What Message are You Sending on Employee Appreciation Day?

Friday, March 3 is Employee Appreciation Day. For managers, the week leading up to this annual office event is a bit of a scramble. That’s because it usually sneaks up on everyone, but letting it pass by without some sort of fanfare is going to send the wrong message.

employee appreciation dayBut what is the message, actually? Of course, Employee Appreciation Day (EAD) is a time to stop and reflect on the value your employees bring to the business. It’s a chance to show appreciation for their diligence and all the things they do to make your company a success.

However, shouldn’t that be happening on a weekly, if not a daily, basis?

EAD is a Little Like Valentine’s Day

EAD comes almost a month after Valentine’s Day, and in certain ways the two holidays are a lot alike. Expressions of love for those closest to your heart should really come more often than once a year in mid-February.

Likewise, expressions of appreciation for the efforts of those who work at your company should be doled out on a regular basis, too. According to data collected by a company that specializes in this area, this is not happening often enough.

In fact, a shocking 40 percent of American workers report that they were not recognized during the year!¹ For those employees, Employee Recognition Day might feel somewhat hypocritical.

Nevertheless, it’s important not to let this day slip by unnoticed. Turns out employees do expect some sort of recognition on this day, so ignoring it may just be rubbing salt in the wounds.

If you feel your employee recognition programs could use a little bolstering, use EAD to jump-start a new era at your company. Make EAD the kick-off ceremony for a new year full of programs and policies aimed at engaging everyone and keeping them happy.

You won’t just be making your employees feel more appreciated. And you won’t merely be making your workplace a happier place to be. You’ll be improving the bottom line, too. That should make even the C-Suite happy, too.

Employee Recognition Leads to Satisfaction & Happiness at Work

At some companies, regular employee recognition is part of a winning strategy for successful performance management. When you show appreciation for a job well done, you’re tapping into a basic human need for recognition and appreciation.

A 2016 study showed a direct correlation between recognition programs and employee engagement and happiness.²

Everyone wants to feel valued, and the data from workplace satisfaction surveys clearly shows that workers want to contribute in significant ways to their workplaces. In other words, they want to make a difference and feel that they’re part of something bigger than just their cubicle or their spot in the lab. They want purpose. And this seems to go double for Millennials.³

Job Satisfaction & Good Environment Make for Higher Productivity

Employees who feel appreciated on a regular basis are more likely to love their jobs, too. That leads to higher productivity. Gallup is a company forever dedicated to finding out what really matters to employees, among other topics.

Jim Harter, Ph.D. is Gallup’s chief scientists of employee engagement. He sees a data-backed, direct link between employee engagement and productivity.

“Engaged workers, though, have bought into what the organization is about and are trying to make a difference. This is why they’re usually the most productive workers.”

-Jim Harter, Ph.D.

EAD is Good, but Year-Long Recognition Programs are Better

Making staff feel human is strikes at the core values of why it’s important to recognize and appreciate your employees all year. Everyone wants to be treated like a human being, and most employees want to be respected by their colleagues and by their managers as well.

When leaders express appreciation for specific actions, accomplishments, or tasks well done, it’s even better. When an employee has a “win”, he or she wants recognition because:

  1. it shows someone’s watching
  2. it shows someone cares and their contribution has value
  3. they get to revisit that “win” by hearing about it/talking about it with a manager

This builds trust within an organization. When employees trust management, together they can do great things. Productivity skyrockets, of course, but along with that comes increased creativity, a better work environment, and a greater sense of well-being.

Plus, as a result of these factors, stress is likely to greatly reduced, and that usually leads to improved health. The benefits just keep rolling off the assembly line.

The ROI on Recognition Programs

HR professionals who implement employee recognition programs throughout the year at their companies see a clear return on investment. In fact, 70% report a strong ROI.² The key to these results, however, is strongly tied to whether or not the programs they create are tied to company values.

Such programs are called “values-based”. In these programs, employees are recognized when they do things at work that reinforce a commitment to an organization’s core values. As of 2016, 60% of organizations surveyed report a recognition program that’s tied to their values, and that’s up from 50% in 2012.²

Employee Appreciation Day 2017

Simply celebrating Employee Appreciation Day once a month, ignoring recognition the rest of the year? Definitely not in keeping with a values-based program! But don’t give up on the holiday. It’s still a reason to celebrate something at work.

And if you’re trying to make your organization a happier place to work, you can start right in on March 3, with a celebration of all the hard work and dedication shown by your employees throughout the day.

But come March 4, keep it up and find ways to develop a full-blown recognition program that lasts throughout the year. By this time next year, EAD will simply be a capstone event to highlight a full year of recognition, appreciation, good times, and ROI. Good Luck!


  1. Woodward, Woody. What Employees Want (Besides Money). Fox Business. Retrieved 2/15/2017 from https://www.foxbusiness.com/features/2016/03/03/what-employees-want-besides-money.html
  2. Findings from the SHRM/Globoforce Employee Recognition Survey: Employee Experience as a Business Driver. Retrieved 2/15/2017 from https://www.globoforce.com/resources/research-reports/shrmgloboforce-recognition-experience-business/
  3. The Deloitte Millennial Survey 2017. Deloitte. Retrieved 2/15/2017 from https://www2.deloitte.com/global/en/pages/about-deloitte/articles/millennialsurvey.html