It takes a village of employees to run a successful company. Without the hard work and dedication of support staff, your business probably wouldn't be where it is today. National Employee Appreciation Day was created to honor hardworking employees.
Established in 1995, the holiday is held on the first Friday in March. The commemorative day offers employers a chance to express their thanks for jobs well done.
"Showing team members that the company appreciates their work and them as individuals is mission critical to creating a cohesive, dynamic and positive working environment," says Jacques Hart, CEO of Roar Media, a strategic marketing and communications consultancy.
"A savvy CEO recognizes that an employee who loves coming into work is an employee who will be incredibly productive and an ambassador for your company," says Hart. "Appreciated employees are likely to be loyal, and they can even attract other top-tier talent."
Taking the time to show your employees you appreciate them is one of the best investments a business can make, agrees Hani Goldstein, CEO and co-founder of Snappy, an employee recognition and incentive platform.
"Building a strong culture within your company is the foundation for anything your business is aiming to accomplish," says Goldstein. "When your team feels appreciated, they're more engaged in the growth of the business."
To commemorate Employee Appreciation Day, I spoke to Hart, Goldstein and 15 other business owners about how they thank their employees. Here are their tips for showing gratitude.
Praise Employees Regularly—and Publicly
"Perks are not enough. Words of affirmation, public praise and immediate—and frequent—positive feedback are the best ways to show employee appreciation."
—Elliot Tomaeno, founder, ASTRSK PR
"Business presents a series of problems to solve, so there's plenty of negatives to focus on. Instead, I always start a conversation with the positives, such as a recent win or step in the right direction. Setting a positive tone makes a big difference."
—Melissa Regan Vitelli, co-founder and CEO, Jar Goods
"We have formal opportunities where we show our appreciation. These include an annual brunch, where we celebrate each other. At our semi-annual company meetings, we're transparent about our performance and publicly recognize individuals who have contributed to key initiatives."
—Michele Ebenhoch, director of HR, LaBella Associates
Rather than a cookie-cutter approach, I believe in acknowledging a job well done by understanding what motivates each individual and creating an environment for the person to excel.
—David Himelfarb, managing partner, Himelfarb Proszanski
Treat Employees to Events and Outings
"We kick off every holiday season with a dinner and award ceremony recognizing our employees' outstanding accomplishments. We also announce a special bonus. This year, our whole team enjoyed a company-sponsored shopping spree [to an electronic goods store]. In addition, after the busy tax season, we take all of our full-time employees and their guests on a company-sponsored trip to a tropical locale."
—Brian Rhodes, CEO, TaxSlayer
"I often show employee appreciation by taking my staff on trips. We will, for instance, go to Las Vegas for [a sports event] or visit Cabo San Lucas. Fun trips and events keep the morale high in the office by giving everyone something to look forward to in the future."
—Vik Monder, founder, Monder Criminal Lawyer Group
"We hold multiple events throughout the year to show employee appreciation. These include picnics, holiday parties, wing bowls and holiday decorating contests. We also host Halloween and holiday parties for our employees' children to further promote a sense of family and work-life integration."
—Tessa Raum, head of people experience, eMoney Advisor
Make It Personal
"Monthly, I buy everyone lunch, and each team member gets a chance to pick what we're eating. I also make sure to say thank you to each employee as they leave every single day. In addition, I make a big deal of their birthdays, and I keep each of their favorite snacks in stock at the office."
—Corri Smith, owner, Black Wednesday
"Little things and small gestures make a big difference, such as acknowledging birthdays and showing empathy during the loss of a loved one or illness. Offering flexible work schedules and partial work from home are other ways we show employee appreciation."
—Mac Fadra, CEO, MAXIM Hair Restoration
"Rather than a cookie-cutter approach, I believe in acknowledging a job well done by understanding what motivates each individual and creating an environment for the person to excel. This could mean sending an employee to an interesting seminar or conference the person has shown interest in attending, or assigning the employee to a special project that expands on skills and gives opportunities for growth."
—David Himelfarb, managing partner, Himelfarb Proszanski
"As a mother of two teenage boys, I know the difficulty of balancing work and family. When I opened up my law firm, I was committed to making sure my staff knew I cared about them and their families. If I know an employee's family member is sick, I often ask how they're doing or advise the employee to leave work early. I'm often invited to and always attend employee marriages, showers and funerals. This creates a family-like atmosphere that fosters employee appreciation."
—Edith Pearce, founder, The Pearce Law Firm
"We buy so many birthday cakes, we should open a bakery. Birthdays are a big thing for us, because it's the one day a year we all get to be the center of attention, just like when we were kids. Small notes of gratitude and thanks that point out something specific that an employee did well also help to show that we truly care."
—Kyle Tobin, president and chief environmental officer, LawnSavers Plant Health Care Experts
Listen to and Respect Employee Opinions
"One of the best ways to make your employees feel acknowledged and welcome is to invite them to participate in company decision-making and strategy. An office where ideas are heard and taken into consideration can prove to be a constructive and progressive workplace. You'll be surprised to discover how invested your employees become in the future of your company if their voices are heard."
—Dan Joelson, founder, Car Loans of America
"To us, employee appreciation means respect and genuine care for each other. Our leadership team works hard to gain the trust and respect of all of our staff. In our company, this works both ways. Our leaders have to respect our staff and our staff has to respect our leaders. We try to accomplish this by working hard to maintain a culture of authenticity, honesty and openness. This starts with our onboarding process."
— Sean A. Tomalty, CEO, Tomalty Dental Care
Offer Plenty of Perks and Benefits
"When I see constant improvement in all things that make up a strong employee, such as willingness to continue learning and researching, quality work, dependability and punctuality, I review the overall progress of the employee and reward the person with periodic raises or surprise bonuses."
—Laura Orrico, president, Laura Orrico Public Relations
"We show employee appreciation by striving to make our employees feel valued and fairly compensated for initiative, quality and mission-driven performance metrics. One way we do that is by offering excellent benefits. The company pays 100 percent of medical, dental and vision premiums for employees and their dependents. We also have generous vacation, holiday and sick-time policies, as well as provide tuition reimbursement for coursework that enhances career development."
—Nancy Geenen, CEO, Galt Foundation
Read more articles on company culture.
Photo: Getty Images