This article originally appeared at Forbes.com.
Have you ever completely forgotten about Valentine’s Day? Somehow, you completely spaced, and honestly, it has no reflection on the way you feel about your sweetheart. At the end of the day, they know you still love them, even if you come home empty-handed on February 14. Or, do they?
Imagine how your significant other would feel if they only hear the words “I love you” once a year. Is it enough? No. One “I love you” per year is not going to play well in most relationships. Nevertheless, a holiday like Valentine’s Day is not to be missed — and here’s why. Even if you say, “I love you,” every day, pretending that the day focused on romance doesn’t have meaning, that isn’t good either — it makes people feel forgotten.
It just so happens that the workplace equivalent of Valentine’s Day is right around the corner: Employee Appreciation Day is on March 4. It’s a holiday for leaders, managers and peers in every organization to give and receive appreciation for one another’s talent, effort and results. Celebrating Employee Appreciation Day is just as critical — if not more so — than celebrating Valentine’s Day. And, saying, “I love you,” at home translates to, “Thank you,” at the office.
Think about this. Hopefully, you work in an environment where appreciating a job well done is a part of the culture every day. Hopefully, Employee Appreciation Day is just the icing on the cake because the leadership and culture at your office makes you feel appreciated year-round.
But still — 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. 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.
In that spirit, we asked O.C. Tanner CEO David Petersen to share with us some of his favorite meaningful ways to celebrate Employee Appreciation Day. And what he shared with us were some classic, simple tips on making an individual, a team and even the entire company feel appreciated on the holiday. Here’s the short list:
Write a personal note. Think of a few people you want to express appreciation to and take the time to handwrite a note or card for each of them. It is meaningful because it’s thoughtful and it takes effort — and they can treasure it for years to come.
Bring in some in-office perks. Whether it’s errand runners for the super-busy, massage therapists to help everyone relax or even people out in the parking lot who give employees complimentary car washes, bring something special on Employee Appreciation Day to pamper your people.
Everyone loves food! Deliver delicious treats and let teams take a longer break to enjoy them. Extra points if your leadership team can serve and clean up afterwards. From root beer floats to smoothies to a crepe station, you can choose anything you like.
A recent pulse survey conducted by the O.C. Tanner Institute asked employees what would make them feel most appreciated on Employee Appreciation Day. Their number one answer was a team celebration like a lunch or a party. And, 60 percent of respondents said that it’s crucial for their immediate managers to be the one who appreciates them.
If you’re one of those people who wish they took more time to show their appreciation to the people at work, Employee Appreciation Day is a good place to start. And, make an announcement: “Starting today, and every day, I promise to be better at recognizing how fantastic you are.”
For more tips on how to make Employee Appreciation Day an experience to remember this year, listen to the full podcast featuring David Petersen.
David Sturt and Todd Nordstrom work with the O.C. Tanner Institute. Learn more about The New York Times bestseller "Great Work: How to Make a Difference People Love" (McGraw-Hill) at www.greatwork.com.