10 Ways to Appreciate Employees

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Everyone likes to feel appreciated. It’s such a basic need, the most proactive companies create employee recognition programs to make sure to express employee appreciation – and it pays off! Companies with an “appreciation rich” culture have 31% lower turnover rates, and companies that have employee recognition programs also report 71% higher levels of staff engagement. In the workplace, when a company culture prioritizes employee appreciation, the results show: employees are happier and more motivated, they work harder and more productively, and they’re statistically more likely to stay longer.

The most effective employee recognition programs use a variety of ways to show employee appreciation. That gives more people a chance to be recognized, and it takes into account the fact that different people respond to different types of recognition.

Here’s a list of employee appreciation ideas that are easy to implement and can pay off in the long run. Try a few that fit your company culture and develop an employee recognition program that works for you.

Regular Employee Engagement

Some employee appreciation strategies give team members an occasional boost that isn’t tied to performance or any particular achievement. Instead, these actions are designed to show ongoing appreciation for employees and to build employee engagement.

1. Free Food in the Workplace

Employees enjoying a workplace lunch

Free food is one of the easiest ways to show employees they are valued. Whether it’s a monthly cake to celebrate birthdays or a sporadic pizza party to bring the team together, a little food and fellowship go a long way. Think an employee appreciation BBQ to bring staff together and honor the hard work of team members.

2. Paid Perks

Some companies show how much they value employees by investing in their development with free training or education benefits. Programs that take care of employees, like a safety program, also show employee appreciation. Take the time to visit worksites and watch employees in action. Monitor safety and working conditions, to make sure team members are working in healthy environments and have the safety equipment they need. Other perks like fitness programs, yoga, or meditation can help employees feel valued too.

3. Contests and Giveaways

Giveaways and contests allow all employees to have a chance at rewards. Giving away something as simple as company logo gear on water bottles or soft-sided coolers an help solidify team membership and spark enjoyment of the item at the same time. Opportunities abound, including t-shirts, gift cards and other promo items.

Another option is to hold a monthly drawing for movie tickets, massages, or a coffee shop gift card. To encourage company values, you even create eligibility rules for when employees can put in an extra ticket in recognition of something they did.

4. Subsidized Transportation Costs

While few employers think of offering reduced or subsidized transportation costs as a potential way to show appreciation to their employees, this can be a much-appreciated perk for workers in the right situation. Employers can sign up for a Wheels to Work program, or offer reduced bus tickets, free parking for a month, or gas gift cards.  

The cost of transportation can pick away at one’s income or even prevent someone from working at all. Since this type of incentive directly affects an employee’s wallet, the positive impact can be substantial.

Occasional Recognition for Achievements

Individual incentives are a way to show your appreciation for team members or to honor milestones such as employment anniversaries. They can also be used for individual or team contributions that go above and beyond normal expectations.

5. Bonuses

Special cash bonuses can be tied to rewards for length of service or for achieving company goals. Unlike pay raises, the amount of a bonus can be tied to company finances too.

6. Gift Cards

Gift cards can be even more effective than cash because cash tends to go through payroll and gets absorbed into the regular budget. When you see or hear about a team member going above and beyond their responsibilities, consider offering a gift card as a reward to recognize those extra efforts. A carefully chosen gift card can encourage employees to “reward themselves,” especially if you choose cards that promote fun experiences like dining, entertainment, or shopping. As a bonus, employees often share these fun experiences with friends and family, which further supports the employer relationship. A favorite among many employees are Visa gift cards which can be used for anything from gas or clothing to catching up on bills.

Low-Cost and No-Cost Ways to Show Employee Appreciation

Employee appreciation doesn’t have to take a big chunk out of the budget! Low- or no-cost ways can be just as effective, if not more effective, in showing employee appreciation.

Employer shaking employee’s hand

7. Employee of the Month

Offer a premium parking space for a month to recognize someone who has gone above and beyond.

8. Bring the Pets

Let employees bring their pet to work if that’s possible, or offer a special reward day when they can bring their pet.

9. Praise Publicly

Give social media recognition on the company page, or a shout-out from the company executive in an internal meeting.

10. Praise Privately

Encourage supervisors to write thank you notes. Sometimes the best way to show appreciation is with an old-fashioned heartfelt statement, whether that’s written or spoken, directly to the employee.

For companies that develop an employee recognition program, the results can be seen in employees who are happier, more motivated, more productive, and more likely to stay.

  • Beverly Mapes

    Beverly is a business owner and operator since 2008 and is actively involved in the human resources functions and employee management of her team members.