20 Employee Appreciation Day Ideas for 2021 

Get ideas on how to appreciate your in-office and remote employees on the most important office holiday, Employee Appreciation Day.

July 31, 2020 By Sara Ana Cemazar Share on Twitter! Share on Facebook! Share on LinkedIn!
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employee appreciation day

This Employee Appreciation Day presents a great opportunity to recognize your staff’s ongoing effort and commitment during times of crisis. With COVID-19 outbreak, your company as well as your employees had a hard time dealing with anxiety and uncertainty. 

This is why you should acknowledge your employees’ hard work this Employee Appreciation Day. Take a look at our ideas for recognizing both your office and remote employees without digging in too deep in your budget. 

 Before you start reading, get our Employee Recognition Playbook and learn how to implement an employee recognition program and appreciate your employees’ work to drive the best results. 

What is Employee Appreciation Day 

Employee Appreciation Day is an official holiday in the US which is celebrated on the first Friday in March. It gives employers an opportunity to recognize their employees’ work throughout the year. It was first introduced in 1995. 

However, nowadays there are multiple opportunities to recognize your employees’ work during the year. Get our Employee Recognition Calendar to see which fun holidays present a good opportunity to appreciate your diverse workforce. 


Innovative Employee Appreciation Day Ideas 

Although Employee Appreciation Day presents an opportunity to appreciate your employees, your employee recognition efforts should not rest solely upon celebration of this holiday.  

In this article, we are focusing on group celebrations and small, personal tokens of gratitude for your employees. However, these nice gestures should be supported by a some basic elements, like fair compensation, opportunities for development and a comfortable work atmosphere. 

⏰ Here, you can learn more about the basics of employee appreciation. Also, read what are the best recognition awards your employees really want. 

employee appreciation

1. Ice cream bar 

A fun way to appreciate your employees is to hire a local catering company and get an ice cream bar for the day. Allow your employees to relax and go back to their childhood for a moment by choosing their favorite sundae.  

2. Team lunch 

Make sure to announce to your teammates that you have a lunch planned so they do not schedule any meetings at that time or bring their own food. Provide multiple options for lunch to count in everybody’s dietary preferences and decorate your eating area with celebratory signs. 

3. Board games night 

Announce a fun afternoon or evening in the office by organizing board games night. You can ask your employees to bring their favorite board games, and you should provide some snacks and drinks. This fun activity will allow your employees to relax and get to know each other better. 

4. Company potluck 

By providing a budget for groceries and asking everyone to bring their favorite food for a company lunch, you will also create opportunities for your employees to try some new food, the best cooks among your employees to shine and endless conversations to develop! 

5. Thank you notes and letters 

Thank you notes are a simple, yet effective way to appreciate your employees work. Check out a couple of our employee appreciation letters to get some ideas on what to write and what to thank your employees for. This is a very personal and genuine gift, and you can expect your employees to be really happy about it!  

⏰ Here’s another idea: encourage your employees to thank their coworkers. Let everyone choose if they want to appreciate a colleague this Employee Appreciation Day and provide them templates they can fill out. 

employee appreciation day card

6. Pizza party 

Another food-related idea is a pizza party. Let’s be honest, everybody likes pizza! It will allow your employees to enjoy one of their favorite meals while spending casual time with their coworkers. 

7. Office yoga 

This employee wellbeing perk is a great asset to your employee recognition program. Yoga can allow your employees to relax from their hard work and prepare for challenges ahead. If your employees are unfamiliar with the practice, bring yoga to them and organize an office session on this Employee Appreciation Day. After that, ask your employees if they liked it and make it a habit if they did! 

8. Office massage or manicure 

It’s like spa day – but in your office! Set up a couple of massage and manicure units in a common area and let your employees book a half an hour during their worktime to relax and spend some time just indulging themselves. 

9. Organize Employee Awards Ceremony 

Employee Appreciation Day presents a great opportunity to organize and host employee awards ceremony. Some companies create custom awards with special names and give out prizes for their best performers along with some funny awards on a gala night. It is a great way to give your employees a dash of glamour and treat them to a great night out. 

10. Standing desks 

Your employees might not even know how good standing desks are. Still, once they get an opportunity to both sit and stand while working, they will not want to go back! Standing desks are another employee wellness perk that can help your employees live less sedentary lifestyle and move a bit more while they work. 

11. Update work equipment 

Updating your work equipment like monitors, keyboards or office chairs is a great way to cheer your employees. After all, you should provide good work equipment and technology to your employees if you want to see your employees’ best work. 

12. Extend break times 

Double your break times not for the day, but for the entire week! Allow your employees to take more time to rest or do some personal chores. It is a really nice gesture to celebrate this Employee Appreciation Day. 

13. Provide better coffee 

Your coworkers probably drink gallons of coffee, and you even might find some coffee afficionados among them. Therefore, buy an artisan coffee for the entire office or bring a barista to make original espressos or cappuccinos to your employees. 

14. Movie screening 

Is there a better way to relax than to watch a movie and enjoy some popcorn? Give your employees a unique movie screening experience by choosing a great movie, projecting it in a common room, and by giving your employees some snack and treats to enjoy while watching it. 

⏰ Pro tip: appreciate your employees’ families, too! Allow your employees to bring kids to the office for the day and play a cartoon for them. 

7 Employee Appreciation Day Ideas for Your Remote Staff 

With COVID-19 outbreak, many of employees worldwide started working from home. Although remote work was already widely desired among employeesthe pandemic really pushed companies to implement these work flexibility changes. 

However, remote employees still need recognition!  

remote workers appreciation

Here are some of our Employee Appreciation Day ideas for your remote employees. 

1. Employee Appreciation Cards 

A personal and effortless way to appreciate your employees is to send them an employee appreciation card. We have prepared editable appreciation cards with quotes you can customize to fit your company’s branding and send an encouraging “Thank you” to your hard-working employees. 


2. Implement Employee of the Month program 

Employee Appreciation Day is a great opportunity to announce you will implement a company-wide Employee of the Month program. Therefore, explain the rules and nomination process to your employees and let them know that your employee recognition efforts will last an entire year! 

⏰ Read this article of ours to find out what are the Employee of the Month awards best practices. 

3. Gift cards 

Gift cards allow your employees to get themselves an item or service they really want, especially if your gift cards are for a provider of wide range of goods, like Amazon. They are also easy to forward if that is something your employees want to do! 

4. Tie the Employee Appreciation Day awards to a wider Employee Recognition Program 

To track the results of your recognition initiatives and put your other recognition ideas to use, you should tie your Employee Appreciation Day recognition efforts to a wider employee recognition program. Employee recognition programs have a myriad of benefits for your company and for your employees, but it is important to implement them with attention to details to reap all of their results. 

⏰ Try out our Recognition and Rewards Platform JobPts to see how you can create employee recognition strategies from which your company can profit. 

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Recognize and reward your employees with JobPts.

5. Stream a message from CEO 

A company-wide encouragement or message from your CEO is something your employees will surely appreciate. After all, 81% of employees believe that CEOs who engage on social media are better equipped to lead companies, so you will also reinforce your employees’ trust in their leadership. 

6. Organize game night 

Why not have your remote employees meet each other and boost their team spirit a bit? Organize an online game night! Maybe you already have gamers in your company, and you might even facilitate creation of new online teams in particular games. 

7. Social media recognition 

It is always nice to be recognized in front of others! It gives your employees the blushes, but it also makes them feel proud of themselves and recognized by their employer. Therefore, recognize your employees on your social media accounts and let the whole world know what a great team you have onboard. 

Why Is It Important to Celebrate Employee Appreciation Day in 2021 

During COVID-19, employees have reportedly suffered through more stress and anxiety than ever. In fact, 54% of employees’ #1 concern during this time was job security. 

As your employees have been through a lot, they deserve special attention this Employee Appreciation Day. Therefore, try to make this day memorable, even if your workforce still works remote. 

employee wellbeing

Apart from that, your employees should know that you still appreciate their hard work during these hard times. The global talent market will get back to its usual ways, and your employees must know that they are a valued member of your company’s work community. 

To appreciate your employees work, creativity, achievements and more, it is best to use Employee Recognition Platform. It allows you to track your appreciation results and be consistent in your appreciation efforts 

However, since it is not always easy to choose your partner, we created a Rewards and Recognition solution Buyer’s Guide that you can help you decide which provider would be the best fit for your recognition goals and for your workforce.