16 great Employee Appreciation Day ideas

Rachel Harmon
Samantha Mikos

Little Reminder: Employee Appreciation Day 2022 takes place Friday, March 4.


Employee appreciation is vital to an organization’s success, so of course, there’s a holiday for it! Employee Appreciation Day – one of Cristaux International’s favorite occasions – takes place on the first Friday of March, every year. A whole 24 hours dedicated to workplace gratitude and celebration. Staff members work hard all year long, so we’ve gathered a list of Employee Appreciation Day ideas to make the most of this holiday.

Like planning any party or big event, preparing for Employee Appreciation Day is a big project. You may not know why this day is important or how to plan for it. However, we’ve done our research and would like to share it with you.

Discover other recognition holidays.

EDM Wire cut metal numbers pms painted

The 16 best Employee Appreciation Day ideas

No matter how big or small your team is, Employee Appreciation Day is a holiday for all. All recognition deserves a modernized look and feel. To bring out the best in your appreciation awards, find inspiration for your upcoming recognition design.

1. Inexpensive Employee Appreciation Gifts

When thinking of gift giving, we’ve all heard the saying: “It’s the thought that counts.” The same is true for your team members. Appreciation gifts do not need to be costly. Instead, focus on something useful and personally significant for your employees. For example, you can reward them with additional paid time off, thank-you notes, their favorite snacks, company branded swag, and more.

2. Community Service and Donations

While more and more consumers look for socially conscious brands to support, so do employees and job seekers. To pay it forward and to feed your soul, you can use Employee Appreciation Day for community service.

  • Give employees paid volunteer time off
  • Organize a community service opportunity
  • Donate to a charity, on behalf of your team

Luggage brag tags gold and silver company branded for Employee Appreciation Day

3. Ideas for Small Businesses

Regardless of how many resources one has, small businesses can still make wonderful memories for their employees. For a modest team, it’s important to create something that inspires growth, while still making each member feel special. For instance, you can create plaques to recognize achievements, display in offices, and motivate others.

4. Ideas for Large Companies

If you have a big team, you can use this day as an opportunity to present multiple awards. Additionally, it’s crucial to create something personal for employees. For example, managers can recognize their everyday colleagues with personalized custom awards. Also, you can encourage peer-to-peer recognition with a people’s choice award voted on by staff members.

5. Guest Speaker

You can invite an expert in your industry to speak to your team on Employee Appreciation Day. This way, you use the holiday as a time for learning and growth. Additionally, you can host others outside of your industry like a life coach to inspire your team or a comedian to have fun.

Company event guest speaker on stage as an Employee Appreciation idea

6. Free Food

Who doesn’t love free food? You can cater a delicious lunch to thank your team for their ongoing dedication and hard work. However, it’s important to consider and order for any allergies and dietary restrictions. This way, you can foster an inclusive company culture.

7. Years of Service Awards

Honoring a dedicated employee with a work anniversary gift is a great way to celebrate Employee Appreciation Day. For example, you can give personal thank-you notes to employees on the day of their anniversary. Then, you can give awards to all honorees on this holiday.

8. Time to Pursue Passions

If you want your employees to know you care about their personal growth, then you can give them half or the whole day off to pursue their passions. They will be grateful to have extra time to themselves. Additionally, you can incentivize them by hosting a company show-and-tell or presenting awards for personal achievements.

Award show table with all the crystal trophies

9. Employee Incentive Programs

Incentives for employees can motivate team members to achieve a wide variety of goals. Perhaps, you establish a year-long goal with its deadline on Employee Appreciation Day. You can brand the special occasion as a day of celebration and reward.

10. Personal Development Support

Employee Appreciation Day is a chance to honor the individuals who work for you. You can take this time to support them and their lives outside of work. For example, you can provide personal financial support or host a seminar to discover personal goals and strengths.

11. Activities and Specialists

Let your team have fun all day long by hosting unique activities and specialists. Consider the following ideas.

  • Organize a cooking class
  • Bring in a masseuse
  • Go bowling
  • Host a caricature artist
  • Let your team choose an activity

Crystal and metal vase with sand etch personalization for Employee Appreciation Day

12. Corporate Gifts

Giving corporate gifts is a fundamental tactic for improving professional relationships. When selecting gifts for employees, it’s important to consider their hobbies, interests, and passions. For example, if a team member likes to bake, then you can give them a cookbook or kitchenware.

Browse our corporate gift guide for more ideas.

13. Employee Recognition Survey

Employee Recognition Day is a great chance to reflect on your recognition efforts. To show you take your company culture seriously, you can ask your team members for feedback. Coordinate a survey that will allow your team to share their thoughts on your recognition efforts, benefits, and more. You can gather great insights to strengthen your company. Also, you can improve relationships by listening to and honoring employee feedback.

14. Wellness Programs

Healthy employees are more likely to show greater engagement and productivity at work. Luckily, wellness programs can inspire and support your staff members’ health and well-being. Examples of corporate wellness include health screenings, parenting support, and flexible working hours. You can also treat your team to a day of relaxation and rejuvenation, to help alleviate stress.

Award show ceremony recipients on stage with crystal awards

15. Awards Ceremony

Employee Appreciation Day can be your opportunity to gather your team for a company-wide celebration. Complete with impeccable award presentation, an awards ceremony shows others that you put a lot of effort into recognition. Also, you can make this into a beloved tradition for your team.

16. Monetary or Promotional Recognition

As much as we love thank-you notes and trophies, some employees prefer monetary or promotional recognition. This includes granting bonuses, assigning new projects to employees who want them, and more. By promoting employees, you show that you trust them and want to see them grow.

Why celebrate Employee Appreciation Day?

Employee Appreciation Day is celebrated because it encourages recognition and makes stronger businesses. Employee recognition is a crucial element of company culture and employee retention. Founded by Bob Nelson in 1995, Employee Appreciation Day was designed to strengthen employee-employer relationships.

Custom drinkware swag to celebrate Employee Appreciation Day

How do you celebrate Employee Appreciation during Covid?

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the distance between remote staff members may make recognition efforts more difficult to coordinate. However, you can celebrate Employee Appreciation Day through a virtual platform. With advanced workplace technology, you can still reach your team members. Consider the following Employee Appreciation Day ideas for remote employees.

How to make every day an Employee Appreciation Day

You can continue the positivity of Employee Appreciation Day year-round with an employee recognition program. By developing programs, recognition becomes routine. Whether you honor your staff every quarter or every day, you can instill a healthy culture of recognition.

Daily recognition ideas include:

  • Acknowledging team members’ achievements or skills in meetings
  • Directly messaging employees who prefer private recognition
  • Giving a shout-out to employees in company newsletters or on social media
  • Writing and giving sticky notes of encouragement
  • Celebrating employee birthdays

Team meeting in office setting

Celebrate your staff with good ideas for Employee Appreciation Day

Employee Appreciation Day ideas are all meant to celebrate your team in a meaningful way. It’s important to give yourself the time to prepare in advance. By being thoughtful and taking your time, your recognition effort will be more sincere. Connect with our team and bring your program to life.

Contact Cristaux to begin developing your employee recognition program today.