It’s hard to keep up with the number of important days we have in Australia.
In March alone, there’s International Women’s Day, Earth Hour, World Water Day and Harmony Day to name a few.
Amid this flurry of events, all with their own important messages, there’s one day that often flies under the radar in Australia: Employee Appreciation Day,March 6.
Employee Appreciation Day was started back in 1995 as a counterbalance to Boss’ Day — yes, there is a holiday celebrating bosses too.
It’s largely a US-based holiday, founded on the management principle that companies should reward and encourage their staff in order to retain them. There’s great business logic in that thinking, but I also think celebrating your staff is just the right thing to do.
It hasn’t really taken off in Australia. This year, however, there’s a strong case to mark the day and for all companies to celebrate it.
More than ever before, there’s a lot of reasons for employees to feel disparaged about their work. Perhaps they’ve directly or indirectly been affected by the bushfires or the coronavirus. Or perhaps they’re feeling down about work, after hearing about the mounting underpayment scandals sweeping the nation? Or maybe it’s just been a rough start to the year?
Work, in itself, should be rewarding and enriching. A good level of work is a fundamental pillar in overall wellbeing. And this day could serve as a timely reminder for companies around Australia as to why employees matter, and why they should be rewarded beyond their pay and standard entitlements.
How to celebrate
Where many companies may be stuck, is how do they actually celebrate the day. Much like many US holiday’s some of the overseas examples are elaborate. Think American Halloween, but for celebrating employees.
Conference Centre held a treasure hunt where employees tracked down prizes hidden across their office. The top prize was a $100 voucher. Disney created a campaign where it encouraged its customers to send their praise direct to the staff working at its amusement parks. Costco spontaneously gave every employee the day off.
As an Australian employer, seeing these examples will no-doubt put you off celebrating this holiday.
But we’re here to say that something as simple as a nice team lunch, a thoughtful message in a card, or an unexpected surprise at work is all that’s required.
We recently conducted our own audit to find out what perks trend across our clients. We were surprised to find that in a sea of discounts that included specials on car hire and holiday packages, one free lunch a month was our most leveraged perk.
The whole point of this holiday is thoughtfulness, which doesn’t have to be elaborate. It’s also about acknowledging the people that make your business possible.
By celebrating Employee Appreciation Day, it’s a sign that as an employer you understand that good employee management isn’t just about offering your staff a great salary. It’s about recognising work, rewarding it and continually showing appreciation.
In an ideal world, every day would be employee appreciation day. But making a big deal of this one day would be the first step in helping make employee appreciation a fundamental facet of Australian business.
- Ben Leeds is the Country Manager of Perkbox Australia