by Roy Saunderson, MA, CRP | February 22, 2019
Employee Appreciation Day is an unofficial holiday - not a day off work, mind you! - that is observed on the first Friday in March in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom. This year it falls on Friday, March 1.

It is a day for company leaders and managers to thank employees for their hard work and effort throughout the year. It was never intended to be the only day you recognize your staff, but it still can work well as an opportunity to stop and remember the importance of those who work for you. With that in mind, here are the Top 10 Ways to Leverage Employee Appreciation Day.

1. Reflect and accept your own value first. Take time to acknowledge your own self-worth and appreciate the talents, gifts, education and abilities that you bring to work. You have to be able to appreciate yourself first before you can ever recognize another person and what they contribute.

2. Discuss what appreciation means. Besides the employee breakfasts, potluck lunches and treats on this day, sit down and talk with your staff. Seek their candid feedback on how leaders and managers are doing at appreciating staff. Ask them for ideas they feel the company can easily implement.

3. Find something to appreciate daily. Acknowledging your staff properly is not just a one-day event, once a year. Commit to appreciate people every day. Always be on the lookout for praiseworthy behaviors from your employees every day by getting out of your office and doing walkabouts whenever you can.

4. No one left unrecognized. Let these once-a-year employee appreciation days cause you to stop and ask if there are any associates who get passed by for praise or recognition. They may be introverted, quiet and nonassuming in their work, but they make a contribution to us all, so make sure to praise them.

5. What is achievable? Think about what each employee is capable of doing and invite them to meet with you and hear your point of view. Ask them what they think their growth potential is for the rest of the year. Now, ask them how you can assist them and what resources or education they need to achieve their goals.

6. Make recognition easy to do. Help others to give recognition more than once a year. Provide managers with forums to discuss challenges they have with expressing appreciation and giving recognition. Educate everyone on how they can give more meaningful and effective recognition, praise and appreciation.

7. Discover above and beyond work. Work is a continuous event, with some performances being more stellar than others. Find out from employees what they feel excellence looks like in their job. Let them share with you examples of their outstanding work. You might have missed some great things they've done.

8. Prepare today to appreciate better tomorrow. What is one way you could do better with appreciating peers and staff on a daily basis? Pull up a page on your computer or open a page in a notebook and write your responses. Make this your daily appreciation to-do list to look at and work on each and every week.

9. Do it right away and don't delay. Commit to giving recognition and praise to people immediately. Share your thoughts the minute you see or hear about their positive actions. If you express appreciation to staff too long after the usual or best time, you end up devaluing your intended message of acknowledgment.

10. Make appreciation more visible. Always with their permission, ask employees what outstanding accomplishments can be highlighted through the company's various communication mediums. Use walls and bulletin boards for people to post praise and express appreciation to team members and peers.

Incentive columnist Roy Saunderson is the author of Giving the Real Recognition Way. The Vistance Institute chief learning officer at Rideau Inc. [https://rideau.com/], Saunderson provides consulting, learning and thought-leadership services focused on helping leaders and managers give real recognition the right way. He can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter and at his AuthenticRecognition.com blog.