40 Employee Appreciation and Recognition Ideas

Employee Appreciation

Employee appreciation and recognition are essential aspects of talent retainment. According to this survey, 68% of employers have stated that their recognition program has helped them retain employees, while 56% have said it helps them attract new hires.

85% of employees participating in this study want to receive a simple ‘thank you’ from coworkers and managers to feel appreciated. Therefore, implementing a full recognition scheme will boost morale and productivity in ways that are hinted at in the importance of receiving a thank you.

Robust recognition programs can make businesses 12 times more likely to achieve their targets, so it’s definitely worth considering investing in one. This can be a complex process, but luckily there are plenty of tools available for employers looking to recognize the hard work of their employees.

The benefits of recognition and appreciation programs include lower turnover, a more engaged workforce, improved team communication, and a stellar reputation for the company.

Let’s delve deeper into how employee recognition works before we take a look at how to best implement it.

What Does Employee Appreciation and Recognition Involve?

Companies are made profitable by the hard work of their employees. Appreciation and recognition schemes are a way for employers to show the workforce that their effort is seen and not taken for granted.

Employee recognition can change the whole dynamic between the company and the workforce. It can create trust and loyalty when without it, the relationship between employees and employers may remain sterile and impersonal, which may contribute to high turnover and reduced productivity.

By recognizing employees’ hard work through various strategies, the company fosters a harmonious work culture that puts people first. In addition, it shows an understanding that employees respect the company values and make goals a reality.

With these recognition ideas, we’ll see how employees want to be appreciated and how companies are striving to include this in the business model.

Make It Easy for Coworkers to Show Appreciation

Peer-to-peer recognition is as important as top-down recognition. Employees should have easy access to a platform like Bonusly, where they can reward each other with praise and fun posts that the company can see.

When an employee sees another one go above and beyond either for them, for a customer, or for the team, they should make their praise public. Using a dedicated platform for this purpose will help employees feel recognized and appreciated by their peers.

This can boost team and company-wide morale while making the appreciated employee feel extra special. Peer-to-peer recognition is very meaningful and should be given an outlet. With platforms like Bonusly, employees get allowances that they can use to reward others. This boosts inter-employee relationships that will keep productivity at high levels.

Pay Attention to the Little Details

Companies should take the time to learn about their employees as people. Knowing their birthdays and other personal insights can go a long way toward making them feel appreciated.

Celebrate their birthdays as a team, congratulate them on weddings or other personal milestones. Ask them about their holidays and where they like to travel. Express an interest in who they are rather than only to what they bring to the table.

Management should be aware of these tips and implement them within their teams. This is a simple way to appreciate employees, but it can have a huge impact and should be used whenever relevant.

This will foster a happy work culture and an engaged workforce.

Reward Them With Lunch

Employees with healthy takeaway

When an employee has had an achievement within the company,  you should reward them with a meal out on the town. This will get managers to have relaxed, one-on-one time with employees while showing appreciation. Choose a special location and allow them to make the most of it.

This can also be done to recognize the achievements of whole teams. When big goals are hit, the team should be taken to lunch as a special treat. This doubles as an excellent team bonding activity.

Even though it’s not the hugest gesture, a reward like this can boost productivity and engagement. Employees will know that they’re working hard for a little something extra that isn’t just meeting targets.

Implement a Points System

Points systems are great ways to show recognition and appreciation for employees. Whenever they achieve certain goals, either as individuals or within teams, employees will get a number of points.

These points will add up, and the employees will be able to use them in the company’s reward catalog to get discounts or invest in perks. Keeping in mind that over 79% of employees who change jobs cite that feeling unappreciated in the company influenced their decision to leave, make sure to have a point system that is easy to use.

Points systems are a great way to provide simple validation to employees. Everyone can express their appreciation for a coworker’s actions through a points system, and all types of behaviors can be rewarded.

Surprise Time-Off

There are few things that employees enjoy as much as having some well-deserved time off. This is even better when it comes as a surprise reward for all their hard work. Treat your employees to a weekend or an extra day off when they hit big targets.

They will feel appreciated, and they will get to enjoy the result of their effort, especially if they’ve been going above what they are required to do. Surprise time-off will give employees renewed energy while making them feel recognized in tangible ways.

A reward like this will make them continue to work hard, knowing that it is being noticed and seen for what it is. This recognition can also be awarded to teams, but make sure to organize it to fit the company’s scheduling needs.

Include Specific Recognition Bonuses

Small bonuses can be used to show appreciation for employees when they achieve targets or when they show an exemplary use of company values and behaviors. These are also called spot bonuses and can be given immediately when the action has been noticed.

There is no need to wait until payday or until specific times of the year when the bigger compensation occurs. These small financial incentives are usually awarded between coworkers, but managers should also keep an eye on good opportunities to use them.

While these are small gestures of appreciation, they are a very meaningful way to show recognition. The timing of these spot bonuses also helps with the feeling of validation because it happens so quickly after the achievement that triggered it.

Train the Leadership in Employee Recognition

Leadership in Employee Recognition

Those with leadership roles in the company are responsible for noticing when their employees are showcasing outstanding behavior and when to reward it. Extensive training should be provided to managers, supervisors, and other people in leading positions.

Understanding the power of appreciation and recognition through various actions is instrumental to establishing a good rewards system. Managers should also see the impact that recognition during one-on-one meetings and team meetings can have.

Leadership roles have an essential part to play when it comes to administering recognition. Employees will feel easily supported and appreciated when their managers see the hard work they do and recognize it. Even if it is a simple gesture of appreciation, like the acknowledgment of their actions, that is more than enough to make people feel rewarded.

Recognize Team and Individual Achievements in Public

When individuals or teams achieve great targets, they should be celebrated beyond just the recognition of their actions within the team or during one-on-one meetings. Let the whole company know that this particular team or individual displayed excellent behavior in accordance with the company values.

Reward them for their actions in full view of everyone else, and the entire workforce will know that these achievements are noticed and appreciated. They will be more inclined to refer each other for recognition while also striving to perform at their best.

This sort of recognition and employee appreciation will have an instant positive effect on the whole workforce. Rewards for hard work boost productivity, especially within a team working together to achieve goals.

Make It Fun and Creative

There are plenty of traditional ways to recognize and appreciate employees’ hard work, but you should try to go beyond them sometimes. This is where knowing some of the employees’ preferences will come in handy.

If they have a preferred subscription service like Netflix or Apple Music, gift them a month of it. If they like plants, get them a small one for their desks or gift them a subscription to services like HousePlantBox. If they enjoy reading, get them access to a book club or a gift card for a bookshop.

They may be very interested in make-up, so you could get them a month of a subscription to a beauty box like Birchbox. Or they may be foodies, and you can sign them up for food boxes like snacks from Japan through Bokksu, craft beers, or even ice cream.

Use Feedback

When you’re deciding on recognition schemes, take into account what the employees want by asking them what would make them feel appreciated. Give them feedback forms that they can use anonymously (or not) to tell you exactly how to support them.

Once you’ve gathered the information, make sure to implement as much of it as possible. Knowing what the employees need when it comes to recognition and using it to reward them will make them feel heard, and the appreciation will have an even bigger impact.

It is important to determine what employees need most from recognition schemes to make them relevant. Using outdated rewards would have less meaning than keeping everything tailored to the modern workforce. You can use online platforms like SurveyMonkey to facilitate access to feedback.

Use Personalized Merchandise

Employee Gift Reward

Many companies have their own lines of branded products. Rewarding the employees with their own items from the business merchandise will not just help them feel appreciated. It will also turn them into representatives of the brand no matter where they use the merch.

Appreciating the work of employees can be even more profitable through this type of merchandise. They can be rewarded with mugs, clothing, and other branded items, for free. Getting to display the company name will have a positive impact on their popularity. Employees will continue to feel appreciated, especially if they bring in new talent by simply displaying company merchandise.

This recognition idea is a great way to combine the needs of the employees looking for appreciation for all their hard work. It can also be used to attract the attention of those outside the company. Employees can discuss the recognition scheme and the positive impact it has had on their productivity and engagement levels.

Pick an Inclusive Recognition Scheme

Bigger companies, in particular, will have both full-time employees coming to the office every day and also remote workers or temporary workers who won’t be able to feel as immersed in the work culture.

Recognition schemes should include everyone working for the company because employees will display excellent behaviors no matter where they are or how many hours they work. They will also all participate in reaching targets and goals.

If you do something special to show appreciation for your in-person employees, make sure to take notice of when remote ones should be rewarded too. This is even more important if there are remote workers on a team you recognize with a physical award.

Try to keep remote workers as included as possible if you treat a team to a meal out, for example. You can have food delivered to the remote worker’s place while the team is out at a restaurant. This and other options like it will help keep everyone feeling appreciated.

Celebrate Milestones

Keep track of work anniversaries and other professional milestones that the employee has gained at specific dates. Mini-parties can be thrown to celebrate these achievements, and the whole team can enjoy the festivities.

This has the double bonus of allowing employees to unwind in a social environment while helping them feel rewarded for being part of the company for an extended period. Knowing when these milestones will make employees feel seen and appreciated. The extra celebration aspect will be a bonus.

When employees achieve new qualifications within the company or when they move to a different role further up the corporate ladder should also be noted. These milestones are achievements that require celebration.

Post-Recognition on Social Media

Social media is a powerful tool that can greatly affect when showing appreciation for an employee. When they have stellar performances that should be rewarded, the company should make use of their social media accounts to celebrate these results.

Social media opens an easy path to making a comprehensive recognition post about the employee in question. These days, everyone uses social media, and employees will feel even more appreciated when addressed through it.

Once a manager notes the performance, it can be passed on to the social media team that can create a post highlighting the work of this particular employee. The post will be seen by everyone visiting the company’s social media, not just internally, which will make this feat even more visible.

Treat Teams to Off-Site Days

When teams reach specific milestones, their effort should be recognized in a way that stands out from other options. Book them an office location for the day that is far from the office. Use a café or a library or an art gallery, but allow them to enjoy a fresh perspective.

This will reward their hard work and let them recharge and return to the office with renewed energy and innovative ideas. It’s always a good strategy to let teams change the scenery for a day or two to ensure the flow of productivity remains constantly high.

Off-site days are hugely popular, and their use as a reward for high performance will serve as an incentive to other teams.

Celebrate With Cake

Celebrate Employees With Cake

Few appreciation gestures are as popular as treating teams and individuals to sweet treats like cake to celebrate their victories. Occasions that call for cake range from birthdays to work anniversaries, but they can be used to celebrate the achievement of persona goals and team targets.

Cake reward days are a great, straightforward way of boosting morale and productivity while keeping employees feeling recognized for their behavior. Try to organize cake or pastry events for whenever smaller targets and achievements occur, particularly with teams.

This will help build a routine that will keep employees happy and working hard to have a moment to unwind with cake once they’ve put all the effort into achieving targets.

Go Traditional With Handwritten Notes

Showing appreciation can be done effectively through something as simple as a handwritten thank you note or greeting card. Handwriting messages instead of sending them via email can offer a very meaningful personal touch because it shows that time has been taken to do this.

Reward your employees with these small gestures of appreciation that highlight that their efforts are being seen. Messages can be left on plain paper or even sticky notes, but choosing a relevant card from sites like MoonPig can be a better idea, depending on the occasion.

This type of appreciation is as well received from other employees as it is from management.

It is a great way to recognize the actions of an employee on a smaller scale.

Have a Wall of Fame

Walls of fame for employees may seem outdated, but they are a classic way to show appreciation for a reason. It is an easy way to showcase employees whose performance is outstanding.

The wall of fame can be rotated to include employees of the month or amazing achievements by teams or individuals. Other employees will be motivated by these rewards, and they will be doing their best to achieve them for a chance at the wall of fame.

This easy recognition system has been used for many years and continues to be relevant today for all business sizes.

Virtual Parties for Remote Workers

It is easy to forget about including remote workers in recognition schemes, but they are essential parts of teams and can achieve huge targets on their own. When the time comes to celebrate the achievements of remote workers, gather the whole team and host a virtual party.

These types of parties are very relevant at the moment, and it’s a great way of having the whole group together with everyone seeing each other and getting to hang out. Remember to keep the focus on the remote employee who’s being rewarded for all their work.

A virtual party can be a great occasion to make teams work even more closely together, no matter whether they’re in the same place or not. You can use platforms like Zoom, Skype, or WebEx to host the party.

Start Team Meetings With Recognition

Start Team Meetings With Recognition

Team meetings can occur daily or weekly, depending on the company, but they should start with a few minutes addressing the group achievements. Individuals with excellent performance should be commended at this time.

If the team has reached any company-specific goals or targets, they should be congratulated. They can also be informed if there are any rewards coming their way to recognize these achievements.

Taking the time to begin the day with the positive reinforcement of addressing each achievement and recognizing all the hard work is a great way to boost productivity. Team members will feel appreciated and will have renewed energy to tackle even more goals.

Individuals within teams will also get to be singled out for their contributions to the success of the group.

Reward Employees With Vouchers, Tokens, or Tickets

It is traditional to recognize employees’ hard work through the use of tickets to events or the cinema, tokens that offer discounts for products, or vouchers that can go towards purchases. This helps employees feel that their effort is being appreciated in tangible ways.

Being able to use these rewards to choose perks from a catalog can be very motivational. Employees can use these to get discounted prices for trips or electronics. Investing in these rewards to become physical proof of hard work is a great way to show appreciation and highlight the long-term effects that performance can have. Platforms like RewardGateway can help deliver these rewards.

Get Them the Best Parking Spots

Premium parking spaces continue to be reserved for corporate or leadership roles, but an amazing performance can be rewarded with a perk like priority parking. Employees can benefit from being closer to the building entrance and always be guaranteed a parking space in the same spot.

This can bring a lot of peace of mind and reduce hassle in the morning. The hard work of employees should always be rewarded in ways that are relevant to them. You should not use this perk as a show of appreciation for someone without a car or who doesn’t drive.

If the employee meets the criteria, this can be a very suitable reward for them that can also be practical. Parking in a premium spot will also highlight the importance of excellent performance.

Bring Personalized Gifts

If you’re looking to give employees small but personalized tokens of appreciation, this is a good way to start. You can customize these fun and sweet gifts with either your employees, or their pets if applicable.

Employers can treat employees to mugs, magnets, and stickers that can be personalized and used to add character to workspaces.Employees can also take these gifts home to enjoy them away from the public eye and to make them even more custom.

Personalized gifts may seem to have little use, but they are fun to establish that the employee has done something that should be rewarded with some attention and entertainment.

Show Appreciation Through Progression Opportunities

Employees have a vested interest in working for a company that allows them to develop and progress through the stages leading to new roles. A great way to reward amazing work and impressive performance is to offer more autonomy over the current position and more available training for potential new ones.

This recognition idea can involve more autonomy than ever before and also further development that can help employees go through the various stages of preparation for a different position.

Even if there is no opportunity to open up the desired position, the reward system can still provide the necessary overview of training and skills that need to be performed before applying.

Reward Them With Extra Wellness Sessions

Employee Spa Day

Most companies should include a sturdy wellness program as a perk, but this can be taken further to reward high-performing employees. They can be treated to extra sessions at the spa, the gym, with a  personal trainer, or at yoga classes.

Wellness is a hugely important aspect for employees, especially those in jobs with lots of pressure and demand. Getting to unwind from all of the stress can be done through wellness session rewards.

When offering this perk to employees to reward them, make sure that they are aware of what the wellness options are for them. It should be apparent that these sessions are great in combination with others, so employees may take some time to decide.

NectarHR offers easy access to wellness rewards for employees.

Give Shout-Outs

Some platforms enable the use of shout-outs to reward the hard work of employees. These can be posted on the company feed and can be viewed by the important people within the company. Those people are the ones who will take notice of emerging talent.

They will be able to decide whether or not it is time for the employee in question to progress to different roles at the company. While this is happening, the employee will get to feel noticed and appreciated on a wider scale.

The appropriately named SHOUTOUT platform can help you deliver these rewards.

Add Rewards to Their Workspace

Make employees feel special and appreciated by buying little items for their desks. This reward will benefit from the knowledge you have gathered while spending time talking to employees. Through these conversations, details about their likes and dislikes can emerge.

This knowledge can help make the right decisions when using the rewards system to enhance the look of their workspace. From books to stationery, employee desks can benefit from the customization these small rewards can offer.

Despite being small gestures of appreciation, they will help employees feel like they are part of a welcoming community, which will boost productivity and performance.These small items will always remind the employee of the performance that got them the opportunity to win these awards.

Create Dedicated Appreciation Time During Team Events

The start time of meetings can be used for recognition, but there are ways to include group-specific meetings that are only for them.Enable the team to have time at some point during the week to spend on talking about one or several coworkers whose performance has been outstanding.

Then others can mention other employees and so on. This is not part of regular routine meetings. It is reserved for the teams to use as they wish when they wish to be heard. Higher-ups will take note of things said in this meeting to further their rewards and recognition program.

Use Care Packages

Care packages are a great way to make sure employees feel appreciated and pampered. Celebrate their accomplishments by treating them to a hamper or a basket. There are numerous options for the design and contents of the care package, but you should focus on items that the employee likes, from treats to gift cards and games.

Care packages always make an impact through the look of them. They also tend to include lots of items that offer great incentives. It is not a huge way to show appreciation and recognition, but it is a very effective one. The employee will feel supported, appreciated, and heard, especially if the package selection fits their interests.

Platforms like Awardco are a great way to organize care packages. Others, like Caroo, allow you to personalize employee gift boxes.

Award Fitness Perks

Employee Fitness Class

Balancing a healthy, active lifestyle with a full-time job can be very hard, but you can offer fitness perks as rewards for excellent performance with a recognition scheme. Gym memberships and classes can be awarded to employees to appreciate their hard work.

This is both a practical and a fun reward that can have great physical and mental benefits. Offering fitness perks as employee recognition can be a very attractive draw that will boost productivity with people looking to earn these rewards through their work.

Offer Access to Recognition Platforms

Recognition platforms are the easiest ways to offer comprehensive appreciation tools. We’ve already seen what Bonusly can offer, but there are several more options available. These include Fond, an easily implemented solution with simple access to redeem rewards, and Kudos, which makes coworkers thanking and recognizing each other easy.

There is also Guusto, which facilitates sending gifts to employees, and Kazoo, which includes all the recognition tools in one easy platform.

These platforms help with access to recognition and appreciation tools that can convert outstanding performance into easy-to-claim rewards for employees. They can help on the journey to properly appreciate the hard work of employees.

Organize Recognition Galas

While big events like these won’t happen very often, it is a great idea to organize a benefit gala, for example. This would include a section that would just be spent celebrating the successes of the company’s workforce.

An invitation to this type of gala is a great way to get employees recognized while they enjoy new experiences. Teams should be invited to these events as a whole, and they can take the time to talk about their achievements during the gala.

Recognition galas are about appreciating employees and everything they do for the company. To appease the need for social drive, the gala can include a fundraising event to be combined with the rest of the festivities.

Create a Suggestion Box

Physical suggestion boxes may seem outdated, but they are a great way to receive anonymous tips and feedback. Employees can leave their opinions in the suggestion box, and you may choose which to implement in the near future, which to consider long-term, and which to ignore.

The suggestion box can also be used to talk about coworkers’ performances and attract attention to high-performing ones that may have escaped the radar of the higher-ups. Suggestions can bring a lot of information in a very simple way.

You may be surprised by all the depth you will uncover through this method.

Appreciate Hard Work When It Happens

Many traditional recognition schemes involve taking note when the gestures that require rewards happen but waiting until the regular bonus payment date to get paid. This is not always the best solution, especially for smaller rewards.

In most instances, you should react to the hard work and appreciate it right when it happens. This will make sense of satisfaction and validation bloom in the employee. The memory of what they did will be fresh in their mind, and the reward will feel relevant.

Shine a Spotlight on Employees

When employees perform well, they should be made the focus of the company for a while.Feature them on the company website, include them on all social media, and make them the star of the show to recognize their hard work and extra effort.

Use Various Media

Employee recognition should be promoted on every platform that is available to the company. Social media should be included, as should the company website. If there is a dedicated company blog, it could be used to highlight the employee’s work ethic and inspiring performance.

Beyond that, you could also use vlogs to include their experience, the recognition given, and any other tools usually implemented.

Show Appreciation Through Experiences

Employee Group Trip

Employees can overcome huge goals when they work hard, and this amount of effort should be rewarded with something that is on the same level. When the usual recognition tools aren’t enough, aim to award experiences like trips.

Trips can be very beneficial to use as rewards. Not only do they provide employees with extra time off, but they can also offer new experiences that allow for a fresh perspective. This renewed energy can be brought back to infuse the workplace as a whole.

Experiences are a great way to reward employees on a bigger scale. They will have a lasting impact and will boost every aspect of an employee’s motivation and productivity.

Create Badges

Badges are a fun and versatile way to reward employees for achieving smaller goals and targets. These are easy to design and to customize but can be made as part of a collection that employees can gather as they go through goals.

Badges can help keep employees motivated and engaged, even if they only seem to be simple, lighthearted tools. They have been proven to work for a long time, which shows that the easiest solutions can be the most useful in the long run.

You can use platforms like Applauz to recognize your employees with badges.

Grant Certificates

Certificates that make achievements official should be reserved for the biggest goals, but hard-working employees can collect a few during their time at the company. These can be easily made and can even be framed in offices or placed on desks.

Although it seems like a small gesture, certificates put in writing that an employee’s effort is both recognized and appreciated. A collection of certificates will show an employee’s continued motivation and versatility.

Craft certificates when employees achieve specific goals or hit specific targets. They can also be made for teams to celebrate the efforts of all the members involved in its success.

Extend Breaks and Offer Early Finishes

Like extra time off, employees love longer breaks and earlier finishes to their days. These are very motivational rewards to strive for, so you should make use of them to show appreciation for the hard work shown by some employees.

Once they achieve specific company-chosen goals or targets, employees may benefit from a few days of longer breaks, with the bonus of getting to go home earlier at the same time. This will have a hugely rejuvenating effect on the lucky employee, and it will help them recover from all the effort they expend on achieving those targets.