23 Employee Recognition & Appreciation Ideas That Work


For Pete’s sake, what is the secret to reducing the widespread employee turnover, leading to enhanced retention of workers in companies for a long time? It is interesting to note what one study recently found. The study discovered that half of all employees would stay in their current jobs if the company took minimal steps to recognize them.

Moreover, the study found that almost 40% of workers would not make an effort to go the extra mile and do something beyond the expected minimum if they feel that employers do not acknowledge their efforts. They would perform what their job description generally requires and stop there. These findings are catastrophic to the fortunes of companies and employers, portending a disaster-in waiting.

Avoid Outdated Methods 

Most companies would quickly jump to their defense, armed with official statistics showing that they have an active employee recognition program in place. Yes, 88 percent of companies have indeed made such arrangements to recognize an employee of the month regularly. They are offering things such as gift cards, bonuses, and similar presents to others.

Regardless, have employers done enough to make their workers feel genuinely appreciated and recognized? 

Most workers today feel that these traditional recognition efforts by employers have gradually become redundant and are long past their sale-by date. It no longer excites, let alone motivates workers. Such measures are perceived as being plain boring and unauthentic.

Devise a Working Formula

Employers, take note. We cannot just assume that, since we have put some staff recognition programs in place, everyone is happy, and the game is over. For us to make our staff feel genuinely appreciated, we have to device fresh ideas that will make the employees feel needed and truly valued.

The question now begs: What kind of staff recognition programs can companies put in place? What kind of ideas will be truly successful? What works for one employer will not necessarily work for another. Each company, therefore, needs to devise a unique formula that works for them.

However, why is it that specific, well-crafted employee recognition programs do not work? Are there some lessons that employers can learn from the paradox of such well-meaning but failed corporate initiatives? We need to find out.

30 Employee Recognition & Appreciation Ideas That Work
Regularly appreciate your workers with sincerity. Read this list of 30 Employee Recognition & Appreciation Ideas That Work!

Discern the Reasons for Discontent

Can you imagine doing everything you can at the workplace only to receive nothing in return? Not even a word of appreciation or acknowledgment? This would be devastating, won’t it?

Well, employers, that’s precisely how your workers feel when they are never appreciated at work. Yes, they feel demoralizeddownhearted, disillusioned, and discouraged. 

At such times, the job title or name- tag on their uniform may not mean much; God forbid, it might even seem to be an abomination!

Be Genuine

Employers should not let things get to that level. Make sure you give your employees meaningful compliments from time to time. We have mentioned meaningful compliments for a reason. Why? Research shows that employees loathe empty praise that is devoid of meaning. 

Indeed, they can sense it. 

As an employer, you cannot fake praise or compliments; your charges will know that and shun it. Any kind of recognition that you bestow on employees must be 100% genuine. Happily, they will also sense what is genuine and respond warmly to it.

Implement what Works 

As employers, we should plan how we wish to appreciate our workers. We must figure out how we want to implement the plans. Unless we do this, everything will remain a mirage. Our elaborate plans will remain just that; plans on paper. Yes, the first thing we should do on the road to genuinely appreciating our employees is to craft a viable plan of what to do, decide how we will do it when to do it.

 You do not have to carry out all suggestions for employee recognition. Pick a few, the sort that you think your staff will find meaningful. Once you are sure of that, go ahead and implement your strategy to the letter.

 You will find some of these suggestions easy to carry out. 

Others will be more challenging. The good thing is, if they are well-implemented, you can get some tangible, long term results that your business will be proud of. The keyword is to implement what works for your business and employees.

Have a Budget 

It does not matter whether you plan to do it on the much-touted Employee Appreciation Day or another preferred day. It is a great idea to do something aimed at rewarding workers for their diligent service. As the employer, can you do this on a shoestring budget? Of course, you can! 

Some factors should motivate you to do this. Consider just a few:

You work daily with a team that you consider as the best in the world. The team gives everything in its arsenal to advance your company or business interests. Wouldn’t it be a pity that, after all this is done, the management should forget and show no appreciation?

Recognize Employees Every Day

Employee Appreciation Day is annually celebrated globally.

Employers should not, however, limit these kinds of events to just one day. Here is a list of ideas that can be used to recognize workers throughout the year. Indeed, this would be way more impactful, leading to higher productivity and job satisfaction among workers.

Employee Recognition & Appreciation Ideas

1. Have a Peer Recognition Plan

Be aware that employee recognition must not always start from the top. You can put in place some form of peer recognition plan. For instance, you can enter an employee’s name into a specially designated hat each time they do something to recognize a deserving colleague. As they do this, the higher their name climbs. When the week ends, randomly pick two names from the hat. Treat the chosen pair of employees to a sponsored meal.

Most people love to get a chance to tell some exciting things experienced in life. Organize a lunch session and let your staff share with colleagues something interesting about themselves. This is a fun way for the workers to learn things that no one may ever have thought about before. Moreover, it is an excellent opportunity for bonding.

30 Employee Recognition & Appreciation Ideas That Work
Happy employees produce better work

2. Recognize Employees on Social Media 

This is easy; sign in to the company’s Twitter, Facebook, or Linkedin account and appreciate deserving employees in this public manner. Mention their names, achievements, and why they deserve a compliment. The effect will be astounding!

3. Work Away from the Office 

For a day, take out your team to work outside the usual work environment. You may choose to go to a cafe, library, or anywhere else where you can get Wi-Fi service. You will be surprised what a change of scenery can do to boost employee energy.

4. Write a Thank-You Note

Leave a thank you note on a post-it. The note should be handwritten and clearly say why you are thanking the worker(s). Stick this on the employee’s desk. 

The next day they report to work, they will be pleasantly surprised to receive this clear message of appreciation and recognition from their boss. It is a simple gesture of gratitude that will not cost you much, as the employer. The results will be profitable, ten-fold!

5. Introduce a Rotating Trophy

Get a fun trophy, figurine, or stuffed animal that you can take around the office. Give this to one of your most outstanding employees who best exemplifies the values of your organization. 

Let him keep this trophy on the desk throughout the week. In the next week, the trophy should be passed to an equally deserving peer. Take note of the effect of this after four weeks. You will likely be amazed at how motivated your employees will be.

6. Have Surprise Treats

Wait until a selected worker leaves the office at the end of a busy day. Then, ‘stealthily’ make your move! Stick a favorite snack, a candy bar, or some other well-chosen treat in the employee’s desk drawer. When they walk into the office to start another day, they’ll find their tasty surprise neatly tucked in somewhere. Of course, such a worker will start the day on an overdrive, quite excited! It will cost the employer very little to do this. The effect will be amazing.

7. Praise Employees on Internal Chat

In case an employee goes the extra mile or in some way, lands a considerable account, make arrangements for them to inform their peers about it. Announce this during meetings or otherwise post the matter on the private chat. It achieves a lot to let the employees highlight their achievements before colleagues.

8. Compose a Wall of Fame

Take snap photos of the workers’ accomplishments or just some simple shots of employees sweating it out at work. Create a collage to showcase the workers’ selfless toil and celebrate their contributions. Be careful! Make sure that the noble plaque does not, instead, immortalize their tears! Always treat them with consideration to prevent this.

30 Employee Recognition & Appreciation Ideas That Work
Motivate your employees regularly

9. Create a Surprise Break

Come in with donuts unannounced, one morning, or some chilled drinks one hot afternoon. Let the workers take a break to relax and enjoy the treat before resuming work. You will find them much energized and galvanized for the rest of the tasks.

10. Display Congratulatory Messages

Let the workers congratulate one another. This can be done through a peer recognition forum or physical cards. Show off this around the office, displaying it prominently so that all can witness the great happenings around the company. This will forge a team spirit and enhance cooperation.

11. Introduce a Cheer Tee

Has an employee done something spectacular at work or gone the extra mile? Have his colleagues deliver a thank you note, signing a company tee. This will work wonders in boosting employee morale and building team spirit.

12. Give Prize Tokens

Give the workers a token of appreciation every time someone does something that you think is great. You can give prizes like a gift card, t-shirt or bike. Let them pick this from a favorite store or local shop. Remember that it is the small things that make a difference.

13. Feature Staff on Your Website

Think of it: How is your website doing? Does it only brag about the senior staff in the company? Are lower-ranking members of the team meaningfully featured? 

The company website gives a fantastic opportunity for your customers to get acquainted with the staff well before they come to do business. Feature the entire team on the company website. It will make everyone feel recognized.

Of course, initially, we might not consider it feasible to have everyone on the staff on the website. This is especially true if we are running a large business. Another reason might involve privacy considerations, especially when talking about the employer’s website. 

It might still be practical to feature a reasonable number of the staff on the site and let them write draw up their own bios.

14. Announce a Surprise Party

Have you thought about organizing a celebration with your staff on special occasions? This could be during holidays, or when the staff achieves special sales targets or project goals. Once in a while, throw in a celebration without an obvious reason! The staff gets much more fun from these kinds of pleasant surprises. In such cases, select a time of day when the staff seems to be struggling to ride through the week.

15. Make Portraits and Caricatures

Many companies offer various categories of rewards to workers. These often include giving a bonus, time-off, or a promotion. Of course, these are typically great rewards. Employers, however, need to get creative every day, thinking outside the box.

Try to make your reward system a bit different, so that it stands out as a unique segment of the company culture. Some businesses and startups, for instance, paint creative portraits of members of staff who have worked for years. 

They let the members who are featured poke fun at themselves based on how they have been depicted in such paintings or caricatures. Yes, get creative, and make your staff have fun and new motivation to serve!

30 Employee Recognition & Appreciation Ideas That Work
Happy employee

16. Offer Career-Based Rewards

Do you want to benefit your business and make your employees happier at the same time? Introduce a career-based reward system. For instance, you can decide to send the workers to a leadership training program. You can allow them to choose an online course of their preference.

Of course, some of these may not be directly related to their current job description. Regardless, you are achieving something significant. You are proving that you are interested in their career growth goals. You are proving to them that you have invested in them. Their morale will, no doubt, skyrocket!

17. Have a Pets Day for Employees

Have you asked? Do some staff members own pets that they adore? If you have a few pet-centric staff members in the workplace, consider arranging for a day when some would be allowed to come over with their beloved pet.

Of course, this should be done in specific situations after considering various issues, including possible allergies among the staff. Who knows? This might become one of the few events that are successfully shared with customers. Indeed, some customers may enjoy the surprise, memorable encounters with a furry friend on the day they check in to do some business!

18. Create “Swag” with Company Brand

Have you planned that a cool swag with the company brand is always available for the workers? What could this be? This can include pocket notepads, stickers, water bottles, company apparel, or iPad covers. Ensure to choose items of high quality. Do not go for the cheapest things you can get.

If it is a shirt, take a quality piece that gives the company name a swag. Let it be a quality fit. If it is a water bottle, choose the type that would blend nicely with your staff’s lifestyle. Remember: No one can be proud of cheap junk. 

Give a swag that employees would be pleased to have for a long time.

19. Reorganize the Break Room

What is the state of the break room or staffroom? Is it a dingy affair with a ragtag microwave? It is good to rethink the purpose of the room: It is meant to give the staff some needed breaks. You should keep it clean. It should have attractive, comfortable furniture, with appealing décor and functioning appliances

Introduce some rules to ensure everyone works together to maintain the place. This is important: The customers should not see or interrupt the workers in the break room. Remove unnecessary papers and posters, making sure that everything here is appropriate. Yes, your staff’s break room should be more than just a place to take meals. 

Become creative!

Can you turn it into a gaming station? Can it be an improvised library? Could it be the place where workers can listen to good music, play a game, or read a book? The staff room should be equipped with comfortable chairs.

Remember that, if you act to make the break room better, you can open new doors leading to further education or staff book clubs. Moreover, by doing this, you are also creating a welcoming place where workers can refresh and get away from work.

20. Let Employees Control the Breakroom

While still on the break room theme, could you give your staff members the chance to choose a new snack, select the music, or suggest some desirable improvement for the breakroom? Of course, the employer may not grant every single suggestion. Nevertheless, if this is done once in a while, it would likely liven things.

21. Offer a Treat on a Food Truck

Unless you have food trucks camping outside your office, give them a call! Ask them to park regularly near the business place. As the employer, you might decide to pay for the meals in cash or do so using reward coupons. This kind of treatment is a magical fun perk. It is a welcome break from the usual paper bag lunch.

22. Organize a Window Competition

Does your business have window displays? Be creative. Organize some competitions involving staff teams. Reward project groups or individuals by turning over the window displays. Do this during the holiday or when the sales have become slower. This is a fun event that you can inform the customers about. 

Indeed, you could make the customers vote on the best window, presenting a prize to the winning team.

23. Appoint a ‘Boss for the Day’

Have you ever thought of it? You can reward an outstanding staff member with the opportunity to become the “boss” at work for the day. You, obviously won’t give them ‘the password’ for the company checkbook. Nevertheless, you may allow them to chair a meeting, sit privately in the front office, use the prime parking space, or enjoy other perks that are usually reserved for managers.

What is the bonus here? The privileged staff member will have a taste of what it feels like to be in charge. 

Interestingly, that might probably change their attitude, positively, towards a few things they usually complain about. Hopefully, it might also encourage some to work hard to earn a promotion.

30 Employee Recognition & Appreciation Ideas That Work
Motivated Barista

Motivate Your Employees

As employers, it is potentially risky for us to take it for granted that the workers are there to do their work. It is perilous to think that there is no need for appreciation because the employees are doing exactly what we expect of them. We need to thank them regularly for their work. 

We need to offer them our sincere compliments and commendations.

How can we say thank you in a sincere way that boosts the workers’ spirit? As noted, it may be as simple as sending them a note with that explicit message. The employer can thank a worker personally, in a verbal way. Some might think that it does not matter. 

Research has, however, demonstrated that there is a significant difference in attitude between employees who are regularly and genuinely appreciated compared to those who are never praisedTrue, there are a few workers who don’t necessarily need a “thank you” message to do a great job. Regardless, many workers do. It will not hurt those who do not need it to hear it said; it, however, means a lot to those who need it. Say it confidently and sincerely.

Often, that is all the appreciation that the average employee needs to get through the day with a hugely uplifted spirit. Yes, regularly appreciate your workers. Do so with utmost sincerity. Your employees will know that the employer recognizes their efforts. The fruits will be sweet.

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