Employee Appreciation Day can be tricky to plan at a busy company. However, it is an important part of keeping employees satisfied in the workplace and striving to work harder.

Rewarding employees isn’t just a nice thing for companies to do. It could be the key to their success! Employee appreciation gifts are a must.

Retaining good employees helps lower operating costs and is easier than you think. Employee Appreciation Day is a good place to start.

When is Employee Appreciation Day?

Employee Appreciation Day falls the first Friday each March. Why then you might ask? The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that March is one of the most popular months for people to quit their jobs. Perhaps the date was thought to be good timing.

This special day was founded by Dr. Bob Nelson and Workman Publishing in 1995. The idea came from his book “1001 Ways to Reward Employees,” which was published a year earlier. He wanted to call attention to the fact many employees don’t feel valued at work. Nelson pointed out that about 12 percent of workers feel recognized in a meaningful way.

Nelson, in his book, noted there are meaningful ways companies can show appreciation to their employees even on tight budgets.

Employee Appreciation Day ideas

custom printed popcorn snack box

Owners, managers and supervisors can show their appreciation to employees in many ways. The Internet is full of low-cost promotional gifts and activities to fit every need.

Check out these ideas to keep your employees happy and productive:

Personally acknowledge achievements

Give employees verbal or written praise from the right people. According to research by Gallup, 28 percent of employees felt strongly recognized when acknowledgment came from their manager. Another 24 percent felt it was better to hear it from their CEO or a high-ranking leader.

This type of recognition sticks with employees because of the personal attention it gives. Taking a few minutes to give extra encouragement shows them you are grateful and their work is meaningful.

You can also publicly show respect for the work your employees do for the company by thanking them on the company’s social media channels including LinkedIn.

Surprise them with time off

happy employees in a conference room

Expand Employee Appreciation Day into Employee Appreciation Week by sending your staff on a wellness retreat or staycation! They will appreciate the rest, return to work happier, and will have more energy to put into their projects.

Another option is to pay for courses or seminars that your employees are interested in attending. This allows them to gain new skills for your company and achieve personal growth.

Art lessons for employees

Hire an artist to give employees a fun lesson in painting or drawing. The event can be scheduled after hours, during lunch or on a weekend.

Provide pizza and beverages for your staff and your employees’ significant others and make it a party!

Give gym memberships to employees

custom blue sports cooling towel

You can never go wrong when giving the gift of good health! Paying annual gym membership dues for your employees is a kind way to say you have their best interest at heart. Plus, many fitness centers offer big discounts to companies who spring for employee plans.

Throw in a custom sports cooling towel or a water bottle with your logo to sweeten the deal!

Employee Appreciation Day ideas for remote workers

Group activities that bring everyone together are possible even if your staff is remote. The Internet allows everyone to have a good time together and feel included.

Suggestions for virtual group activities:

  • Host a movie night via watch party on a streaming service
  • Find an online competitive game and host a tournament with teams from the office
  • Give your staff ice breaker questions to answer on a group message so they can get to know each other
  • Have everyone show-and-tell their favorite possession
  • Play two truths and a lie on a video call
  • Send everyone food and snack items with your logo

Employee Appreciation Day gifts to distribute

A few gifts to hand out at an Employee Appreciation Day celebration include gift cards to popular restaurants and local retailers. Here are a few more gift ideas to show employees you care:

Travel pillows. This is a great idea for employees who travel a lot. Travel pillows are thoughtful gifts that can be used when traveling for work or on vacation.

Office upgrades. Consider investing in a new coffee machine or a new vending machine with healthy food choices.

Awards. Put some good, clean fun in your employee appreciation gifts with corny trophies. The idea is to lighten the mood and keep morale high.

customized apparel for employees

Customized promotional products

You can give a gift and reap long-term branding opportunities with personalized items for employees. Place your company name and logo on products your staff will use and enjoy.

Gifting employees with customized apparel is a win-win for everyone. It’s a practical gift to workers that lets them show their pride in your business. Corporate T-shirts and company hats printed with your logo will also give you unlimited advertising whenever they’re worn.

Some of the most popular customized items for employees are custom corporate apparellogo water bottlescan coolersengraved pensstress ballsbranded flying discscustom-printed sunglasses and promotional phone chargers.

If your budget allows, employees also appreciate customized lunch bagsspeakerslogo umbrellasfolding chairsbranded metal pens and blankets.

A meaningful pat on the back

white paper bag with thank you design

Employees don’t always expect big rewards for their efforts. An occasional “thank-you” for completing a project or just helping the company forge ahead is always welcome.

Employee Appreciation Day is a good opportunity for company leaders to find ways to reward their staff. I hope our suggestions spark ideas that will make your employees feel valuable and appreciated.

Browse our promotional products selection for more great deals and inspiration!

Feature image credit: Getty Images

show you care with custom mugs

Jodi Laux is a copywriter with Totally Promotional. Her passion for writing was sparked by spending much of her childhood with her nose stuck in a book. Jodi formed her creative voice at Wright State University, where she graduated summa cum laude. Now she writes content to help people find the answers and products they need.

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