I’ve never been a big fan of Valentine’s Day, single or otherwise. I adore handwritten cards, but no-occasion notes are the best. The forced lovey-dovey nature of February 14 has always kind of bugged me. On the other hand, I never turned down those Godiva chocolates my dad used to send me each year.
But even if Employee Appreciation Day (a real thing celebrated on the first Friday of March) feels a little forced, small gestures won’t go unnoticed. And fortunately, companies are not ignoring the special day. In an effort to express appreciation for the contributions of their hardworking staff, many employers are taking steps to demonstrate that their teams are valued and that the people who make up their departments are not just a number. For example, a quick glance on Twitter shows these celebratory moments:
Parties may be thrown. Team leaders may organize a group lunch. CEO and company founders may make Friday a half day so staff can recharge outside of the confines of the workspace. These are all fine ideas that’ll make the particular weekday feel different than all the others. But, if you’re being honest, you would probably enjoy being appreciated every day in small ways, rather than having a big blowout once a year.
It’s normal to want to feel empowered, trusted, and involved year round—not just on a new(ish) holiday that doesn’t have much, if any, historical significance. The happiest employees are the ones who feel consistently supported, mentored, challenged, and well compensated.
How often have you—or someone you know—left a company because you didn’t feel appreciated? Even if companies don’t have the ability to dish out raises or slap on higher titles, they should be putting effort into considering other ways to show sincere gratitude for their team. It’s often the little things that are soaked with meaning: an out-of-the-blue thank you email, encouragement to leave the office early on a warm, sunny day, an unexpected cup of coffee during a hectic week.
So, if you’re a manager of anyone (even an intern), do something thoughtful today—but also do something nice next month, and the month after that. And if you’re not in charge of anyone, you’re not off the hook either. Instead, do your part by making sure to recognize your colleagues when an opportunity arises. After all, just because you’re not your cube-mate’s boss, doesn’t mean she’ll turn down that unexpected coffee.
(Oh, and if you feel completely unappreciated, maybe it’s time to look for a new job.)
Photo of team lunch courtesy of Shutterstock.
Stacey Lastoe started writing short stories in the second grade and is immensely grateful to have the opportunity to write and edit professionally. Her work has appeared in YouBeauty, Refinery29, A Practical Wedding, Runner's World online, and The Billfold among other publications. She enjoys running and eating in equal measure and lives with her husband and dog in Brooklyn. All three of them are avid New York Mets fans. Say hello on @stacespeaks.More from this Author