Using Employee Appreciation Day to Drive Engagement & Satisfaction

You may know that annually, the first Friday in March is officially “Employee Appreciation Day.” So, this year it’s today, March 2nd. WhooWhoo! Quick! Stand up from your cube or walk out of your office and give your fellow employees a hug! Wait, perhaps you shouldn’t… It’s great to have a formal day to appreciate your employees. It certainly moves some companies to have special luncheons, gift promotional branded items and some companies do go above and beyond both on this day or other days throughout the year. But what about on Monday? What about on March 5th? Do your employees feel appreciated, grateful and engaged in their role within your company and culture?

Does it Matter?

Unfortunately, there’s a good chance they won’t. A 2017 Gallup poll revealed that less than a 51% of the U.S. workforce is not engaged. Over half! This has staggering impact on your company and the overall economy. The Engagement Institute calculated that disengaged employees cost organizations between $450 and $550 billion annually. BILLION! How does disengagement impact your company specifically? Mercer states that 34% of employees say they plan to leave their current role in the next 12 months. As an HR employee, you know the direct cost and productivity impact that losing just one strong employee causes!

There are thousand of eBooks and Guides that define tactics for positively impacting employee engagement; I encourage you to ‘Google it’. Yet, I mostly encourage you to go deeper and realize that what truly drives engagement is a fundamental, psychological need for human beings. It’s driven by our core need to feel “part of,” know we are valued, be empowered and be shown trust. It’s on a daily basis, feeling as if we aren’t being abused. It’s our brains’ neurological and chemical wiring that responds to regular activity that make us feel appreciated. Appreciation and gratitude have been proven to directly impact happiness, motivation and group culture. That isn’t built by a day of goodies. It’s built with a comprehensive corporate culture that addresses employees’ work environment, the balance with their home environment and family, and addressing the wellbeing of employees as comprehensive human being – not simply employees.

Employee Engagement and Gratitude Really – It’s like Valentine’s Day

Let’s get back to today – Employee Appreciation Day. Does it matter? Yes, doing some additional niceties for your staff today is important. I will certainly give some extra kudos to my staff. But not due to the formal date set on the calendar today. We as company leaders must build a culture of appreciation and do what we can to foster mutual gratitude. I guess it’s similar to Valentine’s Day – the formal day set aside to show purchased love and affection to your partner or family. I’ve never been a fan of Valentine’s Day, due to the imposed notion that those who receive gifts on Valentine’s Day are loved, while those who do not are not. My husband knows better than to send me overpriced roses just to create a Pinterest image at my office. I know that I am loved and appreciated in my home. Why? Because the other 364 days of the year, I’m supported on tough days, inspired to be my best, cheered on from the sidelines, challenged to be best self and shown every day tokens of appreciation and gratitude just because. Roses on February 14th don’t provide me feelings of appreciation. The culture in my home and relationship does.

Please do honor your employees today. But remember that what inspires employees to commit their energy, time, lives and loyalty to your company isn’t because of today. It is and will be due to a comprehensive corporate culture built on transparency, trust and empowerment. It is employees feeling that you not only hired them, but hired their whole family and lives and that you care about all of it.

Are you up for the challenge?