Five Employee Appreciation Day Ideas On A Shoestring Budget

March 02, 2021

Employee appreciation is vital to organizations that recognize that they need to leverage their most significant asset, their employees, to succeed.

Employee Appreciation Day was deemed a national holiday in 1995. Businesses celebrate the national holiday on the first Friday of every March. Consequently, this will be Friday, March 5th, 2021. Many organizations choose to celebrate this holiday to show their appreciation to employees. However, the holiday may also serve as a reminder to busy small business owners to show appreciation to their employees. Instead of celebrating the holiday, owners and managers may choose to evaluate what they are currently doing. Business owners may determine if their efforts are practical and may consider adjusting tactics.

Small business owners are often managing different responsibilities. Therefore, formal recognition programs may get deprioritized. While expressing appreciation is important to owners and managers, they may not be acknowledging employees as much as or in ways that are reaching their workers.

The Covid-19 pandemic may have owners and managers assuming that they cannot celebrate the holiday or implement informal appreciation programs.

Small businesses are complying with social distancing requirements. Budgetary constraints are a real concern for many small business owners right now. Many employers have had and are still struggling with absenteeism due to employees caring for themselves or loved ones. Small businesses can always overcome these obstacles and show appreciation to their employees during a pandemic while still being safe. Employee appreciation can be executed on a shoestring budget.

Why is Employee Appreciation Day a critical holiday?

The benefits of showing employees’ formal appreciation include:

  • Increased job satisfaction amongst employees
  • Increased engagement within workspaces
  • Overall improvement in morale
  • Decreased employee turnover
  • Increased productivity
  • A positive culture that employees thrive in

Employees may need to feel appreciated now more than ever. Many workers have stated that their responsibilities have changed or increased due to safety requirements. They are balancing a work-life balance that has become increasingly demanding as their caregiving roles have increased. 70% of employees have cited that the pandemic has been the most stressful time in their career.

How can small business owners ensure they provide the appreciation that their employees deserve? 

There are many ways in which owners and managers can express gratitude.

Before implementing a recognition program, employers may want to consider surveying their employees to understand what may motivate them.

Managers can express appreciation without breaking the bank. They can do this while practicing social distancing.

Here are Five Ways Small Businesses can Show Employee Appreciation on a Shoestring Budget:

1. Utilizing food and beverages as a treat

  • Employees enjoy celebrations of special occasions and milestones. Events and milestones commonly celebrated include birthdays, holidays, work anniversaries, and business achievements. Managers that choose to celebrate essential milestones may want to do so on a regular schedule. No celebration is complete without food! Utilizing food as a reward typically allows managers to be mindful of budgets. Inexpensive options include pizza parties, cookies, and other snacks. Employees working from home can still experience appreciation. Managers could choose to send an electronic gift card for coffee or ice cream. Employers could replace a company luncheon with sending a meal to their employee’s homes. Managers and owners may choose to celebrate birthdays or milestones once a month. Celebrating milestones on a monthly or quarterly basis may be easier to administer for companies with many employees. Managers choose to provide individual treats such as cupcakes for employees in place of a cake to decrease exposure during the pandemic.

2. Formal Recognition Programs

  • Some employers have chosen to implement an Employee of the Month Program. An Employee of the Month Program and its effectiveness have become questionable since the program promotes individual employees’ singling. Employees not selected could cite favoritism. Peer-driven appreciation programs are becoming increasingly popular. Employers have found this method useful, as other employees are doing the nominating, allowing managers and owners to focus on the recognition and rewards. Those instituting formal programs can utilize inexpensive tokens of appreciation.  Managers may want to create a designated preferred parking space to assign it to individual employees that deserve recognition. It is a simple reward to administer and yet cost-effective. Business owners interested in improving their bottom line with a formal recognition program may benefit from working with a human resources consultant specializing in employee recognition implementation programs.

3. Written appreciation

  • Handwritten cards on employee anniversaries cost next to nothing and can be a meaningful treasure to hard-working employees. Employers do not have to wait for Employee Appreciation Day or the employee’s hire date anniversary to write a nice thank you. A simple text message or email message can make an employee feel appreciated. Simple recognition may be that encouragement that makes the employee want to be more productive and remain employed.

4. Provide entertainment

  • Stress levels at an all-time high. Small business owners and managers may be exploring ways to express appreciation and decrease stressors. Managers may want to invite a third party to provide entertainment to their staff. Now would be a great time to seek the services of a motivational speaker. Employers implementing work from home could be providing entertainment through video conferencing. Managers may want to search a platform, such as YouTube, to locate an entertaining and uplifting video. Employees can view the video on demand during business hours.

5. Recognize your employees publicly

  • Publicly recognizing employees for hard work can also be well perceived. It can even motivate employees to increase production or reach their sales goals! Promoting your appreciation digitally through your brand’s social media channels, your company website, and e-newsletter are great ways to engage with employees and customers. It allows your brand to become humanized with prospective customers as an added benefit.

There are other ways to show gratitude to employees without breaking the bank during the pandemic. They include:

  • Inviting a food truck to come to your place of business
  • Showing a token of appreciation by gifting branded promotional or swag items
  • Implementing or continuing to provide flexible schedules to employees really is important as employees care for loved ones.
  • Inviting your team to a virtual happy hour or coffee time
  • Allowing employees to exit their shift a few minutes early

Employees that feel appreciated, consequently, will also be more productive workers. Small business owners will reap the cost-savings benefits associated with decreasing employee turnover. There are many benefits to celebrating Employee Appreciation Day and choosing to recognize employees for their hard work regularly.

PaySmart is a payroll provider located in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, supporting small businesses in the Central PA region. We are dedicated to helping small businesses take care of their payroll needs. To learn more information about how PaySmart may provide payroll solutions, please contact us at 717-766-1777. Our New Client Concierge is waiting for you!