It’s normal to focus your energies on customer appreciation. In fact, it’s great. Your customers are typically your main priority. Happy customers spend more, and that makes you happy, too.
However, once in a while, it’s important to show some love for the people who work every day to help satisfy your customers. Without your employees, your company would fall apart.
According to a study by the University of Warwick, happier employees are 12% more productive. So, shower your employees in appreciation, and they’ll appreciate their work even more.
When is Employee Appreciation Day?
National Employee Appreciation Day falls yearly on the first Friday of March. It’s coming up next on Friday, March 1, 2019. It was created in 1995 by Bob Nelson, a founding board member of Recognition Professional International, with the help of Workman Publishing, his publishing company.
While the specific holiday is a way for all employers to celebrate and recognize their employees, employee appreciation doesn’t have to be limited to one day of the year. In fact, the best companies showcase it every day. For instance, at HubSpot, we prioritize company culture and also have our employees work on projects that they genuinely care about.
Here are some of our favorite inexpensive ideas for celebrating and acknowledging employee appreciation, whether you do it one day or every day of the year.
8 Inexpensive Employee Appreciation Day Ideas
1. Celebrate small wins.
It’s easy to focus on the big goals that your employees hit. These are the goals that have been outlined in your strategy and often result in completing a new product or reaching an annual sales goal. It’s, however, more difficult to remember and keep track of the smaller goals that are accomplished.
These are the goals that help pave the path for the larger goals. Perhaps your main goal is to complete your latest product by the end of the year. One employee successfully completed all the coding for their specific assignment for the overall product. Even though the product isn’t yet done, a thoughtful approach would be to show appreciation for that employee’s hard work. It doesn’t need to be a huge event; a simple shoutout in a company-wide email can go a long way and show you care.
2. Reward employees for a job well done.
On the same vein, one of the best ways to show your appreciation for your employees is by celebrating their achievements. Keep track of their performance and any goals that were hit or surpassed.
Rather than just company-wide appreciation events, you can create individual awards. There could be a general “Employee of the Month” that employees can nominate each other for. In addition, you could assign awards to those who take on additional responsibilities, stepped up as leaders, surpassed their goals, or implemented exciting new projects. This will show your employees that you are noticing their hard work, which will give them all the more reason to continue it.
3. Give out treats to celebrate the end of the months or quarters.
A tradition we have at HubSpot is offering pizza on the last working day of the month. HubSpot orders several pizzas to feed all the hungry employees around lunchtime as a special treat -- and to say thank you for hustling so hard to hit big goals at the end of the month (and the quarter).
Offering complimentary food, snacks, and beverages to your employees -- once in a while -- is an easy way to show your appreciation. After all, who doesn’t love a meal on the house? While you don’t have to do so on a monthly basis, necessarily, even offering free lunches at the end of each quarter is a way to give back to the employees who have given your company so much.
4. Organize potlucks.
However, ordering food on a weekly, monthly, or even quarter basis can get expensive -- especially as your company grows. Luckily, there are other, more inexpensive ways for your employees to bond over food.
Consider planning a potluck lunch or dinner as an employee appreciation event. Every employee can make or purchase a beverage, entree, or snack to contribute, and you can all enjoy each other’s company at a -- mostly -- homemade meal together. This will get your employees more involved in the event and still show your dedication to employee appreciation -- all without breaking the bank.
5. Celebrate anniversaries of individual hire dates.
One of the best gifts for a company is the employees who stay with you long-term. These are the people who have invested in you just as much as your loyal, lifetime customers. Whether they’ve been with you for two years or twenty years, it’s important to show how much their commitment means.
A simple way to do this is by celebrating the anniversaries of their hire dates. Keep track of each employee’s hire date and surprise them with a thoughtful card, flowers, a cake, or a small gift. This can be as inexpensive as you want it to be and still have a major impact. A well-written, meaningful card can get across the message equally as well as a costly celebration.
6. Invest in your employees’ health.
Showing employee appreciation can go further than recognizing their professional accomplishments. You can show your appreciation by offering them incentives that benefit your overall company culture, as well as the lives of each individual.
For instance, investing in standing desks or FitBits could be a way to ensure your company maintains an environment focused on health and wellness. Cheaper options could be offering fresh fruit and healthy snacks or employee-organized fitness classes and clubs that are free to maintain and attend. All of these options make it clear that you want your employees to take care of themselves, in and out of the workplace.
7. Allow flexible schedules.
Rather than making employee appreciation an event that occurs once or twice a year, you can implement it into your entire strategy and mission. By integrating it into your normal routine, you can ensure that employees feel heard and understood at all times.
A way to demonstrate this concept is by offering flexible schedules, vacation and leave. Rather than grilling down on employees to be on the clock for exactly 40 hours a week, you can be more lenient and allow them to work on their own time. After all, as long as their work gets done by deadlines, it shouldn’t matter how long it takes or if that work is occurring at their desk on a Monday morning or on their couch on a lazy Saturday afternoon.
In addition, your employees will work better if they don’t feel confined to their jobs at all times. A flexible vacation and leave policy can ensure that your employees take the proper personal time they need to self-care and spend time with family and friends. Again, as long as their times of leave aren’t affecting their ability to work well, this flexibility will show that you trust your employees. They, in return, will want to prove that that trust was well-placed.
8. Ask employees how they want to be appreciated.
You may think you know what your employees want, but sometimes that can be a mystery. Rather than using trial and error to discover what your employees desire, just ask.
Send out a poll of budget-friendly options, and have employees vote on how they’d like to celebrate themselves. Open-ended questions can encourage employees to expand on ways they’d like to improve the workplace to make it a more employee-friendly environment. Give the people what they want -- to an extent -- and you know they’ll reciprocate with respect and loyalty to your business.
While employee appreciation can be a great way to increase employee productivity, that shouldn’t be your main agenda. Just as you want your customers to feel appreciated and understood, you should want the same for your employees. A happier workplace equates to a better working environment and happier customers. It’s a win-win-win, and you don’t have to invest nearly as much money as you do time and thought.