The Spontaneous Employee Appreciation Day
How to celebrate your team sooner rather than later
This post is part of a series aimed to help Office Managers/Facilities, EAs, Workplace Experience, Admins and anyone whose job it is to focus on employee experience at their virtual/hybrid office.
The next Employee Appreciation Day is technically on March 4th of 2022; but doesn’t that feel really far away to wait and show your employees some love? I think so too. Thats why I am all about spontaneous get togethers when it makes sense for the company and not waiting until it is a National Day. You don’t need to wait for Wellness Month to do wellness activities or National Ice-cream day to host an ice cream social (could you even imagine!?). You just do it when it feels right for your team!
So let’s get some of that pre pandemic employee energy back off the ground and show your team you care!
Let’s dive in….
Activities you can do for Appreciation Day are truly endless. So while you are proposing to your team what you think the day should consist of, be sure to funnel it through:
- Does it build team bonding?
- Will employees feel seen for their hard work?
- Does the day feel more unique than a regular work day?
- Are the activities matching the mood at the company?
- Do we have budget for what we want to do?
- Will teammates feel more connected to the company, the mission and its people?
Company trivia can be super fun, but it will be on you to collect some information and gamefy it. I’ll have a post in the future about company games and how to create one from scratch. For now here are a few questions that could be in this trivia:
- Employee specific trivia: First employee, how many people work here, fun facts about peoples hobbies. See if you can pull data from a place where you may collect employee data. Do not share birthdays or HR sensitive information though…. only fun facts!
- The Numbers: Stats related to your company itself, how many users/customers/clients, top rated something. This will be unique to what your company actually does.
- History: Anniversary, company moments, inside company jokes)
- Acronyms and special phrases. Every company has words that start to become the lingo that is normal for those that work there, that others outside the company have no idea about. See how sharp peoples skills are and see how many the employees know off the top of their head!
Guest Speaker or Exec Speaker
Have someone on your executive/leadership team address the company to set the tone for the day so employees feel the top down appreciation as well. You can also use this time to bring in a guest speaker to speak on a topic that may be inspiring to your company.
Employee Recognition Moments
Use this time to have people give each other shoutouts in an open forum whether that is email or a company chat system (Slack, Microsoft Teams, Webex etc). I would recommend having people give shoutouts to those that are not on their team to bridge unity.
If your team wanted to take things more seriously, you could use this day to make announcements such as:
- Employee of the Month
- New Special company offering (bonuses, company day off, retreat, company gift, company award)
I don’t shop, I wear swag
Employees love swag! Some people even have a personal passion for collecting ALL the swag possible, even discontinued pieces from before their time (you know who you are). So this is what you can do, have everyone wear a piece of company swag on the day of appreciation to instill team unity! Credit to those that snap photos of themselves, pets, roommates or children wearing said swag and post in the company chat!
Small budget? If you have a small budget you are working with, I recommend having employees wear existing swag that they own or swag that you already have a surplus of. You can always step it up and convince the budget approver that spending ~$100 on stickers might be worth it for the event.
Have a few dollars to throw around? Work with someone on your design team, or outsource help and get some custom swag made! It could be something like a t-shirt, a mug, some sweat pants. Take it next level and have a kit made with a few items that are unique to appreciation day!
The swag you are purchasing could be combined with an event you may host for the day itself. Say you are doing a drink making event, you could send custom drink making utensils. This will really put a bow on top of the day and make it feel really thought out. Thought out sometimes means giving yourself time to plan, which can sometimes be a luxury within itself.
All About the Snacks
You could have a sheet cake made with something witty written on it, croissants from the famous bakery across town or a big boba delivery for after lunch time. Or you could make the food surprise something interactive, like an ice-cream bar, a coffee bar, a pizza bar and even a DIY fruit salad bar. Let your imagination run wild.
If you have a virtual office/hybrid office, sending gift baskets or snack boxes to arrive before the Appreciation Day, with a special note FABULOUS. Here are a few great resources for shipping out:
Also, support local and small businesses when you can. I have even typed in “snack boxes” on Etsy and have found some great options too :)
Running out of time? Create a corporate account with Doordash and add people’s company emails to the portal. They can then order themselves anything they would like at anytime that day to be delivered to their home.
UberEats is also a great way to go and you can set up something quickly as long as it is 24 hours before you would like the food stipend to be available to your employees.
An event sandwich is what I like to call it. You have an idea for a celebration and you decide to attach it on to another activity or event that is upcoming.
Say for example that it is National Bring Your Dog to Work Day and it happens to fall on a Friday. You therefore could say: Employee Appreciation Bring Your Dog to Work Day! Therefore, not only are you creating a unique theme combination: appreciating + pets, you are also finding a loop hole in which you can get employees next level excited.
Other ideas you can attach an Appreciation Day to:
- All Company Meeting Day, if everyone is already meeting up and on a Zoom call/in the same space building off of that energy and togetherness.
- Company Picnic
- People traveling in for a conference (everyone is together in one spot, let’s do an event!)
- Company Anniversary
- Company Retreat
- Product Launch/major announcement day
- A National Day (National Margarita Day!? Oh, Appreciation + DIY margarita bar for the closing ceremony= creative combos of fun) Also be sure to include mocktails for those that do not drink!
Attaching the Appreciation Day to another event day is not necessary, but an idea that will help you leverage ultimate creativity, memories and participation depending on what you are working with.
The Balancing Act
Depending on the environment and mood at your company there may not be great participation if your team is under stress or a deadline. In this case you can either move the Appreciation Day to later on down the line or you can decide to choose an Appreciation Day “light” vs appreciation day “bold” and “extra bold.”
Here are a few examples to help you start planning:
Marketing the Day
You may not work on the marketing team, but you will still need to get employees excited and interested to participate! Be sure to add the Employee Day to the company calendar. Make fun virtual posters using Canva (literally used Canva to make the above #noshame)and drop hints about the day leading up to it!
Think of it like a drip campaign…
- Figure out the date and then send a calendar invite to the whole company.
- Send email/company chat/newsletter communication about the intention of the day.
- Tell people what they need to do in order to prepare (“Wear swag!” “Put your do not responder on!” “Update your current mailing address!”)
- Send a reminder a few days before, give nuggets of exciting news (Example: “There will be a special prize for the person that can answer the most trivia!” “We will have a DIY waffle cone maker on premise!” “Expect XYZ in the mail!”)
- Day before: remind people to wear swag, check calendar invite description, or anything else they need to know for the day of.
- Day of: Send out some beautifully written Appreciation Day comms first thing in the morning! This can be from you, or someone else on your team. Something from leadership is also essential as well to really put a stamp on the day and show its seriousness.
- Day of continued... be sure to follow your timeline of what you want to happen at what time that day and be sure to drop reminders before activities (Example: “Don’t forget to use your food delivery stipend today, here are the directions to access the credit!” “The guest speaker is starting in 30 min. can’t wait to see you there!”)
- End of day: Thank everyone for a lovely day and any other final details that need to be shared. (Example: “Today was so great, we will do a final toast to close out the day in 15 min!” “Congrats to the winners of the company trivia bingo!”)
AND IN A NUTSHELL, THAT IS HOW IT IS DONE!
This post isn’t exhaustive of everything that could happen on an Appreciation Day, but if you filter all your ideas by the questions in the activities section, you will be set up for success ❤
Whenever you decide to host your next Employee Appreciation Day, I hope you have the most fun planning. And if you have any questions that are specific to your company’s needs, feel free to reach out and post in the comments!
Good luck planning and have fun with it!