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8 Creative Employee Appreciation Day Ideas

Here at Kudos, we think employees should feel recognized every day, but it never hurts to make your team feel extra special on this important day.

8 Creative Employee Appreciation Day Ideas

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Every year, the first Friday of March is Employee Appreciation Day – what do you have planned?

Here at Kudos, we think employees should feel recognized every day, but it never hurts to make your team feel extra special on this important day.

Whether you manage a large in-office staff or an agile, distributed team working remotely worldwide, one of the ideas below should work for you.

Why Celebrate Employee Appreciation Day?

Employee Appreciation Day isn't necessarily a real holiday, true, but you should still celebrate it!

Even small gestures on Employee Appreciation Day can boost team morale, increase employee engagement, and drive individual and corporate performance with the simple power of a thank you or job well done. In other words, anything you can do to make your employees feel valued and appreciated will pay big dividends.

Fortunately, celebrating your team doesn't have to be complicated. Keep reading to learn eight creative Employee Appreciation Day ideas you can use. We've also included remote alternatives for distributed teams and teams that are temporarily working remotely.

Let's dive in!

1. Spring for Lunch

What makes everything better? Good food! Show your employees how much you value their contributions by hiring a classy caterer to cook a delicious meal for your team.

If you want to take this Employee Appreciation Day idea to the next level, pair it with one of the other ideas below (#2 Bring in an Educational Speaker or #3 Get Out of the Office, would work well) and create a truly fantastic experience for your staff.

Remote Alternative: Send lunch to your team! Using a meal delivery service like Uber Eats, you can have lunch delivered to your team and together virtually.

2. Hire an Educational Speaker

Your Employee Appreciation Day celebration can be fun and educational. Bring in an industry thought-leader to speak to your team. They'll enjoy the change of pace, a chance to level-up their skills, and everyone will benefit from valuable new knowledge.

Remote Alternative: Rather than bringing in an educational speaker, have them deliver their knowledge via a video conferencing tool like Zoom. Alternatively, have some fun and book a comedian to brighten up everyone’s day. Remember that with people working from home, it can be hard to dedicate large blocks of time without getting pulled into distractions, so be sure to provide frequent breaks throughout the session and keep it to one-hour maximum.

3. Get Out of the Office

Did someone say field trip? While you might not be able to take your employees to a museum or concert right now, there are plenty of safe activities that your team can enjoy while staying physically distanced, like going for a hike or visiting a park.

Remote Alternative: Instead of planning a team field trip, try a remote team scavenger hunt.

1. Come up with a list of ten things people can find in their homes or communities.

2. Divide everyone into teams of two or three people who will work together over Zoom, Facetime, or some other video calling app.

3. Give everyone one hour to find as many items as possible from the list (ask everyone to take pictures with their phones).

Consider adding tasks like picking up and throwing away a piece of litter or some other good deed for an added dimension.

4. Plan a Volunteer Day

Most people want to do good for the world. A 2017 study found that 70% of working Americans think volunteering is a better way to raise team morale than company happy hours. Allow your employees to give back by scheduling a volunteer day.

You could, for example, find a way to support a local homeless shelter or senior living home. Or you could sign up to plant trees, partner with Meals on Wheels, or walk dogs. Ask your team what causes they'd like to support or schedule volunteer work that aligns with your company values.

Remote Alternative: Remote teams probably won't be able to volunteer together. But that doesn't mean they can't volunteer at all. Allow each of your employees to take an afternoon off to assist a local charity of their choice. If physical distancing is required, one great option is to provide pro-bono professional support to local charities, which could be anything from designing a new website to calling their list of potential donors.

5. Host a Pet Introduction Session

Here's a wild idea: host a pet introduction session at the office and allow your staff to introduce their furry companions to their colleagues on Employee Appreciation Day. It will be fun for all involved and will help your employees reduce stress!

Of course, this idea must be handled with care. You certainly don't want an employee's pup making a mess on the office floor, and you should be mindful of people’s allergies. But if you can make it work, it's a great way to show your team that you appreciate them and care about their lives outside of work.

Remote Alternative: Host a pet introduction party via Zoom. Spouse and kid introductions are also welcome!

6. Plan a Guided Meditation Event

Life is hectic and stressful, which is why hiring a professional to guide your team through a meditation session is one of our top Employee Appreciation Day ideas.

While it may sound simple, a guided meditation could help your employees wash away months of anxiety related to tight deadlines and long commutes. That may be pushing it, but trust us, your team will appreciate the chance to relax.

Remote Alternative: Another plus to guided meditations? They're easy to host via Zoom for remote teams. Ask your team to log on at a specific time and let your meditation guide help them relax from their home offices.

7. Choose a Subscription Box

The subscription box industry has exploded in recent years, which is why this is another one of our favorite Employee Appreciation Day ideas. Do your employees like wine and cheese? There's a box for that. Do they own pets? There are boxes for that, too. Whatever your team is into, there's undoubtedly a subscription box that will cater to them. Here is an extensive list of options to check out.

Note: You probably don't plan to pay for the subscription box for an extended period; let your team know exactly how long their subscription lasts and how they can extend it themselves if they would like.

Remote Alternative: Subscription boxes also work for most distributed teams — unless you manage employees who live in areas where the subscription box service doesn't ship. In this case, consider a unique digital subscription to a service like Masterclass or Udemy.

8. Publicly Recognize Your Team

Finally, celebrate your team with one of the easiest and most impactful Employee Appreciation Day ideas: giving meaning and memorable public recognition. Work with your management team to make sure every single employee is recognized. Better yet, have a celebrity tell your team how proud you are of them via a Cameo video.

We all want recognition for our hard work. By posting about your team on social media or using a tool like Kudos to celebrate individual team members in front of their peers, you'll show your staff that you genuinely appreciate them and their efforts.

Remote Alternative: No need for an alternative here! Public recognition, whether it comes in the form of company social media posts or via Kudos, works just as well for distributed teams as it does for in-office staff.

Celebrate Your Employees!

Employee appreciation is crucial to your company's success. While we absolutely recommend celebrating Employee Appreciation Day this coming March, we also encourage you to recognize your team for their outstanding contributions every day!

About Kudos®

Kudos® is an employee engagement, culture, and analytics platform, that harnesses the power of peer-to-peer recognition, values reinforcement, and open communication to help organizations boost employee engagement, reduce turnover, improve culture, and drive productivity and performance. Kudos® uses unique proprietary methodologies to deliver essential people analytics on culture, performance, equity, and inclusion, providing organizations with deep insights and a clear understanding of their workforce.

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