hour events on the company dime.

Whether in-person or virtually, spending time in non-work situations can help staff bond, build trust, and strengthen relationships, so give one of these team-building activities a go:


    • Host bingo, quiz night, or karaoke
    • After-work drinks or a pizza party
    • Education events with guest speakers
    • Wellness days and fitness opportunities
    • Self-care activities such as yoga sessions


10. Make it a dress-down day

Everyone likes wearing comfy clothes. So, let your staff express themselves this Employee Appreciation Day with a relaxed dress code. Novelty slippers are optional!

Companies with a casual dress code have a more positive work environment, a stronger sense of community, and it can help to boost staff morale.


11. Give your employees a choice

If you choose to show employee appreciation with a surprise treat, it’s important to consider what your staff wants. Our research into employee reward preferences showed:


The appeal of gift cards is that they are versatile and give employees the opportunity to treat themselves to something they need.

Our wide range of gift cards and eGift cards give your employees the freedom to use them with a wide variety of leading brands for dining out, entertainment and leisure, fashion and beauty, and home and garden. To make things easier for you, you can buy them in bulk, customise them to your brand, and we’ll take care of everything when distributing them to your employees.


How to implement year-round employee appreciation

While these employee appreciation ideas are perfect for Employee Appreciation Day, celebrating your employees should, of course, be an everyday occurrence. Here are three ways you can show your employees appreciation all year round.


    1. Create a good work-life balance. It’s a deal breaker for 57% of job seekers and 48% of employees would leave their job if it prevented them from enjoying their life
    2. Appreciate employees regularly. Our research found that a steady stream of employee recognition helps reinforce the desired behaviours you want to encourage
    3. Create an incentive programme. Companies with one are 79% more successful at reaching their goals and 80% of employees say it has a positive impact on job satisfaction and performance.

As a global leader in employee incentives with over 28,000 business clients, we’re perfectly placed to help you introduce a culture of continuous employee appreciation.

To discover the Blackhawk Network difference, fill in the form below or call 020 4517 5862.

Ready to make work more meaningful with employee rewards?

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