The History and Significance of Employee Appreciation Day: Celebrating with Thoughtful Gifts

David Harper
January 10, 2024

Employee Appreciation Day is an important occasion that acknowledges the hard work and dedication of employees in an organization. It is a day to express gratitude and show appreciation for their contributions, which can boost morale and foster a positive workplace environment.


The Origins of Employee Appreciation Day

The concept of Employee Appreciation Day originated in 1995, when Workman Publishing, in collaboration with Bob Nelson, a founding board member of Recognition Professionals International, introduced the idea of dedicating a day to appreciate employees. The goal was to remind managers and employers that a strong employer-employee relationship is crucial for the success of any business.

Before the inception of Employee Appreciation Day, there was already a day dedicated to appreciating bosses – Boss's Day, established in 1958. However, it took nearly 40 years for the favor to be returned and for employees to be officially recognized and appreciated. The idea gained popularity, and now Employee Appreciation Day is celebrated across various industries worldwide.


Significance of Employee Appreciation Day

Recognizing and appreciating employees is essential for a thriving work culture. When employees feel valued and appreciated, they are more motivated, engaged, and loyal to the organization. Employee Appreciation Day serves as a reminder to employers that their team members are the backbone of their business and that their contributions are instrumental in achieving success.

By celebrating Employee Appreciation Day, organizations can:

  • Boost Morale: Recognition and appreciation make employees feel valued and motivated, resulting in increased job satisfaction and morale.
  • Foster Employee Engagement: Appreciated employees are more engaged in their work, leading to higher productivity and better overall performance.
  • Improve Retention: When employees feel appreciated, they are more likely to stay with the company, reducing turnover rates and associated costs.
  • Strengthen Team Dynamics: Recognizing employees' efforts fosters a positive work environment, enhances teamwork, and strengthens relationships within the organization.
  • Enhance Employer Branding: Organizations that prioritize employee appreciation are seen as desirable employers, attracting top talent and enhancing their reputation in the industry.



Now that we understand the history and significance of Employee Appreciation Day, let's explore some unique gift ideas to celebrate this special day and show your employees how much you value their hard work and dedication.


Manager at a desk giving her employee a box of custom socks for an employee appreciation gift



Thoughtful Gift Ideas for Employee Appreciation Day

Personalized Thank You Notes

A simple yet meaningful gesture is to write personalized thank you notes to each employee. Express your appreciation for their specific contributions and highlight their achievements. Handwritten notes add a personal touch and show that you took the time to acknowledge their efforts.

Customized Awards and Certificates

Recognize outstanding employees by presenting them with customized awards and certificates. These can be tailored to their individual strengths and accomplishments, such as "Best Team Player" or "Top Sales Performer." Personalized awards provide a lasting memento of their achievements.

Gift Cards to Local Businesses

Support local businesses and give employees the opportunity to treat themselves by offering gift cards to nearby restaurants, coffee shops, or retail stores. This allows them to enjoy a well-deserved break and choose something they truly enjoy.

Wellness Packages

Promote well-being and self-care by gifting employees wellness packages. These can include items such as stress-relief products, essential oils, spa vouchers, or fitness class memberships. Encouraging employees to prioritize their health and well-being shows that you care about their overall happiness and work-life balance.

Team-Building Activities

Organize team-building activities to foster camaraderie and strengthen team dynamics. This can include team outings, escape room challenges, or even virtual team-building activities. By creating opportunities for employees to bond and have fun together, you promote a positive and collaborative work environment.

Personal Development Opportunities

Invest in your employees' growth and development by offering personal development opportunities. This can include access to online courses, workshops, or conferences that align with their professional goals. By supporting their continued learning, you show your commitment to their growth and success.

Branded Merchandise

Provide employees with branded merchandise, such as custom socks, company apparel, water bottles, or notebooks. These items not only serve as reminders of their affiliation with the organization but also create a sense of belonging and pride in their work.

Flexible Work Arrangements

Consider offering flexible work arrangements as a way to show appreciation for your employees' commitment and hard work. This can include options for remote work, flexible hours, or compressed workweeks. By providing a better work-life balance, you demonstrate that you value their well-being and trust their ability to manage their time effectively.

Volunteer Opportunities

Organize volunteer opportunities for employees to give back to the community. This can be a company-wide initiative or smaller team projects. Engaging in meaningful volunteer work not only benefits the community but also fosters a sense of purpose and fulfillment among employees.

Employee Appreciation Events

Plan a special event to celebrate Employee Appreciation Day, such as a company-wide luncheon, picnic, or themed party. This allows employees to relax, socialize, and enjoy each other's company outside of the regular work environment. It also provides an opportunity to publicly recognize and appreciate their contributions.

Remember, the key to effective employee appreciation is personalization and sincerity. Tailor your gifts and gestures to the interests and preferences of your employees, ensuring that they feel seen and valued.


In conclusion, Employee Appreciation Day is a valuable opportunity to recognize and appreciate the hard work and dedication of employees. By celebrating this day with thoughtful gifts and gestures, you can foster a positive work environment, boost morale, and strengthen the bond between employees and the organization. Show your employees that their contributions are valued and appreciated, and you will create a workplace culture that thrives on appreciation and recognition.

Celebrate Employee Appreciation Day and make your employees feel truly valued and appreciated for all that they do to contribute to the success of your organization.

David Harper
January 10, 2024