42 Wonderful Ways to Show Employee Appreciation

This Friday, March 3rd is “National Employee Appreciation Day” and while an all-expenses paid trip to the Caribbean is always nice, not many department budgets can handle that. Bonus checks for exceeding goals are good too, but research and countless interviews reveal that money is far down the list for motivating employees. So how do you show employee appreciation without spending much money?

This year, it’s time to dig down deeper and find things that employees will appreciate that are low-cost or even free. And trust us, free is valued more by the employee over almost anything if it is personal and sincere. Here are some ideas for employee appreciation that show you value all their effort and hard work:

  1. Preferred parking for a week or month
  2. 15-minute chair massages … done by a professional masseuse and not you, obviously, because that would be bad
  3. Car wash by the boss
  4. Lunch with the boss
  5. Sponsor team sports
  6. Clean office surroundings
  7. Rotating “trophy” for achieving goals
  8. Training
  9. Birthday cakes
  10. “CEO for the Day” where an employee gets to proclaim a jeans day, potluck lunch, or make a speech at a team meeting
  11. Send birthday and/or thank-you cards to employees at their home address
  12. Discount club memberships
  13. Their favorite music download (or even on vinyl if they are really old school)
  14. Sponsor a “Nerd Day” when they dress up like their favorite movie or Comic-Con character … as long as they’re appropriately covered, of course. So, no Princess Leia brass bikini or Tarzan outfits
  15. If an employee has a favorite charity, make a small donation in their name
  16. Create an Employee Wall of Fame some place everyone would see it
  17. Book club membership
  18. More of what somebody loves doing
  19. Company-wide pop culture bracket contests, similar to March Madness, where employees pick winners of Grammy’s, Emmy’s, Oscars, etc. with an appropriate gift card for winner (free music downloads for Grammy’s, movie theater coupons for Oscars ….)
  20. Plants for the office
  21. Paint their office the color of their choice
  22. Less of what somebody hates doing
  23. Send a letter of praise to the employee’s spouse/family/significant other
  24. Telecommuting option
  25. Free toiletries
  26. Free lunch, snacks or soda
  27. Spontaneous afternoons off during a slow time
  28. Press releases on accomplishments or promotions
  29. Company store
  30. Discount on home computer equipment
  31. Afternoon trip to the movies for the entire department
  32. Company picnic
  33. T-shirts to celebrate product releases
  34. Executives serve snacks during busy times
  35. Provide fun sticky notes
  36. New desk chairs
  37. Company product or service for free
  38. Time with top executives to air ideas
  39. Designate an employee of the month
  40. Employees pick artwork for their office
  41. Give out scratch lottery tickets
  42. But most of all … just say, “Thank You” and mean it!

Creativity and thoughtfulness are keys when you really want to let an employee know you appreciate their work. You don’t need to spend a lot of extra money.


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