A List of Employee Appreciation Ideas

Of course, the best way to recognize a hard working employee, or group of employees, is to present them with a crystal, glass, or marble award. But we understand that after you’ve given several dozen awards, plaques, and clocks; desks and mantles start to get a little overcrowded. So we came up with a list of employee appreciation ideas that are free and cheap. There’s a ton – and they’re not all perfect for every situation or office culture, so pick and choose your favorites.

Free Recognition Ideas

  • Establish a “Behind the Scenes” award specifically for individuals whose actions aren’t usually in the limelight
  • Recognize employees who actively volunteer in the community
  • Include an excelling employee in a manager meeting they’re aren’t typically involved with and ask for their input on several topics
  • Stick a simple thank-you post-it note to their door or computer
  • Extend the offer for a few extra long lunch breaks to reward hard work
  • Swap a task with an employee for the day
  • Arrange for a team to present the results of its efforts to upper management
  • Give special assignments to employees who take initiative
  • Name a continuing award after an exemplary employee
  • Create a “Beyond the Call of Duty” award for employees going the extra mile
  • Ask your supervisor to attend a meeting with your employees during which you show your appreciation for their specific contributions
  • Send a hand-written letter outstanding employees, showing your appreciation
  • Start a suggestion program
  • Call an employee into your office to JUST thank them – nothing else.
  • Post a large “celebration calendar” in a heavily trafficked area of the office – tack on notes of recognition to specific dates.
  • Support “flexible” schedules
  • Acknowledge and celebrate birthdays
  • Allow an employee to choose his/her next assignment

Cheap Recognition Ideas

  • Plan a surprise getaway for the day
  • Inscribe a favorite book as a gift
  • Give a personalized coffee cup
  • Serve popcorn, pizza, and lemonade on random Fridays
  • Have weekly breakfasts with a group of employees
  • Build a “Stress Kit” that includes aspirin, some relaxing music, a stress ball, puzzles, and anything else you can come up with
  • Dig into your employees hobbies and buy an appropriate gift
  • You can’t go wrong with a hardy fruit basket
  • Give a framed poster or card as a gift
  • Treat an employee to lunch
  • Buy/bake cookies or bread for an outstanding employee or team

Can you think of some more great, cheap employee appreciation ideas to recognize employees going above and beyond? Let us know in the comments below.


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