The stats don’t lie — putting employee recognition and reward ideas into action are key to driving employee engagement. That’s why we put together 25 employee recognition tips that are easily adaptable for in-office, hybrid, and remote work situations.
- Create a #celebrations channel in your company chat
- Handwritten cards for birthdays and milestones
- Introduce a public recognition feed
- Let employees nominate peers for awards
- Highlight employees on your social media
- Listen to your staff with surveys
- Celebrate Employee Appreciation Day
- Ask about life outside of work
- Celebrate soft skills
- Be specific in your recognition
- Give recognition in real-time
- Host events that include families
- Offer meaningful rewards
- Minimize meetings
- Send thank-you cards
- Show employee appreciation consistently
- Recognize effort, not just results
- Offer a surprise day off
- Invite employees to rep you at events
- Give employees a stretch project
- Involve everyone in long-term planning
- Plan group outings
- Pair up team members for conversations
- Make a charitable donation in their name
- Involve the team in the interview process
1. Create a #celebrations channel in your company chat
Want to boost morale? Celebrate success! Create a channel in your company’s Slack workspace to celebrate the good things — from shout-outs for jobs well done to work anniversaries, birthdays, welcoming new employees, and more.
2. Handwritten cards for birthdays and milestones
In our ultra-digital world, personal touches go a long way. Send handwritten notes to co-workers to celebrate birthdays, babies, and work milestones. (Bonus tip: Try to include at least one personal memory or detail rather than a generic “happy birthday.”)
3. Introduce a public recognition feed
Use tech to get employee recognition and appreciation flowing! With a real-time public recognition platform that encourages peer-to-peer praise, you can boost morale (and reinforce company values) no matter where your employees work. Bonus points? Studies show recognition programs strengthen company culture in organizations with dispersed, remote employees.
4. Let employees nominate peers for awards
Some of the best team-building and employee recognition ideas come from employees themselves! Invite employees to nominate co-workers for awards that reinforce your core values. Or, lean into the power of laughter with funny awards!
Need ideas? Check out 18 Funny Award Ideas Your Staff Will Love.
5. Highlight employees on your social media
Let the world be your staff appreciation bulletin board! Give employee shout-outs on LinkedIn or interviews in your company blog. Bonus: Social media sunshine is shareable, which helps spread the word about your company and the great work you’re doing.
6. Listen to your staff with surveys
Want to make employees feel appreciated? Take a quick pulse check to see how your staff is feeling, and be sure to address the results. It’s a great way to share the message: “Your feedback matters.”
7. Celebrate Employee Appreciation Day
Put it on your calendar! The next Employee Appreciation Day is March 1, 2024. It is celebrated each year on the first Friday of March. Think of it like Valentine’s Day for employees — a great excuse to do something special to show your gratitude. Grab our Employee Appreciation Day Toolkit to make sure you’re well-equipped.
8. Ask about life outside of work
One simple way to let employees know you care is to ask about their lives. Worried about overstepping? Try just asking one personal yet appropriate question before each meeting, like asking about family, a recent trip, or a new hobby.
9. Celebrate soft skills
Soft skills like negotiation, communication, and innovation are more important than ever before. But they can get lost in the metrics and numbers shaping our KRs. Set a reminder for yourself to recognize these important qualities! Bonus: Add them to your incentive program.
10. Be specific in your recognition
Build out your employee appreciation ideas with specific recognition. Hearing “Great job!” is much less effective than hearing “Great job leading that meeting. I could tell everyone was engaged because you took the time to really hear them out.” Learn about the SMT formula and try your hand at sending your own digital recognition card.
11. Give recognition in real-time
Most people agree that recognizing and rewarding employees is a good thing to do — but where good intentions tend to fall apart is in the execution phase. Use a platform to make recognition part of your process.
12. Host events that include families
Show employees you appreciate them as a whole person, not only for the work they do. At least once a year, invite employees’ families to a company event, like a holiday party or summer cookout. This gives your team the opportunity to show off their hard work to the people they love the most.
Working remotely? Create a fun Zoom event!
13. Offer meaningful rewards
Company swag is a fine gift, but generic. Show employees you care by offering them a wide selection of rewards so they can choose something meaningful for them. (Bonus: Learn how to run a strategic rewards program.)
14. Minimize meetings
Meeting fatigue is a real thing. Show appreciation to your employees by respecting their time and creating a lean meeting culture. Can the information actually just be shared via email? Does the entire team really need to be in this conversation? The answers to those questions matter more than you think.
15. Send thank-you cards
Technology has improved our lives and work meaningfully — but even today, the magic of receiving mail is powerful and moving. Take the time to choose a card, and write something meaningful inside by hand.
16. Show employee appreciation consistently
The truth is, a quick, verbal “thank you” once a week is more powerful than an expensive gift that comes once a year. (Plus, building habits that help you recognize your team every day — not just every now and then — is the first step toward creating a game-changing feedback culture!)
17. Recognize effort, not just results
The destination is valuable, but so is the journey! And it requires hard work on your employees’ part. Recognize effort, not just results. It’s step one in creating a culture of psychological safety that encourages your employees to take risks, innovate, and make mistakes.
18. Offer a surprise day off
Whether we use it to sleep in, binge on the new Netflix series, or take a hike, we all love free time. Rewarding a job well done with a surprise day off can be very meaningful to the people on your team.
19. Invite employees to rep you at events
Many companies send employees to fundraisers, awards banquets, and trade shows every year. These are fantastic opportunities to shake up a new team member’s day-to-day rhythm and engage them in a different capacity with your company. Plus, it shows them you want them around for the long haul!
20. Give employees a stretch project
Reward work with…more work? It sounds counterintuitive, but think of all the times in your life when a mentor or teacher encouraged you to stretch beyond your limits. Not only did it help you grow, but it also demonstrated their confidence in you — which is a powerful morale booster. (Looking for more ideas? Check out our list of 20 proven morale-boosters!)
21. Involve everyone in long-term planning
One of the biggest ways to demonstrate that you value someone is to involve them in your future. As you develop your organization’s long-term goals (bonus tips here), solicit your employees’ ideas, energy, and feedback on your organization’s bigger picture. Not only will this demonstrate that you value them — you might be surprised by the great ideas you receive.
22. Plan group outings
One of the best ways to show appreciation is to carve out time to just be with someone. Plan weekly, monthly, or quarterly events for your team to mingle. It proves they’re worth something to you and also enhances their ability to collaborate professionally.
23. Pair up team members for conversations
Coordinating personal chats for your team to get to know each other is one of the best ways to strengthen bonds and drive engagement. It sends the message that you value the relationships they can build with peers because you’re giving them time to do it.
24. Make a charitable donation in their name
Make a donation to an organization your team cares about. What better way to show that you value a person?
25. Involve the team in the interview process
Getting multiple impressions of a job candidate, rather than relying on those of just one hiring manager, will greatly improve the quality of that decision. Another benefit is that the team members you involve in the process — whether they’ll soon be managers, peers or reporting to this new person — will know that what they think matters.
Ready to start your own recognition and rewards program?
We hope these employee recognition ideas helped! Remember, meaningful employee appreciation and recognition doesn’t have to be expensive. Using these tips (or check out our resource library for more!), you can make employee appreciation a regular part of your workday.