Celebrating the Employee Appreciation Day can positively affect your employees. A culture of employee appreciation can also have positive impact on motivation.

Employee Appreciation Day: What does it mean?

Celebrating the Employee Appreciation Day can positively affect your employees. A culture of employee appreciation can also have positive impact on motivation.

The Employee Appreciation Day is celebrated every year on the first Friday of March and it's a holiday celebrated in the US and Canada.

Who created the Employee Appreciation Day?

Created in 1995 by Bob Nelson as a day for companies and managers to thank their employees for all the effort and hard work that they have put in during the year.

What does it mean?

Companies often show their appreciation by giving gifts, organizing events or activities, or showing special, specific recognition for employees. The superordinate purpose is to strengthen the relationship between the employee and the employer. But one day a year to celebrate employees isn’t good enough! You shouldn’t wait for one day in a year to show your appreciation to your employees. There is growing attention for recognition in the workplace. We have written extensively in previous blogs about engagement, appreciation and recognition and their associations with improvements in productivity, motivation and retention.

Mark today as the day of change! The day when you switch from annual appreciation to continuous appreciation; making a promise to your team to recognize their efforts and reward them accordingly. The blog below looks at why you should show appreciation; what it takes and some ideas helping to show appreciation.

Why should you have frequent employee appreciation days?

According to a poll by Tjinsite, 35% of employees consider a lack of recognition of work as the greatest barrier to increased productivity. This poll suggests that rewards and recognition have the power to act as a morale booster which has a consequential positive impact on an individual’s productivity. According to a Gallup (2010) poll, disengaged workers cost the US economy over $300 billion annually.

“Nurturing a positive company culture, offering tailored benefits packages and generous salary arrangements should all rank highly on the list of priorities for companies that take an active interest in making their employees feel valued and appreciated. Businesses aware of the direct correlation between workplace satisfaction and business productivity should act accordingly if they want to boost their output and gain a competitive edge.” - Geoff Pearce ~ NGA Human Resources

Importantly, a Glassdoor ‘Employee Appreciation Survey’ found that 68% of employees say their manager shows them enough appreciation. Pertinently, over half (53%) of employees say that they would stay longer at the company if they felt they were appreciated more by their manager. In fact, appreciation appears to have an impressive effect on motivation to work, 81% report that they’re motivated to work harder when their boss shows a level of appreciation for the work that they do. Compared to 38% of respondents who say they become motivated to work harder when their boss is demanding, and 37% of respondents who report they are motivated to work harder over fears that they will lose their job. Above we have outlined the effects that employee appreciation has on productivity, morale and motivation, but its influence extends to other variables in the workplace, namely:

  • Greater employee satisfaction
  • Improved teamwork
  • Lower absenteeism
  • Lower stress
  • Direct performance feedback
  • Improved customer feedback

How can you improve your employee appreciation strategy?

There are many ways how to show employee appreciation; one of the most common forms being an employee of the month certificate. However, this old standby is ineffective for multiple reasons as explained in this blog by Bonusly.

On the contrary, in their book ‘Rising above a toxic workplace’, Gary Chapman and Paul White researched appreciation across a range of employee groups in the US. They discovered four conditions that need to be fulfilled for employees to feel properly appreciated:

Communication: This varies in the workplace, but regular communication is super important! Don’t leave it for the annual performance review! Appreciation will begin to lose value if it is not given in a timely manner. According to Gallup, employees need some form of recognition every seven days to prevent their productivity levels waning.

Genuine and Authentic: The way that you present yourself to your employees is very important. Facial expressions, cadence, tone, posture and body language more generally should match what is being conveyed verbally.

Individualized and Personal: Relate your appreciation to targeted events. This shows employees that you are noting specific things that they are doing, as opposed to their general work. This is something we picked up on in the behavioral science in the workplace blog.

Tailored: Different people like different approaches to appreciation. Pick up on what each of your employees like, and tie in your appreciation with the best method of delivery. Some like it formal, some like it informal.


There are other conditions and methods which help boost employee appreciation:

Continuous: Instead of showing your appreciation at stereotypical ‘Employee of the Month’ awards, or worse… annually on Employee Appreciation Day! Instead, recognize employees when they deserve it, make appreciation continuous.

Create a culture of peer-to-peer recognition: Peer-to-peer recognition provides a different dynamic in which appreciation can occur. Appreciation from colleagues often seems more genuine as they are better acquainted with the personal efforts of individuals. Peer recognition is 35.7% more likely to have a positive influence on financial results, compared to manager-only recognition.

Innovative tactics: You can show appreciation in a range of different ways. The classics are financial incentives and simple recognition. But there are different and innovative methods to showing appreciation: flexible hours, sports memberships, fruit deliveries, create a celebration calendar and our personal favorite social recognition (check out this blog (behavioural science blog, insert hyperlink to behavioural science blog when available) to find out what this is).

At PeopleGoal, we want to help you to create an effective, engaging set of tools that support your team in their professional development and work to deliver your unique business outcomes.

Want to know more? Read more from our blog here: PeopleGoal Blog

Joseph Garvey

Joseph Garvey

Marketing Analyst

8 minute readPublished on March 9, 2019