8 Employee Appreciation Ideas

Employee appreciation is the easiest way to retain top talent, motivate employees, and drive productivity.

Yet, one in only one in three U.S. workers said that they received recognition or praise for doing good work in the past seven days, according to a 2016 Gallup poll. What’s worse, the poll also found that without this recognition, employees are likely to quit in the next year.

Instead of risking the loss of valuable employees, use these budget-friendly ideas to start giving more praise. In the end, a little bit still goes a long way.

Half-Day Fridays

There are few better ways to say, “We appreciate you,” than giving employees extra time off. Surprise employees once a quarter with an unexpected half-day Friday or do a once monthly half-day Friday so employees can plan a long weekend get away if they want. 

Plan an In-Office Game Afternoon

Instead of planning an out-of-office event, which can be expensive, keep it in-house, but make it fun with a game afternoon. At noon, bring out the games and decorations and transform the office into a game-playing space. You provide lunch and drinks (your only expense), while everyone pitches in by bringing their favorite games from home. 

Fun Gift Cards

Gift cards may sound boring, but you can get gift cards for almost anything when you shop for them online, allowing you to get creative. For example: “You may be surprised to know that you can find coupons for services like Uber Eats, Delivery.com and GrubHub; grocery stores like Safeway and FreshDirect; and online food ordering with brands like Peapod and Schwan's,” says Marco Piu, General Manager Couponbox.com.

Hold a Free Yoga Class

If you have space in your office, bring in a yoga teacher for a 60-minute class. It will likely cost less than $100 for the one session, and multiple employees can take part. Good places for the class include an empty office or conference room. 

Treat The Team While Encouraging Employee Praise

Appoint an employee of the month, buy donuts, and put them in the honorees office. Announce this to the department or company and tell everyone to grab a donut and say, “Thanks” or “Good work” when picking one up.

Create a Milestone Scrap Book

Employees who are celebrating an anniversary with the company wants to feel like the day is as special for the company as it is for them. To show your appreciation for their dedication to your organization, create a scrapbook for them—but put the work into the hands of their co-workers: 

“Give each person on the team a blank page to fill out with stories or pictures of their experiences with that employee,” suggests 50 No to Low Cost Recognition Ideas. “Then, after the public recognition moment, the individual has not only a treasured award from the company but something from her co-workers that captures their feelings.”

Give this to employees who hit big milestones like three or five years, or more.

Call a “Thank You” Meeting

Call a meeting and don’t tell your employees it’s about. When they arrive, simply say, “Thank you.” The key is being specific and focusing on sharing appreciation: It’s most impactful if you simply say thanks for a particular thing and nothing else. Don’t discuss other issues; only talk about the good work,” suggests the Insperity staff.

Give Praise in a Company-Wide Email

Few things make employees feel better than their peers knowing that their boss is proud of them. Instead of calling a big team meeting, which takes time (and therefore money), write an email giving a shout out to the employee who’s gone above and beyond recently. 

Employee appreciation is an inexpensive way to make sure your employees feel valued and therefore loyal to and invested in the company. Use these ideas to make more time for employee appreciation in your organization. 


BIO: Jessica Thiefels has been writing for more than 10 years has managed a number of employees in her various roles. She now owns her own consulting business and has been featured on Forbes and Business Insider. She regularly writes for StartupNation, Manta, Glassdoor and more. Follow her on Twitter @Jlsander07 and connect on LinkedIn.



Jessica Thiefels, Guest Author

Written on Wednesday, 21 Jun 2017



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