How to Plan the Best Virtual Employee Appreciation Day, Week, or Month


Employee appreciation days are naturally easy for organizations when everyone is working in-office. But for remote workplaces, these employee-focused events take a little more thought and intention to plan for them to be a hit.

March 1st is recognized as Employee Appreciation Day. But limiting it to one day might not be practical or effective for your distributed remote team.

You’re likely here because you know that employee appreciation days or weeks (or even an entire appreciation month in March) are an essential part of strengthening workplace culture, and connecting individual employees who are based around the world. These events can help boost overall team morale, engagement, retention, and wellbeing.

In this article, you’ll learn why employee appreciation days are so essential for remote-first companies, plus our best tips for creating a successful, memorable appreciation event.

Why are employee appreciation days important for remote teams?

Your employee appreciation events and activities are a chance for you to reach out to all of your remote employees, not just top performing employees to be recognized, and let them know that their dedication to the company and hard work aren’t going unnoticed.

As you know, remote employees overcome unique challenges to see success in their work such as:

  • Managing communications and tasks asynchronously with colleagues who work in a variety of different time zones
  • Making sure that cross-functional projects run smoothly across a globally distributed workplace
  • Managing personal workloads responsibly, in a way that’s sustainable and healthy
  • Dealing with isolation from other employees
  • Tackling unexpected tech and connectivity issues

Appreciation events can help your organization to:

Boost morale 

Celebrate the fact that your employees are achieving great things every day when they’re working autonomously from home. Because it’s not easy!

Many of your remote employees are balancing their work alongside a busy home life with family, kids, and other personal responsibilities — so making sure that everyone feels appreciated and valued for the work they do is a great morale and engagement booster.

Bring attention to wellness

Appreciation events can be a great opportunity for your wellness champions to shine a light on the wellbeing challenges that go hand-in-hand with remote work.

Including activities, presentations, and workshops that focus on wellbeing shows that your company is committed to ensuring all employees are taking care of themselves mentally and physically

This is also the perfect time to weave in your wellness platforms and highlight what different benefits are available to employees outside of your normal announcements or usual wellness initiatives.

Keep reading for wellness activity ideas further on in this post!

Create deeper connections

Your remote employees might chat to each other online regularly, and meeting “face to face” during your appreciation events can help to strengthen these relationships.

Appreciation events and activities also give employees a chance to meet new and different people in your organization, and connect with managers and leaders in a low-pressure, relaxed environment.

Increase employee retention

According to a OnePoll survey, almost half of US workers (46%) leave their jobs because they feel unappreciated by their employers. 65% of workers also say they would work harder if their contributions were noticed and rewarded.

When you’re presenting your appreciation day ideas to leadership, tying them in with overall business goals such as increased retention can help you get the buy-in and budget you need for successful event planning.

Promote a positive workplace culture

Developing a healthy culture of recognition, appreciation, and celebration can help establish your company as one that respects the talents and hard work of everyone in your workplace, not just the top performers.

When your employees feel valued, they’re also more likely to feel a strong sense of engagement and loyalty to your company. In turn, this can create a more positive workplace environment, improve your brand reputation, and help you attract higher quality remote talent.

Expert tips for planning successful virtual employee appreciation activities

If you’re looking for ideas and inspiration to show your remote employees how much you appreciate them, we’ve got a few great tips up our sleeve for planning a successful virtual employee appreciation day, week or month!

Make it a multi-day event

Appreciating all your employees means including all your employees. So our best tip is to plan different activities at different times across a whole week or a month

Your remote employees are scattered around the world, and it’s not realistic for everyone to show up at the same time. So scheduling a variety of events that fit with different people’s interests and availability will make sure you get maximum attendance.

Plan a range of engaging activities

It’s important to plan different activities to try to appeal to as many employees as possible. Not everyone will be interested in the same activities – this is expected and it’s okay! Those who want to join in on a virtual cooking class, may not want to attend a trivia game. This is normal, and it’s why we suggest planning a variety of activities so that as many employees as possible feel truly appreciated.

You’ll also need to consider accessibility challenges for some employees, and include activities that take things like demographics and cultural differences into account. So make sure you plan out a variety of fun events that all your employees can look forward to attending.

Remember: Keep it fun and relaxed. This is a celebration for your employees — not more work!

Here are a few popular virtual ideas you could include as part of your appreciation initiatives schedule.

Hire a virtual keynote speaker

A keynote speaker can be a great addition to your appreciation event. This might be a popular industry speaker, entertainer, or comedian, depending on the nature of your workplace.

Bringing in a professional speaker can create a real sense of occasion and importance at your event. They can help to inspire and motivate your employees by sharing insights, stories, and experiences that are relevant to your teams.

When you’re looking around for the perfect speaker, make sure you choose a person who will be a surefire winner at attracting and engaging everyone in your specific workplace.

Games and trivia 

Encourage a bit of friendly competition with games, trivia, quizzes, and challenges like escape room puzzles.

There are plenty of online providers such as Teamazing and TeamBuilding who can take the headaches out of organizing online games events, and make sure that everyone on your team has a great time.

Cooking and crafting

Keep in mind that all your remote employees will have different kitchen and living setups. If you’re planning on adding virtual cooking, cocktail/mocktail making classes, or arts and craft activities such as soap or candle making — make sure these classes are accessible and inclusive for anyone who wants to attend.

Many virtual cooking and craft activity companies that work with remote teams can send ingredient or craft kits out to your employees so they have exactly what they need before the appreciation event rolls around.

Social hours 

Your remote employees will appreciate the chance to let loose and connect in a fun way with their teammates.

Activities like happy hours, one-on-one coffee meets, or a virtual dance party can be a great way for people to chat or show off their best 80’s dance robot moves.


Think your employees would love to watch a virtual magic show, be part of a team talent or comedy show, or learn some new skills?

Many companies offer virtual improv classes run by professional comedians who share their tips on how to think fast, and think outside the box, to encourage your employees to tap into their witty side.

Recognition events 

As part of your appreciation events, you can promote employee awards, and weave these into an all-hands or town-hall for maximum recognition.

Don’t just recognize the top performers here. This is the perfect chance for employees to create their own fun and quirky categories, and recommend each other for awards such as employees who constantly post the best memes, have the best gif reactions to everything in Slack, or who always forget they’re muted on a Zoom call.

Wellness activities

A special yoga, fitness or mindfulness session just for your organization – a wellness challenge during the month of March, like active minutes on the Movespring app, or a challenge encouraging taking breaks and tending to all areas of wellness like on Bright Breaks.

Bright Breaks can help you easily include a range of private and group wellness activities for employees — such as gratitude sessions, meditation, dancing, and stretching, which are fun and engaging for everyone. (Hint: This is also an ideal opportunity for your wellness committee to get on board and help with promotion!)

Your appreciation events are only limited to your imagination. Get creative and brainstorm a bunch of activities that will encourage participation, strengthen your team bonds, and most of all, celebrate everyone’s combined achievements and contributions.

And if one of your carefully planned activities bombs? That’s okay. Running these events regularly will help you get a much clearer picture of what your employees enjoy, so you can tailor your next event to show even greater appreciation.

Related: 15 Employee Appreciation Day Ideas

Choose the right platforms

Tech problems shouldn’t get in the way of your celebrations. So alongside your activity planning, you’ll need to make sure you’re choosing the right platforms and apps for your activities to run smoothly.

You might need to think about:

  • Screen sharing features for keynote speakers and presentations
  • Breakout rooms for small group activities
  • Interactive features for activities such as quizzes, trivia teams, or online escape rooms
  • Reliability
  • Whether your tech choices will make it easy for every employee to attend activities
  • Who will be on hand to fix things in the event of tech emergencies?

Break out the swag!

Everyone loves swag, and it’s one of the best ways to show employees that everyone is respected and valued equally — not just your star performers.

If you’re not using a virtual swag provider already, this is a great opportunity for you to partner with one that can help you surprise and delight your global employees with fun, practical branded merchandise that they’ll actually use.

Swag providers these days literally offer something for everyone — from coffee beans, to organic cotton clothing, to soy candles, desk toys, pet accessories, personalized swag bundles, and more. If you can imagine it, a swag provider can probably find it for you!

These days, it’s important to many people that company merchandise is sustainable and eco-friendly. So make sure your organization chooses a swag provider that’s socially responsible, and offers a range of eco-friendly products to delight your environmentally conscious employees.

Follow up after the event

Employee appreciation doesn’t stop when your event does. Following up with your employees helps extend these feelings, and reinforces everything that your event, and your organization, stands for.

There are multiple ways you can follow up to keep the positive vibes going. Here are a few of our favorites for some inspiration:

  • It’s the perfect time to send out that fancy swag we mentioned earlier!
  • Record and share a highlight reel of notable moments during your event
  • Post this in an internal communication channel and invite employees to continue the thread and chat about the event and share their favorite moments
  • Gather feedback and suggestions for your next appreciation event in a survey

As part of the follow-up process, it’s important to consider any employee feedback that you might be able to implement to improve your next events.

It will also be helpful to measure the engagement levels of the event as a whole, and the individual activities that were part of it. As part of your planning, you’ll need to think about ways to track and measure the impact your appreciation event has on things like morale, productivity, and retention.

This will help you report back to execs and stakeholders about the success of your appreciation initiatives, so you can confidently pitch ideas and get buy-in for your next event.

If you’re using a platform like Bright Breaks as part of your appreciation event, you’ll be able to see at a glance exactly how many people took part in activities. Otherwise you’ll need to track attendance and engagement in a more manual way.

In summary

Employee appreciation days are an important part of your HR strategy. They help build and maintain connected, resilient, and motivated remote teams — and they promote your organization as one that cares about the hard work that employees are putting in, as well as the extra challenges that they have to navigate as remote workers.

Many HR teams choose to include Bright Breaks as part of their employee appreciation events. Whether your employees want to try out a face yoga session, a posture reset, or a meditation class, you can seamlessly integrate these fun, 7-minute breaks into your events, without any headache or hassle.

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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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