Employee Appreciation Day: 7 Great Ideas to Give Back!

Alice Vigneron

Showing appreciation to your employees is much more than personalized coffee mugs and thank you cards, nor should they be saved for special occasions. Rather, it should be frequent, tailored to your employees' needs and integrated into your company culture.

According to the Employee Mindset Study*, conducted on behalf of Aon by Coyne Research on 550 employees, the only employers that are able to keep their employees feeling valued are the ones who tailor their recognition strategy to their employees' needs.

Here are the 7 great ideas to give back to your employees to show them that you value and appreciate them.

What is A

Appreciation is the recognition and delight in the good qualities or worth of someone/something. It is synonymous with gratitude and is related to the ability to fully understand a situation.

Elton Mayo (1880-1949) discovered that people can work better if you care about them. Anything that increases self-esteem improves performance.

According to O.C Tanner's internal employee survey, 37% of respondents said that more personal recognition would encourage them to do better work more often.

A workplace where employees are recognized is key to keeping workplace morale, encouraging high performance, retaining top talent and increasing employee engagement.


Why was Employee Appreciation Day introduced?

Employee Appreciation Day was introduced in the work environment in 1995  and has shown a positive correlation between employee recognition and company success. But one day is not enough to give back.

Although research shows that the greater the gratitude in a company is, the better the employees perform. Companies often neglect the simple ways to show their employees that they matter.

Employee Appreciation Day should serve as a reminder that all companies should make appreciation sustainable in order to realise the true value of the benefits of employee recognition.

  • Start with the basics: Communication and Trust

There are many ways to express your appreciation. Choose direct and concrete communication. Also, the more ways you have to express your appreciation, the greater the chance that the person will find it sincere. It can be a simple thank you, listening to them or asking them for advice.

Show them that they not only exist, they matter.

Distance is not what separates people. Silence is. So make sure you foster authentic communication, to stay connected with your workforce whether they are still working from home or back to the workplace. 

Trust is naturally given without proof, otherwise, it is no longer trust but control.

Do you really want your employees to feel that you are looking over their shoulders all the time? Probably not. Show genuine interest in the employee as an individual and take time for interactions on an individual level that have nothing to do with work to lay the foundation for building trust.

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  • Recognize their work and efforts

Whether it's a simple email, a picture, giving Kudos on LinkedIn, an official certificate, time off, perks, hampers delivered to their home, a raise or a promotion, there are many ways you can show your appreciation to your employees for their dedication, perseverance and commitment.

Helping a colleague solve a simple Excel problem or working successfully on a high priority project. These two facts have two things in common: Dedication and perseverance.

It is important to always find ways to give every employee the opportunity to recognise an individual or team for outstanding achievement. Make sure to develop a framework where your employees are equipped to recognize their peers and encourage them to do so. 

Distilled has launched a value linked peer to peer recognition system to democratize and encourage recognition, while rewarding behaviours which benefit the organisation’s culture.


Download our latest report on Employee Experience 👇


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  • Support them also through their failures

It's great to show your consideration to your employees when they do their best, but also support them when they experience challenges or failures (it's human). 

Everyone has ups and downs. And not every employee are set up for success all the time. Your employees are not machines. Taking the opportunity to share others' failures and challenges and how they overcame them can be a tremendous resource for other employees in your organisation and a way to reconnect them. 

  • Create fun traditions in the workplace

To leverage your great culture, you can organize fun traditions with staff. Think of the value this can bring in strengthening an authentic bond between your stakeholders.

The best lesson from Elton Mayo is that the most important thing for productivity at work is not the light, the ceiling height or the software you use, but the human relationships that form the professional connection you work with.

Real Estate company, O’Dwyer created a calendar of remote celebrations to demonstrate gratitude from leadership and peers in a fun, informal setting.

  • Encourage them to adopt a healthy lifestyle

Show your employees how much you appreciate their hard work and dedication and how much you care about their well-being inside but also outside of work. The quality time devoted to their well-being act as fuel for their time at work. It could be paid time off to relax without guilt to take care of themselves, to retreat from the rhythm of work, or engage in sports activities with their co-workers.

Empowering them to adopt healthy life habits will help them perform at their best and sustain their wellbeing.

Abbvie is encouraging an active workforce to increase the amount of exercise they do in their daily lives by organizing fitness challenges with health webinars, mountain walks and tennis lessons between the company's worldwide employee network. 


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  • Show them you value their growth

People want to know where they are going and how they will achieve goals. Through clear internal communication,  a mentoring programme or an online training platform, give your staff the tools they need to do their job well and feel supported in their challenges. Organising conferences is also a great opportunity to learn and strengthen your network. By offering your staff all these opportunities to learn new skills and improve, you show them that you value their professional development and growth.

Yvonne Frost, VP of Employee Experience at Poppulo stated that “With top talent, it is vital to listen to their desired developmental trajectory and assist them in working towards their goals.”

Poppulo, a Great Place to Work certified company, is known for its learning culture and robust development programmes that provide its employees with streamlined, selective development initiatives to challenge and continuously develop them.


  • You're going to tell us "Ok, I get the picture, but where do I start?" 

Showing you care and giving back have very positive effects on the performance of your employees, strengthen the bonds and the company culture as a whole.

How can you show that you care and support them? Start by listening to them! We are here to support you in compiling a tailored survey for your organisation's needs! Engage with your employees, collect their feedback and act on it!


👉 Learn more about Pulse Surveys 👈


More resources on giving back to your employees:

Rethink Job Perks for the New Way of Working

9 Ways to Show Employees You Value Them

10 Tips on Recognising Your Employees Virtually

How to Develop a Peer-to-Peer Recognition Programme

10 Tips on Enhancing Employee Experience through Internal Communication

9 Tips on Improving Employee Experience by Building a Healthy Culture

*Employee Mindset Study* by Aon by Coyne Research:  https://www.aon.com/ireland/employee-benefits/employee-mindset-study.jsp 


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