"What do Employee Appreciation Day & Valentine's Day have in common?" Written above 2 hearts and a bear

What do March 2nd and February 14th have in common?

In Recognition and Engagement by Lori McKnight

What do Employee Appreciation & Valentine's Day have in common?

Since 1995, Employee Appreciation Day has been celebrated on the first Friday of March, which happens to be March 2nd this year.

Recognition is the number one driver of employee engagement so it’s not surprisingly there is a day to encourage organizations to share some love. Employees who feel appreciated are better performers, take less sick time and stay with you longer.

So… what does Valentine’s Day have in common with Employee Appreciation Day you ask?

First off…

1. It’s a big day for engagement

Roughly 10 percent of couples in the United States choose Valentine’s Day as the perfect day to get engaged.

I don’t have the numbers but many employers make Employee Appreciation an “official” day for their company to strengthen the bond between employer and employee with words, actions and gifts.

2. It can be costly to forget

If you’ve ever forgotten to pick up a Valentine’s Day card or flowers for your significant other, you know what I’m talking about.

Most employees will spend more time at work than they will in any other activity, except sleeping. While you don’t want to cram a year’s worth of appreciation into one day, you don’t want to neglect this day either. Employee Appreciation Day is a great time to show how much you appreciate the hard work your people perform every day.

3. It’s a reminder that appreciation should be a natural part of your day

If you know what’s good for you, you don’t wait until Valentine’s Day to thank your significant other for doing things that show he/she cares about you. February 14th is that friendly reminder to recognize the stars in your life.

The same principle applies in the workplace. Appreciation should be something managers and employees at every level “just do” when they see someone go over and above to help a client/colleague or demonstrate actions that reflect your core values. Showing employees their efforts are noticed and valued encourages repeat performances.

If Employee Appreciation Day crept up on you, don’t sweat it. Here are some things you can do now to be ready for March 2nd.

1. Food for Thought

I haven’t met anyone who doesn’t appreciate a free lunch. Celebrate the day by catering a lunch, bringing in breakfast or coming up with a fun 3pm snack. Food brings people together (and gets everyone away from their screens – no phones allowed) which is great for morale, team-building and communications.

2. Thank Them for Sticking with You

An inexpensive and creative way for you to say thanks anytime of the year is to design a special sticker for your office or organization. CSI STARS decals come with a message card and fun envelope. A custom gift that can be put on laptops, notebooks, lunchboxes, helmets, you name it.

If you have a STARS Performance program, our On-the-Spot thank you cards can be redeemed for gifts. But not gifts you choose. Let employees choose the gifts they want or save their points to redeem for a larger gift later. Choice is key.

3. It’s About Time

Cellphones, emails and online meetings make it increasingly more difficult to leave work at the office. In fact, 71 percent of employees claim the workplace is a major form of stress. It’s getting tougher to juggle professional duties and personal responsibilities with only so many hours in the day. Flexible work options and time off can be a big boost to mental well-being, which in turn boosts your bottom line.

Why not give employees a break on Employee Appreciation Day with a “Get out of the Office Early” coupon or close the doors at 3pm on Friday to let folks do errands or get home for an early weekend.

High employee stress levels lead to increased turnover, more absenteeism and decreased productivity. The simple gift of time allows employees a little break from the daily tension between work and family.

How you decide to celebrate Employee Appreciation Day is up to you. As with Valentine’s Day, my advice is simply to make sure you do something.

For help and ideas, contact us today!

Author: Lori McKnight

Lori McKnight
Lori is the VP of Recognition for CSI International Inc. She has a MBA with a minor in Human Resources, is a Certified Recognition Professional and member of the SHRM blog squad. Prior to joining CSI STARS, she worked at Mercer Human Resource Consulting and Youthography, a youth market research agency. Connect with CSI STARS on LinkedIn to learn how we cultivate a workforce that loves coming to work.