Employee Appreciation Should Be A Practice Not A Day

Today is Employee Appreciation Day – a secular holiday celebrated on the 1st Friday of March each year. It was created (invented? Scheduled?) in 1995 by a guy named Bob Nelson who owned a publishing company and understood that recognition of effort strengthens the relationship between employers and employees.


But one day a year? Isn’t that a little like going to church only on Christmas and Easter? Or flossing the week before your dental checkup when you haven’t flossed since the last one? Appreciation shouldn’t be limited to one day a year – it should be rooted in authenticity and practiced often. I’m pretty sure Mr. Nelson meant to bring awareness to the concept by giving it a spotlight – but let’s use today as a starting point and not just an annual point in time.

Feeling appreciated strengthens relationships because it provides what humans crave – validation of worth. So, to be effective, it has to be REAL – which means you have to pay attention and be intentional.

To keep on brand – below are 4 ways to express meaningful appreciation:

1. Keep the focus on the employee and take yourself out of it.

FOCUSED ON YOU: “I really like how you managed that situation.”

FOCUSED ON THEM: “The way you responded to the customer calmed them down and saved us from a potential loss.”

2. Know their likes and dislikes.

This may seem intuitive but it’s easy to throw a gift card at someone without considering its appeal to them. Yes, a vegetarian can find something to eat at an Outback Steakhouse – but it’s probably not their first choice.  Recently, our Culture Club asked everyone to fill out a favorites sheet – so we’d have an automatic list of personalized rewards.

3. Show appreciation for behavior – not fixed characteristics.

Telling someone they are a winner when they win only means they are a loser when they don’t. Instead, appreciate the actions they took that ultimately led to victory.

4. Candy!

Believe it or not – most people naturally associate candy with positivity, joy, comfort and love. This is probably due to the fact that it’s always there during times of celebration (Halloween, stockings, Easter baskets – and who could forget the ultimate birthday activity – THE PIÑATA.) It’s actually one of the fields on the 4FRONT FAVORITES sheet mentioned above so it should be a super sweet day.

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