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10 Employee Recognition and Appreciation Ideas

2019 is about to bid farewell. As an office manager, this holiday season is a great opportunity for you to show your employees that they are appreciated. There’s no better time of year to brush up on your employee appreciation best practices than right now! 

Recognizing your team members can help to change the culture of your workplace and incentivize them to strive for new goals. When your employees are recognized for their hard work, the work becomes rewarding from their perspective.

In this article, you’ll find 10 creative and thoughtful employee recognition and appreciation ideas, plus tips about how to boost your company culture.

How Important is Employee Recognition?

You don’t need to wait for a transformative success to recognize employees. Showing employees they are appreciated by their manager and office colleagues boosts morale and increases workplace effectiveness

Remember the last time you felt appreciated? It was a glorious moment for you, wasn’t it? It’s the same for all of us because appreciation is a basic human need.

Employees respond to appreciation because it’s affirmation that their work is valued. In fact, 60% of best-in-class organisations stated that employee recognition is extremely valuable in driving individual performance.

Moreover, when employees are regularly recognized for their hard work, studies show they are more likely to be productive. When employees are highly productive, your company will reap a variety of benefits, one of which will be increased revenue. 

On that note, it can be immensely beneficial to express your appreciation for your workers, and doing so doesn’t have to be complicated. If appreciation is shown at your company, your employees will know their work is extremely important and their contributions are valued.

So whether you are interested in budget-friendly tips or you want to do something quick and easy, here are some creative ideas to jump-start your employee appreciation efforts:


1. Celebrate With Free Food or Snacks

Employee recognition means that you should celebrate your employees’ successes. And there’s no better way to celebrate than having delicious free food on our plates!

So bring in or hire a caterer to feed your employees. This type of reward will not only bring your office together and strengthen their interpersonal relationships, but it will also give them all the feeling of being appreciated.

Also take the time to highlight employees who have made extraordinary work strides, but make sure to do this in the moment. This is a fun way of saying their hard work is appreciated and, over time, can lead to a strong sense of pride and ultimately a high level of employee engagement.

2. Give Small Gifts or Treat

Staff appreciation ideas don’t have to be complicated. If you want to recognize an employee in a friendly manner, hand them a gift card to their favorite coffee shop, leave a box of chocolates on their desk, or as simple as sending a creative letter that says “Keep up the good work!”.

How about gifting a book they love or a trophy that will serve as a visual reminder of someone’s achievement? Clearly, there are many great tokens to show appreciation. This gesture will remind them that their hard work has not gone unnoticed.

3. Give Employees Extra Time Off

Nothing says “We appreciate you,” like giving someone an unexpected day off!  The most valuable way to recognize an employee today is through time – that is, time off, time to do something else besides work. It could be a family, a hobby, a charity, or a short vacation. 

If you can afford to give one of your employees some well-deserved free time, it will go a long way. A lot of employee recognition award ideas are built around awarding varying amounts of time off for a job well done.

4. Make Wellness A Part Of The Workplace

Since heavy workloads can affect us physically and mentally, doing what you can to keep your employees healthy can combat stress. There are several ways you can encourage wellness in your workplace that you can also benefit from.

It can be as simple as providing healthy snacks and encouraging breaks, up to providing free fitness memberships, health coaching, therapy, or checkups.

Clearly, by offering comprehensive wellness programs that entail physical, mental, and financial health, your company can create an environment that provides not only a happier and healthier workforce but show how much you value their hard work.

5. Sponsor a Retreat/ Fun Activities

The right retreat can help employees bond as a team and encourage everyone to share their thoughts and ideas. Additionally, employees need to feel they can choose which style of fun works best for them. Group activities like a visit to a winery, a trip to a local entertainment venue, or a bowling night are affordable ways to recognize and reward your workers. 

By emphasizing the chance to choose, you’re showing that you value diversity and their opinions. If you can create a positive, fun and flexible workplace, most employees appreciate the independence of knowing they are trusted to get the work done and feel part of a team.

6. Give Away a Free Vacation

Who doesn’t want a free trip? Spending time away from work and being with those we love most is a great time to de-stress and unwind. Thus, this could be one of the best perks you can offer to your staff.

Of course, it seems counter-intuitive to think keeping your people out of the office and on vacations will increase productivity, but that’s exactly what study after study is finding.

Not only for productivity, but also your employees will feel better about their jobs and they’ll want to stick around longer. And of course, there are health reasons why that time away helps the company—less sick days and stress-related illnesses. 

Giving a vacation away isn’t cheap, so you might want to reserve this perk for employee awards related to a huge accomplishment like landing a major client or closing a big deal. 

7. Upgrade The Employee Break Room

Sometimes having a safe area to unwind is all it takes for an individual to recharge and get the extra boost of energy needed to increase workplace productivity, performance, and job satisfaction

Jazzing up your office break room and making it a happy place for them is one of the best ways to show they are being valued. To guarantee your employees are getting what they need out of their breaks, it helps to make sure your office is supplied with all the components that make up a great break room.

Doing this will show your appreciation for your employees’ hard work, do your best to separate it from the workspace as much as possible.

8. Express Your Gratitude on Social Media

There’s something heartwarming and sincere about receiving a personal ‘thanks’ from your manager. If an employee has gone the extra mile, don’t hesitate to thank them. Bonus points if this occurs in a public setting for other people to see such as on social media. 

A social media shoutout is a popular employee appreciation idea because it can boost morale and show people how capable one of your employees is.

Apart from that, you can add staff photos and bios to the company website to show genuine appreciation! Create a new page in your company’s website to show all the people who make things happen behind the scenes. Even consider spotlighting employees in a blog post, asking them a series of fun questions to answer.

9. Offer New Educational Opportunities

People want to further their education, and you can roll out a new program before this year ends or early next year. 

Acknowledge their strengths and invest in making them better. Maybe there is a class or conference that helps to hone their skills coming up? Employees will feel more appreciated if they see that you contribute to their career development.

Expressing interest in the employees’ professional development could also mean looking out for courses and sending them emails about them, assisting them in accomplishing their goals faster, or even paying for their tuition fees. In turn, your employees will appreciate the interest and guidance on achieving their dreams given by their management.

10. Throw a Great Party

Who doesn’t like an epic party? To mark a special milestone or achievement, you can throw an office party or a gathering event, especially this holiday season. And if you want to recognize an employee for their achievements in front of their peers, you can gather everyone together for a special announcement. 

This is something that you could do to reward employees who have had an exceptional performance this year.  Not only does this help to recognize them, but all of your other employees can join in.

If your holiday party hasn’t been planned out yet, check this out: 15 Fun Ideas to Shake Up Your Office Holiday Party This Year


The Takeaways

When your employees achieve something noteworthy, they deserve to be rewarded for their hard work — a pat on the back for a job well done! 

There are plenty of other inexpensive ways for you to show the employees the recognition that they deserved. Whether it is a simple gift or an elaborate award, recognizing your employees when they work hard is always in the best interest of your business.

Further, don’t limit employee appreciation to just one day or week or only this year-end season. Recognition can come in many different forms, but the simplest and greatest is still a simple ‘thank you!’– It goes a long way and can mean the world, especially when it is said often.

Remember, a culture of employee recognition sparks employee engagement — which benefits your company as much as it benefits them!


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