November 1, 2022

We talk a lot about employee engagement and workplace culture here at BlueLion. And we practice what we preach, taking our team on memorable outings and implementing new employee appreciation ideas regularly. 

Why? Because we know that even small gestures of employee recognition make a difference and motivate our talented team!

And we’re not the only ones. The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) reports that 79% of employees work harder when their efforts are recognized. 

Showing employee appreciation can also positively impact a company’s bottom line. A Gallup poll found that organizations with higher employee engagement see a 21% higher profitability.

With a solid employee recognition program that focuses on performance (rather than tenure), employers can increase: 

Need some fresh employee appreciation ideas to show your team some love? Read on for a mix of simple and elevated ways to thank your employees!

17 Employee Appreciation Ideas to Help You Brainstorm

1. Throw an Employee Appreciation Day celebration.

Mark your calendar for the first Friday in March: Employee Appreciation Day! This event was created to remind business leaders of the importance of meaningful employer-employee relationships to build a successful business.

For a fun-filled, memorable employee appreciation idea, consider organizing a:

  • Barbecue
  • Casual office party
  • Happy hour with a hired bartender
  • Game day with fun activities and contests
  • Team outing

Make Employee Appreciation Day all about your team!

2. Thank and recognize employees publicly.

Sometimes, simple employee recognition goes a long way. Send an email or use your company’s intranet or Slack channel to give staff members a shoutout when they’ve done a stellar job. Share them on social media so your entire audience can get to know your awesome team. 

For an extra nice touch, you could even write your employee a LinkedIn recommendation to help them find success now and in their future career!

3. Give them a spot bonus.

It may not be the most unique employee appreciation idea, but everyone appreciates more money. A spot bonus is ideal for someone who carried a big project over the finish line. Perhaps they got it done ahead of schedule, under budget, and went above and beyond to see it completed — or overcame challenges during the project to ensure its successful completion.

4. Show employee appreciation with the gift of time.

Besides money, one of the most valuable things you can give your employees is time. Recognize their hard work with a break. Let them go home early or give them an extra day of PTO after they’ve demonstrated exceptional effort or a job well done.

5. Pay for a new learning opportunity.

Whether it’s a conference, online certification/course, or tuition reimbursement, consider rewarding driven employees by supporting them as they learn and develop their skills. This employee appreciation idea will show you care about their growth and boost their morale.

6. Offer a gift card to their favorite spot.

Everyone loves a gift card! Find out your employee’s favorite coffee shop, restaurant, or retail store so they can treat themselves. This works best when you tailor the gift card to their preferences.

7. Treat them to a nice lunch.

Lunch is a meaningful form of employee recognition for individual employees, as it allows managers to spend one-on-one time in a more relaxed setting with an employee. 

Team lunches are also great — next time your department completes a big project or hits a new goal, take them out to everyone’s favorite lunch spot! Or, you could have a special lunch catered. Either way, make sure to focus on your team member(s).

8. Surprise employees with a spa day.

If you want elevated employee appreciation gifts, consider pampering team members with a spa day! Make this part of your employee recognition program for top performers as a special incentive and a way to pamper themselves.

9. Host an entertainment event.

Whether you make it a daytime event or an evening occasion, hosting an entertainer is a unique way to show employee appreciation! Invite a singer, band, or comedian to perform onsite, or enjoy a company outing to the local entertainment hotspot.

Bonus: This is a great way for team bonding and fun memories!

10. Subscribe them to their favorite thing.

Another fun employee appreciation idea (and one that employees will love since it could save them money) is a subscription to their favorite service or box. Consider: 

  • Streaming services
  • Pet products
  • Snack boxes
  • Audio/podcast subscriptions
  • Magazines
  • Gyms, yoga studios, or other health and wellness services

…the list goes on! As long as you have an idea of your employee’s interests, you can find an affordable subscription they’ll love.

11. Level up the breakroom.

Treat your entire team by adding games, comfy seats for lounging, a nice kitchen facility, and massage chairs to the office breakroom. This could be a big undertaking, so it makes a great reward once your company reaches a big goal.

12. Treat them to travel.

This is another significant employee gift, so it’s great for monthly or quarterly recognition (depending on the type of travel). For example, you might pick an employee of the month and treat them to a weekend away. Think driving distance, a destination within two to three hours.

13. Cover commuting expenses.

While employers are not required to pay for employees’ travel time between work and home, covering their commute is certainly a nice thing to do — especially when some employees have longer or more costly commutes than others. 

Consider subsidizing taxis, bus fares, or gas money to ease your employees’ expenses.

14. Show employees you care with career coaching.

When brainstorming employee appreciation ideas, don’t overlook coaching! Bring in a third-party career coach who can work with team members of all levels, from staff to leadership, to enhance their skills. Coaching helps boost their knowledge and confidence while mapping out their career path. Plus, it can create a more positive work environment and prevent performance issues!

Best of all, it shows employees you care about their professional goals and future.

15. Get out of the office.

Take the team on a local excursion! Go for a hike, visit the beach, or head to the nearest axe-throwing spot. Choose something fun and engaging that allows team members to blow off steam. This is another employee appreciation idea that fosters team building!

16. Plan a company retreat.

Has your company had a particularly great year, so you want to take that team outing to the next level? Show every employee appreciation with a memorable retreat! 

Over the course of a couple of days, you can plan a mix of work-related and leisure activities. Company retreats also encourage team members to get to know one another better.

17. Bring in a food truck.

Chances are, you have a plethora of local food trucks near you. Schedule regular food truck days and rotate between types of food. From tacos to sandwiches to vegetarian food and beyond, there are plenty of options that can cater to everyone’s tastes!

Create an Effective Employee Recognition Program

It’s never to early or too late to implement an employee recognition program. Even a small, budding business can start with the simple and more affordable options. As you grow, you can add new activities and gifts to show your team you care and keep morale trending up.

Use these employee appreciation ideas as a starting point. Sometimes, a simple shoutout for a job well done goes a long way! Whatever you do, ensuring your team knows they’re appreciated will have lasting effects on your business. 

For guidance on employee engagement and culture, contact BlueLion today at or 603-818-4131 to learn more about our outsourced HR services.

The information on this website, including its newsletters, is not, nor is it intended to be legal advice. You should contact an attorney or HR specialist for advice on your individual situation.