Employee Appreciation Day is March 4th, but most companies wait until March 3rd to think about recognition. If your business is anything like where I’ve worked, the local HR lady might do a donut run in the morning and call the day a success.

(That local HR lady was me. Thank goodness I liked donuts!)

While every day ought to be employee appreciation day, some days are more important than others. Displaying gratitude in an organized, concerted effort makes your workplace seem a little more human. It certainly aids your overall employer branding efforts.

So here are five clever ways to recognize your workforce on Employee Appreciation Day.

1. Give the gift of a day off.

Time is a valuable currency, more precious and limited than money. Even in an era of unlimited PTO and expanded parental leave policies, many companies inadvertently run their employees into the ground while pursuing corporate goals. While it might not be possible to give everybody a day off out of the blue, it is feasible to offer a “spot bonus” or a cash gift card that is equivalent to a day’s wages.

2. Double-down on family time. 

Your average employee knows that it takes a village to raise a child, care for aging parents and provide daycare for both kids and animals. Long commutes eat into family time with kids, cousins, and even cats. The marketplace demands that leaders explore and adopt 21st-century  flexible work environments when possible. If you can announce an expanded telecommuting program on Employee Appreciation Day, your employees will fall to their knees and weep with gratitude. I promise you.

3. Skip the lecture on healthy food choices and provide time to eat lunch.

There’s nothing worse than the day a company removes the old sugar and carb-laden vending machine and installs a machine that dispenses apples. First of all, apples have sugar and carbs. Second of all, I don’t come to work every day to endure lectures on nutrition. If your goal is to improve the overall employee experience, start on Employee Appreciation Day by offering better and healthier food options at work. Don’t swap the Famous Amos cookies for overripe bananas. Get help from a chef to reintroduce healthier foods in your cafeteria. Encourage your employees to eat a real lunch, not just a bag of Doritos at their desks. And don’t watch the clock if someone takes 67 minutes instead of 60 minutes to eat a nutritious meal.

4. Rally the troops by having real fun.

Employee Appreciation Day isn’t about forced fun, but it can be incredibly enjoyable. The day offers an opportunity to connect with your workforce on a human to human level. How do your employees let off steam? How do your best and brightest workers like to have fun? Poll them. Ask them. Then do that.

Finally, I have a bonus tip.

Unless your business operates in the stone ages, every day is ’employee appreciation day’. You don’t have to throw a daily parade, but positive recognition at the local level on a regular basis means that you can enjoy Employee Appreciation Day without the immense and unrelenting pressure of making a huge mistake or getting it wrong.

If you like my tips and tricks for Employee Appreciation Day, please join me at WorkHuman on May 9-11 in Orlando, Florida. No matter what your role – talent acquisition, diversity, culture, or senior HR or business leadership – you’ll gain the knowledge and tools you need to unlock the energy of your workforce, increase engagement, and help your company achieve its full business potential.

I promise that you’ll leave energized and ready to shape a more “human” employee experience on Employee Appreciation Day and beyond. Click here to register and use code WH16LR300 for a $300 discount.

(And, yes, WorkHuman sponsored this blog post and loves my readers. That’s you.)


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