How To Celebrate Employee Appreciation Day

A thank you card sits on a desk next to a laptop and mug of coffee

When was the last time you felt appreciated at work? For many of us, the answer is: not recent enough.

Employee appreciation can have a significant impact on productivity. That impact is so big, in fact, that as many as 40% of Americans say they would put more effort into their work if they received more recognition. Over 60% of employees who feel recognized at work say they are “very unlikely” to look for new jobs over the short term.

It’s clear that recognizing employees for their hard work is important. That’s why there’s an entire day dedicated to employee appreciation! 

Employee Appreciation Day is celebrated every year on the first Friday of March. In 2021, Employee Appreciation Day is March 5th. Of course, Employee Appreciation Day isn’t to be confused with Boss’s Day, which is celebrated in October. While it’s always nice to show thanks to your boss, Employee Appreciation Day is about everyone.

Whether you’re a manager looking to show your team extra attention or an associate wanting to show your coworkers some love, here’s how you can celebrate the holiday. 

Please note: this post may contain affiliate links, meaning I get a commission if you decide to make a purchase through my links, at no cost to you. I only recommend products that I use myself and truly recommend. Please read my disclaimer for full info.

How To Celebrate Employee Appreciation Day

Ideas to Celebrate Employee Appreciation Day

Show your employees how much you care about them by celebrating Employee Appreciation Day. Mark the holiday with one of these fun ideas.

Throw a Party or Virtual Happy Hour 

Whether you’re in the office or working remotely, getting together for a party with your team is a great way to show appreciation for your employees. If you’re in the office, order food, play some party games and let your employees enjoy some downtime. The important thing is to focus on your team, not on work.

If you’re working remotely, host a virtual happy hour. Be mindful of your team’s time, and make sure it’s more of a party than a meeting. You don’t want them to feel like this is just another obligatory Zoom call! If you have the budget, give everyone a gift card for food delivery or send them a cocktail kit to make the happy hour extra special. Play some happy hour games to make the time fly by!

A woman sits with her computer on her lap enjoying a virtual happy hour

Give Your Employees The Day Off

What better way to show your appreciation to your employees than to give them a day off? Everyone can use some extra time for themselves, especially during difficult times like so many of us are facing. If you’re in the position to give a surprise vacation day, your employees will definitely be thankful.

If you can’t give a full day off, maybe you can designate the day for professional development or volunteering instead. Show your employees you care by allowing them to dedicate an entire day to self improvement or helping others. VolunteerMatch has countless virtual volunteer opportunities if you’re not sure where to start.

A woman holds a post-it that says "Take a Breather" in front of her computer

Host an Awards Show

Of course, you can also show your appreciation with awards! Throw an awards show (either in person or virtually) and recognize your employees for their achievements over the last year. Make sure to give an award to every single member of the team, and keep the mood light. 

Awards can be performance-based or more fun (or funny!) aimed at recognizing your employees’ personalities. It’s important if you take the light-hearted route to make sure you’re not poking fun at an employee’s expense. What may seem funny to one person can be hurtful to another. The last thing you need is a repeat of The Dundies

A businesswoman holds a trophy in front of her face.

Gifts for Employee Appreciation Day

Give your employees a small gift for the holiday to show your appreciation. There’s no need to give extravagant presents, but simple, meaningful gifts will show you care without breaking the bank.

Customized Notebook

I don’t know about you, but I can always use more notebooks! Although I use my computer and phone for most of my work, I still prefer to take notes by hand. Notebooks are a practical but thoughtful gift. Adding personalization shows you put extra effort into finding the right gift, and your employees are sure to appreciate the thoughtfulness.

Motivational Art

Motivational quote art is a fun way for your employees to spruce up their desks. Printable quote art is inexpensive and often comes in different sizes for one flat price, making it easy to customize for different purposes. Plus, if you forgot about the holiday until the last minute, you can print them out in the office and gift them the same day!

Motivational quote art sits on a side table

Coworker Coupon Books

Coupon books are inexpensive, fun, and completely customizable. Gift your employees a week of no video calls or a day where you cover their emails. Be as creative and generous as you’d like.

A man wearing a suit holds a coworker coupon

Thank You Card

A thank you note written from the heart can be more appreciated than any present. Write a few sentences expressing why you’re thankful for each of your employees. Use specific examples and be honest. Handwritten cards may not be very common anymore, but that makes them even more special!

A pink thank you note sits on a table

Virtual Gift Cards

If your employees are working from home, it might be challenging to give them gifts. They might not be the most personal presents, but virtual gift cards get the job done. Simply purchase and send to their emails.

A woman sitting at a desk checks emails on her phone

Other Work-related Holidays

Employee Appreciation Day isn’t the only special holiday to celebrate at work. Your employees can always use a little extra recognition, so mark some of these special days with a party or celebration, and add some fun to your days.

Administrative Professionals Day 

Administrative Professionals Day is celebrated in the United States and Canada on the Wednesday of the last full week of April. In 2021, it falls on April 21st. This is the perfect day to recognize the admins, secretaries, executive assistants and other administrators you work with. A small gift and a thank you note can go a long way to showing appreciation for these important members of your organization.

Boss’s Day

Boss’s Day is celebrated every year on October 16th (or the nearest working day if the 16th falls on the weekend). It’s a somewhat controversial holiday, as giving gifts to your boss can be tricky and toe the line of impropriety. But if done right, it can be a great opportunity to recognize your awesome manager who always has your back. If you’re looking for ideas on how to celebrate Boss’s Day, we’ve got you covered.

A woman writes in a calendar

List of Work Holidays

For more fun (and often silly) work-related holidays, check out the list below.

*All dates denote when the holiday is celebrated in the United States

  • National Clean Your Desk Day – Second Monday in January
  • Fun At Work Day – Last Friday of January
  • Clean Out Your Computer Day – Second Monday in February
  • Employee Appreciation Day – First Friday of March
  • Walk to Work Day – First Friday of April
  • Wear Pajamas to Work Day – April 16th
  • Volunteer Appreciation Day – April 20th
  • Administrative Professionals Day – Wednesday of the last full week of April
  • Take Your Child to Work Day – Last Thursday of April
  • National Leave the Office Early Day – June 2nd
  • Take Your Cat to Work Day – The Monday after Father’s Day
  • Take Your Dog to Work Day – The Friday after Father’s Day
  • National Workaholics Day – July 5th
  • Single Working Women’s Day – August 4th
  • Labor Day – First Monday in September
  • Boss’s Day – October 16th

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February 19, 2021

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1 Comment

  1. Nice tips and ideas! Especially the customized notebook idea. I’ll definitely try one of them. Also thank you for sharing the work holidays calendar, very helpful!

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