The first Friday in March is National Employee Appreciation Day in the United States. What better time to show the people who fuel your small business’s success how much you value them?

Showing appreciation doesn’t mean you have to break your budget in the process.

Here are some inexpensive suggestions for how you can give your employees the royal treatment on that special day:

Bring on the bagels.

Bring a special breakfast treat—bagels, donuts, fresh fruit, gourmet coffee, or some other delicious fare—to the office to share in the morning.

Write personalized thank you notes.

Craft a sincere “thank you” to each individual employee. When you take the time to independently acknowledge your team members’ hard work and value to your company, you can strengthen their self-confidence—and your connection with them.

Give the gift of time.

Let them come in late, take an extended lunch hour, or let them leave work early that day. Better yet, let them choose which one they’d prefer. Just as you’re busy and never seem to have enough hours in the day, your employees face that same challenge. More time in the morning to get the kids off to school, over lunch to run errands, or to arrive home early at the end of the day can be a priceless bonus.

Light up their day.

Brighten their day with a decorated cake—complete with candles—that recognizes your team collectively. A big and bold “Thank you for all you do!” or “You’re the best!” in lettering made of frosting can get the point across deliciously.

Make the day chill with an ice cream social.

Surprise them mid-afternoon with a make-your-own-sundae break. Equip them with ice cream, toppings, and whipped cream, so they can create their own special treats and enjoy some downtime.

Keep it casual.

If wearing dressy clothes daily is the norm at your office, consider making Employee Appreciation Day less formal. Invite your team to dress in a more laid-back style akin to what’s typical on the “casual Fridays” some businesses regularly declare.

Plan a potluck.

Prior to that day, let your team know you’ll host an Employee Appreciation Day potluck lunch. Invite them each to bring in a hot or cold side dish or dessert while you provide the main entrée such as pizza, Buffalo wings, burgers, or barbecue.

Just say it.

Even if you plan nothing else, the simple act of verbally expressing your appreciation can boost morale. Take the time to tell each and every one of your employees how much you value what they bring to the table.

Showing gratitude for your team’s efforts doesn’t require grandiose gestures or a lot of cash. In fact, I’ve found it’s the little things done consistently that matter most to my employees. Yes, Employee Appreciation Day is a wonderful opportunity to go the extra mile. But to develop the most collaborative and productive company culture possible, it requires showing appreciation and recognizing your team’s contributions every single day of the year.

About the Author(s)

 Nellie  Akalp

Nellie Akalp is a passionate entrepreneur, business expert, professional speaker, author, and mother of four.

CEO, CorpNet
Group of coworkers eating pizza together in break room