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5 Fun Ways to Celebrate Employee Appreciation Day

The first Friday of each March is Employee Appreciation Day, and many companies choose to give back to their employees to celebrate the holiday. Employee Appreciation Day allows you to boost your employees’ morale and make them feel valued. This can allow you to retain your employees for longer and make them more productive. A small gift is an excellent way to reap the benefits of appreciating your employees without spending a fortune on gifts. Read on to learn the history of Employee Appreciation Day, fun ways to celebrate, gift ideas for Employee Appreciation Day and how SwagMagic can make your next celebration the best one yet.

A person opening a gift.

History of Employee Appreciation Day

In 1995, Dr. Bob Nielson released his book, 1,001 Ways to Reward Employees. He believed managers needed to realize the importance of valuing their employees. He has previously written his doctoral dissertation on the importance of employee recognition. In conjunction with his book’s release, he decided to create Employee Appreciation Day.

5 Fun ways to celebrate Employee Appreciation Day

There are numerous ways you can celebrate Employee Appreciation Day, including:

Host a game day

Who doesn’t love a friendly competition? Game days acts as best employee engagement idea for some fun around the office or virtually. If you’re staying in the office, consider having people bring in their favorite board games, create a scavenger hunt of host a trivia contest. This is an excellent team-building event that allows people to get to know one another. Field trips can include going to a baseball diamond or bowling alley. To let your employees continue the fun at home, consider getting them a games kit.

Go to lunch

Everyone’s gotta eat, and lunch is an excellent way to have a fun time with one another while getting over the mid-day slump with lunch. Look to poll your employees to see where they’d like to order lunch from or consider taking them all out to a restaurant near the office. If you really want to make it a fun experience, consider taking everyone out to a nearby park and have a picnic. As an added bonus, serve their lunches in this collapsible picnic basket that they can take home with them. For virtual or fully remote teams, consider having dedicated team lunch hours where everyone eats together on Zoom or orders food at the company’s expense.

Go to happy hour

There’s nothing more relaxing than taking some time after work to get a couple drinks with your colleagues, so why not try to gain some traction with your employees and treat them to happy hour after work ends? This will let you get a chance to really know your employees and see them in a much more decompressed environment. To include your virtual employees, consider appreciating them with gifts like the Frosty Beer to keep their beers nice and cool even during those raging summer months.

Fix up their workplace

There’s nothing more disheartening than a drab office. Looking at the same things over and over again, a lack of décor and a number of employees just working away gets pretty old fast. Although it may not be the most fun activity on our list, consider rehabilitating your employees’ office spaces to create cohesive workspaces that your employees actually want to go to in everyday. This will increase their morale at work which can help their productivity as well. Get them in on the action to help you decide on color schemes for a bonding experience. However big or small you decide to go with your remodel, you can find some great neutral items people will love, including this business card holder.

A person at a desk looking over their left shoulder and smiling.

Give a day off

Hey, sometimes you need a break. If you’re feeling like you need a breather, your employees are definitely feeling that way too. Rather than worrying about giving them a gift, consider giving them the gift of freedom from the office for the day. This is an excellent way to give yourself a much deserved break as well as your employees. If you want to make the experience enjoyable, consider sending them home with an item or two from the following list of gift ideas for Employee Appreciation Day.

7 Gift ideas for Employee Appreciation Day

We’re all for employee appreciation ideas. Not only are you showing you care, but you’re also letting your employees have something to enjoy when they’re not in the office. Some popular options for unique employee appreciation gifts include:

Desk Vacuum

Let’s be honest, we’ve all had those days where we need to eat at our desk. (Okay, maybe everyday). Unfortunately, this leads to crumbs and gunk potentially building up and a messy workspace as a result. Not only is this gadget handy, but also fun to use and oh so satisfying.

Spot Touch Toolkit

How many times have you lost your keys? How often do you go someplace and wish you didn’t need to touch a button? The Spot Touch tool kit can help you find your keys while also helping you avoid germy spaces. Rather than spending hours on the great key hunt or risk catching a nasty germ, this tool kit will allow you to live your best germ and stress free life.

Diamond Patterned Blanket

Who doesn’t love a good blanket to cuddle up in with a movie on a winter night? We know we do, and we’re guessing a lot of your employees do too. This diamond-patterned blanket is butter soft and allows your employees to relax once they get home.

Square Food Container

Are you tired of the office fridge getting filled with a bunch of mismatched containers that no one looks at ever again? Do you want to give your employees an incentive to bring lunch to work? This food container more than fits the bill. Featuring a pressure lock system that stays sealed, this container will become an office favorite.

Chain Bracelet

People are always up for unique jewelry, and this unisex bar chain bracelet is an excellent way to show your employees you care. Available in several different colors and easily customized, this bar bracelet will quickly become a favorite accessory for all your employees.

Duffel Bag

There’s nothing worse than showing up without the right bag, especially during a work conference. This duffel bag will allow your employees to have a high-quality travel experience with a bag that will last for years to come.

Coaster Set

We don’t know about you, but we’re really big on versatility. Far too often, we receive items that only have one purpose…and we can never find them when we need them. These coasters are an excellent option for those who want versatile, functional pieces. Featuring everything from a butterfly wrench to a nail puller, this coaster will be a hit at home and in the office.

Smartphone Holder

We all have smart phones, so why not give the gift of a safe talking experience with this smartphone holder? Not only will your employees be safer on the road, they’ll also have a stylish accessory for their car.

How we can help you set up a branded swag store

An ad for building a branded swag store. A Teambuilds swag store is seen on a laptop.

No matter how hard you try, you’re probably not going to please all your employees with your gifts for Employee Appreciation Day. Rather than worrying about getting something everyone likes, consider setting up your own SwagMagic store. You’ll be able to set spending limits to allow your employees to pick out their favorite items while staying in budget. Learn more here.

Frequently Asked Questions:

When is Employee Appreciation Day?

Employee Appreciation Day takes place on the first Friday of March each year. This is a day for employers to give recognition to employees for all of their hard work, loyalty, and dedication.

When is National Employee Appreciation Day? 

National Employee Appreciation Day takes place in the United States annually. The holiday falls on the first Friday of March each year. Despite National Employee Appreciation Day originally being a United States holiday, the holiday is celebrated nationally across numerous other countries. 

What is Employee Appreciation Day? 

Employee Appreciation Day is a holiday dedicated to the recognition of employees. National Employee Appreciation Day is a chance for employers to show recognition and appreciation to employees in ways that are fun, engaging and rewarding. The holiday takes place annually on the first Friday of March. On this holiday employers often show appreciation through employee appreciation gifts, employee appreciation messages, employee appreciation parties, employee appreciation activities and other ways of showing appreciation. 

When did Employee Appreciation Day start?

Employee Appreciation Day began in the United States in 1995. The holiday was first implemented by Dr. Bob Nelson, a founding member of Recognition Professionals International. Dr. Nelson originally created the holiday as a means to market the publication launch of his book, 1001 Ways to Reward Employees. The book serves as a reminder to managers everywhere of the importance of showing gratitude and recognition to employees when they do good work. Dr. Nelson worked with his publishing company to make the holiday appear prominently on workplace calendars, making Employee Appreciation Day a nationally recognized holiday in the United States. Today it is recognized as a holiday across countries and companies worldwide. 

When is employee appreciation month? 

Employee Appreciation Day takes place in the month of March every year. Employers can take initiative to show their employees just how valuable they are by taking Employee Appreciation Day and turning it into a month-long celebration of appreciation. This can be done by handing out employee appreciation gifts, messages, and incentives throughout the month of March. 

When is employee appreciation week?

Employee Appreciation Day falls on the first Friday of March each year. Employers can show extra appreciation and recognition to their employees by turning the first week of March into a week-long celebration. Employers can also dedicate a week of their choosing to celebrating employee appreciation. 

Who created Employee Appreciation Day?

Employee Appreciation Day was created by Dr. Bob Nelson, a founding member of Recognition Professionals International. Dr. Nelson created the holiday as a way to market the launch of his book, 1001 Ways to Reward Employees. This book serves as a guide for employers on how to recognize employees for their hard work and dedication. Dr. Nelson’s team got National Employee Appreciation Day to appear in calendars across the United States, thus creating a new national holiday. 

What is National Employee Appreciation Day? 

National Employee Appreciation Day is a holiday in the United States that takes place on the first Friday of March each year. Despite the holiday being a United States holiday, the day is celebrated in multiple countries abroad. It is also observed in Canada and the United Kingdom and has rapidly gained popularity since it first became a holiday in 1995.

What to do for National Employee Appreciation Day?

There are various fun and engaging ways that employers can celebrate Employee Appreciation Day. Some of the best ideas for Employee Appreciation Day include gifts, messages of appreciation, parties, fun activities such as games or team building activities, or bonus appreciation incentives for employees, such as getting to leave early or a bonus PTO day. 

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