How to Really Celebrate Employee Appreciation Day

ApplauseToday, the first Friday in March, we honor the contributions of employees to business success.

Established by Recognition Professionals International in 1995, Employee Appreciation Day gives employers a chance to recognize and reward staffers who bring their loyalty, commitment and motivation to the workplace.

There’s no question that engaged employees make a difference in whether a company achieves its goals and outperforms its competitors. Research leader Gallup has found that increasing employee engagement “correlates directly with a positive impact on key business metrics.”

Real appreciation
Yet, as meaningful as setting aside a special day to thank employees for sharing their talents and skills is, such a holiday works best as part of a focused employee engagement program. With a creative employee engagement plan that touches all levels of the organization — from the top officers to managers, supervisors and staff members — and is tied to business goals, you can unleash the potential of a business to grow. Tempted to think of employee engagement just once a year? Consider:

  • In 2011‘s third quarter, Gallup reported that 71 percent of American workers are either “not engaged” or “actively disengaged” in their work.
  • In Mercer’s What’s Working report, one third of those surveyed say they are planning to move on to new jobs. If that’s not cause for concern, another 21 percent don’t plan to leave their jobs but do show dismal scores on employee engagement. Mercer surveyed 30,000 workers in 17 countries, including 2,400 in the U.S. during the first two quarters of 2011.
  • Other studies, including career management expert Right Management’s, which was reported in December 2011, show even higher levels of dissatisfaction. Right Management says 84 percent of U.S. and Canadian workers surveyed plan to seek new employment in 2012. That was up from 60 percent in a similar survey just two years earlier.

Seize the day
While you’re developing a longer-term organizational engagement plan, think about taking some time today to cement your intention — show appreciation to your team. Would you like to reward team members? Here are some ideas from Recognition Professionals International:

  • Schedule a lunch with each team member and listen to their ideas for improvement.
  • Ask for six ways the team would like to be rewarded. Make sure that half are low cost or no cost.
  • Write a handwritten note of thanks to each member of your team.

You’ll find more ideas here. Have you ever worked at a company that celebrated Employee Appreciation Day? What type of recognition has been most meaningful for you?

Thanks to Garry Knight for the applause image via Flickr.

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About creativeconsiderations

Christine Sullivan is a communications strategist with expertise in communications planning, writing and content development, and executive communications. She can be reached at
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