By Lisa Green

With  award season in full swing, you might be inspired to honor your staff in the same fashion. And with today, March 6, designated Employee Appreciation Day, it is the perfect time to talk about honoring your employees.

Public employee recognition increases productivity, giving your staff a goal to work for, as well as upping loyalty to the company. Even if you don’t give away physical awards, a “thank you” dinner is a great way to show your employees that you and the rest of the business appreciate the fantastic work that they’ve accomplished.

But, no matter how important it is to recognize the achievements of your team, you don’t want to throw a disastrous affair a la “The Dundies” from The Office. This is why it is crucial to get the details, from the venue to the food to the awards, just right.

Choosing a Venue

The first thing you need to decide on is where the event will be held. An important factor to remember is to choose a venue that works with the size of your group.

Trying to squeeze a large crowd into a small room will make the event seem cheap while too much room for too few people will make the party feel flat and sparse. This means that while opening your home to your staff might seem like a kind gesture, your house might not be able to accommodate everyone and result in no room to move and broken knick-knacks.

You should also ensure that you are accurately communicating the “feel” of the event with the space. This unfortunately means that holding the event in your office is not ideal, as this is a party designed to honor your staff and work is not the optimal place for your group to relax.

Also, try to choose a setting that takes your needs into consideration. Taking the entire office to a restaurant might seem like an easy solution, but the bustling environment does not lend itself to speeches and doesn’t give the event the feeling of being special.

Choosing a Caterer

No matter how stunning the venue is, your staff will disappointed if you don’t feed them. After all, nothing excites a team more than eating a meal paid for by the company.

So, while you could easily get a six-foot sub for your staff to split, this event is about celebrating your employees’ achievements and should reflect that. This is why you should look into a more sophisticated option for catering.

While taste is obviously the top priority, it is best to hire a caterer that offers customizable options. A menu that is built to your staff’s preferences is far more impressive than a paint-by-numbers offering.

Also, ensure that your catering company will accommodate your service preferences. Whether you are envisioning a hand-passed cocktail party or a sit-down five-course meal, your vendor should work with you to bring this concept to life.

Choosing the Awards

Finally, you will need to choose whether or not you will give out physical awards at your event. If you choose not to, it is important that your staff feels appreciated, whether that be from a well-chosen favor or a heartfelt speech given by the most senior member of the company in attendance.

If you do decide to pass out your own versions of an Academy Award, make sure that you put time and effort into choosing the awards as well as who will receive it. It is a good idea to create serious awards as well as light-hearted ones, while ensuring these “fun” awards are truly in good taste rather than teasing or being petty.

A great way to choose the recipients is by asking your team to vote on certain awards, such as superlatives. The knowledge that their colleagues voted can them for Most Helpful, Best Smile or Outstanding Personality will make the award even sweeter.

As for the physical awards themselves, the form can vary. Whether you choose to give trophies, certificates, plaques, engraved watches or personalized gifts that each winner would enjoy, make sure that the accolade communicates your appreciation above all else.

No matter how you decide to honor your staff, the most important takeaway is that the entire group feels appreciated. Even if you have a hard time communicating, this award ceremony should be seen as fun and light-hearted. A team of happy employees will not just boost business, but make the rest of your year a positive one to look forward to.