The 20 Best Employee Appreciation Ideas to Boost Morale

These twenty employee appreciation ideas will have your whole team grinning from ear to ear.

10
 min. read
February 7, 2022
Happy employees working together around a pair of MacBook Airs.

If you want to reduce employee turnover, we’ve got a solution for you. Employee appreciation is a crucial component to keeping your people happy and engaged. We all know that a happy workforce is a loyal one.

Today, we’ve gathered some of the best employee appreciation ideas to boost morale. So, throw away those dull employee of the month awards, and forget about outdated bulletin board notices.

Our twenty employee appreciation ideas will have everybody grinning from ear to ear.

Why Does Employee Appreciation Matter?

A York College of Pennsylvania’s Center for Professional Excellence study found that Millennials (those born between 1981 and 1996) value recognition higher than any other generation. 

In fact, most employees say they’ll work harder if their managers more frequently recognize their work. A Forbes article states that at least 79% of employees that quit their jobs cite a lack of recognition as one of the main reasons for leaving.

It’s clear then that if you plan on retaining your top talent, you need to invest in an employee appreciation program. Let’s look at some creative and funky ways to recognize hard work and show appreciation to your team.

Twenty Employee Appreciation Ideas To Boost Morale

1. Shout It From The Rooftops

Our first employee appreciation idea that employees love is a simple one. Everybody enjoys public recognition. So, take the time to tell the entire world how much you appreciate that star employee.

Let everyone, including the higher-ups know. In fact, we suggest that you head over to your company’s social media pages and do a flash spotlight post thanking the employee for their dedication and service.

Not only will your employee be a star for the day, but everybody will get to see how incredible your company culture is. When they see that, they’ll be banging at the doors to join your business.

Even customers will notice how appreciative your company is. They will quickly become staunch brand supporters, which will lead to an increase in sales and profits. Everybody wins when you show off with your star employees.

2. Make People Smile With Food

This employee appreciation idea is a favorite. If a free lunch isn’t already part of the perks that your company offers, this unique employee appreciation idea is sure to be a winner.

We suggest buying donuts or even pizza and letting your winning team dig in. A clever HR manager or boss will let everyone know that the free food is there because the company appreciates their hard work and loyalty.

Want to add some social bling to this fun employee recognition idea? Please take a couple of photos for your social media and share them with a #WorkLifeIsAwesomeLife tag.

3. Remember Those Birthdays

We really shouldn’t even be saying this, but remembering birthdays is essential. The fact that your employee is working on their birthday is a sign of their loyalty and dedication.

So, our next fun employee appreciation idea is to hold a birthday party at the office. All you have to do is decorate the employee’s desk or office. Add some colorful balloons, maybe even a poster. Don’t forget the birthday card that everybody on the team signed!

If your company is a 100% remote work company, you can still celebrate birthdays together. Get everybody except the birthday employee together on Zoom and record a happy birthday song. Send this to the employee via email or Slack as a clever, fun way to celebrate their day.

4. Share Sweet Company Swag

Everybody loves getting free stuff. By giving free, company-branded gifts, your employees will feel a sense of pride and belonging.

Not only do you turn them into prominent brand ambassadors, but it’s also a great way to boost morale and advertise the company. 

If your company doesn’t have any awesome loot lying around, here’s a couple swag ideas that employees love:

  • Mugs and water bottles
  • Branded shirts and caps are always a favorite
  • Company stationery and office supplies
  • Even a branded calendar or diary is a great gift idea to show employee appreciation

These gifts are sure to keep your staff motivated and well supplied for weeks or months to come.

5. Have A Casual Day

Choose one day a week and let your office staff wear casual clothing. This casual clothing could be anything, from T-shirts with logos of their favorite bands to beanies and hoodies. If you feel like upping the ante, why not make it a themed casual day?

Some clever, themed-casual day ideas are:

  • Embrace the flower power of the 60s
  • Be grungy and rock those 80s outfits

Casual days will go a long way to inspiring everybody and keeping the mood in the office fun and light. It’s also a great way to recognize that your employees are human.

6. Turn It Into A Game

Gamification is a buzzword, and rightly so. If your company has several looming deadlines coming up, and you can feel that employee morale is wavering, gamification could change everything.

Split your staff into teams, and award them points for each milestone they complete. By turning milestones and deadlines into a game, you’ll be adding some healthy competition that’ll quickly improve overall productivity.

Once those looming deadlines have been met, remember to reward the winning team for their hard work and dedication. Some great rewards for a job well done could be anything from a day off, getting to leave the office early, or a paid lunch.

7. Special Efforts Get A Special Trophy

Since we’re on the topic of gamification, our next unique employee recognition idea is also a fun-filled, rewarding game. It would be best if you found a stuffed animal, a shiny, small trophy, or even a superhero figurine.

Give this trophy to an employee that genuinely deserves it. The employee can proudly display their trophy on their desk. Remember to add a printed certificate to explain what this trophy means and what great company values it represents.

Next week, or at the next team meeting, allow the trophy holder to select the next deserving employee to receive the award. Keep the trophy rotating like this throughout the year.

Peer-to-peer recognition of hard work and dedication is an excellent way to build morale and team spirit without involving a supervisor or manager. Your employees will quickly become more tolerant of each other and will be willing to work harder.

8. Surprise Them With A Special Note

Not every excellent employee recognition idea needs to be bold, brave, and public. Sometimes, a surprise is also a great way to boost morale. 

A small gesture, such as a sticky note, can be pretty effective. To make it more memorable and playful, keep it secret and anonymous. Write something encouraging on the sticky note. Some of our favorites include:

  • We appreciate all your hard work!
  • Keep up the positive attitude!
  • Thank you so much for being so dedicated!
  • We wouldn’t be here without you!

Every now and then, randomly select an employee and leave a sticky note with a heartfelt thanks on their desk. Soon, the entire office will be abuzz about the secret well-wisher that’s keeping everybody in the team motivated and happy.

9. Time To Take Off

Our next ideal employee appreciation gift is the gift of time off. Obviously, this one will only work if your company can afford it. So, use it wisely.

Call an urgent team meeting, say on Friday at 2 pm. Tell everybody there’s a crisis they must sort out before going home for the weekend. With everybody gathered, open your schedule, quietly go through it, then slam it shut and tell everybody that they can go home.

This paid time off may not be very original, but it’s something that every employee appreciates. It gives them time to relax, focus on their hobbies and recharge their batteries for the next demanding stint.

It’s a great way to keep employees motivated and build an awesome company culture.

10. Spoil The New Employee

Do you still remember your first day starting that new job? Wasn’t your heart beating just a bit too fast? Palms sweaty? 

Yes, starting a new job can be daunting, but it’s something that everyone has to go through. So, why not help make the transition a bit easier?

Create a welcome kit for your new employee. This kit could include branded company swag, functional stationery, and a fun-filled office survival guide.

This welcome kit will make a fantastic impression on the newbie. They’ll quickly become a supporter of the company and strive to deliver their best every day.

11. Hold One-On-One Meetings

Nobody likes being called into the boss’s office. Yet, this is probably precisely why this employee appreciation idea is so popular and effective. 

Schedule a one-on-one meeting with the employee. This meeting is the perfect opportunity to thank them for all their hard work and dedication personally. 

Since not everybody’s a fan of public praise and adoration, this quiet time aside is an intimate and professional way of letting employees know that their hard work is being noticed and that the company appreciates them.

It’s a wise idea to have these one-on-one meetings every two or three months. Not only do you get to appraise your employee’s work, but you can also mentor them and give them goals for the next few months. This leads right up to our next fantastic employee appreciation idea.

12. Help Them Achieve Their Goals

Another excellent employee appreciation idea is to help them achieve their professional development goals. Provide your employee with a budget for extra classes or conferences where they can gain valuable skills.

Even if your company doesn’t have the corporate budget for extensive training, there are several easy, affordable ways to help employees grow professionally.

You could assign a mentor to them. Or let them join a different team to gain some insight and skills that they would have otherwise missed out on.

Not only are professional development opportunities a perk that employees actually want, but they’re a great way to retain talented staff. You get to train them up, which ensures that your company has the best team, and the employees see that the company values them.

This is a win-win situation and should definitely be on your top list of corporate perks and benefits.

13. Put Them On The Internet

A very cost-effective (read, cheap!) but incredibly effective employee appreciation tactic is to put your employees on your company’s website.

Today, every company should have a website. This website is the perfect platform to show off with your talented and much-appreciated people. Add them to the About Us page if your team is small.

On the other hand, you could also post an interview with a dedicated employee on your blog or careers page. In fact, you can do this every month. Select an employee and chat with them. Highlight their skills, background, and what they bring to the company.

By doing this, you’ll let customers, current employees, and fresh recruits know that your company has a culture that values and appreciates dedication. It’s also a straightforward employee appreciation idea that you can quickly implement without much preparation.

14. Never, Ever Forget The Anniversary

Forgetting an anniversary is a bad thing. Oh, we’re not talking about romantic anniversaries. Work anniversaries are equally important. They are impressive milestones that show an employee’s dedication and loyalty to the company.

So, to retain that top talent and show appreciation to the person, remember to do something special on their work anniversary. Some of our favorite work anniversary ideas are:

  • Create an appreciation corner filled with photos and motivational or funny quotes.
  • Give them a reward of their choice.
  • Hold an office party to celebrate their anniversary.

Whatever you do, always keep it lighthearted and happy. This feeling of goodwill can quickly spread and brighten everyone’s day.

15. Help Them Help Others

Nothing creates a sense of community than when people work together to help others. If your people are so inclined, why not let them volunteer or donate to their favorite causes and organizations.

This employee appreciation idea could be as simple as asking for suggestions for a worthy cause to support. Whether you decide to hold a blanket drive, have an old toys collection bin, or even collect food, this idea is sure to build team spirit.

If you’re brave enough, gather the team and volunteer your time at a local shelter. Remind them that this is paid time off, so they can concentrate on making the world a better place without having to worry about their paycheque taking a hit.

16. Host An Event

Our next clever employee appreciation idea is another affordable and easy-to-do idea. When you want to show your appreciation, why not host an event. Even if you’re running a fully remote company, you can still host a virtual event.

Get everybody together and follow along with some yoga classes on YouTube. Or try your hand at learning a new language. The goal here is to give employees a break from the everyday grind and let them blow off some steam.

17. Steam It Out In A Spa

Another great way to show appreciation and recognize hard work is to provide your employees with a wellness stipend. You could even give an employee a one-time spa reward instead.

Doing this will remind employees that the company cares about their well-being. In no time at all, they’ll be fired up and ready to perform their best.

18. An Oldie But A Goldie

No HR manager or employer should underestimate the power of the traditional Wall of Fame.

Have a wall of fame near reception or in the break room. It needs to be somewhere where all the employees will be able to see it. However, don’t go with the boring old employee of the month title.

Instead, show appreciation by giving employees unique titles and thank you notes under their photos. Perhaps Sarah in accounting really did save your company that day. Let her know by giving her the Accounting Wizard award.

Having this wall of fame near reception is also a great way to tell prospective clients and business partners that your company appreciates its talent and that you’ve got the best talent in the industry.

19. VIP For A Week

Finding the perfect parking spot is sometimes a stressful experience, especially if your company is quickly growing. Show your appreciation by keeping one parking spot reserved for the week’s VIP.

Every week, select a VIP employee that’s gone beyond the call of duty to impress. Let them get access to that sweet private parking spot for the remainder of the week.

20. Find Reasons To Celebrate

You don’t have to wait for the government to tell you when you can and can’t celebrate. Motivate and entertain your employees by celebrating lesser-known holidays in the office.

Some of our favorites include:

The more obscure the holiday day, the better it will be for your celebration. Remember to keep things themed. Luckily, you don’t have to go all out by celebrating these days. 

A simple poster, silly dress code, or even snacks are enough to let employees know that their company is the best around.

The Final Word

There you have it—our 20 best employee appreciation ideas to boost morale. Appreciating your employees is a sure-fire way to increase their loyalty towards your company. 

This loyalty will ensure that they deliver their best and that they’re responsible brand ambassadors. At the end of the day, your company and the employees will benefit.

If you’re still unsure what employee appreciation idea is best to boost your team’s morale, chat with us! We’re in the business of making companies great and helping them to keep their employees happy. We’ve got you covered.