Employee Appreciation Day is coming up on Friday, 1st March 2024 and presents a perfect opportunity for employers to recognise their people for working hard and contributing to their mission. At Reward Gateway, we're big believers that organisations should appreciate their employees’ efforts and wins all year round to contribute to a culture of continuous recognition.
This global holiday is an exciting reminder to say thanks for all that you do and to shine a special celebratory spotlight on those who make your world a better place to work.
Before we get into how to supercharge your recognition efforts in 2024, we have to talk about why it’s critical to openly demonstrate appreciation to your staff. In our recent Employee Engagement Trends Report, we learned that more than 4 in 5 workers say that workplace burnout impacts their overall mental health and wellbeing – and nearly half cited a significant impact. And what's more, one of the top employee must-haves is a 'manager who cares.' When you put these stats together, they tell a pretty clear picture that now is the best time to start a recognition programme at your organisation.
Why strategic employee recognition matters
Strategic employee recognition extends well beyond saying 'thank you.' Descriptive praise and connection to company values or business success reinforce your employees’ engagement with their work and your mission.
No matter where they work, your employees are likely facing more stressors than ever, many in their third year of hybrid work and all feeling the impact of the cost of living crisis.
HR leaders must continue to adjust their attraction and retention strategies: Every year, the demographics in your workplace shift, and everyone has different needs and concerns to address.
More and more, companies today are moving away from traditional methods of recognising employees – those one-off moments like employee of the month, annual performance reviews and tenure awards – to a more holistic approach that promotes continuous recognition.
Make Employee Appreciation Day a milestone marker in your recognition journey. Reflect on your values, your culture, and your employees’ needs to ensure you hit the mark.
Recognition is no longer a nice-to-have, but rather essential, and something employees expect from their employers. Let's explore some ideas for recognising your employees on Employee Appreciation Day and all year long, with real-life examples from other companies.
7 ways to celebrate EAD this year
|1. Themed peer-to-peer eCards
|2. Appreciation delivered in bulk
|3. Take a whole week!
|4. Celebrate company culture and values
|5. Get leadership at the helm
|6. Reminders for managers
|7. Taking a wellness focus
1. Themed peer-to-peer eCards
eCards are the easiest way to celebrate Employee Appreciation Day – and the easiest programme to keep going all year! Get your design team to create a suite of themed eCards to say thank you for any number of wins: stepping up to solve a problem, for example, or even bringing a good attitude to work. SmartestEnergy Limited, an energy company with over 300 employees, uses its employee recognition programme to connect all employees on Employee Appreciation Day with peer-to-peer nominations.
2. Appreciation in bulk
Student Roost, a student accommodation organisation, conducted a 'bulk appreciation' programme, in which HR provided employees with a basic form to recognise a colleague. The company collated all of those recognition moments into a single, designed document, which they sent out to the individuals. These are appreciation moments that can stand alone throughout the year, but Employee Appreciation Day is a great time to emphasise widespread recognition. Even better, by upgrading your bulk appreciation from a manual to a digital recognition experience, you can collect and recognise even faster, so no valuable time is lost.
3. Take a whole week!
Employee Appreciation Day is the perfect opportunity to take a whole week (or longer!) to highlight the amazing work your employees perform, as well as their resilience, positivity and flexibility. TelstraSuper, a financial services organisation with 260+ employees, celebrated their people the entire week. The Executive Team encouraged employees to get involved and send at least two eCards to their colleagues to say thanks – for anything! As a result, they saw 182 eCards sent across the organisation and about 50% of all employees either sent or received it (or both).
4. Celebrate company culture and values
Company culture is a critical element to your employees’ drive to stay and do their work, and to interact with each other in meaningful ways. MSC Industrial Supply, an industrial consumables organisation, used Employee Appreciation Day as an opportunity to celebrate company culture within the business. The team did this with a dedicated blog post to educate employees about what EAD is, why it was important to their culture and the value that employees bring to the business – encouraging employees to send recognition.
5. Get leadership at the helm
Leadership are the rudder that steers the ship of any organisation. For recognition and appreciation to become part of your culture, it starts at the top. 70% of UK employees say their work wellbeing would improve if they were simply thanked more often – that’s a stat to consider. Vacenti is an aged care services organisation with 800+ employees. The CEO sent out a heartfelt thank you, acknowledging employees’ commitment during a particularly challenging time due to the ongoing pandemic. Taking the time to pause and celebrate your people goes a long way.
6. Reminders for managers
A lot can happen on any given day, let alone in a week. It can be difficult, if not outright impossible, to catch everything. Make sure to remind managers that this celebration is coming and to keep Employee Appreciation Day top of mind. Here at Reward Gateway, we ensure our people feel the impact both leading up to EAD and long after with continuous recognition.
7. Taking a wellness focus
Wellness – physical, mental and financial – is one of the biggest concerns for employees worldwide. Employees are suffering burnout at alarming rates, and external factors like inflation take a steadily growing toll. In an effort to support employees’ wellness, Grantley Hall, a hotel and spa in the UK, offered its employees group yoga sessions and facials, as well as healthy meals with homemade blueberry smoothies. They also gave cupcakes to the team and employee drop-in sessions for support and wellbeing advice.
8 reasons to show appreciation for your employees and colleagues
Practising conscious gratitude is beneficial to mental and emotional health – it’s been shown to make us more positive and resilient, and it improves our relationships, too. People who regularly take time to notice and make note of the things they're thankful for experience more positive emotions, sleep better and express more compassion and kindness towards others.
A well-timed eCard can turn someone’s bad day into a good day, and it only takes a few seconds. If you need some inspiration, here are just some of the reasons to encourage your employees to say thank you to one another:
1. For helping you with a project or work that you needed support with.
2. For doing their work in a way others can learn from - setting the standard for others.
3. For listening to you when you shared a personal problem or how you have been feeling recently.
4. For working cross-departmentally to solve an issue and find efficiencies.
5. For finding ways to keep the team connected and energised even as we work remotely.
6. For bringing a positive attitude to work, despite any stressors (big or small!) in their personal lives
7. For going above and beyond at work while living your company values.
8. For offering a new perspective and helping you think outside the box when you needed it the most.
Recognising employees and showing them appreciation is something that can be done all the time as part of your company culture. Doing so improves employee engagement, which means your employees are less stressed, more productive and more motivated to help you achieve your business goals.
If you’re looking for additional ways to embed everyday reward and recognition into your culture, get in touch with us today.