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Imagine this: You’ve just had the most challenging day at work where almost everything that could go wrong, did go wrong. Nevertheless, you persisted and made it through the workday strong, checking off every item on your endless to-do list. Just as you are clocking out and walking out of the office, your boss catches you and hands you a small gift. She looks you in the eye and says, “Today was tough. Great work getting through it!”

That’s employee appreciation.

Employee appreciation is defined as the communication between management and employees which rewards employees for reaching specific goals or producing high quality results in the workplace.

A Brief History of Employee Appreciation Day

Employee Appreciation Day is an annual holiday that is celebrated in the beginning of March. It’s a day set aside for companies to give thanks to their employees for all of their hard work and effort throughout the year. The holiday was officially established by Recognition Professionals International and was first celebrated in 1995. It has been gaining popularity among employers and employees ever since.

The deeper meaning behind this day of appreciation is very important and should never be dismissed by companies as “unnecessary” or “frivolous.” The purpose of this day of celebration is to strengthen the bond between employer and employee. For all the time spent at work, wouldn’t it be nice for that time to be enjoyable? Showing appreciation for employees paves a foundation for a better, more productive workplace.

Although appreciation should be given throughout the year, this holiday was created to make sure all employees get appreciated at least once a year. This is a great opportunity to recognize the quiet employees that often get overlooked. This is not a day to be missed.

Employee Appreciation Must Be Celebrated Year Round

Although Employee Appreciation Day promotes strengthening work relationships, if taken only at face value it could have the reverse effect for a company. Showing appreciation to employees cannot, and should not, happen just once a year. There are another 364 days to account for!

FREE GUIDE: How to Set Up an Employee Rewards and Recognition Program

If a company simply goes through the motions of celebrating this special day once a year, it would be counter to the meaning of the holiday. Employees are sure to catch on to a sneaky organization that doesn’t put their hearts into their appreciation. This could actually lead to employee resentment, which could be extremely detrimental to your working relationship.

Fake recognition creates a turbulent workplace where employees feel undervalued and unappreciated. Often times, this breeds a hostile environment that leads to employees quitting, talking behind their employers back or flat out hating their jobs.

Companies that show consistent appreciation in the moment have a much greater chance of building strong, loyal, long lasting relationships with its employees.

The Many Consequences Of Showing Appreciation Only Once A Year

Consequences of Companies Not Showing Regular Employee Appreciation

Showing appreciation to employees just once a year undermines the whole concept of the holiday. It’s easy for employees to see past the facade of once a year ‘appreciation.’

Instead of building a lasting a relationship, employees will feel little to no attachment to their job or the company. This can lead to high turnover, job dissatisfaction, and a weak employer/employee relationship. None of these are beneficial to the company as a whole.

How companies can make employees feel valued:

  • Implement an employee recognition program. A specific program for recognizing employees who work hard encourages the employee who receives the recognition and all the employees around them.
  • Get to know your employees. Even though you might not interact with every employee every day, simply remembering someone’s name means a lot. Take an interest in what interests them.
  • Give personalized appreciation. Every employee is unique and appreciation must be tailored to each employee.

Consequences of Managers Not Showing Regular Employee Appreciation

Being caught in the middle of an insincere Employee Appreciation Day plan can cause managers undue stress and workload. Let’s say a company contributes to the holiday by giving every employee the same gift package every year and this is the only thing done by the company to show appreciation. It now becomes the manager’s responsibility to be the middle person and make sure all employees get their obligatory once-a-year gift basket. Employees easily see past the facade and the whole point of the well-intentioned appreciation becomes meaningless.

How managers can improve employee relations:

  • Make “Thank You” a part of your regular vocabulary. You’d never guess how far a simple “thank you” after a job well done can go.
  • Organize a company retreat for employees. Work retreats can help build trust and relationships between employers and employees.
  • Listen with your entire body. Employees need and want to feel heard by their managers. Encourage employees to share feedback and ideas on a regular basis and always be fully present to hear their words. Close the computer, put your phone on silent and listen.

Consequences Felt by Employees Who Are Not Shown Regular Employee Appreciation

Employees want to feel human. They want to feel like their work matters and that they are valued as part of your company. When appreciation isn’t given on a consistent basis, employees tend to feel undervalued and dissatisfied with their job. This can lead to employees not even showing appreciation among each other.

It’s a very unpleasant domino effect. If sincere appreciation isn’t coming from higher-up on a regular basis, a company can’t reasonably expect it to manifest itself on the service level. Lack of appreciation is sure to make any employee feel apathetic about work.

How employees can improve relations among colleagues:

  • Peer-to-peer recognition awards. An employee recognition program is a great way to encourage employees to recognize each other for their good work. Don’t have a program in place? You can still recognize a fellow employee by offering to pay for their morning coffee or picking up an extra shift so they can have a day off.
  • Help each other out. We could all use an extra hand now and again and it’s awfully nice to be able to count on your fellow colleagues. If you start by helping one coworker out, it may catch on.
  • Participate in team bonding exercises. Team building activities have been proven to help build employee relationships and make more integrated teams.

The Goal of Showing Employee Appreciation

Employee appreciation is supposed to promote a strong employer/ employee relationship. It makes employees feel valued as workers and can help build a long lasting working relationship.

While the concept of Employee Appreciation Day is well-intentioned, the actual acts of appreciation must be practiced on a continuous basis throughout the year and always been given with sincerity.

Having a formal employee recognition program in place can help a company improve its ability to show appreciation to employees by streamlining the process and ensuring no employee is overlooked and no employee is favored.


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