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National Employee Appreciation Day: Your Ultimate Guide for 2021

National Employee Appreciation Day is celebrated on the first Friday in March; this year it lands on March 5th. While appreciating employees is something you should be doing all year, Employee Appreciation Day presents a chance to go above and beyond and to really let employees know how valued they are! Now more than ever, with the year since the last Employee Appreciation Day being a difficult and stressful one for many, is it important not to let this day go by uncelebrated. Employee recognition is also one of the best ways to hang on to talent. Of course, knowing exactly how to show your appreciation isn’t always easy, and with the still looming threat of COVID-19 options for safely and effectively celebrating valued employees are even more limited. This is why we’ve prepared your ultimate guide for National Employee Appreciation Day 2021, with inspiration for safe celebrating, budget-friendly ideas, the best reward options, and more!

Safely Celebrating Employee Appreciation Day in 2021

Your team rocks! They’re hand-picked, they’re great at what they do, they work hard, and they’re your greatest asset, so they deserve to be celebrated, but celebrating safely in 2021 isn’t always easy. A virtual gathering may be your solution. The best part? Virtual parties offer an essentially unlimited number of ideas for your appreciation celebration! From digital party games, to virtual poker for fun prizes, to board game night, raffles, talent shows, cocktail shakes, highlight reels, award ceremonies, video games, virtual painting parties, virtual escape rooms, and much much more, there really is no shortage of ideas when it comes to virtual celebrations.

Workplace celebrations are great for recognizing employees and showing appreciation, but they also help strengthen the sense of community, teamwork, and comradery in the workplace, and the best virtual celebrations are no different. While a virtual party may never be exactly the same as one celebrated in person, the best virtual activities are those that involve everyone, strengthen friendships, and, above all, are fun! The best part? Many of these activities are only practical or even possible in a virtual setting, so while it’s easy to get stuck thinking of virtual celebrations as a limitation, it’s important to remember that celebrating remotely can actually open up your options to a whole new array of possibilities. With endless possibilities, the hard part rapidly becomes narrowing down your choices! Deciding on an activity will largely depend on factors like the personalities of your team, their dynamic, the size of the team, etc. You can even vote on the activity or activities that your team most wants to try out, or read on to get inspired by some of our favorite ideas!

Digital Party Games
Party games have come a long way, and one of the biggest and best developments in recent years is the option for remote streaming! These days, setting up a round of digital party games is easier than ever. Some of them only require smartphones or a single host PC for streaming, and many offer cross-platform compatibility. Some popular favorites are Among Us and games from the Jackbox series like Fibbage, Quiplash, Champ’d Up, and Talking Points. These games are great for groups of 5-10, and are actually effective team-building activities that involve everyone, and which get people talking, laughing, and, most importantly, having fun!

Virtual Talent Show
Employee celebrations offer an excellent way for everyone to get to know one another outside of the typical working milieu. It can be great to show off and get to know the other side of a coworker’s personality. And what better way to do so than by giving them the opportunity to show off their talents! A lo-fi virtual talent show can be a lot more casual than one that is in-person, making the virtual option a far better way to get everyone involved. This option is great for workplaces that thrive on creativity and for teams which are outgoing and comfortable with performing for their coworkers. This isn’t the best option if you feel like it may leave some people out, but it can be great for smaller teams who are comfortable with showcasing their talents!

Virtual Cocktail Shake Party
Is everyone on the team of legal drinking age? If so a cocktail shake party can be a fun way to get everyone involved, while also providing employees with a cute gift, an activity, a learning experience, and, of course, a delicious cocktail! But what exactly is a cocktail shake? The concept is simple, but the possibilities are limitless. Essentially, a care-package is prepared for each employee and delivered ahead of time. This package provides everyone with all of the ingredients needed to make a cocktail, including any equipment like jiggers, stirrers, muddlers, and shakers – whatever the recipe calls for. And that’s the fun part. The recipe is entirely up to you or your team. You can vote on a cocktail ahead of time, or surprise your team with a fun and challenging cocktail they probably haven’t heard of. Then, everyone gets together for a virtual hang out and learns how to make the cocktail together! This more unique idea is great because it allows your team to experience something new, gives them a tactile activity that they will do “together,” and leaves plenty of room to chat and have a good time while they enjoy their creation!

The Best Reward Options
Rewarding your team with a night of fun is a great way to celebrate employee appreciation day, but another great way to do so is by giving your team a reward in recognition for their hard work, determination, and resilience during this difficult year. But this year has also limited the options for rewarding employees. After all, things like catered meals, office perks, sporting tickets, and even restaurant gift cards, etc. are all scratched off the list from the outset. The vast majority of employees report that recognition at work is a crucial part of their happiness. So even though a reward is more deserved than ever, it can seem harder to find the right one than ever. One that is effective at demonstrating how valued the employees are, one that is memorable, personal, and appreciated, one that is fair and not a logistic nightmare to distribute to everyone. Luckily, when we turn to actual employees to find out what rewards they most prefer, the top answers are still on the table: gift cards.

Prepaid gift cards are an easily distributable, valued, memorable, and appreciated gift, and with options for customization, they can also be personal as well. Remember, the goal here is to make sure employees know that they are valued and appreciated, and cash doesn’t cut it. It’s simply not as personal, memorable, or appreciated. And, while retailer-specific gift cards can end up being more associated with the eventual purchase, and offer the same opportunity for guilt-free spending, unlike cash rewards, it can be difficult to make sure that they will go appreciated by everyone.

The Big Picture
The COVID-19 pandemic has made this year one of the most difficult and unprecedented years in recent history for so many employees, and, at the same time, continues to make celebrating and rewarding those employees more difficult than ever. Luckily, with a little bit of creativity, there are still incredibly effective solutions for celebrating and rewarding your valuable employees. With this guide, you should be well prepared to blow away expectations and provide your employees with a celebration and a reward they won’t forget!

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