14 Ways to Celebrate World Gratitude Day and Rejuvenate Employee Engagement

August 18, 2021 Aaron Kinne

people laughing with sparklersEmployee recognition is the foundation of a human workplace. It has the power to rejuvenate, inspire, and elevate your employees. And let’s face it … that’s exactly the kind of lift they need right now.

Workers in every industry and at every level have seen their regular schedules and workflows upended. And yet they’ve stepped up in remarkable ways to meet these unprecedented challenges. Is your company doing enough to express its thanks? Are there specific steps you can take to enhance employee appreciation and strengthen relationshipbuilding in your organization? The short answer? Yes.

This year’s World Gratitude Day, celebrated annually on Sept. 21, represents a unique and invaluable opportunity to demonstrate your appreciation and take employee recognition to a deeper, richer level at your company.

"Recognition is critically important as a total rewards pillar. If you can’t easily recognize people for their efforts day in and day out, then you’re doing something wrong.” - Anthony Renella, VP of Total Rewards at Edgewell

Even if you don’t yet have a true, company-wide employee recognition program, there are some meaningful and specific ways you can celebrate World Gratitude Day 2021. Use the day to infuse a culture of recognition in your workplace. Let it be the catalyst that brings the transformative power of gratitude and recognition to individuals, teams, and your company as a whole.

To help you get started, here are a few examples of how you can leverage this worldwide event to jump-start employee appreciation – and make gratitude the “North Star” of your company.

Celebrating individuals on World Gratitude Day

Gratitude rejuvenates your employees’ spirit and gives them a renewed resolve to meet the work challenges they face every day. Even saying a simple “thank you” to a colleague puts an employee in a different mindset and transforms that relationship in a positive way. You can help individual employees mark World Gratitude Day 2021 by:

  • Encouraging them to recognize a coworker. This could be as simple as a quick note to express appreciation “in celebration of World Gratitude Day.” The key is for the giver to be specific about what the recipient did to earn recognition. Tell a story. Be authentic. Say “thank you.”

  • Suggesting employees use the day to reflect on the blessings that make them grateful. Perhaps it’s a recent wedding, birth, or a new home. At Workhuman®, one employee celebrated her parents’ emigration to the United States where profound opportunities opened up for her and her sisters.
  • Reminding employees that the true meaning of World Gratitude Day is about giving as well as receiving. In fact, research has shown giving gratitude engenders positive feelings in the giver as well as the receiver. With that in mind, suggest your employees celebrate the day by volunteering or giving to a worthy cause.
"Giving recognition is a moment of gratitude – it affects how we think for the rest of that day. Gratitude changes the giver and has a more profound impact."  - Workhuman co-founder and CEO Eric Mosley

Celebrating teams on World Gratitude Day

Just as recognition is a powerful tool for inspiring individuals to do great work, it can also be a compelling motivator for teams within your organization. “Recognition at scale” helps deepen feelings of belonging throughout your organization as more people are noticed and thanked. At the team level, you can enhance the meaning of World Gratitude Day by:

  • Encouraging managers and leaders to recognize the hard work of their teams. Thank employees for recent or continuing all-hands efforts. In doing so, you’ll be rewarding both those who are making an effort and inspiring others to do so.
  • Renewing focus on a particular core value or desired team behavior. Have your current recognition efforts identified an underutilized or under-appreciated core value? Mark World Gratitude Day with a renewed focus on that value – communicating to your team what it means to you as a leader, and how it adds strength to the organization.
  • Highlighting a new company program or effort. Use the positive motivation of World Gratitude Day to launch a new program on its way to success. This will build excitement and goodwill around the project – while energizing and focusing the team’s efforts.

Company-wide celebration of World Gratitude Day

Because World Gratitude Day is now a dynamic international holiday, it is an invaluable opportunity for a company-wide celebration. At the enterprise level, you can celebrate in the following ways:

  • Kick off a company-wide “Gratitude Month.” Why try to cram the positive energy of gratitude into one day? Continue the celebration over an entire month, and extend the benefits of gratitude throughout your organization.
  • Host an event to showcase your gratitude to employees. World Gratitude Day is an ideal moment to highlight top achievements from the last year. Why not stage an event or series of events to show gratitude for those employees who went above and beyond?
  • Celebrate company milestones or anniversaries. Did you just celebrate 10 years as a company? Or maybe 100? Perhaps you just hired your 10,000th employee? World Gratitude Day is an opportunity to mark these moments company-wide, so everyone can share in the accomplishment.
  • Underscore health and wellness goals. If you’re trying to encourage employees to take time for their health and well-being, you can use World Gratitude Day as a kickoff to begin their journey to achieve their goals.
  • Celebrate external awards and commendations. Remind your employees of important awards or commendations your organization has received – and thank them for making such accolades possible.
  • Ease mergers and acquisitions. Consider using World Gratitude Day to welcome members of the acquired or merged organization on board – and introduce its employees to the benefits of a culture of appreciation.
  • Celebrate new factory, facility, or division openings. Adding a new building or capability to your organizational family? Transition or welcome them into the fold on World Gratitude Day.
  • Share a special message from your CEO or another executive leader. Perhaps this year – more than ever – World Gratitude Day is a perfect time for leadership to reflect on the challenges and triumphs of the past year. A message from senior executives will have even greater meaning and resonance on this important day.
"This past year, a special round of applause was sent from our CEO as a moment of gratitude for everyone’s efforts to help CAA’s members and the community at large throughout the pandemic.” - Tony Tsai, Vice President, Corporate Communications & Services, CAA Club Group"


7 Ways Recognition at Scale Can Impact Your Organization

Why Employee Appreciation Matters More Than Ever

Your Action Plan: 3 Steps for Creating a Culture of Employee Well-Being

About the Author

Aaron Kinne

Aaron Kinne is a senior writer at Workhuman.

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