High-five for Employee Appreciation Day! (Photo via AFGE, Flickr)

High-five for Employee Appreciation Day! (Photo via AFGE, Flickr)

Are company leaders involved in your Employee Appreciation Day celebration? They should be — employees will notice!
When bosses engage in recognition activities like Employee Appreciation Day, it sends a strong message that employees — and their work — matter to the people in charge.
In some cases, however, it isn’t always easy to get management involved in direct employee appreciation.
“Managers have all of these excuses: They are too busy. They don’t think it is their job to do this. No one ever shows them any appreciation, blah, blah, blah,” author and management expert Bob Nelson tells the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Nelson created Employee Appreciation Day 21 years ago and jokes that he’s the “Johnny Appleseed of employee recognition.”
Bosses are essential to making employees feel appreciated, Nelson says. Ideally, recognition needs to happen daily — “every day a manager should do something for somebody to show appreciation” — but a holiday like Employee Appreciation Day is a great opportunity to energize your recognition program and recognize all employees.
So, how do you get bosses on board?
Convince managers that participating in Employee Appreciation Day is well worth their time and effort — read on for research-backed talking points you can use! Let’s debunk the common excuses, one by one.

Why Employee Appreciation Day Needs Bosses

Most bosses do appreciate their employees, of course. But too many do it silently. Their jobs are demanding and hectic, and expressing appreciation doesn’t rise to priority level.
Yet research shows again and again that employees who feel appreciated are motivated, do their best work and stick around! Your company’s ability to communicate appreciation to employees directly impacts performance, customer service, retention and profits.
Managers may need guidance on how to celebrate Employee Appreciation Day. That’s where you come in!
“Employee Appreciation Day is here, and it’s here to stay. The problem is that most companies, managers and employees don’t quite know how to celebrate it…yet,” according to Forbes contributors David Sturt and Todd Nordstrom. This week the two management experts put together an Employee Appreciation Day FAQ to help workplaces plan.
For managers who are still reluctant to participate, let’s look at the three common excuses to not show appreciation, and why they don’t hold up.
1. “I’m too busy”
Recognizing employees doesn’t require time-consuming pomp and circumstance. Consistency and frequency matter more. Even a sincere “Thank You” makes a positive impression. If your CEO or regional manager is busy during your Employee Appreciation Day celebration, see if they can at least make a 15-minute appearance to thank everyone in person, hand out small gifts and chat with their reports.
But the bigger point to emphasize here is that employee appreciation is worth the time invested in it — and for a truly vibrant and sustainable culture of appreciation, gratitude needs to come from bosses first. They set the workplace tone.
A recent O.C. Tanner Institute survey of 1,000 employees found that the biggest driver of “great work” is recognition — beating out financial motivation by a margin of five to one!
But managers aren’t getting the message fast enough. According to the latest Gallup data, nearly two-thirds of U.S. workers remain disengaged on the job.
Company leaders can reverse disengagement, and there’s a big financial incentive to do so. According to the Harvard Business Review, top companies have been able to boost engagement and measure the impact using talent analytics. Best Buy, for example, found that every 0.1 percent increase in a store’s engagement returns $100,000 in annual operating income.
2. “It’s not my job”
Recognition is no longer just an HR concern. Now that we understand how closely recognition affects companies’ bottom lines, workplace leaders need to engage with HR in implementing recognition activities — and that includes Employee Appreciation Day!
Coordinated programs and events for employee engagement will soon be the norm, according to Nelson. He gives two main reasons:

  • Rise of Millennials — Younger workers “expect recognition on a daily basis” and their ranks continue to increase as they replace the 10,000 Baby Boomers retiring daily, Nelson says. “These are people who check their cell phones for texts 57 times a day,” he tells the Cleveland Plain Dealer. “They are not going to put up with waiting for a review a year from now for you to tell them that they are doing a good job.”
  • Shortage of Skilled Workers — Being in high demand gives employees power. If they don’t feel appreciated, they’re likely to move on.

3. “No one appreciates me
Here’s the funny thing about gratitude: the more you give it, the more likely you are to receive it. Bosses have the power to start a culture where gratitude is shared freely, but they have to make the first move.
The workplace ranks last among places people are likely to hear or express gratitude, according to the Greater Good Science Center article, “Five Ways to Cultivate Gratitude at Work.”
“Americans actively suppress gratitude on the job, even to the point of robbing themselves of happiness,” writes the GGSC’s Jeremy Adam Smith.
A leadership attitude that pay is thanks enough only perpetuates what Smith calls the “circle of ingratitude.”
“This is one of the clearest takeaways from research into workplace gratitude: Employees need to hear ‘thank you’ from the boss first. … It’s up to the people with power to clearly, consistently and authentically say ‘thank you’ in both public and private settings,” Smith writes.
Also, be sure managers aren’t forgetting anyone on staff in their thanks this Employee Appreciation Day.
Soon, appreciation will become a cultural norm that involves everyone — bosses, too! That’s the goal, according to the Forbes Sturt and Nordstrom article, “Simple, CEO-Approved Ways to Celebrate Employee Appreciation Day.”
“Employee Appreciation Day is a crucial holiday to celebrate and drive the point home: we appreciate one another’s unique perspectives and abilities and what we can create together,” Sturt and Nordstrom write. “We enjoy working towards shared goals and purpose, and making a difference that people love. We express our gratitude for one another, because we are grateful to be working in such an awesome team and company.”
Want practical tips to build your Thank You culture every day this year? Download gThankYou’s FREE Day-to-Day Celebration Calendar for tips on how to plan daily recognition and organize regular celebrations throughout the year. This one-of-a-kind eBook will help you to build an everyday culture of appreciation with month-by-month guides, case studies, research highlights, how-to recognition advice and celebration ideas for specific holidays and anytime.
Click the image below to download your free copy now!

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