For People teams, employee engagement and recognition are year-round priorities — but why not set aside a few extra special days to share your appreciation?
Our new 2021 HR Planning Calendar includes all the dates HR professionals should know, from compliance deadlines to bank holidays. It also features lighthearted workplace celebrations like National Trivia Day and Giving Tuesday. If you’re looking for team building or event ideas, the below holidays may offer some inspiration. Here are just a few examples from our new calendar.
National Trivia Day (Monday, January 4, 2021)
If you’re thinking of ways to keep spirits high after the New Year’s holiday, a little friendly competition might do the trick. Organize a virtual trivia night to bring your teammates together. Here are a few ideas to get the ball rolling.
Bagel Day (Friday, January 15, 2021)
What’s better than the Friday before a long weekend? Kicking it off with a company-sponsored breakfast. Give employees a breakfast voucher or stipend to spend at a local deli or bagel spot.
Valentine’s Day (Sunday, February 14, 2021)
If you subscribe to Lattice’s newsletter, you already know that We ♡ Humans. Because you feel the same way about your employees, surprise them with a sweet treat ahead of Valentine’s Day. Include a heartfelt note to make the gesture even more meaningful.
Random Act of Kindness Day (Wednesday, February 17, 2021)
When it comes to feedback and praise, you get what you give. Lattice data shows that there’s a 2-to-3 ratio of feedback givers versus getters. On Random Act of Kindness Day, encourage your team to lead by example and recognize their peers for going above and beyond.
Puppy Day (Tuesday, February 23, 2021)
Welcoming pets in the office lessens employee stress and even improves productivity. If your team is either partially or fully remote, you can still capitalize on those benefits by hosting a paw-some virtual Happy Hour or inviting everyone to share pet photos on Slack. Though this is technically puppy day, extend an invite to company kittens, parakeets, snakes, and other critters.
National Employee Appreciation Day (Friday, March 5, 2021)
As an HR professional, you know that employee appreciation matters year-round. Still, you can go above and beyond on National Employee Appreciation Day by giving employees an impressive piece of company swag, sponsoring lunch, or even giving them a surprise long weekend.
St. Patrick’s Day (Wednesday, March 17, 2021)
This year, “St. Paddy’s” falls in the middle of the workweek. In addition to decorating the office in green (or sporting festive Zoom backgrounds), organize a lunch social or even traditional Irish cooking class featuring staples like shepherd’s pie, corned beef and cabbage, and soda bread.
International Fun at Work Day (Thursday, April 1, 2021)
The name says it all. Health and safety permitting, consider organizing an onsite or offsite field day with competitive team events. If you don’t have the budget to reserve dedicated space for the event, activities like cornhole, karaoke, and board games can help bring the team together without breaking the bank.
Lookalike Day (Tuesday, April 20, 2021)
“Twinning” — or inadvertently showing up to work in the same outfit as a peer — gets poked fun at in Slack channels all year. Give employees a free pass to do it on purpose. Encourage onsite and virtual colleagues to dress like one of their friends at work and share the photos with the rest of the team.
Earth Day (Thursday, April 22, 2021)
This international holiday celebrates environmental protection. Help your company do its part by organizing a volunteering day to clean up a local park, plant some trees, or stitch and decorate reusable grocery bags. Encourage employees to share photos from the event on social media or a company Slack channel.
Cinco de Mayo (Wednesday, May 5, 2021)
This holiday commemorates the Mexican Army's victory at the Battle of Puebla in 1862. Take the opportunity to celebrate Mexican heritage with a company-sponsored panel and catered lunch or dinner. Traditional staples like mole poblano and chalupas are closely associated with the Mexican state of Puebla and the holiday.
Pizza Party Day (Friday, May 21, 2021)
Top off the week and celebrate employees’ hard work by ordering pizzas for the office. On top of providing a gluten-free alternative, consider placing an order with a nearby pizzeria to support local businesses still recovering from the last twelve months.
Doughnut Day (Friday, June 4, 2021)
In the US alone, bakeries produce an estimated 10 billion doughnuts per year. This year on Doughnut Day, give employees a tasty treat (with sprinkles on top) to enjoy with their morning coffee.
International Picnic Day (Friday, June 18, 2021)
Spending time outdoors comes with a heap of physical and mental health benefits, including stress relief. Health and safety permitting, organize an offsite picnic for employees at a nearby park. If your team is working remotely, you can also host a virtual lunch over Zoom.
Juneteenth (Saturday, June 19, 2021)
Juneteenth honors the day when enslaved people in Texas learned that the Civil War was over and were now free. Inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, a record number of companies observed the day for the first time in 2020. Because the day falls on a Saturday this year, consider giving employees Friday or Monday off to reflect.
National Sugar Cookie Day (Friday, July 9, 2021)
Sugar cookies are easy to make — and just as easy to eat. Consider mailing a batch of fresh cookies to employees. Better yet, make National Sugar Cookie Day interactive by organizing an employee bake-off or virtual baking social.
International Self-Care Day (Saturday, July 24, 2021)
Congrats, you’ve made it halfway through the year — time for some deserved self-care. Organize a series of instructor-led yoga classes or meditation sessions. You can also sign employees up for meditation apps like Calm or Headspace.
Parents Day (Sunday, July 25, 2021)
Working parents bring unique perspectives to the table, making them a critical part of your talent strategy and diversity and inclusion goals. In addition to flexibility, parental leave, and all the other meaningful benefits you offer, give working parents a spa day or send them a box of company swag for their kids.
National Book Lovers Day (Monday, August 9, 2021)
Looking for a creative way to bring people together that isn’t a happy hour? Organizing a book club is a great way to foster camaraderie, cross-departmental communication, and a little healthy debate. Consider sponsoring book purchases to encourage participation.
Women’s Equality Day (Thursday, August 26, 2021)
This national holiday celebrates the passage of the nineteenth amendment, which recognized women’s right to vote. Because there’s more work to be done, host an onsite or virtual panel on allyship and pay equity.
HR Appreciation Day (Sunday, September 26, 2021)
People teams endure a lot. You’re responsible for workplace culture, compliance, recruiting, benefits, reviews, and a long list of additional duties. Organize a fun offsite for you and the rest of the People team — one that doesn’t involve work. You can also appreciate other HR professionals in the Resources for Humans Slack group.
National Coffee Day (Wednesday, September 29, 2021)
Espresso your appreciation for employees by providing them with a barista-led latte art class. You can also send them a coffee care package, including a company-branded French press and bag of freshly roasted coffee.
Mental Health Day (Sunday, October 10, 2021)
Last year’s pandemic reminded us of the importance of workplace mental health. As we enter the fall months and days get shorter, consider giving employees a mental health day to decompress. This is also an excellent opportunity to remind your team to use your employee assistance program (EAP) and other mental health resources.
Halloween (Sunday, October 31, 2021)
Need new creative ways to celebrate Halloween at work? Besides the usual costumes, consider a pumpkin carving contest, horror film screening, or even a costume party for employees’ pets. While no one’s ready for apple bobbing quite yet (or ever again), you can play up the autumn theme by serving hot cider and doughnuts.
Thanksgiving (Thursday, November 25, 2021)
Ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday, show employees gratitude with a catered feast featuring all the fixings. While you might not be able to mail a plate to remote colleagues, a generous meal stipend could go a long way in showing your appreciation.
Giving Tuesday (Tuesday, November 30, 2021)
On the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, partner with a charity, community center, or school to give back to the less fortunate. Some ways to contribute include setting up a food or coat drive, donating gift cards to a shelter, or purchasing toys for a local children’s hospital. Make sure to publicize the event in advance of Thanksgiving, so employees can leverage Black Friday specials to give even more.
Ugly Sweater Day (Friday, December 17, 2021)
What better way to ring in the holiday season than with an ugly sweater competition? In addition to organizing the usual contest between employees, you can also enroll in an ugly sweater 5K run for charity.
Winter Solstice (Tuesday, December 21, 2021)
December is host to a slew of special holidays, so why not pick a day to acknowledge them all? The winter solstice marks the astronomical start of winter and the shortest day in the Northern Hemisphere. Celebrate your team with an office potluck or holiday party — or send them a surprise bundle of gifts to their home address.
For even more engagement holidays, download the 2021 HR Planning Calendar.