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How your local business can celebrate Employee Appreciation Day

March 4, 2021
Written by Nextdoor Editorial Team
March 4, 2021 | Written by Nextdoor Editorial Team

This article was updated on February 16, 2022

As a local business owner, you know that your employees are the pulse of your company. They make your business possible so it’s essential that you show them your appreciation and recognize their hard work. Employee Appreciation Day is the perfect opportunity to do just that. 

This year, Employee Appreciation Day falls on March 4. Whether you participate in a fun activity or give your team members an appreciation gift, there are many ways to show how much you value them.  Read on for ideas on how your business can celebrate Employee Apprecication Day.

What is Employee Appreciation Day ?

Employee appreciation Day is an unofficial American holiday that is typically observed starting the first Friday of March. 

The holiday was first created celebrated in 1995 by Dr. Bob Nelson. His goal was to stimulate conversations about the importance of providing employees with daily affirmation, rather than having it be a one-off event to spotlight their actions. According to Nelson

"I'm a big advocate of using recognition on a daily basis. By no means is Employee Appreciation Day meant to be this one day to thank people or this one day to bring in doughnuts, but I did want to have one day where we could call attention to the topic and have conversations about its importance."

While employee appreciation should be an ethos that’s present 365 days out of the year, many companies fall behind on these staff efforts. According to Entrepreneur, “Only 10 percent [of employees surveyed nationwide] said that their current place of employment does anything to celebrate the day.” 

What does this figure represent? 

It means you have a fantastic opportunity to differentiate yourself from other businesses in your area by showing the people in your company just how much they’re valued. 

How to celebrate Employee Appreciation Day 

In light of the ongoing pandemic, your work dynamic may be different than from past years. It’s likely that some (if not all) of your employees are working remotely or practicing social distancing as much as possible while working. Whether you are looking to lift the spirits of your employees who are working from home with kids or you are searching for fun ideas for when your office reopens, there are many easy ways to show your support.

If you’re wondering how to show employee appreciation, check out these nine ideas which can apply to any work environment. 

#1 Employee appreciation gift bags or care packages

Consider building all of your employees a care package or gift bag that contains several small items like sweets, treats, candles, or gift cards. Ideally, these baskets will be created according to your employee’s preferences, which shows them that they’re seen as individuals outside of work. This doesn’t have to cost a fortune; it just needs to be personal. 

The perfect closing touch to an employee appreciation gift is to include a handwritten note, thanking them for the job they’ve done and praising them for what they do well. 

It may seem like a small thing, but when done right, your employees will cherish and remember the thoughtfulness. 

#2 Offer a personal thanks 

Like letters, personal phone calls are becoming less commonplace, but that doesn’t mean they’re any less powerful when it comes to your staff members. 

For instance, if you’re an owner or a manager at a real estate agency, it would be well worth your time to call up each worker or speak with them face-to-face (if possible) in order to give them a word of thanks for the work they do. Talk about their wins, the properties they’ve sold, and the benefits they’ve brought to the team. Then, discuss with your local real estate agents different ways they could continue to grow within the world of real estate and how you can support their goals. 

A few minutes of your time can have lasting impacts on employees, especially when their personal growth is being recognized.

#3 Provide a catered lunch or dinner 

One of the best ways to reach people’s hearts? Through their stomachs. 

Providing your employees a nice lunch and then a group activity is a great way to spend some time bonding outside of the work environment. And while they’re eating, managers or owners have an opportunity to affirm each employee individually—even saying a single nice thing about each employee could make a difference in their day. 

Plus, this makes for a perfect opportunity to support other local businesses in your area. Order from a local restaurant, and if the service and quality of the meal are great, double down on the support by giving them a shout-out on Nextdoor.

We understand the importance of enforcing community guidelines in groups. If a meal and a group outing aren’t possible, you can also treat your remote workers to a catered meal of their choice. Have a lunch delivered to your employee’s homes with the intention of sharing a Zoom-based meal together. You can even extend the lunch hour and play some online interactive games (like the free, web-based game

#4 Have a team happy hour 

Happy hours give everyone a chance to blow off steam, share a drink, and build bridges with their coworkers. Importantly, happy hours provide an opportunity to build company culture - even if it’s virtual. Whether you’re playing games or simply having casual conversations, happy hours let your employees spend time with one another in a relaxed and entertaining setting. 

If you want to take your virtual happy hour to the next level, you could host a wine tasting or a virtual mixology class. Or get extra creative—eCommerce platform Yotpo turned their happy hour into a talent contest, allowing their employees to show off what they do outside of work.

#5 Offer time off (if possible)

Although it may not be a federally required holiday, you have the ability to reward your team with some extra paid time off. This could be an entire day off, an early end day, or a late start day. Whatever you select, rest days are a simple way to acknowledge the hard work your employees are putting on.  

A day off to relax and recharge could do wonders for your company morale. 

#6 Highlight employees each day 

If you want to make a week or month of it, you could highlight one or several employees each day. This is a chance to put them on a pedestal, shine a light on their hard work, and verbally acknowledge your appreciation for the things they do. Some ideas include: 

  • Having other employees write or say something they appreciate about the individual.
  • Creating a Nextdoor Business Post that profiles employees’ hard work, listing the ways they have helped the company grow, and the personal qualities that make them great people. 
  • Building an employee of the month program. 
  • Filming a thank you video with other members of management. 

By cultivating a work culture of encouragement and celebration, you can create a unified team—one where employees are lifting each other up outside of employee appreciation week.  

#7 Take a team field trip

If your employees meet in-office, then a trip out of those four walls could be a nice change of pace. 

Although COVID has restricted group activities, there are still opportunities to safely spend time together outside, socially distanced. For example, take a field trip to the beach, a winery, a brewery, or a botanical garden. You simply have to be creative and pick something that everyone can participate in outside of work. 


#8 Recommend employees on linkedIn

If your employees are on LinkedIn, write a recommendation for their individual profiles. Applaud your employees’ work and support their future careers. By providing an endorsement for their hard work, you publicly signal that you are proud to have them be a part of the team. 

This recommendation extends well beyond employee appreciation day—providing the individual value throughout their professional career. 

Here are LinkedIn’s resources for creating a recommendation

#9 Group volunteer opportunity 

A good way to bond as a group and increase appreciation for what you have is by volunteering together, whether it’s at a local homeless shelter, nonprofit, or doing a park clean-up. Spending time working toward a shared social good is a fantastic way to bond as a team, inspire a sense of gratitude, and build fond memories.

Studies have shown that an ethos of volunteerism strengthens the workplace. Per Deloitte, it can be a boost to morale, workplace atmosphere, and overall brand perception.

Employee appreciation is a mindset, not a day

Although it’s important that you take the time to acknowledge and praise your employees on this special day, you must remember that employee appreciation should be taking place all year. Instead of thinking about this week as a one-off event, consider it a shift in workplace culture—one you can proactively and purposefully nurture. 

According to Entrepreneur, “Employee Appreciation Day should reinforce the benefits of daily recognition. It can be a great springboard to implementing an ongoing employee recognition solution or make improvements to programs already in place.”

Employee recognition will have a positive impact on your company culture driving engagement, efficiency, and retention. Put simply, it is a tool you can leverage to foster a happier workplace and a better bottom line. 

If you want to encourage other businesses in your community to participate in employee appreciation week, be sure to post about how you’re celebrating your employees on your Nextdoor Business Page.

Claim your Business Page



Oxford. Happy Workers are 13% more productive.

Business Insider. The creator of Employee Appreciation Day says it's silly — here's why.

Entrepreneur. The Best Way to do Employee Appreciation Day Is More Than Once a Year.

Deloitte. Deloitte Volunteer Impact Research.

LinkedIn. Beyond Virtual Happy Hour: 5 Ways Companies Are Keeping Their Teams Energized and Connected.

Claim your free Business Page to get started on Nextdoor. For resources on how to use Nextdoor to stay connected with your local customers, pertinent news affecting businesses, and more, follow us at @nextdoorbusiness on Facebook.

Claim your free Business Page to get started on Nextdoor. For resources on how to use Nextdoor to stay connected with your local customers, pertinent news affecting business, and more, follow us at @nextdoorbusiness on Facebook

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