15 Employee Appreciation Day Ideas for a Productive 2023


Have you said ‘thank you’ to your team recently?

Appreciating your employees creates a more positive and productive work environment, but when you’re caught up in thae day’s tasks, it’s easy to let it fall to the bottom of your to-do list.

Employee Appreciation Day on the 3rd of March is a welcome reminder to sing your staff’s praises. With March also being National Nutrition Month, it’s a great time to check in with your employee’s overall well-being and convey your gratitude in ways that make for a healthier and happier team.

Of course, with the switch to remote-first culture, it’s no longer as simple as a post-it on a laptop or offering to do the coffee run. You need to get creative to show you care.

With Bright Breaks, you can choose from over 300+ 7-minute sessions that boost your employees’ well-being, wherever they are. Perhaps you invite them to attend a 7-minute cooking workshop and have a virtual lunch as a team, or maybe you all attend a gratitude session, to invite more appreciation into your lives?

In this post, we’ll dive into what Employee Appreciation Day is, why it’s important in 2023, and interesting ways to celebrate it in your workplace.

What is Employee Appreciation Day?

Employee Appreciation Day is an annual event that encourages employers to express their gratitude to their employees. It was founded by Bob Nelsen, Ph.D., in 1995, to celebrate the release of his 1001 Ways to Reward Employees, and is held on the first Friday of March each year.

Why is Employee Appreciation Day important in 2023?

The working world has moved fast since Nelson first planted the idea and employee appreciation is arguably more important now than ever.

Corporate Wellness Magazine reported that nearly a third of workers surveyed said their mental health had declined in the past year. Yet, a report by OC Tanner found that when employees feel appreciated there’s an 84% decrease in the chance they will experience burnout.

According to Zippia, 54% of the US workforce are not engaged at work, however, Psychometrics found that ‘employee recognition’ was a key factor in improving engagement.

It makes sense, then, that the happiest places to work put employee appreciation as a top priority. Employees at Cisco say ‘‘you are recognized for your hard work’’ and managers at Pinnacle Financial Services ‘‘go out of their way to know everyone by name and recognize the staff at the individual level’’.

If you want happy, healthy, and engaged employees in 2023, appreciation is a necessity.

How should I celebrate Employee Appreciation Day in 2023?

Employee appreciation might look a little different in 2023. The number of workers choosing to work remotely increased by 24% last year and the trend is likely to continue this way.

Kathleen Hogan, Chief People Officer at Microsoft, says ‘‘in today’s world of remote and hybrid work, it’s not sufficient to only encourage self-care. We need to innovate and leverage technology to help employees operationalize much-needed breaks into their daily routines’’.

As HR managers, it’s time to find new and interesting ways to show your team appreciation. We’ve put together some ideas for inspiration, covering…

  • Gifts & recognition
  • Virtual fun for the team
  • Work-life balance
  • Wellness breaks

Some interesting ideas for Employee Appreciation Day 2023

Stuck on where to start? Here are 15 ways to show your appreciation this March.

1. Give a free wellness subscription with BrightBreaks

Kick off Employee Appreciation Day by giving your employees a free subscription to Bright Breaks. Our workplace wellbeing platform gives employees access to hundreds of short classes, from yoga to nutrition, designed to help them disconnect and recharge.

You can integrate the breaks with employee calendars and the Daily Break scheduling feature will identify free time and invite your employees to take a break each day. It’s a virtual way to say ‘‘enjoy a moment to yourself”.

2. Arrange a free Employee Appreciation Day lunch

Who doesn’t love free food? On the 3rd of March, treat your employees to a nutritional meal delivered straight to their homes. Alternatively, you could give them a budget to buy the ingredients for a meal you’ll all cook.

Eating the same meal at the same time provides a chance to reflect, catch up, and connect with your work family.

3. Give out bonuses to long-term employees

You know that person who’s been with your company for what feels like forever? That you couldn’t possibly do your job without? Let them know they’re appreciated.

Give out bonuses for employees who’ve been with you for a longer time.

4. Send out gift cards to employees that go above and beyond

A gift card says ‘‘treat yourself, you deserve it’’ to those employees who always go the extra distance.

And by joining Bright Breaks, you’ll also be inviting your team to $500 in weekly prize giveaways. Participants can earn points for each 7-minute break they take and win gift cards for major brands like Apple, Airbnb, Luluemon, and more.

Is there any better way to show your appreciation than awarding well-being breaks?

 5. Offer allowances for employees’ home office

Multiple shows that a comfortable environment makes a huge difference to your productivity, yet remote workers notoriously suffer from back and neck pain.

This Employee Appreciation Day, help your employees to set up their remote office – and in turn, improve their health – by giving everyone an allowance to spend on it.

6. Publically praise your top performers

Do you know the most impactful kind of employee recognition is public recognition?

When your company is largely remote, it can be more difficult to give your top performers the public shout-out they deserve. A simple solution is an announcement within Bright Breaks that recognizes the efforts and successes of those that stand out from the crowd.

7. Send out an E-card from your CEO

Get in touch with your CEO and encourage them to send out a company-wide E-card or video message of their gratitude. This will help your employees feel seen and valued by their leadership.

8. Create customized certificates for your employees’ unique skills

Everyone brings something to the table. Think of one specific thing you appreciate for every one of your employees and express your gratitude with a customized certificate.

You could even host an online award ceremony to send them out – everyone should be applauded for what they do best!

9. Host a virtual game night for healthy competition

A low-budget way to bring some fun and healthy competition into the work week is an evening of playing games.

Feet First Events has a great ‘Virtual Game Show Extravaganza’ which combines your favorite TV game shows into a high-energy and interactive event. It’s bound to bring smiles and boost morale.

10.Announce an ongoing company contest within Bright Breaks

Talking about healthy competition, why not announce a company contest within Bright Breaks?

You can tie it to your daily Bright Breaks, such as testing what you’ve learned in the workshops in a weekly trivia night or sharing your best yoga poses in a photography competition.

44% of people said their Bright Breaks made them feel more connected to their teammates, making it an effective way to show you appreciate your work community.

11. Host a virtual stand-up comedy night for some light relief

Is there a class clown on your team? Someone who loves nothing more than to crack jokes all lunch break? Well, here’s how to appreciate their sense of humor.

Pick a host, tell your funniest employees to prepare their act, and invite everyone to a virtual stand-up comedy night. There’s no better way to let off steam in the office than with a good laugh. Your employees work hard, and they could do with some light relief.

12.Host a virtual spa day for employees to unwind

…and breathe. If the workload has been ramping up lately we’re sure your employees will appreciate a virtual spa day. Send out a self-care package with face masks, body lotion, and candles, so you can all log in and enjoy your treatments together.

13. Host virtual field trips for employees and their families

Change up the (virtual) scenery and get to know your employees’ families by arranging virtual field trips. Without leaving your home, you can explore San Diego Zoo, journey to the deep sea, or trek around the rainforest.

14.Host an online charity event to give back

Every HR manager knows how important social responsibility is to work culture. Celebrate Employee Appreciation Day by hosting an online event and donating the proceeds to a charity of your employees’ choice.

Send out a list of charities that fit with your company’s philanthropic values and ask your employees to vote on which cause they’d like to donate to. Then set up a fun virtual event, like the stand-up comedy night or games night above, and ask for a small donation.

You can add to the proceeds made and send the money off to the chosen charity.

15. Offer relaxation days for employees to take off

At Bright Breaks, we know that just 7 minutes of relaxation can go a long way in terms of workplace well-being and productivity. In fact, 75% of employees using Bright Breaks said it made them feel more productive at work.

We also know that sometimes a full day is needed to totally recharge. Could your company benefit from offering relaxation days for employees? A day off could be exactly what they need to return refreshed and ready for action.

Appreciate your employees every day with Bright Breaks 

While Employee Appreciation Day is a good place to start, we believe celebrating and giving back to your employees should be part of every working day.

This doesn’t mean it’s an extra to-do for HR managers, that you have to micromanage every aspect of your teams’ day, and it certainly doesn’t require you to venture around the country to say thanks face-to-face. With the right systems, it can be easily and effortlessly integrated into your work culture.

Bright Breaks allows you to implement, support, and reward well-being breaks for every employee. As a result, you’ll have a more productive workforce, and in turn, more reasons to appreciate your team. Schedule a Bright Breaks demo today and say thank you in multiple, virtual ways.

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What you should do now

  1. Promote best practices for remote worker health with free copy/paste, pre-written scripts you can post every week in your internal communications channels.

  2. Learn from top HR & People Leaders about the latest strategies to keep your remote workforce happy, healthy, and connected on The Virtual Vibe Podcast.

  3. Contact our sales team to discover the benefits of our built-for-the-workplace wellness solution, compared to B2C offerings like Calm or Headspace.
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