40 Employee Appreciation Day Ideas

40 Employee Appreciation Day Ideas
Last Updated: September 20, 2023

Employee Appreciation Day is an event that takes place annually on the first Friday of March. It is a day when employers can show appreciation for their employees' hard work. Employee Appreciation Day is essential for maintaining the employee's morale, increasing work productivity and performance, and reducing employee turnover.

Related: ​Employees need both Recognition and Appreciation

40 Employee Appreciation Day Ideas: Background


Workman Publishing introduced National Employee Appreciation Day on March 1st 1995, as a reminder to managers that fostering strong employer-employee relationships is essential to building a thriving business.

According to an article by Mary Madhavi Reddy, Employee Appreciation Day came about as a response to Boss's Day, which reminded employees of the significance of showing appreciation to their bosses. Despite Boss's Day originating in 1958, it took four decades for the idea of reciprocating the sentiment to become an official day.

Further insights on Employee Appreciation Day by Chiradeep BasuMallick indicate that many companies have established some form of formal recognition program. In contrast, many others use a combination of both formal and informal methods. Based on key statistics, acknowledging length of service is the most common type of recognition event at work, with 72% of companies acknowledging it. Additionally, 62% of companies recognize exceptional performance and 55% offer spot recognition. The number of companies implementing formal employee appreciation programs has increased from 19% in 2005 to 23% in 2019. Despite this growth, 31% of survey respondents feel that their recognition programs only partially meet their goals. Apart from the 31%, 4% indicate their goals are not being met. These findings suggest that appreciation through recognition is prevalent in most workplaces. The need to develop a comprehensive culture of well-being, engagement, and motivation.

Related: 80 Fun Team Building Activities for Work

40 Employee Appreciation Day Ideas

Employee Appreciation Day Ideas

1. Celebrating Employee Appreciation Day: Celebrating the day itself is a great way to demonstrate gratitude for employees' dedication. This can be achieved through a variety of activities or special events. By organizing exciting and unique events on this day, you can show your employees how much you value them and their contributions to the company.

2. Provide a catered lunch or meal: One of the simplest and most effective ways to show appreciation is to provide a catered lunch or meal for employees. This can be a great opportunity for employees to socialize and bond over a meal.

3. Plan a retreat: Organizing an off-site or team retreat can significantly impact employees. It allows socializing outside the office and engaging in learning and networking activities. Include fun activities and plan exciting meals or outings to make it enjoyable. Invite an engaging speaker and select a unique and memorable venue. Retreats strengthen the bond among employees, leading to increased productivity. Incorporating elements that show appreciation to employees further enhances the experience.

4. Give employees a day off: A specific time for employee appreciation could be set aside just as meetings and breaks are scheduled. For instance, small businesses may have weekly sessions highlighting positive employee behavior, while larger companies can opt for a team-wise model.

5. Informal appreciation: Informal appreciation is typically exhibited when individuals or teams achieve significant milestones or successfully complete a challenging project. While it may not happen daily, informal appreciation can be made memorable through simple gestures such as a low-cost memento, a small pizza party, a culturally diverse potluck, or a happy hour at a local pub.

6. Formal appreciation: Formal appreciation, on the other hand, is more structured and involves a nomination, a thorough selection process, and a ceremony or special event. It occurs less frequently and requires more planning and preparation.

7. Offer raises and bonuses: One of the most straightforward ways to express appreciation for your employees is to offer them raises or bonuses. Giving raises above the regular cost of living adjustments is a powerful approach to keep your top employees content and productive. Additionally, bonuses can be incorporated into the company's compensation plan for high-performing individuals or teams to encourage their ongoing efforts and acknowledge their achievements. This gesture is an excellent way to incentivize their work and show gratitude for their dedication to achieving their targets.

8. Use a corporate gamification system: Gamification systems enable allocating points or tokens to complete certain tasks or achievements. Employees can then use these points or tokens to select a range of rewards selected by the employer, from small rewards like Bluetooth speakers to bigger ones like additional paid time off. Employers can get creative with these systems to provide compelling rewards that suit their employees' preferences.

9. Encourage peer-to-peer relationships: Encouraging a culture of recognition can be done by implementing a peer-to-peer recognition program. This system allows employees to acknowledge and appreciate the efforts of their colleagues. By recognizing their peers, employees promote teamwork, boost morale, and create a more positive work environment. A peer-to-peer recognition program is a great way to show employees that their work is valued and appreciated by their colleagues.

10. Giving a half day: Employees can benefit from a little time off to recharge and attend to their obligations. Scheduling half days off, especially before long weekends, can demonstrate additional appreciation. It's unlikely that anyone will complain about having less time at work. Offering gifts from the employee schedule is an excellent way to show appreciation to employees.

11. Introduce board game days: Hosting a board game day is fun to bring employees together. Employees can bring their favourite board game to share and play with others. Multiple tables can be set up to accommodate several games being played simultaneously. This activity fosters a sense of camaraderie and creates an enjoyable and relaxed atmosphere for employees.

12. Boss for a day: Giving your employees the chance to be "boss for a day" is a great way to show your trust and appreciation for their work. This opportunity allows them to take on greater responsibilities and make important daily decisions. It can be a valuable learning experience for them, and you may be surprised by their abilities to handle their new role. This gesture can be recognized as an achievement and foster a sense of pride and accomplishment among your employees.

13. Treating your employees to a fun company activity: is a great way to show appreciation. Activities like bowling or laser tag can be enjoyable for those who feel comfortable participating. For remote teams, virtual karaoke or bingo can be a fun way to bond over Zoom.

14. Survey your employees for their favourite self-care products or services. You can then curate a self-care package for your team to enjoy leisurely. This gesture shows that you care about their well-being and value their input.

15. Plan a virtual happy hour or dinner for your team, and arrange for the food and beverages to be delivered directly to your employees. As an employer, covering some or all of the costs is always a nice touch, if possible. This thoughtful gesture can help boost morale and foster a sense of community among your team.

16. Spending a day volunteering as a group is an excellent way to bond and give back to the community. By taking a break from work and focusing on a common goal, your team can build stronger relationships while positively impacting the world around them.

17. Hosting an impromptu end-of-week office party can be a fun way to celebrate your team's hard work and accomplishments. Providing snacks, games, and beverages can help create a relaxed atmosphere and allow your employees to unwind and connect with each other. This gesture shows that you value their contributions and care about their well-being.

18. Celebrate Employee Appreciation Day with an ice cream party! Whether you take a field trip to a nearby ice cream shop or bring the ice cream to the office, this sweet celebration will lift everyone's spirits and provide a fun bonding experience.

19. Plan a special day where employees can bring their kids or pets to visit the office. This can create a sense of community and family-friendly environment for your team.

20. Host a craft day at the office: You can encourage creativity and a fun atmosphere by providing supplies and DIY small projects, like painting a wood picture frame for their desks.

Related: 9 Reasons Properly Recognizing and Rewarding Your Employees is the Key to Employee Retention

21. Show appreciation by leaving gift bags at each employee's desk on Employee Appreciation Day. This small gesture can make your team smile and show that you value their contributions.

22. Spruce up the break room or kitchenette with an upgraded coffee maker, microwave, or other gadget that would make your employees happy. This can help create a more comfortable and enjoyable work environment.

23. Plan a pyjama day at work where your employees can come dressed in loungewear rather than their usual business casual attire. This can create a relaxed and fun atmosphere while maintaining a professional environment.

24. Turn a meeting room into a pop-up spa by hiring a masseuse to give employees 30-minute massages at scheduled times throughout Employee Appreciation Day. This can help relieve stress and show that you value their well-being.

25. Create an anonymous "compliments" box in the days leading up to Employee Appreciation Day so coworkers can show appreciation for one another. Be sure to add one for each employee yourself and email them to the staff to spread the love.

26. Host a company bowling night or roller-skating party to mingle and connect outside of work. This can provide an enjoyable bonding experience for your team on Employee Appreciation Day.

27. Set up a build-your-own-snack bar in the board room for a surprise afternoon get-together on Employee Appreciation Day. This can be a fun and delicious way to show your appreciation.

28. Announce that you're giving everyone summer Fridays on Employee Appreciation Day this year. This can give your team something to look forward to and show that you value their hard work.

29. Create silly awards customized for each employee, such as "Most Creative" or "Best Baker," and announce them during a team meeting. This can be a fun way to show appreciation and create a light-hearted atmosphere.

30. Treat your employees to an online class or workshop of their choice to learn something new and interesting. This gesture shows that you value their growth and development.

31. Buy a video game console for your break room's TV so employees can have fun during their lunch breaks. This can provide an enjoyable break during the workday.

32. Plan a group retreat to boost team morale and provide a fun bonding experience. Whether you stay local or fly them to a local tourist attraction, a retreat-style bonding experience can do wonders for team morale.

33. Offer gym membership reimbursement or hire a yoga teacher to teach a private class for employees at the office. This can promote healthy habits and show that you care about their well-being.

34. Let employees choose from a few options for Employee Appreciation Day gifts to pick what they'd like most. This shows that you value their input and care about their preferences.

35. Show your appreciation by leaving a genuine post on social media, tagging each team member, and giving each individual a thoughtful compliment. This can help boost morale and show that you value their contributions.

36. Send each employee a LinkedIn recognition as a gift that keeps giving. This can help boost their professional profile and show that you appreciate their hard work.

37. Unveil an updated website on Employee Appreciation Day that features photos and bios of every member of your team to give them the recognition they deserve. This can help create a sense of community and show that you value each individual's contributions.

38. Book an escape room experience for your entire team as a fun way to get out of the office and work on team-building and problem-solving skills. This can provide a fun and challenging bonding experience.

40. Offer your employees a bonus flex vacation day they can use anytime during the year. This can provide a much-needed break and show that you value their hard work and well-being.


Employee appreciation is crucial for maintaining a positive workplace culture and increasing employee engagement and productivity. The 40 ideas listed above are just a few ways employers can show appreciation for their employees on Employee Appreciation Day. By showing appreciation for their employees, employers can create a more positive and productive workplace for everyone.

Nadezhda Maisvoreva
This article was written by Nadezhda a Consultant at Industrial Psychology Consultants (Pvt) Ltd

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