Employers should always respect and appreciate their employees. But just in case they need a friendly reminder, there’s Employee Appreciation Day. Falling on the first Friday in March, Employee Appreciation Day is a non-official U.S. holiday designed to recognize and appreciate employees in every industry.

There are a multitude of ways in which employers can thank their workers for a job well done. Employers could treat their staff to a company breakfast, lunch, or supply some yummy snacks. They might even host a party (either on-site or at another location) for their staff during the day or after-hours. Another idea is organizing fun games and team-building exercises, like tug-of-war, scavenger hunts, or cute quizzes designed to test employees’ knowledge of each other. Some employers might offer their staff the day off for work well done.

But there’s another option. In order to truly take advantage of what Employee Appreciation Day means, employers can implement a flexible work policy.

Giving in-office staffers the option to work remotely is one of the greatest ways an employer can show his appreciation (and respect) for his workers. Studies have shown over and over again that people who work from home are more productive and loyal than traditional office workers. Not only that, but remote workers are happier than their office-going colleagues since they have better control over their schedules—and their ability to have work-life balance.

For employers, having a remote staff offers even more advantages. Consider the costs that are cut (or completely removed) when you don’t have to have a pricey office space, provide computer equipment, office supplies, light and heat/cool an office. It’s estimated that companies save, on average, about $11,000 per telecommuting employee. Multiply that by a few people (or a few dozen, depending on how large your staff is), and your company could stand to save a considerable amount of money—and do good at the same time.

Thing is, having a flex program doesn’t just benefit the employees you currently have; it will make your team stronger by attracting new workers, too. After all, the majority of U.S. workers want to be able to work remotely at least part-time. So by offering telecommuting jobs, you will be able to attract top-tier talent from anywhere in the world, which will only make your team—and your company—stronger and better.

So employers, for Employee Appreciation Day, don’t just do a one-off lunch and decorate the office with some balloons. Rather, think long-term and use this day as the impetus to make a change in the way your company does business from here on out. Your employees—along with your bottom line—will thank you.

photo credit: istockphoto.com