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How to Celebrate Employee Appreciation Day?

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Employees should be appreciated all year long for their contribution to the success of your organization, that’s corporate culture 101. 

Yet, going one step beyond on certain occasions can make them feel even more special. That’s what National Employee Appreciation Day is all about. Every first Friday of March, employers across the U.S. look for ways to give back and express just how much they value the members of their staff. And it’s never too late to start planning for the celebration! Here’s how to make the most of your appreciation event.

What Is Employee Appreciation Day and Why Should You Celebrate it?

In 2023, Employee Appreciation Day falls on March 3, the first Friday of the month – though some companies choose to celebrate for a whole week or even throughout the month. The idea is simple: taking this opportunity to thank your employees for their hard work in a fun, meaningful, and unforgettable way. In other words, it’s not enough just to say “thank you”! As an employer, you need to express your gratitude to make your team members feel connected and recognized for the role they play in your company’s achievements.

Associate Appreciation Day (or Employee Appreciation Day) brings some stability and reassurance to employees who need to be shown that, as the very fabric of your organization, they are deeply valued. Bolstering employee morale creates a strong company culture in which people feel seen and heard. In turn, this kind of genuine appreciation fosters employee engagement, job satisfaction, and retention.

Because employee well-being and company culture are so intertwined, it’s important to begin the process there and to define your mission and the way your staff helps you stay the course. Reflect on what you are truly grateful for on this Employee Appreciation Day 2023.

Start with a Special Message to Spread Thanks Across the Workplace

More than just a nice touch, a personal note to express your appreciation for every single employee is a great place to start. It will show them that the gift you have planned in honor of Employee Appreciation Day is not about conforming by delivering a generic, obligatory “thank you”. It doesn’t have to be long, but each message should be crafted to highlight your employees’ individual achievements, reminding them that their efforts aren’t going unnoticed.

Promote Camaraderie Through Team-Building Events and Experiences

On this Employee Appreciation Day 2023, as working habits are now split between in-office, remote work, and hybrid approaches, it’s essential to honor everybody. This event should be an opportunity to bring all employees together and to make them feel included. When no one feels left out, the connection between team members as well as the link to the organization happens naturally.

This isn’t to say that any token of recognition will do so long as everyone gets the same! It’s all about making your employees feel valued and understood through a meaningful expression of your gratitude. While custom physical gifts are always a possibility, it can be complicated to find just the right thing. You could consider a branded garment featuring your company logo, but how likely is it that all your employees would have selected this for themselves?

That’s why team-building events and experiences tend to convey the spirit of Employee Appreciation Day much more profoundly. These moments promote happiness and togetherness, creating amazing memories that all the participants can share as a group. Here’s how to plan a corporate retreat that will truly hit the mark!

How Can I Plan an Awesome Employee Appreciation Day?

Now that we understand why this day is so special, it’s time to pick a thoughtful gift or activity for the occasion. While that all depends on your company’s culture and size, as well as on your main employee profiles, some are more hit-and-miss than others. Generally speaking, a nice lunch at a local restaurant, an arts & crafts workshop or a cooking class are more likely to be accessible to all than bungee-jumping. With that said, don’t hesitate to ask! You could create a poll to see what people would prefer. And if you want a truly unforgettable experience that will combine several activities all while providing a much-needed break from the hustle and bustle of office life, consider a corporate retreat for a few “employee days” or a full week of celebrations.

Here are our best tips for a successful retreat along with a few other employee appreciation ideas!

Go on a Team-Building Adventure

Do you have just a few hours to make the most of Associate Appreciation Day? It’s time to put your team’s problem-solving skills to the test! Escape rooms and murder mystery outings are a great way to get everyone involved in a super-immersive experience. If you’re staying at the office, why not give escape cards a go? It’s all the fun of the in-person adventure in the form of a board game.

You could also go on a field trip where you can all discover some of the treasures your city has to offer or visit an amusement park. For the more daring, a good adrenaline rush is the best way to get out of the routine. If all the teammates are up for zip-lining or skydiving, these ideas will provide a great dose of excitement.

Taking time to engage in activities outside of day-to-day work will give your employees a well-deserved break and show them how much their trust and hard work mean to you.

Enjoy an Amazing Lunch at the Restaurant or at the Office

Eating and drinking provide time for conversation and cultivate feelings of warmth and gratitude.

Here’s a simple idea to win everyone’s hearts! Good food breeds good moods and there’s nothing quite like a wonderful meal to promote togetherness. And if you’ve got a speech prepared for the occasion, what better way to deliver it than by having the whole team seated around a table?

Lunch at the office has its perks as well. You could have a giant pizza and ice cream party or order your staff’s favorites from local establishments.

And drinks are always an option. Host a happy hour to celebrate how awesome your employees are.

Refuel and Build Trust with a Pampering Experience

From massages to spa packages, to self-care gift boxes, encouraging your employees to enjoy something just for themselves, no strings attached, is a wonderful way to show how much you value their hard work.

Promoting a healthier work-life balance and holistic well-being helps keep burnout at bay.

How Can I Make Employee Appreciation Day 2023 Remote-Friendly?

How do you celebrate employee days with remote employees? By bringing the fun to them in the form of virtual team-building activities!

Almost anything that can be enjoyed IRL now has a virtual counterpart. From games to cooking classes, and even wine or chocolate tasting, escape rooms, entertainment shows and more, there’s no reason not to have a wonderful time doing something special as a team, even if it’s not in person.

You could also arrange an outing and have everyone get together for any of the activities you would organize for your in-office staff.

Or better yet, you could plan an all-inclusive retreat as your appreciation event with the help of the experts at TeamOut!

A Team Retreat: The Ultimate Event to Show Appreciation to Your Employees

How can a team retreat help you show appreciation to your employees on Employee Appreciation Day? Here are some of the benefits of a retreat:

·       A retreat provides a much-need break from the routine and offers a chance to bond in a different environment. In other words, the change of scenery alone is a breath of fresh air, especially for city dwellers. A few days in nature or at the seaside might just be what everyone needs the most.

·       It’s the ideal approach for employee recognition. Your employees appreciate that a retreat is not a vacation, but they will love taking time to (re)connect. The beginning of the year is always challenging, so the slower pace is a rewarding way to demonstrate how much you value their contributions and hard work.

·       The recreational nature of a retreat also happens to promote team building. Enjoying time together in different settings makes communication more effective and establishes stronger relationships.

·       This is how it works: The change of rhythm, new environment, and unfamiliar tasks that take everyone out of their comfort zone foster creativity and outside-the-box thinking. Participants get to explore unexpected talents and will confidently let their creative side shine once they’re back at the office.

·       Taking a break from work to focus on personal well-being improves work-life balance. Your employees will return to work feeling refreshed and more motivated than ever.

·       As a retreat makes employees feel appreciated and valued, it directly increases job satisfaction. That’s the whole essence of Employee Appreciation Day: When you show your gratitude, the members of your staff are more likely to be engaged and fulfilled by their job, which results in heightened energy and motivation.

·       Corporate retreats create a positive cycle that boosts company morale and builds a supportive work environment.

·       By participating in fun and meaningful activities, employees can become more engaged and invested in the company culture. In other words, team-building activities are perfect for developing the level of enthusiasm toward the company.

·       When everyone feels motivated and confident in their relationship with their co-workers, the whole team gets more productive and performs better.

·       A corporate retreat combines fun with an opportunity for training and development. It can help employees gain new skills and knowledge, which can improve their productivity and contribute to the success of the company.

·       Finally, both Employee Appreciation Day and the most successful retreats share a common goal, building a sense of community. Taking the time to acknowledge your employees’ efforts in the form of a corporate retreat brings employees together, fosters relationships, and promotes a sense of belonging among co-workers.

Every Day is Employee Appreciation Day!

Showing appreciation should not be a one-time thing, dictated by a certain date. Of course, you can’t plan special appreciation events or take your team to an amazing retreat every single day, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t any other ways to reward your employees and express your gratitude. If you notice and reward peoples’ efforts every day (or on a very regular basis), then Employee Appreciation Day will be the culmination of this mindset.

This could take the form of an employee recognition program, but it should also be manifest during other holidays, or whenever an employee has an important professional or personal milestone that it feels right to celebrate.

About the author
Assia Dalla Vedova
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Assia Dalla Vedova, a marketing maven with a rich background in tech, showcased her prowess at TeamOut (YC W22), enhancing brand presence and SEO strategy. An ESCP Business School alumna, she excels in crafting impactful digital marketing campaigns and fostering brand growth.

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