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13 Fun & Creative Employee Appreciation Ideas

Jun 21, 2021
13 Fun & Creative Employee Appreciation Ideas
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If you're a team leader, manager, or owner, can you think of the last time that you told your team they were doing a great job or that you appreciate them? If you have to think about the answer for a long time, that's not a great sign.

All too often, employee appreciation is either grossly overlooked or attempted with too little sincerity. When this happens, employees don’t feel truly recognized and respected for their hard work. But it's never too late to change that.

While celebrating Employee Appreciation Day is a good start, it’s actually far more important to show appreciation for your team members in some way every day. By investing time and energy into the self-esteem, confidence, and sense of value that your employees have day to day, everyone benefits from this healthy dynamic of mutual respect and gratitude. 

Better employee retention, higher performance, improved productivity, and increased employee engagement within the workplace are all-natural by-products of regularly showing how valued each person is.

While gift cards, ice cream, and other tangible rewards are a great way of showing employees appreciation, below, you’ll find some simple but highly effective employee appreciation ideas that add value to your team members' daily lives and enhance your company culture.

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1. Provide a Comfortable Working Environment

Physical comfort is a basic need for any worker. But going a little bit above and beyond can demonstrate your desire to make their day as comfortable and stress-free as possible.

Invest in ergonomic chairs, add some indoor plants, and make sure the office is always looking clean and inviting. Maintain great care of the spaces your employees occupy, as it shows continued effort on the company’s part to make their days as pleasant as possible.

If employees work remotely, ensure that they have the tools they need to get the job done. Working from home is already fraught with additional challenges. Ensuring your employees have a comfortable set-up with the right tools and equipment can reduce stress and improve morale. 

Show Employee Appreciation With Food


2. Regularly Ask for Employee Feedback

Many times, management is clueless about how to really please employees. But there’s a simple solution: asking. 

Holding feedback sessions, creating a “suggestions” box, and sending out feedback surveys can help bosses stay in the loop about what kinds of rewards and expressions of gratitude are appreciated most. You can also use one of the SurveyMonkey alternatives, as long as your survey is simple and easy to fill by your employees.

By making sure that employees from every level are provided with the space to speak up about new ideas or issues that concern them, you can hear directly from them how they’d like to be treated and what changes they might like to see in the future. 

It also provides an opportunity for managers to pick up on any bullying, harassment, mismanagement or otherwise that may be happening behind the scenes.

Recognize Your Winners


3. Celebrate Birthdays and Work Anniversaries

Creating a birthday tradition in the workplace gives employees something extra to look forward to once a year. Plus, it provides everyone with a wonderful excuse to get away from their desks and enjoy a slice of cake!

Keep a birthday calendar in a communal space to help employees get to know each other better and give everyone an annual opportunity to feel celebrated. You can do the same thing with work anniversaries or other life events.

Employee Recognition and Birthdays


4. Provide Mental Health Days 

Most organizations offer sick days and personal days, but few provide days off for mental health. These days are particularly beneficial to those suffering from anxiety, depression, or even high stress. However, they’re also good for when employees feel burned out or in need of a short break to prevent serious mental health issues.

Just like sick days, you can offer mental health days in a limited yearly supply, with the option to extend them if a serious issue arises. Giving your employees time to nurture their mental health shows that you care about them as a person and not just for what they can do for the company.

Appreciation among employees


5. Be Flexible With Paid Time Off

Giving your staff members paid time off is a great way to show appreciation. You can award them additional vacation days that they can use at their leisure or dole out a few hours at a time with late starts, long lunches, and early quitting time. This gives them more time to spend with their family or do something else that they enjoy.

Employee Appreciation and Time Off


6. Cater Lunch or Provide Snacks

Employers can show appreciation through various food-related gestures that cater to the tastes and preferences of their employees. Here are some ways to incorporate food as a form of appreciation:

  • Employers can arrange for catered lunches to be brought into the office from popular local restaurants or specialized catering services that offer a variety of cuisines. 
  • Arranging for food trucks to visit the office provides a unique and enjoyable experience.
  • Set up a well-stocked snack bar with a variety of healthy and indulgent options like fresh fruit, nuts, yogurt, chips, chocolates, and soft drinks. 
  • Providing breakfast treats such as bagels, pastries, or a smoothie bar on certain days of the week can be a delightful way to start the day.



7. Make Celebrating Achievements the Norm

As previously stated, showing employee appreciation isn’t just about one day; it’s about creating a culture of appreciation.

Give positive feedback when your employees accomplish a small task or a big project. This feedback can be in the form of an e-mail or by stopping at their desk. Everyone has different comfort levels, so get to know your employees and what form of communication they are most comfortable with.

Or send out a company-wide email acknowledging your employee's hard work, recent success on a specific project, or anything similar. Other co-workers will most likely respond to the email, adding other congratulations and resulting in an even bigger act of gratitude.

One way you can implement this is by sharing your employee of the month through email. They will love the praise and be happier knowing you want to share their successes with the whole company.

Setting up an employee recognition program is another way to give everyone the opportunity to be recognized, and it helps promote productivity in the workplace. 

Team Building


8. Speak Out Against Discrimination 

Having a company culture that refuses to tolerate any form of discrimination and aims to be as inclusive as possible is essential. However, taking measures to frequently discuss what that means will improve the employee experience and everyone’s sense of safety and empathy. 

No employee should be made to feel uncomfortable or discriminated against by any person or policy within (or outside of) the working environment.

Show your appreciation for employees belonging to a minority or often discriminated groups. Make it easy for them to bring up concerns and normalize zero-tolerance for bias, bigotry, and discrimination of any kind.

Recognition Through FaceTime


9. Offer Career Advancement 

Upskilling is one of the most desirable factors in employment positions. Now, more than ever, employees want to know that there is room for them to grow and expand their careers. Offering career development programs is one great way to give them exactly that. 

The rapidly changing world of today means that constant reskilling and retraining exercises are necessary for certain employment roles to stay relevant. Implementing an upskilling program is one of the most useful, valuable, and future-oriented gifts a company can give its employees.



10. Give Career-Based Incentives 

One of the most practical ways to show your appreciation for employees is to give them rewards based on facilitating their current job. A bigger working space, a private working space, and mentorship are all highly valued rewards by strategic employees. 

Using job-based rewards as incentives for high performance shows that your company is ready and willing to compensate for hard work with realistic opportunities for individual career advancement.

Employee Appreciation Through Games


11. Establish an Employee Recognition Program

A great way to show appreciation is to set up an employee recognition program. Appreciation through awards is a reminder of their excellent work. Awards can range in cost depending on the company, but we have a list of ideas for employee appreciation awards to get you started. 

Another slightly more involved way is to use gamification to show your appreciation. For instance, you can have each team member claim a task. For each task completed, your team members will receive points associated with the value of their completed tasks.

You can then allow employees to redeem their points using a corporate rewards portal. In the portal, you can offer anything from vacation days, to work-from-home days, or even scholarships for continuing education.

Recognize Employees


12. Offer Gym Memberships

Employers can demonstrate commitment to their employees' well-being by offering free or discounted gym memberships, or by investing in an on-site company gym. These perks offer a convenient way for them to relieve stress, improve physical health, and boost mental clarity, all of which can enhance productivity and job satisfaction. 
For companies opting to build an in-house gym, it can encourage a healthy work-life balance, foster greater team bonding as colleagues may work out together, and ultimately, reflect the company's investment in its employees' long-term health and happiness.

Throw A Party to Recognize Your Employees

13. Get Social

Your company’s social media pages are an excellent place to share some good news. You can use your social media channels to recognize employees on special days, such as their anniversaries or birthdays.

You could also post a photo along with a blurb highlighting an employee’s contribution to your company. You could also list fun and interesting facts about them that their current workers may not know. Or, you could write a glowing LinkedIn recommendation for a star staff member. This kind of recommendation can help them find success in their current role—and in the future.

Boosting Linkedin Profile


The Final Word: Always Be Authentic 

However your company chooses to celebrate achievements, express its appreciation, and reward employees, the most important thing is that it’s done with authenticity. 

People can pick up on forced or disingenuous gratitude far more easily than you’d think. That kind of expression is only going to cause a wave of eye-rolling and resentment within the workplace. Neither of which are good for the employees nor the company side they work for. 

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About the Author
This article is written by our marketing team at HR Cloud. HR Cloud is a leading provider of HR solutions, including recruiting, onboarding, employee engagement, and intranet software. Our aim is to help your company improve employee engagement, employee productivity, and to save you valuable time!


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