On this Employee Appreciation Day, why personalization is key

Employee appreciation—beyond providing the basics of salary and benefits—is one of the most overlooked ways business leaders can drive engagement and retention, experts say. With Employee Appreciation Day happening nationwide on March 1, some employers are gearing up to show their employees how much their efforts are valued—though, according to new research, not enough.

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A recent poll from Gallup found that fewer than one in four employees said they had received memorable recognition from their CEO. Learning management system TalentLMS also recently found that more than 60% of workers polled said they don’t receive regular appreciation from managers.

Yet, according to a recent survey of 1,500 U.S. employees from Snappy—an employer gifting provider—moments of employee appreciation truly matter. For example, Unwrapped: Snappy’s 2024 Workforce Study found that 91% of working Americans surveyed reported they want their company to recognize employee contributions with tokens of appreciation, such as gifts, company “shoutouts” and other acknowledgments.

More than 75% of people said a “meaningful gift” makes them feel appreciated at work, positively impacting retention and engagement. The survey found that among employees who plan to stay in their current roles this year (78%), the top factor that mattered most to their retention was feeling appreciated and valued. That was particularly important to younger workers.

A new role for tech in employee appreciation

Archer Chiang, founder and CEO of Giftpack Inc., an AI-powered gifting platform that can send personalized gifts to global teams, agrees that strategic appreciation initiatives can improve the day-to-day employee experience, which can have long-term business effects.

“Investing in appreciation campaigns—not just on Employee Appreciation Day but also throughout the year—builds loyalty, reduces frequent and costly talent searches, and saves onboarding expenses, too,” Chiang says.

Archer Chiang, Giftpack
Archer Chiang, Giftpack

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So, how can employers show their appreciation? According to the TalentLMS research, employees surveyed most value cash prizes. Still, a number of other top rewards were noted as well, including PTO, gift cards, flex time, private recognition from a manager, development opportunities and more.

As emerging technology becomes more integrated into HR processes, Chiang adds, HR can take advantage of artificial intelligence tools to bring personalization to the recognition process. For example, leaders can leverage AI and its data to track employee preferences, which may show them that employees would prefer a gift card to take their family out to dinner over a company-branded gift.

“HR decision-makers can use AI beyond improving workflow efficiencies to better understand their team’s unique tastes and preferences to deliver personalized tokens of appreciation,” Chiang says. He notes that AI-driven recognition strategies can help employers “provide unique rewards that showcase appreciation, no matter what the employee’s taste.”

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Tom Starner
Tom Starner is a freelance writer based in Philadelphia who has been covering the human resource space and all of its component processes for over two decades. He can be reached at [email protected].