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67% of workers rate praise and commendation from managers as the #1 top motivator for performance, beating out other noncash and financial incentives, in a study done by McKinsey.

An equally interesting study conducted by Gallup states “the number one reason most Americans leave their jobs is that they don’t feel appreciated. In fact, 65% of people surveyed said they got no recognition for good work in the last year.”

Employee appreciation does not have to be a large, time-consuming or expensive endeavor. In fact, it can be fit into your day and mindset so seamlessly that employee appreciation becomes as natural as brushing your teeth in the morning.

FREE GUIDE: How to Set Up an Employee Rewards and Recognition Program

Keep reading to discover our 12 best employee appreciation ideas that can be practiced throughout the year to increase employee satisfaction, productivity and loyalty.

Employee of the Month

Awarding one particularly dedicated employee the title of “Employee of the Month” rewards the entire company, not just the individual receiving the reward. Employees will compete with each other, working hard to win the title if the reward is great enough.

Take it one step further by having employees nominate and vote for the employee of the month to ensure employees have equal chances of winning, regardless of department or popularity.

Beyond offering a paper certificate, you might consider awarding something of greater value like:

  • A reserved parking spot closest to the building entrance
  • A monetary bonus or gift card for personal use
  • Company branded apparel
  • Lunch with the CEO and/or board

An automated employee reward system can help manage rewards.

Point-Based Employee-to-Employee Rewarding

Award employees points for good work and/or attitude recognized by managers or their peers. A point-based system holds employees accountable all day, even when a manager isn’t around, and offers up a little friendly competition in the workplace.

Points can saved up and traded in for any number of rewards through an organized company system like a rewards and recognition program.

Handwritten Thank You Notes

Think about the last time you received a handwritten letter in the mail from someone you care about. It might sound hokey, but a handwritten note of appreciation still does wonders in boosting our self-esteem.

Take the time to show an employee you saw their work and appreciated it by stating exactly what they did and what you appreciate about it. Be specific, detailed and sincere.

Show Generosity

We often get so caught up in KPIs, deadlines and processes that we forget to pick our heads up and show appreciation for those around us. Your employees are humans with wants, needs and responsibilities outside of work. An employer who does not recognize this fact and does not allow appropriate accommodations might find themselves with a staff of resentful employees or experience high turn over.

Show your employees a bit of appreciation by offering flexibility to fit their busy lives. You might:

  • Approve requested vacation time
  • Allow pets in the workplace
  • Provide a private space for exercising, stretching, and meditating
  • Encourage employees to take a PTO day or work from home when sick
  • Offer flexible hours for employees with small children or elderly parents

Professional Development Opportunities

Employees who feel valued within their organization are much more likely to stay in their position long-term. One way you can show appreciation and increase the value of your employees is by offering professional development opportunities at the company’s expense.

Consider sending an employee to a specialized conference in their field or bringing in a speaker to discuss a topic that is valuable to a group of employees. Not only will these opportunities demonstrate your appreciation for your employees, but it will also increase their knowledge and value to the organization.

Health and Wellness

83% of employees admit to being stressed at work. Whether the stress is a result of their workload, company culture or circumstances out of your control, valuing your employees’ health and wellness will make them feel appreciated.

This can take the form of offering good health insurance options, healthy snacks in the break room, an office fitness challenge or even bringing in a masseuse or manicurist to offer a little stress relief during office hours. Larger companies might even consider hosting a health and wellness fair to offer up additional options and information alongside a little teambuilding and friendly competition.

Stock/Profit Sharing

It used to be that employees would get a job and stay with that company their entire career. Today, employees are bombarded with recruiters offering them bigger and better packages with other companies and advancement opportunities that you might not be able to match.

Stocks and profit sharing options within a company offer employees the unique opportunity to profit when the company does, regardless of whether bonuses are offered. This method is extremely beneficial in tying employee loyalties to the company and maintaining their employment and engagement long-term.

Monthly Employee Appreciation Events

Work can become mundane, but something fun to look forward to each month can boost morale and increase team cohesion. Once a month, shut down business an hour or two early and offer employees the opportunity to just have fun.

You might bring in a free lunch, celebrate the month’s birthdays, play games or do a teambuilding exercise. You could even use this time to brainstorm ideas for improving the company in a Shark Tank style pitch competition.

If you’re just getting started with your first employee appreciation event, ask your employees for suggestions and be open to feedback for future events. It might take a few tries to get it right, but we promise, it will be worth it.

Say it in Social

Almost every company has a Facebook page now. Demonstrating workplace transparency on your social media pages will both increase your engagement in social media and also make employees feel appreciated.

Many companies are already paving the way by posting photos of employees dressed alike, office holiday decorations, teambuilding events and employees of the month. Have some fun with it!

But, remember to ask your employee’s permission before publishing their picture. Not all employees will appreciate this social appreciation.

Passion Projects

As employees go about their daily work, some of the more motivated employees might develop a passion for a particular type of project or a different area of the business they aren’t regularly involved in. Rather than squelch this passion, encourage the employee to spend time on the project.

Consider establishing a program that allows employees to work on a passion project 2 hours a week and see what comes of it. Who knows, your employees might uncover a new business area or display a talent you weren’t formerly aware of.

Spend a Day in the Trenches

Employees have a great amount of respect for managers who roll up their sleeves and help with the dirty work. Don’t wait for an emergency or photo opportunity to do it either!

Make it a regular practice to take customer service calls for an hour each week or join the ranks on inventory counting day. Working side-by-side with your employees will allow you the opportunity to get to know them while also opening your eyes to the everyday work they do. They’ll appreciate the opportunity to get to know you too.

Charity and Volunteer Work

Your employees probably have a wide variety of organizations they support and are passionate about. Show your appreciation for your employees by getting involved in what matters to them.

You might donate an amount to a charity the organization votes on as a whole or organize a volunteer day where you all go out and help the cause as a team. Remember to rotate the organizations you support so everyone gets a chance to support the cause they care about most.

Make Employee Appreciation a Regular Thing

While Employee Appreciation Day is a well-intentioned day of celebration set aside to thank employees for all their hard work, don’t let that be the only day you show your appreciation.

Employee appreciation should be shown on a regular basis to recognize employees for their hard work, dedication and achievements in the moment. The gesture does not necessarily need to be grand, but rather it should be sincere and immediate.

Pick one technique from our list of best employee appreciation ideas and start trying it today. The more often you show your appreciation for your employees, the easier it will be. Over time, your employee appreciation muscle will build until appreciation comes naturally.

A System to Automate it All

For larger organizations with multiple locations and large staffs, consider a formal employee recognition program to streamline and automate employee appreciation. A custom software system can monitor performance and achievements, manage the rewards while also ensuring employees are rewarded equally and no one employee is overlooked.

We deliver a proven blend of software, rewards and program design that will recognize, incentive and train employees. Badges and social sharing amplifies employee success. Gamification creates a culture of fun competition. Quizzes and video keep employees engaged. And, our merchandise mall offers a retail shopping experience with unlimited choices, perfect for point-based reward systems and employee of the month rewards.

Start Appreciating Your Employees Today

If you don’t have an employee rewards system in place yet, don’t worry about setting it up right this minute. The most important part of employee appreciation is showing your appreciation and that can start right now.


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