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Your Guide to Doing Nothing for Employee Appreciation Day

Posted by Patrick Ball on 2 Mar 2015

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In case you haven’t heard, Employee Appreciation Day is Friday, March 6.

Surprised? Have nothing planned?

Don’t worry about it. Really, it’s OK to do nothing out of the ordinary.

Here’s the thing about Employee Appreciation Day: It’s the Hallmark Holiday of unofficial office observances. The workplace equivalent of Valentine’s Day.

If you’re only showing your employees appreciation one day a year, you’re bound to have trouble in paradise. Big, expensive trouble. The kind of trouble you can’t buy your way out of with a dozen roses and a date night.

I could sit here and quote statistics showing how employee engagement drives organizational performance, how turnover is more expensive than retention or how employee stress costs businesses billions upon billions. Instead, let me tell you about here.

Here is 3:27 on a Monday afternoon with game of chess going on in the kitchen, and an older employee letting off steam by playing Asteroids on a classic arcade game. Here is 10 feet from a sales guy challenging his boss to a rematch on the Foosball table, and 10 more feet from a few engineers talking code over the bouncing of a ping-pong ball.

Here is an open door wine and cheese hosted every Friday in the HR department. Here is a regular reduced-cost masseuse who comes to the office. Here is a galley of standing desks that employees can reserve.

Here is a monthly support group for new parents, and another one for employees dealing with aging parents and dementia. Here is a place that is concerned about the employee stress level, and is doing something about it.

Here is a culture that values the work people do, not the hours in which they do it. Here is a Post-It note left on the desk of an introverted employee, thanking her for a job well done.

I introduce you to this place because it’s a full package of workplace culture that is making employees feel valued and appreciated – year round, not just the first Friday in March. Every day is Valentine’s Day here. And here could be anywhere.

Now here’s the thing about employee appreciation: It’s about understanding. It’s about an everyday commitment to providing your workforce with the tools, training and resources to do their jobs. It’s the realization that setting your employees up for success is setting your enterprise up for success.

What employee appreciation looks like depends on the organization, and the company culture. But what’s more important than what employee appreciation looks like is that it’s sincere, that it’s smart, and that it’s sustained.

A game room will do you no good if it’s abused or unused. Offering onsite dry-cleaning pickup helps no one if the service isn’t utilized. Filling your fridge with free beer won’t quench your workforce’s thirst for a higher 401k match. 

The key to effective employee appreciation is knowing your workforce. It’s designing your work perks, employee benefits and training programs to maximize performance and people development. It’s providing solutions to help your employees achieve work-life integration and bring their best selves to work every day.

So if you practice employee appreciation every day, it won’t take a grand gesture to keep you off the couch when Employee Appreciation Day rolls around.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a standing desk booked for 4 p.m. and my high horse doesn't quite fit.

What are you doing for Employee Appreciation Day? Tell us in the comments below.  

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