By Derek Irvine
By now, most of you are probably aware of Employee Appreciation Day, which falls on the first Friday in March. The intent for the day is for the leadership of many companies to press pause and express gratitude for the contributions and hard work of their employees.
While I can certainly agree with the sentiment behind the occasion, employee appreciation should not be confined to just a single day’s worth of celebration. Just as employees contribute to the success of the organization throughout the year, recognition and appreciation for those contributions is most powerful when it is frequently delivered.
There are a couple of reasons illustrating why employees should be appreciated throughout the year instead of on a one-off basis (in response to Employee Appreciation Day or other milestones that businesses may sometimes choose).
When appreciation is frequently provided, as a part of a larger emphasis on creating a WorkHuman culture, there is a powerful connection made between specific behaviors and performance for each individual employee. Recognition that is commensurate with the complexity, timeframe, and impact of those behaviors serves to further strengthen those connections.
Recognition that is broadcast to all employees within the space of a single day loses much of this power. For one, the messaging, events, or rewards tend to be equivalent across the entire workforce, blunting the line-of-sight that employees have between their own contributions and the success of the organization.
The distance between employee contributions and the sparse timing of such events further limits the potential impact. One may question whether a once-a-year event covers all of an employee’s accomplishments, or only the most recent one that can be remembered.
This is not to say that employees do not appreciate being appreciated in this manner, but the benefits of these events is likely to be short-lived, and lost on a majority of the workforce as soon as the event has passed. (How many people are still talking about the Oscars in your office?) Social recognition that occurs on a regular basis, on the other hand, creates an ongoing conversation, with the ability to engage everyone in the company culture and align behavior to core values.
If recognizing others regularly seems like a big commitment, it shouldn’t. Chances are that a good deal of you probably already do this informally, whether it’s thanking a coworker for their help or giving some other small token of appreciation. A recognition solution can help amplify these small acts across the entire organization, helping to drive culture, success, and the employee experience. The more frequently recognition is made a part of your company’s fabric, the greater these benefits are likely to be.
How will you be observing Employee Appreciation Day, and more importantly, how will you be keeping it going?
About Derek Irvine
The VP of Client Strategy and Consulting at Globoforce, Derek Irvine is one of the world’s foremost experts on employee recognition and engagement, helping business leaders set a higher vision and ambition for their organizations. As a renowned speaker and co-author of "The Power of Thanks" and "Winning with a Culture of Recognition," he teaches companies how to use recognition to proactively manage company culture. Derek holds a B.Comm and Masters of Business Studies from the Smurfit Graduate Business School at University College Dublin.