3 reasons Employee Appreciation Day is irritating

One day out of 365 is not enough to recognize your associates’ efforts and build a culture of engagement.

March 4 was Employee Appreciation Day. This irritates me. My irritation might surprise regular readers who know that employee appreciation and recognition are very important to me. There are three simple reasons why Employee Appreciation Day irritates me:

1. It reinforces bad employee recognition practices.

There are already enough poor practice appreciation programs in place today: Employee of the Month, Perfect Attendance, and the like. We don’t need another added to the mix.

2. It lets supervisors off the hook for timely, frequent, meaningful recognition.

Just as average and poor managers use the annual performance review as a reason to give feedback and to set goals just once a year, so, too, do they use Employee Appreciation Day as an excuse to give all employees generic, impersonal recognition every 12 months.

3. It devalues the greater importance and ability of recognition to change company cultures.

Strategic, social recognition—frequent, timely, based on your core values—has the power not only to change your company culture into one of appreciation, but also to help you proactively manage your culture. That’s simply not possible when we think of appreciation as something we do once a year in early spring.

We can do better than that. We must do better than that. What can you do instead?

  • Use Employee Appreciation Day as a reminder about the importance of recognition.
  • Use it to kick off a more strategic, far-reaching employee recognition and reward approach.
  • Use it as an opportunity to commit to your team members and peers that you will make a greater effort to notice and appreciate the good work they do every day.

A version of this article first appeared on Recognize This!, Derek Irvine’s blog.

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