40 Employee Appreciation Ideas to Inspire Your Thinking and Staff

Are you in need of some fresh and innovative employee appreciation ideas? Say no more. I’ve created a complete list of 40 ideas to help you show your employees appreciation and recognition.

Did you know that a recent TinyPulse study asked some employees what their leaders could do to improve employee engagement?

The result was surprising as 58% of interviewees responded “more recognition”. For this reason, showing your staff appreciation and recognition are powerful weapons to combat employee turnover. In short, more engagement means higher retention rates, which will help you reduce the cost of disengaged employees.

With this in mind, let’s take a look at 40 staff appreciation ideas.

Employee Appreciation Ideas 2024

Here are the best and free employee appreciation ideas that you can implement:

1. Recognize Employees’ Effort Individually

Recognizing your employees’ effort individually might not seem like a big deal. However, according to a TinyPulse study, saying thanks to employees can have a positive impact on their perception of leadership.

The study found that 50% of employees believe that managers saying thanks to employees increases trust in organizational leadership.

For this reason, the first thing you need to do to show your employees your appreciation is giving positive employee feedback. You can talk to an employee in private and express how grateful you are for a specific achievement or the person’s overall performance.

2. Include Employees on Your Website

You can ask your web developers to create a special section where you can include your staff. Then, you can ask your employees to send you a short biography to post on the site. This way, employees will feel they are part of a team that represents the company externally and that you recognize them as such.

According to a Hays study, 50% of interviewees said they were looking for a new job. The cause? Bad corporate culture.

For this reason, including your employees on the company’s website is a simple but important action. The reason is that recognizing your staff as a team fosters good relationships and promotes a healthy corporate culture.

3. Take Your Staff out of the Office for Recreational Purposes

Who doesn’t enjoy a nice relaxing day with friends? A special day at work doesn’t have to be different. You can plan ahead with the department in charge and take your staff out for team lunch or dinner. Above all, the idea is to have fun.

This event can take place monthly or every two or three months. You can even let your employees suggest different ideas and places to visit.

Having said that, healthier employees, whether physically or mentally, mean lower rates of absenteeism and medical leaves.

4. Provide Professional Training

A way to show your employees you care about their career development is to provide them with professional training. You can organize meetings, seminars, courses, and conferences for your employees to attend.

Providing training is a way of recognizing your staff as a valuable and growing workforce. Otherwise, employees will feel stuck and will soon consider moving on. According to Shift eLearning, 74% of employees surveyed said they weren’t reaching their full potential due to lack of training.

5. Give Rewards Based on Achievements

Don’t take employees’ achievements and effort for granted. Make sure to always recognize their willingness to become better every day.

A way of showing your appreciation and recognition is to reward employees according to their achievements. These rewards can range from bonuses at the end of the month to benefits such as free parking, lunch, or a day off. In short, give them proper compensation for exceeding expectations.

6. Provide Staff Gym Memberships

Working in an office from 9 to 5 is quite stressful. In addition, not exercising at all entails considerable risks to your employees’ physical health, according to the BBC.

Therefore, offering your staff discounts or even sponsored gym memberships is the way to go. That’s why you should create a gym membership program for employees to become a part of can have a huge lift when creating a positive company culture.

7. Have a Billboard With Birthdays

Want a better way to show your employees that you care about them? You can have a billboard where people in the office can see everyone’s birthdays.

If you want to make employees feel appreciated and better, you can cut a cake for them. If the budget is limited, you can have an end-of-month cake for all the birthdays in the month.

Don’t forget to check the billboard every week, though.

8. Have a Staff Recognition Day

If you don’t have one already, you can propose a employee appreciation day. Let your employees know they deserve to have their own special day.

You can prepare a music playlist and snacks to make the work environment more relaxing. Also, allow employees to break the dress code that day. In addition, you can propose group games during breaks to have some fun.

9. Have Department Representatives

According to a Udemy study, 50% of employees said they’ve quit their jobs because they had a bad manager.

Many times, employees can’t find a way to make their managers listen to their requests or suggestions. For this reason, it is important to improve communication channels.

You can have employees select a department representative. Department representative is a person who takes employees’ suggestions to the manager in a streamlined way. This will ensure proper communication between you and your staff.

10. Recognize Employees Publicly

When it comes to employee appreciation ideas, public recognition is one of them. This means letting everyone in the office know about a particular employee’s achievement whether they are working onsite or if they are remote employees.

You can take a meeting, conference, announcement or any other public moment as the perfect opportunity. This way, the employee will feel valued and recognized.

If you’re interested in learning more about employee appreciation ideas, then check out our HR Certification Courses.

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11. Have a Suggestion Box

Even though they are old-fashioned, suggestion boxes were popular for a reason. Having a suggestion box can improve communication between managers and employees.

You can place a suggestion box in every department. Later, you can revise suggestions with more ease.

Just as important, take the suggestions that are viable and make them public. This way, employees will see that you take the suggestion box seriously. Otherwise, they will soon stop putting suggestions in it as they will see it as a waste of time.

12. Provide Staff With Welcome Kits

Who doesn’t like getting a welcome kit with stationery, a bag, and some cool stuff? Providing your new employees with employee appreciation gift bag and kits will make them feel welcomed and appreciated.

Most companies include useful objects that employees can use in the office. Some of them are:

  • Coolers
  • Pens
  • Backpacks
  • Bags
  • Notebook
  • Sticky notes
  • Stickers
  • Pins
  • Laptop

13. Have a Wall of Fame

Having a picture with the employee of the month is not enough. You can come up with a more creative way of recognizing your employees such as having a wall of fame.

Select one area in the office that everybody can see and make it your wall of fame. There, you can hang the pictures of those who made a contribution to the company. Employees can be there for having excellent performance, no absences, solving a big challenge, and more.

In addition, include a description of the person’s achievement and the reason they’re there.

14. Offer Prizes

There are many employee appreciation ideas. A useful one is to offer prizes based on particular tasks such working extra hours or even dealing with challenging cases or clients.

15. Keep the Kitchen Equipped

Having a well-equipped kitchen in the office can make your employees’ lives simpler. You should provide them access to basic appliances when it comes to the kitchen.

Some of the things you should equip your kitchen with are:

  • Microwaves
  • Refrigerator
  • Water dispenser
  • Sink
  • Cutlery
  • Glasses

16. Acknowledge Non-Work-Related Achievements

Employees have their own likes, hobbies, and activities outside the office. Some of them achieve things that are not work-related.

Even though their achievements are not work-related, recognizing your employees for personal accomplishments is a way to show appreciation. By doing this, employees will see you care about them and they are more than just employees.

17. Have Lunch With Employees

From all the employee appreciation ideas, this one will show that managers and employees are equal. From time to time, you can go where the staff has lunch and eat with them.

This way, they’ll perceive you as a team member rather than the boss

18. Offer Help With Student Debt

Did you know that student debt in the US is higher than in any other country in the world?

According to the Chamber of Commerce, federal student debt is 1.3 trillion dollars.

Why employee appreciation is important

With a student loan repayment program, you can help your employees save up thousands of dollars. Some of the characteristics to look for in a program:

  • Simple and secure setup process
  • Mobile-first user experience
  • Scalable throughout the entire organization
  • Intuitive dashboards and analytics
  • Real-time notification of payments
  • Custom ROI calculator

19. Allow Theme Days in the Office

Why not have a fun relaxing day in the office by having a theme day? According to the American Institute of Stress, 40% of workers said their job was very stressful.

In addition, 25% of employees view their jobs as the number one stressor in their lives.

This means that relaxing more at work is necessary.

You can call it “crazy hat day”. Whatever it is, the idea is to have fun and memorable moments.

20. Celebrate Anniversaries

This list of employee appreciation ideas is not complete without this. Is anything worse than being in a company for years and nobody recognizing that?

Don’t forget to celebrate your employees’ anniversaries in the company. You can give them presents, a prize, or a bonus.

Remember that your employees are investing valuable years of their lives in your company. Let them know that you appreciate that.

21. Organize Sports Tournaments

A fantastic way to foster good relationships and camaraderie in your company is to have competitions.

You can organize volleyball, soccer, basketball, and even baseball competitions. Other ideas include board games such as chess and checkers.

22. Have Decoration Competitions

Some employees don’t do any sports. To get those employees engaged, you can have decoration competitions in the office. A few ideas include Christmas, Easter, summer, and valentine’s decorations.

You can organize the competitions by departments and the team with the most creative decoration will win a prize.

Competitions are a way to keep motivation and engagement levels high. It fosters teamwork and good relationships among your staff.

23. Introduce Mentoring Programs

According to a SuccessFactors study, employees in mentoring programs receive higher compensations and more promotions.

These employee appreciation ideas seek to help employees feel better at work. That’s why having a mentoring program is the way to go.

24. Have a Talent Show

Having a “different” day in the office can make a big difference regarding employees’ satisfaction. By having a talent show, they will have a memorable day while they relax and have fun.

According to the American Institute of Stress, 29% of employees have yelled at co-workers due to high levels of stress. The question is, why yell at each other when they can have more fun instead? Organize a talent show and let employees relax.

25. Celebrate Holidays

Depending on the industry, many companies can’t take days off during holidays. That does not mean you can’t celebrate them.

Holidays are the perfect chance to have a theme day, a celebration with snacks and some music, or even cut a cake and give presents according to the celebration.

26. Make Employees’ Personal Achievements Public

You can recognize employees’ efforts and achievements in many different ways. You can give them presents, bonuses, days off and congratulate them in person.

27. Listen to Employees Suggestions and Act Accordingly

You have suggestion boxes, small talk in the hallways, representatives, letters and more. No matter what communication channel employees use, always listen to them and act accordingly when possible.

Ignoring your workers’ suggestions is a big step in the wrong direction. Of course, not all the suggestions are viable. That said, take into consideration the viable ones and make them happen if possible.

28. Allow Home-Office Days

According to Quartz, 5,2% of American employees worked at home in 2017. This represents 0.2% more than in 2016 and it continues to increase every year.

You don’t have to tell your employees to work from home from now on. However, allowing them to do so (if possible) once a week or a month can contribute to lower stress levels.

29. Be Flexible When Employees Have Difficult Moments

When employees do their best and are willing to help the company grow, they expect some flexibility in return. Sometimes, employees can have personal issues, such as emergencies, ailments, family situations and more that may require some time off, like in the case of bereavement leave.

It is important that you are sympathetic and willing to help them overcome any situation they might be undergoing. Many times, a simple “take the day off” or “let me know how this company can help you” can make all the difference.

Also, become flexible with their schedule if they require it. Come to terms with them and find a way to help them when they need it most.

30. Have an End-of-Year Party

The long-awaited moment of the year has come. It is time to throw a party that people will keep talking about until march. This is many employees’ favorite moment of the year.

How disappointing it is to work hard during the entire year to find out there’s no party at the end of the rainbow. Make sure you organize a party to thank your employees for their effort and willingness to become better every day. They will appreciate it.

31. Organize Raffles and Contests

One of the many employee appreciation ideas is having contests and raffles. You can offer different prizes that employees can win if they participate.

Don’t forget to give small gifts for participating in the contest so no one goes home feeling bad.

32. Have a Special Appreciation Trophy

This is a way to keep employees motivated during stressful and challenging days. Having a rotatory trophy can help boost employee morale, and confidence and thus they can feel engaged.

The concept is simple. When employees achieve something important, they receive the trophy until someone else does the same.

33. Organize Trips

This is one of the most popular employee recognition and appreciation ideas. Who doesn’t like going out on a trip?

For this purpose, you can select different destinations and have employees vote on the best option. Don’t forget to check the budget available for this first, though.

Some popular places to visit are the place where the company originated, a popular landmark in your city, a restaurant, or any other place that’s appropriate.

34. Play Secret Santa

This is old school but still popular these days. When the time comes, organize the game and encourage everybody to play it.

Even though it’s no big deal, this simple game fosters good relationships among staff and allows employees to have a relaxing day.

35. Give Snacks on a Regular Basis

Everybody loves snacks. Snacking is another popular option when it comes to employee appreciation food ideas. Stock up the kitchen with employees favorite snacks so they can relax a little bit more during those endless and stressful working hours.

36. Allow Casual Fridays

Many companies allow casual Fridays. Why not do the same? Let employees relax and wear casual clothes on Fridays.

Another option is to have a casual Monday or Wednesday. The idea is to reduce stress levels on the days that have heavier workloads. Employees will appreciate this and feel more comfortable.

37. Leave Sticky Notes

Sometimes, a simple detail can say a lot. When employees are doing a remarkable job, leaving a sticky note on their desks saying thanks can make a person happy and motivated. And the best part? It’s easy and inexpensive to do.

38. Have a Fun Break Room

When the break time comes, employees want to relax and forget about stress related to the workplace. You can have a break room that helps them relax for an hour.

You can include a ping pong table, board games, a TV set, and more.

39. Have a Pet Day

As you’ve seen, high-stress levels in the workplace can have a negative effect on employee’s satisfaction and health. For this reason, having a pet day in the office (if possible) is beneficial.

According to Very Well Mind, having contact with a pet can reduce stress levels in a significant way. Consider allowing employees to bring their pets for one day to create a more productive and happier work environment.

40. Make Commuting Cheaper

Commuting is expensive. This is a reality many employees have to face every day. According to Inc, the average commuting time in the US is 50 minutes. Also, spending a long time commuting has a negative effect on job satisfaction.

If we do the math and calculate how much employees spend on transportation, the result are depressing. Employees have to spend money on the bus, subway, train, taxi, and gas for car owners.

For this reason, giving employees a monthly transportation bonus can make a big difference in their job satisfaction. This way, they will feel more appreciated.

Showing Your Employees Appreciation Is the Way to Go

Showing your employees appreciation and recognizing their effort had never been so easy. According to Social Cast,  69% of employees would work harder if they felt their effort is recognized.

Also, a study published by Bersin & Associates found that companies with high levels of employee engagement have 31% lower employee turnover rates.

For this reason, increasing employees’ engagement and satisfaction by showing your appreciation and employee recognition is an effective strategy to lower turnover rates in your company.

Remember, a happy employee is a productive one.


If you are new to Human Resources and are looking to break into a HR role, we recommend taking our HR Certification Courses, where you will learn how to build your skillset in human resources, build your human resources network, craft a great HR resume, and create a successful job search strategy.

Josh Fechter
Josh Fechter is the founder of HR.University. He's a certified HR professional and has managed global teams across 5 different continents including their benefits and payroll. You can connect with him on LinkedIn here.