For more than 20 years, companies around the globe have celebrated Employee Appreciation Day as a single day to show gratitude to the employees that make it all possible.
Employee Appreciation Day in the United States and Canada is celebrated on the first Friday of March. This year the day of thanks falls on this Friday, March 3rd.
While it’s difficult to pinpoint the exact date of the first Employee Appreciation Day, there has been a considerable history of employers and bosses celebrating employees since the early 1950’s.
Where Did Employee Appreciation Day Come From?
In 1952, Mary Barrett of the National Secretaries Association met with C. King Woodbridge of the Dictaphone Corporation and Harry Klemfuss of Young & Rubicam to discuss a plan for publicly recognizing secretaries as a way to motivate more women to seek jobs as secretaries. This was an effective way to both recruit more women into the workforce and show them the support and appreciation they needed to keep at it.
While the date and name of the original National Secretaries Day has changed over the years, it set a precedent for showing appreciation for employees for the first time in North American businesses. From this single day of secretary appreciation sprung a number of other employee appreciation days have been established for specific professions and positions.
Employee Appreciation Days For Everyone
Over the years, additional employee appreciation days have been added unofficially for almost every profession under the sun. Below we’ve listed some of the more popular appreciation days.
Keep in mind, because these days of celebration are unofficial, their dates may differ in some countries and organizations. But, the overlaying meaning is still there: employees deserve and want to be appreciated.
Profession-Specific Employee Appreciation Days Include:
- Customer Service Day – January 17th
- Teacher Appreciation Day – January 25th
- Registered Dietitian Day – March 9th
- National Histotechnology Professionals Day – March 10th
- International Client’s Day – March 19th
- National Doctors’ Day – March 30th
- Radiologic & Imaging Nurses Day – April 12th
- Administrative Professionals Day – April 27th
- School Principal’s Day – May 1st
- National Nurses Day – May 6th
- Human Resources Appreciation Day – May 9th
- National School Nurse Day – May 11th
- Global Garbage Man Day – June 17th
- Professional Engineers Day – August 3rd
- National IT Professionals Day – September 19th
- National Boss’ Day – October 16th
- National Intern Appreciation Day – October 23rd
- Graphic Design Appreciation Day – October 26th
- Love Your Lawyer Day – November 3rd
- International Accounting Day – November 10th
- National Education Support Appreciation Day – November 19th
There are so many profession-specific employee appreciation days. Tell us your favorite in the comments section at the end of this blog post.
The Growing Popularity of Employee Appreciation Day
Dr. Bob Nelson is often credited with being the official founder of Employee Appreciation Day since he initiated its widespread popularity gain with the release of his book, “1001 Ways to Reward Employees” in 1995.
“Ideally, employees should be valued all year round, especially when they have performed well, but the first step is raising awareness about the importance of recognition on the part of every manager. Employee Appreciation Day has helped serve that purpose.” – Dr. Bob Nelson
Nelson couldn’t be more right! When employees feel appreciated by their employer, they are more likely to work harder, smarter and feel more satisfied with their job. Employee satisfaction is a leading reason many employees choose to stick with their employers for years and even their entire career.
Employee Appreciation Day really comes down to an organization showing gratitude for their hard-working employees. There are millions of ways to show your appreciation on a company-wide level and within individual teams.
The gesture could take the form of just about anything, but the most important factor is it is sincere. Below are just a few ideas to get your wheels spinning.
Here are just a few ways to show your thanks:
- Write a handwritten note of thanks
- Treat your employees to breakfast, lunch or a special snack
- Throw an office party or schedule a get-together for after work
- Offer the day off or close your doors an hour early
- Give gifts like a gift card, flowers or branded company apparel
- Plan a teambuilding event
- Invite employees’ families to participate in a family fun day
- Have a casual dress day
- Bring in a masseuse, a manicurist or an acupuncturist for a little R&R
- Share photos of your superstars to your company social media pages
Share your most successful employee appreciation ideas in the comments below!
Use Employee Appreciation Day As a Launching Point for Regular Employee Recognition
In a more recent interview, Nelson pressed that Employee Appreciation Day should be seen as a tool to incorporate regular recognition into the workplace, not just a single day of celebration.
“I’m a big advocate of using recognition on a daily basis. By no means is Employee Appreciation Day meant to be this one day to thank people or this one day to bring in doughnuts, but I did want to have one day where we could call attention to the topic and have conversations about its importance.” – Dr. Bob Nelson
This Employee Appreciation Day, while you gather around the break room for a company sponsored appreciation lunch or deliver a note of thanks to an employee, take the conversation one step further. Ask employees directly whether they are happy with their jobs and seek specific recommendations for improving morale. You might be surprised how eager your employees are to share their ideas with team leaders and managers.
How Will You Celebrate This Employee Appreciation Day?
Employee Appreciation Day is just a few days away! Whether you are throwing a big employee appreciation event or showing appreciation quietly through a card and a gift, remember sincerity is key. Be present with your employees as you thank them and don’t be afraid to ask for feedback.
Better yet, use this Employee Appreciation Day as an opportunity to begin an Employee Recognition Program for everyday, in the moment recognition. Studies show that regular recognition improves workplace morale, increases output and builds long-term employer-employee relationships.