20 Employee Appreciation Ideas Your Team Will Love

Employee Appreciation Ideas

By James Marshall

Employee recognition and appreciation has undoubtedly been proven for amazing results for any company willing to take the time to appreciate their employees. Employee appreciation has a low cost but a huge impact on your workforce.

According to Psychometrics:

When asked what leaders could do more of to improve engagement, 58% of respondents replied “Give recognition.”

In workplaces where opportunity and well-being were a valued part of the company culture, strong manager performance in recognizing employee performance has been shown to increase engagement by nearly 60%!

These are just a few of the benefits of employee appreciation, now let’s get into some awesome ideas you can implement right away.

1. Servant Leadership Cookoff


Have the supervisory staff cook breakfast in the kitchen, or lunch on the grill for an afternoon. Teammates will love getting served by their leaders, and of course the free food. They’ll know you appreciate their labor when they see you labor to serve them. Don’t forget the egg-less eggs and veggie patties if necessary.

2. Working at the Car Wash

Take that servant leader attitude just one step farther and wash a special employee’s car for them.

Employees love to see their managers doing work for them, and the entire team will enjoy. Get the entire management team involved for a company-wide car wash! Few things exemplify appreciation like humility. And the employees will appreciate driving home in a cleaner car.

3. Spot of Coffee Spot Bonus

Few things say “I appreciate you” more than a Starbucks gift card. Get the simple $5. versions so you can hand them out to the entire team.

If budget is a concern, purchase just a few of them and give them away to those who can answer important company trivia questions (e.g. What year was Dunder Mifflin founded?). This will serve as an exercise in appreciation and learning.

4. Saturday Morning Donuts & Bagels


Is your staff coming in an extra day, or have they been working extra hard to meet an important deadline.

Stop by your nearest Donut or Bagel Shop on the way into work and make sure to buy enough for everyone on your team to get their employee appreciation snack. Be mindful of any dietary restrictions across your team and be sure to get a few gluten free or vegan selections so everyone can enjoy your generosity.

5. Roll out the TV

Will an upcoming shift coincide with a popular season finale on TV, or an important football game? Show your team how much you appreciate their outside interests by tuning the TV to their favorite sport so they can keep track of the score.

6. Give a Shout Out (Literally)


Sometimes we just need to say it. Spend a few moments each day for a week randomly shouting out the good work your team members have done, recognizing them in front of their peers.

Did Jill close 40% of her orders last week? Shout it out! Did Bob just have his highest sales week ever? Shout that out too! Did someone just save an account? Let everyone know. They’ll feel appreciated and will want to do those things again and again.

7. Show & Tell

Some people love sharing how they were able to pull off their recent accomplishments. Invite them to put a 5 to 10 minute slideshow together so they can share it with the team.

Of course, if they’re the shy type they won’t appreciate you showing your appreciation for them by making them do a presentation in front of their peers. In this case, offer to present it for them!

8. Let Peers Praise Peers

Management may sometimes get accused of favoritism for recognizing superstars too much. In addition, we may overlook the superstars who are doing amazing things that are not covered by traditional metrics.

That’s where democracy comes in.

Peer Recognition Software

Ask your team to nominate and vote for their most exemplary colleagues. Happster is a workplace app that this feature built right in, and it makes the entire process fun too!

9. Put it in Writing

Do you have a company newsletter? Consider using it to recognize employees, or to show extra appreciation for teams that are working on challenging projects.

If you don’t have a company paper, consider posting to a special section of your company website, social media pages, or the company intranet. If you encounter restrictions to using your digital media for this purposes, pinning pictures and notes to the old fashioned bulletin board will do just fine.

10. Put it in Writing, and Make it Personal

Consider sending paper thank you notes to employees who recently had to work long hours in order to accomplish big things. Put a personalized message in the card and personally sign the card. To make it even more effective, place a stamp on it and snail mail it to their home address!

11. Personalized Pens, Mugs or Shirts

Personalized Employee Mug

photo via zazzle

Expanding on the personalization theme, if your employees each have a favorite saying, sports team, or other associated characteristic consider memorializing that on a pen, mug or t-shirt.

For example, we know of one person on our team who likes to say, “You better believe it” to requests, as opposed to the traditional, “Yes.” He was thrilled with his “You Better Believe It” t-shirt.

12. Super Relevant Rewards

Did your employee ever tell you they have a cat? A dog? A bird? Then the next time they do something amazing, further personalize your appreciation by handing them a gift card for Petco or your local avian supply. This will send the message that you really do listen to your employees.

Do they love Asian food, Italian food, or have a favorite restaurant? That’s right, you know what to do.

Keep on learning about your employees so you can keep customizing your appreciation.

13. Work Remote Day


Just about everyone loves a chance to work from home, and there’s no more affordable way to show your appreciation to someone than by allowing them put in the same productive hours in a place they don’t even have to drive to.

An extra day spent with their children or pets could re-energize them for their next day at the office. If they spending so much time with their children or pets turns out to be stressful, it will renew their appreciation for coming to the office. Either way it’s a win!

14. The Big Boss’s Office for a Day

We all love to sit in the boss’s seat, especially when we can look the part without any of the responsibilities. This is a fun way to show appreciation while perhaps planting a seed in the lucky employee’s psyche to aspire for higher.

15. Fitbit to be King

Your benefits manager or health insurance company may be able to get a hold of some Fitbits or other health promoting device that will work with your employees’ existing smart devices. This will track their number of steps, heart rate, etc. and let them know when they are doing well.

This may encourage your employees to get adequate exercise (especially after sitting in the boss’s seat all day) and therefore increase their energy levels. Then you’ll be appreciating them even further with some of the other items on this list for their improved efficiency.

16. Surprise Day Off


Imagine walking into work one day only to find out that you didn’t have to.

As soon as you walk into the office you find out that you can walk right out and enjoy the rest of the day. With pay! Use this as a reward for an exceptional accomplishment. And if the employee still wants to work that day, let them use it sometime in the future.

This will encourage peers to work extra hard on their projects too, because they will want to be the next ones having a surprise day off. We wouldn’t recommend this particular expression of appreciation for those who have long commutes to work.

17. ½ Day School Day Work Day

Remember how much you loved a half day in school? And how much your parents hated it because they needed to find a babysitter? Remove that burden by rewarding a half day to a parent on the very same day their child has their half day in school.

More proof that you’ve been listening, and another win for you in the work life balance department!

18. A Massage Monday

You can skip the rest of the Health Fair and just bring in everyone’s favorite part: The Medical Message.

Many massage therapists just starting out in the business will be happy to give you a great deal as long as you let them hand out cards to your employees so they can grow their new business too. A portable massage table will easily fit in any corner of the room. Happiness is bound to ensue. And what better day than a Monday?

19. Dress Down / Dress Up Day


Does your office typically require business attire? Then have a dress down day!

Jeans, shorts t-shirts–anything goes (within reason, of course). Does your office typically dress casually? Then have a dress up day! Pick a theme or an era (e.g. the 50’s) and ask your staff to recreate the scene. Reward the most authentically dressed according.

Another variation is to have management dress down, while the staff dresses up. The most important thing with this one is to change the dynamic to energize the teams, and to have fun in the process.

20. A Get out of Jail Free Card

Not literally. It’s more of a Get Out of Trouble Free card.

Sometimes your most talented employees are the least punctual, and these creative geniuses could benefit from the stress relief that comes with a free pass the next time they’re running late for work.

Give out a 15-minute late pass with no questions asked (and no warnings written) to express your appreciation, and they will feel it too.

For your chronically early personnel, give them a 15-minute leave early pass so that one day they can start enjoying post-work life just a little sooner than their peers.

You’ll be surprised how many miles they will go with just 15 minutes.


Go to our website:   www.ncmalliance.com



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