employee appreciation day ideas

47 Employee Appreciation Day Ideas to Uplift Your Team

Every year, on the 4th of March, the world celebrates Employee Appreciation Day. This special day is all about recognizing and thanking the people who’ve worked hard to make your business successful!

Showing your employees that you appreciate them and value their efforts can do wonders for their motivation and performance.

In this post, we’ll share some great ideas to help you show your gratitude to your employees on Employee Appreciation Day!

What is Employee Appreciation Day?

Employee Appreciation Day is a special day dedicated to recognizing and showing gratitude to employees for their hard work and contributions to an organization.

Celebrated on the first Friday of March each year, the day serves as a reminder for employers to acknowledge the valuable efforts of their workforce and foster a positive work culture.

employees celebrating appreciation day

Why should we celebrate Employee Appreciation Day?

Happier and higher retention

We all love a little appreciation and recognition – and employees are no different. Studies show that when employees feel appreciated, they become happier and more motivated. Happier employees are more likely to stick around, leading to higher retention rates. But the benefits don’t stop there!

Improved productivity

Appreciating your team also boosts productivity. When employees know their efforts are valued, they’re inspired to perform even better. Plus, it’s contagious – seeing a coworker appreciated motivates others to step up too.

Attractive work environment

Building a culture of appreciation creates a healthier work environment. People want to be part of a place where their contributions matter. This not only keeps current employees happy but also attracts talented newcomers.

Wide-spread gratitude

Gratitude isn’t just a feel-good concept; it’s backed by science. Studies reveal that practicing gratitude makes individuals happier and more connected. Even small recognitions have a big impact on motivation.

Improved customer satisfaction

And guess what? It’s not just employees who benefit. Customers also feel the positive effects. Research in the hospitality industry shows that engaged and recognized employees lead to more satisfied guests.

While Employee Appreciation Day is a great occasion, remember that appreciation isn’t limited to a single day. Make it a habit to acknowledge and praise your team members whenever they shine. Your consistent recognition can lead to a happier, more motivated, and successful team year-round.

employees celebrate and have fun

47 Employee Appreciation Day ideas to uplift your team

You already understand the significance of making your employees feel valued.

But what if your company isn’t used to appreciating employees regularly? No need to fret!

Here are some easy ideas you can try out on Employee Appreciation Day:

1. Send handwritten notes or postcards

Sending handwritten, personal notes can be a heartfelt way to show you truly care. Make someone’s day with a personalized note and they’ll remember it for a long time.

This idea is even more wonderful when the recipient’s love language is words of affirmation. They know you’ve put a lot of effort into crafting these notes.

2. Give personalized gifts

Giving gifts can be challenging because you’ll need to find out what people love and appreciate. This works best for a small team, as it’s easier to observe what employees like.

One way to figure out what people like is to observe how employees give gifts to each other.

It takes time to figure out what to give to whom. But when your teammates get gifts they actually like, they’ll be super happy.

3. Send surprise gifts

You can prepare surprise gift boxes filled with cakes, sweet treats, wine, stationery, apparel, etc., and send them to employees’ homes. It’s nice to come home to a surprise thoughtful gift box.

You can also use services like GiftTree, Uber Eats, Knacks, or Gourmet Gift Baskets to customize gift boxes and deliver them to your beloved employees.

4. Offer dedicated time off

There are various ways to reward your employees based on time, such as giving them flexible work schedules or sleep-in days. You can give your team extra paid time off (PTO) on Employee Appreciation Day. Everyone can use a bit more free time for activities they enjoy.

5. Give a day off with spa package deals

Everyone likes an unexpected day off, and it’s even cooler to have a day off with some pampering. Consider giving employees a surprise day off with spa deals on their appreciation day.

It’s easy to arrange a spa day where all your employees can relax together. But if they work from home or live far away, you can simply gift them spa packages or give them an allowance to enjoy a relaxing spa day.

6. Offer sweet treats

Make the day sweeter with tasty donuts, sandwiches, candy, ice cream, and more.

Food days are awesome, but not everyone has a sweet tooth. You can ask employees about their favorite treats during the onboarding process or team activities, note them down, and on the special day, order a variety to suit everyone’s taste.

team members enjoy sweet treats on employee appreciation day

7. Give gift cards

What if you manage a diverse team with different hobbies and preferences? Or if your team members all live far away?

A way to appreciate individual tastes is by giving gift cards. This way employees can get what they truly want, and you also don’t have to second guess whether they’ll like your gifts or not.

One way to spice up gift cards is to give time-specific ones. This way, employees will actually use the cards on Employee Appreciation Day.

Start sharing photos of what you get, and encourage others to share, too. It can be fun!

8. Give company swags

Want to show appreciation to your employees and promote your company at the same time? Try giving out awesome gift bags with your company’s logo and cool stuff inside.

Fill these beautiful bags with useful gifts like water bottles, notebooks, pens, mugs, apparel, thank-you notes, and more. Sprinkle in some yummy treats, gift cards, and even vouchers for local spots like restaurants or coffee shops.

Plus, you can always ask your team what kind of gifts they’d love.

9. Gift gym memberships

Want to help your team stay healthy and happy? Consider giving the gift of gym memberships on Employee Appreciation Day! It’s like handing them a pass to a world of wellness.

They can sweat it out, stay fit, and have fun while doing it. Not only does this show you care about their well-being, but it also encourages them to lead an active lifestyle.

10. Upgrade tools and resources

Having up-to-date technology and resources in the workplace can really boost how much work gets done. If your employees are still using old equipment, you could upgrade their tools as a way of saying thanks.

11. Give online learning opportunities

In today’s competitive job market, staying updated with new skills is crucial. Employees value companies that support their learning and development.

To meet this need and stay ahead, consider providing your team with access to online learning platforms such as LinkedIn Learning, Coursera, Udemy, Pluralsight, etc. This helps them grow and benefits your business too.

12. Give career-based rewards

Career-based rewards such as seminars or expenditure for courses of their choice can help employees in their career growth. They also gain new knowledge and skills that are helpful for their current role in your company.

13. Give shoutouts on your communication platforms

On Employee Appreciation Day, write your appreciation in a message or note and share it in the communication platform that your workplace uses. This can be Slack, Skype, Microsoft Teams, or a team messaging app. Set reminders for special days and events so you don’t forget.

14. Give shoutouts on social media

Besides giving a shoutout on internal channels, you can give your awesome team a shoutout on social media. Share their achievements, thank them for their dedication, and let the world know how much you appreciate them. It’s like a virtual high-five that makes everyone feel special.

You can also write a LinkedIn recommendation for your team members! Your recommendations serve as a public endorsement of their skills and accomplishments, making them feel proud and valued.

15. Create a tribute video

The management team can record an awesome “thank you” video for the entire company! Or each team member can create a short video expressing gratitude to their colleagues, and all these videos can be combined into a unique appreciation masterpiece.

Once done, share the video on your team communication app, YouTube, social media, and even your company website to spread the love.

Creating a tribute video is a heartwarming way to show your team that you truly value their hard work. It’s like making a special video for your amazing friends, but this time it’s all about your fantastic teammates.

Creating videos is easier than you think with user-friendly tools like Apple iMovie or Camtasia. These tools are simple and free. Just take a moment to decide what to include in the video, and you’ll make everyone feel incredibly special.

16. Create a personalized hall of fame

Dedicate a space in the workplace and fill it with photos, accolades, decorations, and appreciation messages for each team member. You can also make a photo booth for extra fun.

This will be a visual reminder of employees’ achievements, a place where employees can feel proud of what they’ve done, and a source of inspiration for others.

17. Spice up the workplace

By the time March rolls around, many of us are itching for some sunshine. It’s the perfect time to give everyone’s workspace a makeover. Bring in some fresh green plants, new artwork, motivational quotes, and posters to spice up the workplace a bit.

For remote workplaces, you can get those items delivered to everyone’s home using services like Plantz, The Sill, or bloomscape.

18. Improve the break room

When thinking about celebrating Employee Appreciation Day, don’t forget about the break room. It’s not just a place to eat – it’s a spot to relax and recharge.

By making it comfy and adding cool decorations or plants, you give your team a nice space to take a break and make their work experience more enjoyable.

Read more: 35 Break Room Ideas to Spice Up Break Time

19. Have a fun game day

Arrange a game day where everyone can play the games they love. This is a fun way for you and your employees to get to know each other better and bond as a team.

Here are some game suggestions:

  • Board games: Scrabble, Monopoly, Settlers of Catan, etc.
  • Charades: One person acts out a word or phrase without speaking, and everyone has to guess what it is.
  • Pictionary: Draw and guess words/phrases.
  • Scavenger hunt

If your team works remotely, games such as Gartic Phone or Spyfall can be fun!

To make it truly enjoyable, ask your team about their favorite games and include them in the day’s fun.

team playing games in the workplace

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20. Offer remote work day

You could let employees have a special remote work day. Many enjoy being able to work from the comfort of their own home. Research shows 62% of workers feel remote work has a positive impact on their work engagement.

21. Fun happy hours

Take your team to a nearby bar to enjoy the happy hours. Employees can get the drinks they like and bond with others.

What’s cool is that Employee Appreciation Day happens on Friday—a perfect day for letting loose without worrying about showing up at work the next day.

Also, be considerate of people who don’t drink and people who can’t join after-work activities. Find places that offer non-alcoholic drinks and stop the workday a bit earlier so everyone can join.

22. Fun movie day

Treat your team to a movie outing – grab some popcorn and head to the theater for a great time. Or, turn your workplace into a cozy cinema with a projector and screen, complete with free popcorn!

23. Virtual reality fun

Virtual reality games or short movies can be exciting for tech-savvy employees. VR offers a unique way to have fun and unwind, giving your hardworking employees a chance to step into a whole new world of entertainment.

23. Organize virtual escape rooms

Virtual escape room is a puzzle game where everyone works together to solve clues and escape. It’s great for remote teams or hybrid workplaces.

This activity is friendly to everyone because there’s no worry about being stuck in a real room.

You can spice it up a bit by creating teams within your company. It’s an awesome way for employees to work together and compete positively.

24. Organize a team lunch

How about a special lunch outside? It’s on the company, of course! This is a great chance to treat your team, have a good time, and connect over food. It’s also easier to have open conversations when you’re outside and having fun.

You can also dive into cool activities after lunch. Look for new and cool activities and do them together. Maybe visit a nearby coffee shop or museum?

team eat lunch together

25. Plan a cool field trip

On Employee Appreciation Day, take your team on a fun field trip. It makes a cool and memorable day, full of fun while you check out cool local places and maybe pick up some interesting facts. Make sure the trip is comfortable enough for everyone to enjoy.

Here are some nice locations for a fun field trip:

  • Amusement park
  • Zoo or aquarium
  • Science museum
  • Art gallery
  • Sports stadium
  • Historical site
  • Brewery or winery

26. Have adventure days

An adventurous day filled with adventurous activities can add some thrill to the dull workplace. This could be a great idea if your teammates are healthy and comfortable enough to participate.

Some ideas for an adventure day include:

  • Kayaking or canoeing
  • Paintball or laser tag
  • Hiking or trekking
  • Camping trip

27. Take them to a concert or music show

Take your team to a local music show and enjoy the jams. Or you can take a step further by taking them to a concert if there’s one happening.

28. Allow pets to visit the workplace

Allowing pets to visit the workplace on Employee Appreciation Day can bring a wagging tail of joy to your team. From friendly dogs to cute cats, furry companions can boost morale, reduce stress, and make the day extra special for everyone.

Read more: 10 Tips for Celebrating Take Your Dog to Work Day

29. Bring in the ice cream truck

Who doesn’t love ice cream? Imagine saying, “Ice cream’s on us!” and surprising your team with a visit from the ice cream truck. It’s a sweet way to make your employees smile.

30. Donate to a charity

For employees who want to give back to the community, consider donating to a charity of their choice. This shows you value what matters to your team and empowers everyone to make a positive impact.

31. Volunteer together

Why not team up and volunteer somewhere? You could help at a shelter for homeless people, visit seniors in a home, plant trees, make and give food to those in need, or spend time at an animal shelter.

A Deloitte survey found that 70% of working Americans believe “volunteer activities are more likely to boost employee morale than company-sponsored happy hours.”

Other cool volunteering ideas include:

  • Host an online fundraiser where people can join in and win prizes through raffles
  • Set up drop-off locations for clothing and food for those in need
  • Deliver groceries, meals, or essential items to seniors

If you’re not sure where to start, ask your team for some cool suggestions!

Read more: National Nonprofit Day: 8 Ways to Celebrate & Show Support

national nonprofit day

32. Praises from higher-ups

28% of employees in a survey revealed the recognition they remember the most usually comes from their manager, and 24% of them stated it’s from a senior leader or the CEO.

When higher-ups show appreciation, whether in a company meeting or through a personalized email, it means a lot. It makes employees feel proud of what they do and feel closer to the company.

33. Invite a guest speaker

How about having a guest speaker, either online or in person, who knows a lot about your field? They can easily talk to your team and share cool stuff they know. It’s like a bonus for your employees and a break from the usual work.

34. Invite a masseuse

Why not try offering your team a quick massage during the workday? If your team works in an office, treating them to a short massage session is a simple and caring gesture. It helps break the desk routine and says, “We value your well-being!”

35. Suggest creative experiences

In the busy world today, employees often miss out on many moments and creative experiences. So, why not introduce your team to some cool hobbies and experiences such as painting, cooking class, crocheting, hiking in the hills, or origami?

To make sure everyone gets to do what they love, offer a bunch of options and let them choose their favorite activity beforehand.

You can also offer online events and experiences to employees. Check out Eventbrite or Airbnb Experiences for tons of cool options.

creative activities

36. Start an employee recognition and awards program

To keep employees happy and loyal, it’s important to recognize their efforts regularly, not just on one special day each year.

You can start using simple tools such as spreadsheets or gift cards, or digital tools in which employees get points and awards. It’s a great way to keep everyone motivated and feeling appreciated!

37. Support employee health and well-being

Another cool way to show your employees you care is to let them know the company is looking out for their health and well-being.

You could bring in a yoga instructor for a relaxing session. Or, if some employees smoke, you can offer them help to quit with a mentor.

38. Start health and wellness challenges

With busy work schedules, it can be challenging to keep track of our health and stay healthy. That’s why it’s a good idea to have health and wellness challenges at work. They help your employees stay active and make healthy choices.

Some challenges you can try include:

  • Step challenge: Encourage employees to track their daily steps using pedometers or fitness apps and set a collective goal to reach a certain number of steps by the end of the challenge.
  • Hydration challenge: Encourage employees to drink a certain amount of water throughout the day and track their intake.
  • Fitness challenge: Offer a variety of fitness classes or online workout sessions and challenge employees to attend a certain number of classes within a specific timeframe.

Think of some rewards you can give employees who can complete these challenges. This will motivate more people to join in.

39. Organize meditation sessions

You can set up guided meditation sessions in your workplace.

Meditation might help reduce stress, and these sessions might encourage employees to start practicing meditation more in their lives.

The best part is, meditation sessions can be really affordable. All you need is a guided meditation app or a podcast app, and good speakers.

40. Announce a mentorship program

Introducing a mentorship program means you support your employees’ learning and development and help them make connections. It’s a great chance for everyone to learn new skills, share their knowledge and experiences, and build strong relationships.

41. Organize your own Dundies Awards

In The Office show, the Dundies Awards is an annual event where employees celebrate and recognize various achievements and quirks among them. For example, the character Pam got the “Whitest Sneakers” award.

You can organize your own version, come up with some funny award titles, and inject some light-hearted humor into the workplace. How fun and fabulous they are can depend on how big your team is, your budget, and how comfortable your staff members are.

employee awards

42. Host a music show

If your workplaces have many talented musicians and singers, you can invite them to come together for awesome performances on stage. Or you can invite local bands. It’ll be fun for sure!

43. Host fun lucky draws

Spice up the day by hosting lucky draws for your team. You get to choose the awesome prizes that will bring smiles to their faces. Make it even more exciting by having various surprises to win.

44. Host an Open Mic session

Your team might have a lot on their minds that they don’t always share. Consider hosting an Open Mic session where everyone can express themselves, share their feelings, and connect.

45. Encourage peer appreciation

Coworkers work side by side every day, so they might see the good stuff their teammates do more vividly. Organize an activity in which employees can share nice things about their coworkers. Let them share the love.

46. Extend the day

Appreciation for employees doesn’t have to be limited to one day. Create a week-long or month-long plan for celebrating this day. Plan fun activities each week for everyone to enjoy. Give weekly shoutouts on your communication platforms.

This may seem like too much work, but you can totally make it work by planning simple and inexpensive activities yet are still full of fun.

47. Take advantage of technology

Instead of struggling to plan events or activities to recognize and reward employees, you can use software that does these things for you.

For example, the Camelo app makes it easy for you to send a shoutout to the whole team or a private message to an employee. You can nominate badges to make employees feel special.

manager sends happy employee appreciation day message using Camelo team messaging app
Send a shoutout to the whole team on the Camelo app

Keep the Employee Appreciation Day alive beyond a single day

While it’s wonderful to mark Employee Appreciation Day, showing gratitude to your team shouldn’t be confined to just one day. Each day should be an opportunity for appreciation.

Nurture a joyful and motivated atmosphere with your team through regular recognition. When you make your employees feel appreciated, it helps keep them happy and committed to their jobs.

Interested in more ways to express your gratitude to your employees? Here’s a list of 50 employee incentive ideas.

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