Love gets all the good songs. We sing its praises, seek its virtues, and never once doubt its singular importance in our lives.
Well, we think appreciation, specifically employee appreciation, deserves just as much credit and attention as good old-fashioned love. After all, the famous French philosopher Voltaire once said:
“Appreciation is a wonderful thing. It makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well.” Click To Tweet
“Appreciation is a wonderful thing. It makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well.”
Appreciation can boost retention, enhance company culture, and even optimize productivity.
Are you ready to elevate appreciation to its deserved status in your life?
Are you ready to enjoy the benefits appreciation offers?
Then read on for just the Employee Appreciation Day ideas you need to convey your gratitude in creative ways.
What Is Employee Appreciation Day
National Employee Appreciation Day is a day dedicated to employer-to-employee gratitude and goodwill. Bob Nelsen, PhD, and his publishing company, Workman Publishing dreamed up the day to promote and celebrate the release of his book, 1,001 (now 1,501) Ways to Reward Employees.
If generally spreading goodwill doesn’t have you thrilled to celebrate Employee Appreciation Day, then maybe some of these employee appreciation benefits will woo you to the cause.
- Appreciation (especially in the form of employee recognition) feeds retention, as exiting team members often cite a lack of recognition as the top reason for leaving.
- Employee appreciation enhances the elements of a strong company culture and positive employee experience, including job satisfaction and employee engagement.
- Appreciation can actually optimize productivity and hard work, as 9% of employees like to receive a “thank-you” in the form of more responsibility.
- Appreciation and gratitude can deliver good vibes as powerful and beneficial as those anyone gets from perks and wellness initiatives.
- Appreciation is healthy for team-building, as it inspires workers to regularly participate in trainings and office programs.
While most leaders and managers are thinking about ways to praise and appreciate their hard working team members for Employee Appreciation Day, we thought it would be fun to show what happens when employee appreciation goes wrong.
When Is Employee Appreciation Day/Week
Employee Appreciation Day in the United States is always on the first Friday of March. In 2021, Employee Appreciation Day will fall on Friday, March 5th. (In 2020, it fell on Friday, March 6th.)
It’s never too early to start planning! To get the most out of Employee Appreciation Day, you must do more than just say “thank you.” You must try to make employees understand exactly why you’re thankful for them by connecting their efforts back to your company mission.
That’s why reflecting on your company mission and your company culture is the perfect place to start the planning process. You can start by asking these questions:
- What actions contribute the most to your mission?
- What characteristics align perfectly with your company culture?
Keep those questions in mind and start a log with specific actions and examples of employees contributing to your mission or embodying your company culture. When Employee Appreciation Day rolls around, you’ll have plenty of specific, heartfelt things to thank everyone for in your notes or speeches.
Employee Appreciation Day Ideas
Get ready for March with the ideas below. And of course, feel free to use these ideas any time one of your employees takes an action you want to celebrate and reinforce.
In-Office Employee Appreciation Day Ideas
1) Host an in-office happy hour
- What this idea looks like: Show employees some appreciation through delectable libations and maybe some classy snacks at the end of a workday. Whether you host everyone at a local bar or turn your very own break room into a surprise speakeasy, this classic idea is one practically anyone, from the intern to the veteran board member, can enjoy.
- Why this idea is great for Employee Appreciation Day: Good drinks and good company always makes the gratitude flow. That’s why a well-timed happy hour is a perfect opportunity to share plenty of laughs and feelings of gratitude.
- SnackNation pick: City Brew Tours
Make your happy hour even more epic by having City Brew Tours take you romping around the city, sampling delicious brews while absorbing all the fun facts (the kind you can’t find on Google) your expert guide is spouting. One of their tours makes a regulation happy hour an unforgettable event.
2) Give them some TLC
- What this idea looks like: Give employees an unforgettable pampering experience by hiring a masseuse or even giving them a free home day along with a DIY spa/self-care package.
- Why this idea is great for employee appreciation day: It turns a special calendar day into a great opportunity for refueling and rejuvenation, exactly what some employees might need most of all. This idea demonstrates respect for employees’ holistic well-being, work-life balance, and the importance of preventing burnout.
- SnackNation pick: Blueboard
Use Blueboard to find a professional massage therapist and send them to employees’ homes or even your office. They’ll arrive with all the equipment so the relaxation can start immediately.
3) Enjoy an unforgettable team-building event
- What this idea looks like: Get everyone together to share some quality time engaged in activities outside of regular work duties. You can DIY an event or bring in an expert.
- Why this idea is great for Employee Appreciation Day: Giving employees a little time off to enjoy the company of their teammates demonstrates both appreciation for their hard work and trust. It makes it crystal clear that everyone has earned a little break.
- SnackNation pick: Outback Team Building
Outback’s event experts will help you create an immersive bonding event that doesn’t just demonstrate your gratitude, but also makes everyone on the team appreciate each other even more. They offer over 60 flexible experiences, so you’re sure to find something that aligns perfectly with your culture.
4) Take a field trip
- What this idea looks like: Take employees out and about for an excursion, no yellow school bus required. You can go any—where a park, a yoga retreat, a farm—just as long as everyone is together you’re out of the office.
- Why this idea is great for employee appreciation day: Do you remember how much you loved going on field trips as a kid? Recreate that experience for your employees and they’ll simply be able to feel how much you care about them.
- SnackNation pick: Let’s Roam Scavenger Hunt
You can plan your own or work with a vendor, such as Let’s Roam, to send employees all around the city, gathering clues and having fun the entire time. Employees will love the exploration, the mystery, and even the challenge of the entire experience.
5) Go on an adventure
- What this idea looks like: This is something your employees have never experienced before, something that completely interrupts their day-to-day routine in the most fun and exciting way possible. Think of adrenaline-rush activities like escape rooms, zip line courses, or even in-door skydiving centers.
- Why this idea is great for Employee Appreciation Day: Giving employees excitement and adventure will invigorate them. You’ll get the chance not only to show you appreciate them but also to make them feel totally alive.
- SnackNation pick: The Escape Game
Give employees the daring adventure of the ultimate escape. Immerse yourself in high-stakes bonding in one of their brilliantly planned rooms, which transport you anywhere from a derelict prison you need to escape to a swanky gallery you’re trying to rob.
6) Cater or order a delectable office lunch
- What this idea looks like: Share appreciation and your universal appreciation of delicious foods. Make it a casual affair by ordering a bunch of pizzas and a dessert of cupcakes, donuts, and ice cream, or keep things fancy with a catered lunch.
- Why this idea is great for Employee Appreciation Day: Eating together provides time to reflect, time to talk, time to enjoy one another’s company. Much like a family Thanksgiving dinner, an office lunch creates a powerful collective feeling of warmth and gratitude.
- SnackNation pick: Thumbtack
Use this site to search for lunch caterers in your area. Find your perfect professional, check out the reviews, and request a quote right on the website.
7) Host a DIY Awards Ceremony
- What this idea looks like: This idea is like an employee of the month program where everyone gets the recognition they deserve. Take time to think of one specific thing you appreciate about all your employees. Turn that element of gratitude into an award. For example, if you really appreciate how Cedric always asks all the questions that need to be answered, then make a superlative for “asking the best questions” or being “the inquisitive keeper of all the details.”
- Why this idea is great for Employee Appreciation Day: Employees will be dazzled to hear all the specific ways they excel. Even those short words of recognition will motivate them to sharpen their existing strengths. (This idea requires a lot of thought, but it will be worth it to see the smiles on employees’ faces.)
- SnackNation pick: The Studio
Visit the Studio to have badges or enamel pins of honor created to show off all your employee superlatives. During the event, you can call employees one by one and present their honors.
Virtual Employee Appreciation Day Ideas For Remote Workers
8) Deliver a curated employee care package
What this idea looks like: Premium snacks, gifts, and activities that deliver meaningful moments of care in a stunning customized box.
Why this idea is great for Employee Appreciation Day: Share your gratitude while also delivering employees awesome things they need and want. Care packages have all the simple elegance of a bouquet of flowers; they’re just way more practical.
SnackNation pick: Caroo
Caroo offers premium personalized gifts and goodies, all carefully curated to show recipients that you care. Find gift boxes to nourish, inspire, and connect your team.
9) Give them a discount on their favorite experience
- What this idea looks like: This idea simply makes it easier for employees to do something they love. As they enjoy their experience, they’ll feel appreciated and also pampered.
- Why this idea is great for Employee Appreciation Day: This idea delivers double benefits. Employees feel appreciated when they find out they’re getting a discount on Employee Appreciation Day and they’ll feel appreciated when they actually enjoy the experience.
- SnackNation pick: Nectar HR Perks
Use Nectar’s perk features to provide appreciation and recognition at the touch of a button. Using their platform, you can give employees discounts to whatever they want, from restaurant visits to sporting events.
10) Send them a shoutout on an employee recognition program or platform
- What this idea looks like: Simply pop on to your favorite platform, dole out some thoughtful awards, and sit back and watch the buzz spread.
- Why this idea is great for Employee Appreciation Day: Recognition platforms, with their social media-inspired feeds, recreate the buzz and group participation of a busy office.
- SnackNation pick: Bonusly
Bonusly gives companies the tools to offer perks that reward employees while also reinforcing company culture. Exciting rewards, such as a lunch with the CEO or an expense-covered class, make every employee feel like the best employee ever.
11) Send them on a virtual escape room adventure
- What this idea looks like: A virtual adventure that feels every bit as real and exciting as an in-person experience.
- Why this idea is great for Employee Appreciation Day: Giving employees a refreshing and exciting escape they need is a perfect creative way to show your appreciation.
- SnackNation pick: The Escape Game Gift Card
This gift card works like a golden ticket or secret key into a world of adventure. Employees can use it to unlock immersive adventures they can enjoy with friends, family, or coworkers.
12) Have a virtual game night
- What this idea looks like: A virtual fun fest packed with challenges, laughter, and plenty of bonding.
- Why this idea is great for Employee Appreciation Day: Giving the gift of fun is the perfect way to show your appreciation. The laughs and memories they make during a virtual game night will have them feeling good for weeks.
- SnackNation pick: Team Trivia Pursuit
Team Trivia Pursuit makes it easy for you to solve puzzles, challenges, and learn all about your teammates. Trivia takes on new employee engagement abilities when all the trivia questions are personalized about the employees.
13) Create a thoughtful tribute video
- What this idea looks like: A heartfelt video conveying your deepest feelings of appreciation. Best of all, employees can enjoy it over and over again.
- Why this idea is great for Employee Appreciation Day: Few material items can achieve the sentimental value of sincere and heartfelt messages.
- SnackNation pick: Tribute
Tribute helps you turn video messages from your team into a perfectly presentable token of appreciation for an outstanding employee or even a group of employees.
14) Send them a gift card to their favorite restaurant or coffee shop
- What this idea looks like: A ticket to a flavor experience that employees will love and can enjoy on their own terms.
- Why this idea is great for Employee Appreciation Day: This is a one-size-fits-all gift that never disappoints.
- SnackNation pick: Hoppier
Use Hoppier to find a variety of local eateries offering gift cards to delight your employees.
Employee Appreciation Day Gift Ideas
In-Office Employee Appreciation Day Gifts
15) Ogio Shuttle Bag
What is it? A sleek and stylish backpack that holds it all without looking bumpy or lumpy.
Why this is a winning in-office Employee Appreciation Day gift: This gift shows you care about the well-being of your employees’ backs and also their sense of style.
Price: $82.93 to $93.37
Where to get it: Get the Ogio Shuttle Bag at Swag.com
What is it? A curated gift box packed with tasty treats and introspective mindfulness essentials.
Why this is a winning in-office Employee Appreciation Day gift: Feeding their minds and bodies is the perfect way to convey a truly holistic sense of caring.
Where to get it: Get the Mindfulness Box at Caroo.com
What is it? A massive canteen that keeps hot beverages hot and cold beverages cold. Plus, it’s super rugged and practically unbreakable.
Why this is a winning in-office Employee Appreciation Day gift: This gift encourages well being and also good times. This canteen provides a luxurious way to stay hydrated or even tote an entire bottle of wine to a picnic.
Price: $42.54 to $105.37
Where to get it: Get the Corkcicle 25 Oz Canteen at Swag.com
What is it? Bluetooth over-ear headphones that provide an immersive musical experience.
Why this is a winning in-office Employee Appreciation Day gift: Employees could very well use these headphones every day, thinking about your appreciation gift as they do.
Price: $35.00 to $49.33
Where to get it: Get Skullcandy Headphones at Swag.com
What is it? A sweet little succulent packaged in a gift box that doubles as a planter.
Why this is a winning in-office Employee Appreciation Day gift: Bringing a little bliss-inducing nature into their workspaces is the perfect way to thank someone for bringing bliss into the office.
Price: $35.00 to $49.33
Where to get it: Get a Petite Bliss Plant at Swag.com
What is it? Pure fun at your fingertips with a vast amount of new card games to play and learn with friends, family, and coworkers.
Why this is a winning in-office Employee Appreciation Day gift: It shows that you appreciate their hard work and also their playful sense of fun.
Price: $4.22 to $9.99
Where to get it: Get a Playing Cards Set at Swag.com
21) Desk Gift Set
What is it? Stylish desk essentials in mood-brightening colors.
Why this is a winning in-office Employee Appreciation Day gift: It says, “When you’re working as hard as you do, I want you to have the most beautifully organized desk ever.”
Price: $25.16 to $30.23
Where to get it: Get a Desk Gift Set at Swag.com
Virtual Employee Appreciation Day Gifts For Remote Workers
What is it? A luxe long-sleeve t-shirt that’s perfectly relaxed and perfectly put together at the same time.
Why this is a winning remote Employee Appreciation Day gift: You might not be able to give your remote employees hugs, but wrapping their arms around this soft t-shirt will give them the same warm feelings.
Price: $37.93 to $62.80
Where to get it: Get the Brooklinen Brighton at Swag.com
What is it? An expertly curated selection of feel-good snacks and invigorating premium coffee.
Why this is a winning remote Employee Appreciation Day gift: This gift lets employees feel your appreciation in the form of the invigorating blast of energy they’ll get from eating these snacks and sipping this coffee.
Where to get it: Get a Caroo Snacks + Coffee Box at Caroo.com
24) Marcello Flask
What is it? A rugged stainless steel flask in a chic matte black finish.
Why this is a winning remote Employee Appreciation Day gift: Customized with a unique design, this simply flask may become a treasured token of your regard.
Price: $13.97 to $18.55
Where to get it: Get the Marcello Flask at Swag.com
What is it? A wine glass wrapped in durable silicone that gives you the power to enjoy any beverage anywhere.
Why this is a winning remote Employee Appreciation Day gift: It’s the perfect way to say “cheers to you” over and over again.
Price: $9.08 to $15.08
Where to get it: Get the Asobu Garden Goblet at Swag.com
What is it? A perfect mix of nature and tech, this charger looks like a tree slice.
Why this is a winning remote Employee Appreciation Day gift: Who doesn’t need a charger, especially one so well designed? Super easy to order in bulk while also giving you the option to inscribe your company logo or event title.
Price: $31.65 to $48.88
Where to get it: Get the Walnut Qi Charger at Swag.com
What is it? A handy padfolio that also doubles as a charging station.
Why this is a winning remote Employee Appreciation Day gift: This appreciation gift makes their lives easier, allowing them to charge devices while they’re on the move from one appointment to the next.
Price: $84.11 to $300.75
Where to get it: Get the Prospect Charging Padfolio at Swag.com
What is it? A water bottle that can play music and also put on a little light show.
Why this is a winning remote Employee Appreciation Day gift: This delightful novelty item is the perfect mix of fun and practicality. It will never fail to make employees smile, and that’s exactly what the perfect employee appreciation gift should do.
Price: $27.27 to $71.91
Where to get it: Get the Light-Up Audio Bottle at Swag.com
Disclaimer: SnackNation may have an interest in the brands and products mentioned above.
People Also Ask These Questions About Employee Appreciation Ideas
Q: When is Employee Appreciation Day?
- A: Employee Appreciation Day is always on the first Friday of March. In 2021, Employee Appreciation Day will fall on Friday, March 5.
Q: How can I plan an awesome employee appreciation week?
- A: You can plan an awesome employee appreciation week by running with ideas, such as catering a lunch or taking a field trip, and rounding out your plans with some feel-good gifts. Start the planning process with the ideas in this post.
Q: What are some good things to say on employee appreciation day?
- A: Some good things to say on employee appreciation day include:
- I appreciate how you always…and then complete the sentence with specific actions
- I feel thankful for your…and then complete the sentence with qualities and characteristics
- Without you, we would never be able to…and then complete the sentence with group accomplishments.
- If you run out of time to think of a specific phrase, you can always say something heartfelt yet general, such as: “I can’t thank you enough for everything you do for this company and for me. Knowing I have your support and dedication makes me a better, happier person both at work and at home.”
Q: Should I give a speech to my team on Employee Appreciation Day?
- A: You should give a speech to your team on Employee Appreciation Day if you’re comfortable making speeches and you have planned something thoughtful today. If public speaking makes you clammy, you can find plenty of other ways to celebrate Employee Appreciation Day.
Q: How do you celebrate Employee Appreciation Day with remote employees?
- A: You can celebrate Employee Appreciation Day with remote employees by delivering a virtual experience, such as setting up a virtual escape room adventure or delivering care packages. These Employee Appreciation Day ideas will help you plan a celebration that makes employees feel extra special.