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Ph.D., CSP, CDR, US Navy Ret.,
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14 Effective Ways to Show Employees and Co-Workers a Little Valentine’s Day Appreciation


Valentine’s Day is not just for the romantically inclined! It is a time to recognize all kinds of people in your life for their kindness, support, and work the rest of the year.

Study after study shows that recognition for doing something well at work, not money, is the top motivator of employee performance.

While retailers are exhibiting all kinds of ideas to show appreciation for romantic relationships, chances are you spend more awake time with the people you work with than your sweetie.

Make this Valentine’s Day a little sweeter and show your workplace people some love!

  1. Give employees a “Free Pass” that employees can use for a day off whenever they want, to be used by the end of the year.

  2. Have a fun workday theme and contest, such as “Colorful Sock Day” where no one wears shoes that day at work. This works best when the CEO wears outrageous socks and prominently walks around displaying Mickey Mouse toes.

    Winner of the “Colorful Sock Day” gets awarded with, of course, socks. Customers, by the way, think this is hilarious. If you are a retail store, extend the appreciation and include a pair of wild socks with every purchase. (I think this would be a blast in a bank or the Department of Motor Vehicles.)

  3. Install a white board in a common area called the Gratitude Board or the Wall of Thanks. Encourage employees to write short notes to thank each other on the board. Take a picture of the board on Friday and print the picture for everyone who was mentioned that week. Start over each Monday. (This works well for shift workers too, when sometimes it is hard for people to connect.)

  4. Hire a massage therapist to come to the office to give everyone a 15-minute neck massage.

  5. Award employees a certain numbers of telecommuting days with seniority.

  6. Start an afternoon meeting with ice cream sandwiches. Or drumsticks, Magnums, creamsicles, Choco Tacos, or fudgsicles. You get the idea.

  7. Give everyone in the workspace 10 raffle-style tickets. Ask people to write people’s names over the week leading up to Valentine’s Day to vote for the person who does something especially kind. Declare that person the “Sweetest” on Valentine’s Day. Award with a giant heart shaped box of candy that the whole group shares.

  8. Have a “Bring Your Dog to Work Day.” Watch how happy people are because they have their pups close by!

    In large spaces, assign different days for different people so that productivity doesn’t go to the dogs. Note: This is harder to do with cats but can be fun!

  9. Scheduling a meeting during lunch? Provide lunch!

  10. Post a thank you note on someone’s door, computer screen, or cubicle.

  11. Send a handwritten birthday card to their home.

  12. Offer flexible working hours.

  13. Have a “Living in Blue Jeans Day. Set aside a day where everyone wears their favorite blue jeans. People love to be comfortable and they are frequently more productive when they are really comfy.

  14. Say thank you. Sincerely, honestly, and for a specific action or behavior. Better, say thank you with a handwritten card. Even better, enclose a $5 or $10 gift card.

There is no one singular action or activity that will motivate everyone, but sometimes just being thanked goes a long way. 


  1. Mike Henderson

    Great thoughts..!!! Handwritten cards are a thing our mothers insisted on, but seems the digital divide has omitted this.will make them even more effective…btw I met my wife on valentines day, and got engaged one year later…love that Saint !!!

  2. Mary Kelly

    I think you hit the jackpot! I love a good Valentine’s Day story!
    Cheers, Mary

  3. Scott Friedman

    Great ideas, Mary. I think I may just have to borrow them… with credit of course.

    How about taking a 15 minute break Karaoke break with only love songs! Winner takes home a CD of some famous ones.

  4. Shep Hyken

    This fun blog-post is perfect as Valentine’s Day approaches next week. If you are thinking of doing something special in the office for the people you work with, this will jump start your creative process. And, why confine these ideas to just Valentine’s Day. Some of them are appropriate year round!

  5. Carly Alyssa Thorne

    Great Ideas, one of the companies I used to consult with would do these things all Year Round… Loved it… I implemented all sorts of Fun traditions… and Even had the Conference room repainted to Reflect the Creativity and or Brainstorming that was to take place in that room

  6. Carmen

    Great ideas. Flexible hours would have done wonders for me. Xx

  7. Betty Seu

    Our new CEO wanted me to get something unique and special to present to the employees at the award ceremony. One of my former colleagues told me about Unique Custom Products in Colorado. I called them, they have lots of one of a kind customized corporate gifts for employees. I chose the wooden gift box which I had engraved with the names each of the employees. The artwork was awesome, everyone was really impressed. I would differently recommend Unique Custom Products to anyone. They are awesome!


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