Employee Appreciation Day: 5 Ideas to Make it Worthwhile

Employee Experience 2 min read

“Employee Appreciation Day” —like any manufactured holiday, it’s one that elicits many feelings from your employees. Some will groan, “Not another plaque with our names on it. Please.” Some wait all year and cry out in glee upon its arrival, “Yes! A day where we can truly recognize and reward one another for our achievements! Plus, cupcakes!” And others, depending on how Employee Appreciation Day is celebrated in your office, might not know it even exists!

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With such mixed responses, is it a waste or actually worthwhile? How can we make Employee Appreciation Day a fun, meaningful opportunity that actually does what it’s supposed, like incite your employees with warm fuzzy feelings of gratitude, acknowledgement, a sense of camaraderie and pride?
Employee Appreciation Day doesn’t have to meaningless. We’ve composed 5 out-of-the-box activities that will give your Employee Appreciation Day a new shape. (Hint: One that is not in plaque form).


1. Theme it. Why are costume parties so successful? Because people LOVE dressing up in a way that shows a part of their personality they normally don’t get to express. Plus, costumes are just plain fun. For your next Employee Appreciation Day, throw a theme into it that ties into your celebration. For example, Superheroes.


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Have employees dress up as their favorite superheroes, and share with each employee how they helped and continue to help “save the day.” Employee Appreciation Day rewards can be thematic, too; give employees something that you know will save their day, like a gift basket with gas and grocery cards, a free oil change, movie tickets and dinner for two.

Don’t forget to take a group photo! You’ll want to remember this day (and top it next year!)


2. Bring Some Lux to the Office. Manicurists, massage therapists, aromatherapists, shoe shiners, hair stylists. It might sound excessive, but who doesn’t love being pampered? Your employees will feel incredibly loved, relaxed (and fancy!) thanks to this kind of special treatment. Because nothing says “I appreciate you” like going to work and finding an in-house spa.


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3. Company Treasure Hunt. Swap out the usual doughnuts, cake, and others sweets that you think are adequate rewards for your employees, and take them out on an exciting adventure! A treasure hunt is a great way to add some life to Employee Appreciation Day. Divide your employees into random teams, and provide them a list of clues. The clues can be directional or based on questions that relate to some aspect of the company, its history and even employees. For instance, “The founder of this company shares the same last name as a famous musician. He is playing at this bar June 29th.” The employees would figure out the name of the founder (a pretty easy one!), and then race to the bar of the musician who shares the same last name. At the location, they would find a second clue. You can place prizes at each location, or one final prize at the end. (Each team should receive the same prize, despite who gets to the final location first). There, managers can go into the why’s and how’s of why their employees rock.


4. Throwback Dance Party. Back to the party idea: host a rooftop party, or convert the office into a dance floor, and bust out old favorite moves like the MC Hammer dance, tootsie roll, Macarena, jazz hands, sprinkler, etc. Make the playlist spontaneous by mixing up different decades. Maybe some 90s nostalgia followed by Abba, and then a limbo contest to “Under the Sea.” Video is a must. Just sayin’.



5. Beach Friday. So, instead of just making Employee Appreciation a DAY, why not make it weekly, with something funky like Beach Friday? Hawaiian shirts, sun hats, giant sunglasses, beach balls, Mediterranean food, a snow cone or margarita! It makes work goofy and lighthearted, which is especially great for the end of the week. To add onto the appreciation, why not publicly recognize employees at the team lunch for their outstanding efforts, attitudes, and dedication for the week? Consistent, public recognition is a surefire way to keep your employees engaged, despite the ease of beachwear.

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