33 Amazing Employee Appreciation Ideas [2021 Update]
When you think about having a great company culture, you think about building trust, honesty, and a great team of workers. Here's what you might be missing- employee appreciation ideas.
You get the best effort from others, not by lighting a fire beneath them but by building a fire within.
In the United States, 20,000 workers were surveyed by the Boston Consulting Group. The top reason why the people enjoyed coming to work was because of "feeling appreciated."
Humans have an inherent need to get appreciated for their work. Even a small gesture like a "thank you" goes a long way to boost productivity, increase performance and improve morale among the workforce.
Here is our take on enhancing employee motivation with the below 33 exceptional employee appreciation ideas.
33 Employee Appreciation Ideas To Inspire, Lead and Motivate
Are your employee motivated to come to work every single day? Are they excited to be working for you?
It’s expensive to recruit a new worker. Why not expend the effort necessary to retain the staff that you have already painfully recruited and hired?
With these 33 employee appreciation ideas, you will see reduced turnover and retain your top talents.
1. Celebrate “Employee Appreciation Day” With Pomp And Show
Employee Appreciation Day is a semi-formal holiday in the United States. Celebrated on the first Friday in March, it pays homage to each employee's contribution to their company.
The knowledge that there is a whole day dedicated to employee appreciation should let you know its significance.
We all know that employees are the most valuable asset for a business. Offering them a handsome salary is one aspect. But to make them feel valued is what employees think is the most important.
Make the day memorable by organizing outside barbecues or small office parties. Host fun team games to play with your team members. Have office happy hours and hire a bartender to mix them a drink or two. Put up fun office anecdotes on the bulletin board. Reward employees with a token or gift of appreciation from your side.
All in all, make the day about them, i.e., your employees.
2. A Small “Thank You” Makes Employees Go The Extra Mile
(via Vantage RewardsSocial Feed)
It might sound cliche, but small courtesies like a boss saying “thank you” to the team members can make a huge difference.
We, humans, are emotional creatures. These small everyday gestures can come off as a pleasant surprise and make employees feel valued.
When you actually take the time out to get involved with them personally, employees feel that you genuinely care about them. It is especially meaningful when the appreciation comes from their bosses.
Because honestly, everyone expects the managers and leaders to be bossy and unreachable. But when you thank them for their efforts, it can be a heart-melting moment to inspire respect for you and the business.
Convey these "thank you" either in a heartful card, on social media, or (better yet) through a friendly handshake. Employees thrive at work when they know their contributions have meaning.
Recommended Article: The Ultimate Guide To Employee Rewards and Recognition
3. Recognize Your Employees. Say “Great Job” In Public
(via Vantage Rewards Social Feed)
This is one of the most underrated employee appreciation ideas out there.
Perhaps the best gift to give your employees is recognizing your employees publicly for a great job done.
Being a boss, every positive word from you will act as a huge morale booster for your employees. Better still, if this praise comes in front of their team members, colleagues, and peers.
Talk about what you appreciate about that particular employee. About how his/her contributions have aided to a project’s successful completion. Mention about their desirable quirks like “always being on time” or such.
Recommended Article: 50 Best Words of Appreciation for Employees
4. Who Doesn’t Love a Day Off?
Sometimes the simplest ideas are the best ones.
An extra day off can mean a whole lot of possibilities to overworked and overstressed employees.
It means that they can catch up on the countless movies that they have missed. Finally going on a picnic with their loved ones. Or it just might be a beautiful day to sleep in.
There are few things that employees feel more love for than an extra day of freedom aside from the weekend.
5. Offer A Gift Card
(via Vantage Perks)
It’s common knowledge that people love gift cards.
Gift cards allow people to purchase whatever they want from their favorite brands. Get to know your employees and find out what they like so you can give gift cards that are tailored to their interests.
Recommended Article: Gift Cards Make For The Perfect Employee Rewards
6. Here’s A Great Employee Recognition Idea: Peer To Peer Recognition
Appreciation from one's peers has more significance than from one's manager.
This peer-to-peer employee recognition idea is about encouraging everyone from the organization to recognize good work.
More than a manager, an employee's peers are more likely to know about their good qualities. Thus, make it easier for team members to congratulate each other on a job well done.
Recommended Case Study: India’s Largest Telecom Company Boosts their Global Employee Engagement with Vantage Rewards
7. Take Them Out To A Coffee Shop Or For Lunch
Food has a way of being a catalyst to bring people together. A team lunch is a great way through which everyone can bond with each other and with you.
Do it privately-ish. No, not the executive lunchroom. That can be too intimidating for your employees. Avoid the cafeteria as it can be very distracting. This is a time to focus only on the people sitting before you. Clear your schedule for at least an hour. Get Chinese food somewhere. Take off your coat. Also, remember to turn your phone off.
Coming together this way will help bring your employees closer to you and boost the employee-employer relationship.
8. Employees Feel Great After A Spa Day
If you are looking to reward your employees with a little something extra. Consider sending your top ten performers off for a day or two at a spa to provide an incentive for continued outstanding performance.
9. Reward Employees With Live Office Entertainment
Bring in a songwriter, band, or comedian to perform at your workplace. Or take a field trip to the local entertainment venue. Make it a fun and memorable experience.
10. Employee Of The Month
(via Vantage Rewards Social Feed)
They are the first to arrive. But they are the last to leave. Also, they give continuous optimal performance. They are great team members.
Every company has got one of these employees. Chances are, your company has one too.
Research says that the primary cause of employees leaving their jobs is the lack of appreciation.
Recognizing hard work and achievement in the workplace increase employee morale, encourage healthy competition, and creates a positive atmosphere.
With higher motivation comes better engagement, happiness, and ultimately retention.
Hence, "Employee of the month" programs are a great way to show your best employees that you see their hard work and appreciate the efforts they are putting in. Thus becoming one of the best employee engagement activities that you can invest in.
Recommended Article: 25 Employee Engagement Activities To Reinvent Your Workforce
11. Gift A Subscription (One Of The Underrated Employee Appreciation Ideas)
Want to give someone the gift that keeps on giving? Try a subscription box.
It is easier than ever to show your appreciation from the monthly Netflix fix to news and magazines.
The charm of subscription boxes is that there’s something for everyone!
Also, it doesn’t have to be expensive. It could be a magazine subscription (on a topic they would be interested in), treats for pets, snack samples, or anything they would enjoy.
This helps your employees feel appreciated on an ongoing basis.
12. Redesigning The Break Room
A recent study published in Healthcare Design Magazine revealed that "an extreme break room makeover" at one health facility reduced staff "stress and fatigue."
PopCap, the company behind legendary Facebook games like Bejeweled, offers some fantastic break rooms for its 400 odd employees.
Some "lush" couches. Video game consoles. Add some seriously "tricked out" kitchens on each floor of their facilities. Their office is infused with fun, including random Razor scooters available to any staff who think better while in motion.
13. Helping Out With The Travelling Expenses
The cost of commuting is heavily influenced by the location of the workplace relative to where the employee lives.
One employee's commute could be inexpensive, while for another, it could be prohibitive. That's why it's vital to spread your actions around multiple methods of transports to appeal to the broadest proportion of your workforce.
You can arrange for office taxis or subsidized bus fares so that commute becomes a tad bit easier on their pockets.
14. Mentoring Programs To Facilitate Better Team Building
For employees, having access to a mentor can add velocity to the workplace learning curve. The employee experience is better, and the company's outcome stronger.
Having direct access to a mentor gives junior professionals valuable one-on-one training. Not just practical job skills, but behavioral and cultural skills as well.
According to Harvard Business Review writer Anthony K. TJan:
Company leadership should embrace, promote and value mentoring programs to realize a return on investment.
He expressed that business leaders need to develop a structured and approach to mentoring.
For example, new employees should receive a ‘buddy’ to learn the ropes. But employees with a few years of experience should be matched with a career mentor to help them grow in their position.
15. Show Your Employees Some Love With Great Company Swag
Unique SWAG ideas have the power to set your company apart. To make your company memorable in a sea of forgettable mugs.
SWAG stands for "stuff we all get." Company-branded swag can be simple everyday things like t-shirts, mugs, or even pen drives.
It might sound kind of silly, but when the right company SWAG is used- it can have a big impact on building a positive workplace culture.
In order to position your company as one where people really want to work, your company SWAG items had better reflect that.
Recommended Article: Compay SWAG Ideas
16. Shout Out On Social Media To Recognize Your Employees
Social Media is the biggest influencer of our generation.
When an employee above and beyond on a project at work or accomplishes a personal goal, give them a shoutout on social media to commend their hard work.
Whether they worked late to get the job done, blew past their sales goal, or volunteering at a local shelter, give employees the credit they deserve. You can even snap a photo and create your own hashtag for when employees achieve something especially commendable.
To begin with, publicly recognizing great employees reflects well on your company for customers, investors, and your team.
You can even display this social media recognition on your office’s digital displays to make sure the whole team sees it.
17. Make Them A Part Of The Decision Making Process
Talking about making employees feel valued, a great way to do so is by involving them in the decision-making process, wherever possible.
For instance, take their opinion during decisions like on-boarding new technology or a specific project. This will make them feel like a part of your business and not just a mere employee.
18. Say “Great Job” For Non-Work Achievements
(via Vantage RewardsSocial Feed)
Your employees are amazing people with undisclosed talents. Some are great artists, while some spend their time doing charity work.
Why not recognize these incredible non-work achievements in front of their peers?
Do the bragging on behalf of your employees, and show your whole team how fantastic everyone is.
19. Say the “Happy Birthdays”
(via Vantage Rewards Social Feed)
The best thing about birthdays is cake. And encouraging a “cake culture” can never be a bad thing.
Celebrating employee birthdays never gets old. Between the confetti, balloons, and cake, office birthday parties are always fun to organize. It offers employees a brief respite from their daily work. Not to mention that birthday parties are an opportunity to appreciate peers.
20. Celebrate Work Anniversaries And Put It Up On The Wall Of Fame
(via Vantage Rewards Social Feed)
Every year there are days we look forward to. For some, it's Christmas and Valentine's Day; for others, it's a birthday.
But there is one occasion that should be praised with the same level of spirit and vigor as the rest—the work anniversary.
Commemorating a work anniversary is a robust employee engagement, development, and retention tool and a way to recognize and show your appreciation to a valued employee.
Recommended Article: 23 Awesome Ways To Make Every Employee Work Anniversary Memorable
21. Exclusive Corporate Perks To Make Employees Feel Appreciated
(via Vantage Perks)
Every company has its own perks: fully stocked kitchens, corporate team events, and the latest MacBook Pro. Although workplace benefits help keep employees happy, they rarely tend to spark inspiration.
I am going to go out on a limb here to say to you something vital. Materialistic perks are fine. But providing a good employee experience is the future.
Experiences, not cash, are the new corporate bonus.
Unorthodox corporate perks such as trips to hike near a volcano or dive with dolphins are an increasingly powerful way to attract, retain and motivate top talent.
22. Who Doesn’t Love Personalised Workspaces?
The thing that giants like Google and Airbnb have understood is that the physical environment of the office matters. A lot.
The lobby at Google’s Sydney office makes visitors feel like they’re about to embark on a safari expedition rather than drown in a concrete jungle.
A UK study finds workers’ job attitudes can be bolstered by allowing them to personalize their office.
While personalizing spaces at work to fit the geographic locale or the personal tastes of employees has become common.
Letting employees decorate their workspaces plays an active role in building relationships within the company. Employee appreciation is meant to make the workplace feel a little bit like home.
23. Go The Extra Mile With Good Food And Treats
Who doesn’t love free food? Interesting work matter only if you have good food while you’re doing it.
But here’s the thing. Offering free meals and caffeine is actually a highly effective and cost-effective means of motivating and controlling young employees.
There’s nothing quite like desserts and ice cream to alleviate stress. Dessert buffets are fun and positively addicting. Just beware of overdosing on sugar.
24. "Team Members Day Out" Facilitates Team Building
(Source: Team Vantage Circle's Day Excursion)
The team that plays together bonds better.
Sometimes the best thing you can do for your team is to enable them to let off some steam without the pressure to perform. This will allow team members to truly appreciate each other, leading to better team building.
From relaxing countryside walks to exciting challenges, your staff will have the time of their lives. Many a time, they'll bring that positivity and enthusiasm back to the workplace.
25. The Gift Of Health: The Best Employee Engagement Strategy
(via Vantage Fit Leaderboard)
Taking care of your employees' health is the most prominent form of appreciation that you can show.
Promoting health is no longer seen as an initiative that yields 'soft' results. Instead, health promotion ensures that your staff actually want and like to be at work.
You can take the first step in promoting the importance of health. Offering a corporate wellness program within a vibrant culture of thriving well-being can significantly enhance that connection.
You can also offer a myriad of health benefits. It can range from conducting regular health check-ups, yoga sessions, dentist appointments, and offering health insurance.
And it pays off.
Companies with a corporate health plan are more likely to see more engaged employees. In turn, healthier employees produce better results for their companies. Therefore it's a win-win situation.
26. Have An Effective Employee Recognition Program At Place
Here come's the most impactful one in our list of employee appreciation ideas.
Harvard Business Review reports that "the most impactful driver of employee engagement is recognition."
Employees respond to appreciation expressed by recognizing their good work because it confirms that their work is valued by others.
When employees feel that their work is valued, their satisfaction and productivity rise. Also, they grow more motivated to maintain or improve their good work.
Thus in this scenario, investing in an effective recognition program becomes a critical part of employee engagement.
27. Bring In Some Food Trucks
The day-to-day work life might get hectic and tedious for everyone in the office.
Also, busy workdays are where lunches are spent with a sad sandwich while staring at the computer. It becomes less of a break and more of a disappointment.
To truly show your employees that they are doing a great job, bring in some fun office traditions like "Taco Tuesday."
Call in a local food truck specializing in the cuisine and make it mandatory for people to take a break and eat a taco. Make it more special by hosting a "Make Your Own Taco" competition where the winner gets some form of employee reward.
Believe it or not, such small stuff really sees a positively impacted company culture.
28. Office Snacks
Snacks are a fantastic food item that doesn't require you to get out of your desk when you want to eat something light.
The effectiveness of office snacks is that major companies like Google use them as a perk to attract the top employees.
After all, who doesn't like a couple of free snacks? They are tasty, convenient, and great for hunger pangs that strike while working.
Without a doubt, getting a specially curated box of snacks will make employees feel happy and contented. Show your employees some love by making sure that the snacks provided are healthy and nutritious.
29. Parking Spaces
A great employee appreciation idea that gives day-to-day benefits is providing assigned parking spaces.
Getting your own parking space is a highly coveted idea to really recognize your employees for doing a great job.
If you see someone going above and beyond and who commutes through their own vehicles, this will prove to be a wonderful opportunity to make their lives a little bit easier.
30. Gym Passes
For any employee who loves to be fit or is inclined towards adopting a healthier lifestyle, gym passes make for the ultimate way to help them get started.
Since healthier employees are more productive, happy, and energetic, the company will benefit from this form of appreciation.
31. Offer E-Learning Classes
Today's employees seek recognition and rewards based on the career advancement that they want.
And what could be better for this purpose than to offer E-Learning options? E-Learning is the preferred modern way to upskill and learn while having the convenience of choosing the when and where.
Employees who want to learn about new tools, techniques, or topics but have less time on their hands will consider it a fabulous opportunity.
32. Company Retreat
Company retreats are great for celebrating employees after successful project completion or after an outstanding financial year.
Company retreats are fun, help team members bond while also providing the option of getting away from the stress of day-to-day work life.
33. Give Out Due Promotion
Sometimes, the utmost appreciation that an employee seeks is a promotion in his job role.
While the other appreciation ideas might be feasible for particular projects and day-to-day work, employees will look for something more permanent in the long run.
The flipside to this is without the proper career advancement at the right time, employees will slowly grow disengaged and might look for new opportunities elsewhere.
So, it's essential to consider this less of an idea and more of a thing that you have to do eventually.
Summing Up: Employee Appreciation Ideas Actually Works
Employee appreciation is the cornerstone of developing a robust and meaningful workplace culture. Many a time, showing some employee appreciation may seem hard.
While employee appreciation may seem a bit heavy on the pockets, the bottom line is that it will lead to several long-term benefits.
But follow the 33 employee appreciation ideas articulated in this article. You might find that employee appreciation becomes a tad bit easier and a whole lot more fun.