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01 Mar 2024
by Emile Elwin-Ball

7 ways to make Employee Appreciation Day inclusive

Everyone needs to be made to feel special and valued, wherever they are and whatever they do. But it’s all too easy to leave out certain groups of employees

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Employee Appreciation Day, which this year falls today ( 1 March), should be celebrated with company-wide, memorable acts of appreciation. Everyone needs to be made to feel special and valued, wherever they are and whatever they do. Unfortunately, it’s all too easy to leave out certain groups of employees if the plans aren’t well thought through. Here’s how to ensure the day is inclusive and meaningful for everyone.

1. Involve a diverse group of employees in the planning

It’s hard for leaders to consider everybody’s particular needs all the time, which is why it’s important to ask for feedback from a diverse range of individuals when planning initiatives and events.

This also applies to Employee Appreciation Day to ensure no group feels excluded or uncomfortable about how the day is celebrated. Even simple things like taking into account a range of dietary requirements can make all the difference between making employees feel left out or included.

2. Include office, hybrid, remote and deskless workers

The celebrations shouldn’t just take place in the office but must be taken out to where the workers are based, whether at homes, in a factory or a healthcare setting. Consider how to involve everyone - perhaps posting thank you notes and goodies to employees’ homes, providing celebratory buffets in break-out areas and putting thank you posters around factories and depots.

4. Ensure inclusion stays top of mind

All leaders across countries, locations and departments should be made aware of the Appreciation Day plans well in advance and their feedback sought. Managers will know their teams better than anyone and will be able to ensure the day is personalised, meaningful and inclusive for each of the individuals on their teams.

4. Consider timings

If there’s a thank-you message from the CEO being broadcast globally, which time is most appropriate when considering time zone differences?

For instance, no UK employee wants to have to jump on a video call at 6am or 9pm to fit around the US head office. If manageable, celebrations could also be timed to be within core school hours to accommodate parents with school age children.

5. Give all employees something to mark the day

This could be a symbolic token of appreciation and/or a range of branded merchandise. Post the items out to those employees who won’t be in the office with a note on the package saying that it’s not to be opened until 1 March 2024.

6. Ensure celebrations are consistent

No country or department should be favoured in any way and so ensure plans for the day are similar while taking into account logistical, functional and cultural differences. For instance, providing all employees with a branded laptop case as a thank is all very well for desk-based employees, but is unlikely to be well-received by deskless employees.

Local language considerations also need to be taken into account, ensuring that where possible, recognition is given in the local language of the workers to make it more personal and meaningful.

7. Encourage everyone to show appreciation

Appreciation should never just be top-down (from leaders to employees). Encourage employees to appreciate their peers, colleagues in other departments/locations and their managers. Provide ideas on how this could be done from simple thank you notes and writing on a virtual ‘appreciation wall’ on the company intranet, through to showing appreciation via the company’s recognition platform.

Employee Appreciation Day should never go uncelebrated, with how it’s marked requiring plenty of thought and planning to ensure everybody feels valued and recognised for their individual contributions. When done right, it can prove the icing on the cake of a company’s recognition programme, further strengthening engagement and that all-important sense of belonging.

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