Employee Appreciation Day: Cause for Celebration or Not?

This Friday, March 5, 2010, is designated as Employee Appreciation Day. (Created in 1995 as a way to focus employer attention on employee recognition, this “holiday” is traditionally observed the first Friday in March.)

Truthfully, I have mixed feelings about this day. Effective employee recognition shouldn’t be relegated to a once-a-year event, and smart managers know this. If employee recognition is already part of your organization’s culture and you want to honor this day, then have fun with it. (Here are some additional ideas to consider.)

BUT … if employee appreciation is alien to your workplace, forced observance won’t work. Employees know the difference between lip-service and sincere recognition.

Tell me what you think
Is some recognition better than none?


7 replies on “Employee Appreciation Day: Cause for Celebration or Not?”

Thanks to all of you for sharing your thoughts on this. Too bad that a designated day has to serve as a reminder for companies/managers that don’t regularly recognize their employees. A key takeaway here is that regardless of when recognition takes place, it MUST be authentic.

I’ve been through many an Employee Appreciation Day, some as the appreciator and others as the appreciatee! They both felt awkward. For those employees who felt appreciated all the time,the day was an added boost. For those who felt unappreciated, it was cause for rekindled cynicism.
I’m a big fan of making the effort. I agree that if the “Day” is a marketed event, it requires recognition. The problem is that if you only say, “I love you” on Valentine’s Day, the authenticity of your feelings become questionable. So at work, if leaders really do appreciate their employees, it needs to show all year long.
Great question,Sybil, and a wonderful discussion here. Thanks.
~Dawn (@businessfit on Twitter)

It is unfortunate that having a “day” for recognition almost serves to give many companies (bad ones) a pass on the rest of the year. Kinda like treating your wife/significant other like crap all year but thinking you can make it up on Valentines Day.
I guess some promotion is better than none?
Keep reminding us!

I was initially cynical about Employee Recognition Day if employees aren’t recognized on a regular basis but after reading Kevin Burn’s response I’m rethinking my position. He makes valid pts. about Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day both of which I want to be recognized on. That being said, and here’s the contradiction, if my spouse or children didn’t recognize me any other day of the year the special event day recognition would not have a lot of meaning for me nor put anything in the emotional bank account. At least there wouldn’t be a withdrawal.

You might think that a day like this is kind of cute and meant to be lighthearted but it’s not a really serious thing. That may be true, but then so is Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day. Try not to take those two days seriously and see what happens. You would never dishonor your mother on Mother’s Day nor your spouse on Valentine’s Day if you want to have peace and harmony at home.
Think of Employee Recognition Day the same way. If the employee knows that it’s Employee Recognition Day and no attempt is made by management to recognize them, you might as well have forgotten your spouse on Valentine’s Day. You will have created a bigger chasm between employees and management.
Yes, there is the argument that you don’t need a special day to recognize your employees and you would be right. But you don’t need a special day to recognize your sweetheart or your spouse but it seems to be the only days of the year that many do honor them. So we have this day to force the laggards to get with the program and show their gratitude. It is a day designated to REMIND managers that they have a staff who do their work without a lot of recognition.
Do NOT hand out awards that day. Friday is Employee Recognition Day. That means all employees are recognized – not just your superstars.
If you want to build a culture of engagement in your organization, you will recognize your people on Friday. Then, make a decision to make the first Friday of every month, Employee Recognition Day. One simple change in your corporate attitude will spread the word that yours is a great place to work. More people will be lining up to work there – good people – not just the ones who are available.

Agree that employees should be appreciated regularly and as such….if this is the only time a manager is going to recognize their employees…..well….that manager might want to rethink their strategy or risk making this day a joke.
So assuming that you regularly sit and listen to your employees, give them true and sincere recognition and also regular feedback, this is day can be a special treat.
Who doesn’t love a birthday or anniversary? We all want to feel special. Come up with something cool….like having the bosses do a chore that the employees normally do. A fun luncheon or breakfast…or even letting employees leave early for the day. Appreciation does not have to be expensive or time consuming to do.

What I like about having a designated day is that it puts the spotlight on it. But you are right. Recognition needs to be 365 days a year.

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