Why We Celebrate Employee Appreciation Day

Thanks to social media, it seems like there is a day to celebrate just about anything you can imagine. Some of our personal favorites at Symphony include National Cheese Day (June 4), National Compliment Day (Jan 24), and basically any unofficial holiday that gives us a reason to all make food and hold a potluck. But, hands down — no question — our favorite day for celebration each year is held on the first Friday of March, Employee Appreciation Day.

How do we celebrate Employee Appreciation Day?

This year, Employee Appreciation Day is Friday, March 6, 2020. And if you try to call our office on this day, you’ll get our voicemail. Why? Because to celebrate, every year we close the office and say thank you by giving everyone on our team an extra paid day off.

Sure, we could just host a party or leave thank you notes on team member’s desks — and we do these things for other holidays — but this one is special because it’s a true cornerstone to our culture. At Symphony, we believe that gratitude is best showcased as an action, not just in pretty words. And what better way to actively say we appreciate you than giving your team the freedom to choose exactly how they want to celebrate in their own way.

What is employee appreciation?

If you Google the word appreciation you’ll find that it is defined as “recognition and enjoyment of the good qualities of someone or something.” Add the word employee to it, and most corporations forget the most important part. Employees aren’t numbers. They are human beings  which means appreciating them isn’t just appreciating the work you pay them to do. It means taking the time to recognize all of the things that make them great, including the things they care about outside of the office.

Did someone recently buy a house or achieve a great feat like running a marathon? Putting people first isn’t just a saying — it’s what the best companies do differently. As innovative and thoughtful organizations, we need to look past achieved deadlines and clocked hours and be willing to recognize that our team members’ overall fulfillment in life impacts how they show up at the office. The simple fact is this, the two can’t be separated.

It’s About Strategically Building a Great Employee Experience

We choose to use Employee Appreciation Day to make a statement and say thank you, but in all actuality, one extra day off won’t make or break your company or culture. That being said, the forethought it takes to build a day off into your policies and procedures is the type of planning required to build a team member experience that drives employee happiness and retention.

The harsh truth is this: No matter how friendly and fun your team is, great employee experiences don’t just happen. They are strategically designed. Although we’ve given Employee Appreciation Day off since we put our Employee Handbook in place years ago, we took an extra detailed look at the team member experience at the end of last year to see where we were dropping the ball.

One of the studies our management team dug into was WorkHuman’s 2019 International Employee Survey Report, and if you haven’t read it, I highly recommend it. Some of it tells you things you likely already know — like people want meaningful work at companies where they feel recognized and respected — but other things might surprise you.

As an avid traveler and user of work remote days, I shouldn’t have been surprised to see that the same study found that of all the workplace perks offered by companies, the most important was remote/flexible work. This information, as well as other work remote statistics and research inspired us to make a change. So, what did we do? We doubled our work remote policy to give our team members the flexibility of up to 12 work-from-home days per quarter. And just a few months later, we’re already seeing the benefits of increased productivity and team member happiness.

Taking the time to strategically plan what your employee experience looks like is critical to building the type of company culture that retains talent and increases morale, which in turn drives profitability. Is our team member experience idyllic? No way. It’s a never-ending project — but one with a focus on progress, not perfection.

Happy Employee Appreciation Day to You!

Whether you’re an employer or employee, the work you do every day brings value to your company and community, and for that, I say thank you. Do something nice for yourself today. Go on an adventure — even if it’s just to that new local coffee shop you’ve been meaning to try. You deserve it!

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