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Employee Recognition

30+ Meaningful Employee Appreciation Ideas [Remote-friendly]

Amanda Cross
Last Updated October 13, 2023

When was the last time you thanked an employee? Were you thanking them because of something they did for you? Or did you thank them just because they worked at your organization? How often are you sending a gift card to your colleagues just because?

If you can't answer that you are showing appreciation for your team regularly, it's time to consider employee appreciation ideas. By having several strategies that are easy to use, you can remove excuses and increase your motivation to appreciate your team appropriately.

What Is Employee Appreciation?

There are many buzzwords in the employee morale space. Employee appreciation has become a vital phrase for companies, but what does it mean? How do you differentiate between appreciation and recognition?

Employee appreciation is an activity that great companies do often to show their teams how much they care for and love them.

It's not about what that employee has done for you monetarily or culturally. Instead, appreciation focuses on the value that just having an employee brings to your organization.

What's The Difference Between Employee Recognition And Appreciation?

Companies often use recognition and appreciation interchangeably. While doing so can make praising our employees simpler, we can miss important moments in our employee's journey.

According to HBR, "In simple terms, recognition is about what people do; appreciation is about who they are."

"Recognition is about what people do; appreciation is about who they are."

Recognition focuses on what an employee brings to your organization. Maybe they've brought on a new client or saved a customer from leaving. Appreciation is all about validation and ensuring that you give employees credit for their inherent value to your team.

Companies that focus on appreciation aren't tying their praise to specific events. Instead, they throw praise around like confetti and ensure that their team knows how much they care.

Employee appreciation day woman working

How Often Should I Appreciate My Employees?

Appreciation for your employees is something you should do early and often. You should be giving out appreciation to your team as often as possible. Make a habit of finding some small activities you can do to ensure that your team understands how much you love and appreciate them.

What Makes Providing Appreciation Different In A Remote Environment?

When you think about remote employee appreciation, you need to consider your ideas. Simple appreciation tactics like giving out the best parking spot or getting a food truck to cater won't work on people who don't go into the office.

Instead, you've got to focus on employee appreciation ideas that you can bring to your team together, no matter where they are. It can be tough to organize and execute a fantastic global appreciation strategy.

We hope that having a myriad of ideas will make the process easier for your team.

35 Remote-Friendly Employee Appreciation Ideas

Now that we have established a baseline understanding between recognition and appreciation, let's focus on ideas your organization can use to succeed.

1. Highlight Employees On Social Media

One easy way to show how much you appreciate your team is by working with your marketing team to highlight employees on social media.

Highlighting your team has two incredible side effects:

  1. Showing your team how much you appreciate them.
  2. Building your company's employer brand.

Companies like Microsoft have an entire Instagram page dedicated to spotlighting their employees and what it's like to work at Microsoft. 

2. Send A Care Package

Another way to celebrate your team is by sending a thoughtful care package. Who doesn't love getting a fun box of goodies in the mail? Sending out a fun care package when you think about your team is a great way to show employee appreciation.

There are tons of excellent services that make sending a care package to your team easy and convenient. For example, sites like Greetabl make it easy to send off well-packaged and delightful gifts to team members.

3. Send Company Swag To Team Members

Company swag is about more than making your team a walking billboard for your organization. It's about making employees feel like they are a part of your organization's team.

According to data collected by Workplace, there is a considerable connection gap. While 86% of employees feel connected to their immediate team, only 14% feel connected to the company HQ, and 3% feel connected with their organization's C-Suite.

Having great merchandise won't fix your problem. However, branded merch does help your team feel like part of the bigger picture and a valuable member of the organization. If you are looking for inspiration on what to send to your team members next, check out our article on meaningful company swag ideas.

4. Send A Thank You Note

If you don't want to send a care package, why not send a thank you note. Unfortunately, many companies forget about the importance of just saying thank you to employees.

The statistics around being told thank you at work are pretty dismal, according to research done by the USC Marshall School of Business:

"Three-quarters (75.1%) say they are thanked by colleagues on at least a weekly basis compared to about half (52.9%) who say they are thanked at least weekly by their supervisors."

Write a handwritten note for your staff members, or use a service like Punkpost to get handwritten notes delivered to your team members.

thank you note for employees

5. Provide A Home Office Upgrade

Are your remote employee still dealing with a mashup of random furniture to complete their home office? While it's been a few years since many companies went remote, some employees haven't had the luxury of investing in their work-from-home space.

"Your remote employees probably don't have access to the same high-end office furnishings they did at the office. Offering them the perk of a workstation upgrade can be a very tangible way to show appreciation," shares Ouriel Lemmel, CEO and founder of WinIt.

When you invest in your employee's space, you show that you value them just for being a part of the team. For example, many companies have a home office stipend for new hires when they join the company.

6. Utilize Software To Streamline Employee Appreciation

It's easy to let employee appreciation fall to the wayside when other tasks take priority. However, utilizing employee appreciation software like Nectar can help you automate tasks like recognizing birthdays and work anniversaries.

Using software also makes it easier for peers to recognize and appreciate each other. You can't see everything as a manager, so peer appreciation helps you double down on your efforts.

Do you want to see Nectar in action to see how you can improve your appreciation process? Book a demo with our team today.

7. Give Out A Meeting Pass

While excessive meetings have always been an issue, the idea of Zoom fatigue or virtual meeting fatigue has become prevalent since the pandemic began. If you want to show your team appreciation, give out a meeting pass to your team members. Let them use this pass to get out of one mandatory meeting so they can focus on their work and doing what they love.

8. Subsidize Vacation Expenses

When your employees take time off, are they able to enjoy themselves? Do they go on vacations, or do they opt to stay at home? Traveling the world is an experience that more people should have. Employees should be able to use their vacation days in a way that genuinely refreshes and rejuvenates them.

Subsidizing vacation expenses is a meaningful gesture, whether employees want a staycation or travel abroad. Go above making sure that you pay team members for the week. Why not offer a stipend for employees to use while on vacation?

9. Half-Days And More Breaks For Employees

Outside of having ample vacation time, sometimes employees just need a small break or day-off. Using incentives like half-days or Summer Fridays 9where employees take Fridays off during the summer) can have a massive impact on company culture and appreciation.

"Studies have shown that remote workers are putting in more hours on average, and it can be more difficult to communicate stress or burnout. Offering a surprise mental health day or even a half-day off can show how deeply you appreciate your employees' hard work, and that you understand the toll it can take," states Nick Drewe, Founder and CEO of WeThrift.

10. Remember To Celebrate Workplace Anniversaries

Are you looking for a way to celebrate employees and make them feel special? Why not celebrate their workplace anniversary. Milestones like anniversaries are noteworthy, and they make your team members feel reflective. Establishing that you find value in your team members during this time can make a world of difference and improve employee retention.

11. Create A Video To Celebrate An Employee

Videos make a delightful gift to your employees. Making videos has become easier than ever, thanks to our phones. Companies like Tribute make it easy to work on videos as a group by sending out a link and making it easy to collect short clips from colleagues. With a tool like Tribute, creating videos is remote-friendly.

celebration video for employee

12. Give Your Team A LinkedIn Recommendation

LinkedIn is a place where many professionals gather and learn from one another. Creating a personal brand on LinkedIn can do wonders for career prospects and the company a person currently works for.

If you want to show your team how much you care, write personalized LinkedIn recommendations for each person and post them to their pages. While your kind words may open your team up to recruiters and competitors, they can also make your team feel appreciated and more inclined to stay with your organization.

13. Sweat The Small Stuff

It's easy to celebrate the big victories, but your team has to be sufficiently motivated to get there. Showing appreciation for all the small things your team does along the way can make a world of difference.

One of Nectar's customers, We Are Rosie, uses the Nectar platform to celebrate those small but significant wins:

"Working remotely can be difficult - people don't always see the hard work that goes into the crucial, time-consuming projects or the large client wins," shares Tessa Dillenbeck, People Operations Lead for We Are Rosie, "That's why expressing gratitude each day and celebrating the little wins is an essential part of our culture."

14. Wish Employees A Happy Birthday

Another milestone that employees care about is their birthday. If you want to celebrate employee birthdays, start by making sure you have everyone's birthday on your calendar. Missing an important day isn't fun for your team members.

Next, focus on creating a simple but consistent experience. For example, you could send out a gift card with an amount based on the age an employee is turning, or you could give out points in your peer recognition system.

You want employees to feel celebrated, appreciated, and like they are part of the team.

15. Send Food Via A Delivery Service

Food can bring your team together quickly. Many companies often had catered lunches at the office, but it's not as easy when employees work from home. Many employees can use DoorDash or Grubhub to get food delivered to their door. Using these apps, you can easily send out gift certificates or send breakfast/lunch to your employee's home.

16. Host A Virtual Happy Hour

Do your team members get excited about craft beer, cocktails, or wines? Why not lean into that by offering a virtual happy hour to celebrate your team? If you know any local bartenders, you can even invite them to the call to teach your team how to make a cocktail or two.

Before hosting a happy hour, think about your employees and what they enjoy. This event may not be fun for team members who don't or can't drink.

17. Provide Free Wellness Memberships

Remote work has impacted how we work and take care of ourselves. Your team needs to know that you care about their mental health and wellbeing.

"One of the hardest things about working from home can be reduced physical activity, so remote workers can lose focus on their wellness and health," adds Mark Daoust, CEO of QuietLight,

"Offering free memberships to wellness or fitness clubs can help your remote employees get back into a healthy mindset which will not only make them feel appreciated but also lead to enhanced productivity at work."

Offering memberships for meditation applications, virtual workout classes, and sleep wellness applications can make a world of difference for your team.

18. Appreciate Your Team For What They Do Outside Of Work

Are you encouraging your team to share their wins outside of work? Even when employees aren't firing at all cylinders at work, they may be dealing with and accomplishing things at home.

"One of the best parts of that is getting to know each other beyond our career-driven goals and learning one another's personal motivators and achievements," shares Tessa Dillenbeck, People Operations Lead for We Are Rosie.

Here are some examples Tessa shares for what you can celebrate:

  • Buying a new home
  • Graduating with an advanced degree
  • Earning a certification
  • Becoming a US citizen
  • Being highlighted in an article

"Recognizing ALL accomplishments, not just the work-related ones, has not only given us more opportunities to celebrate our team, but also has created a more genuine, authentic, and supportive culture where we truly lift one another up," adds Tessa Dillenbeck.

19. Start A Company Newsletter To Highlight Colleagues

Keeping up with what your team is doing can be challenging once you decide that it's a part of your strategy. For example, some organizations have curated good news from across the organization and built a newsletter for their employees.

Company newsletters can be the perfect place to highlight colleagues and let them know you enjoy their presence in your organization. Try putting out a newsletter weekly or monthly for the most impact.

20. Host A Virtual Concert

If your workers are like most people, music is an integral part of their daily life. Who doesn't want to hear some music from great artists? You can use an NPR Tiny Desk Concert approach to show how much you appreciate your team.

Work with local musicians (or musicians in your organization) to put on a Zoom concert that your team and their families can participate in.

You can also expand the experience to include other talents like comedy or magic to mix things up.

21. Focus On Building A Culture Of Trust

"As our team has grown over the years, one of the most important strategies we've implemented, which is also one of the simplest, is a culture of trust," states Yves Hiernaux, CEO of Beebole.

Showing how much you trust your team is an easy way to show appreciation. Employees want to feel like they have authority over their work and output.

"Work-life balance is a real necessity, and instead of focusing on exactly what time people log in or out, we focus on real results, trusting our employees to make the right decisions for both their personal and professional lives," continues Hiernaux.

22. Gift A Monthly Subscription

Who doesn't love getting a gift in the mail every month or enjoying a continuous subscription for free? There are hundreds of subscription boxes that you can choose from to send to your employees every month. You can also pay for fun services like Netflix, Hulu, or Disney+.

As employees receive your gifts monthly, they will have a consistent reminder of how much you appreciate their work.

work from home

23. Use GIFs To Show Appreciation

Appreciation that uses modern touches like GIFs can make your appreciation pop. If a picture is worth a thousand words, how many words would a moving image be worth? Using GIFs from popular movies and television shows is a quick and free way to make your virtual appreciation stand out.

24. Highlight An Employee Of The Month

While Employee Of The Month can quickly fall into recognition territory, you can also make it work as appreciation. Framing Employee Of The Month wins as more than just what a team member has done for you, but how their presence improves your organization is a great place to start. Ensuring that you mix up who wins the award and look past vanity metrics will make this award an appreciation staple.

25. Send A Cameo Video

Who wouldn't love a personalized video from someone they admire? Cameo is a great place to purchase customized videos from various celebrities. These videos are a great way to show that you care for a team and their recent accomplishments. Ordering a video is simple, and your staff members will have something they can admire forever.

26. Host A Meetup Or Retreat To Appreciate Your Team

Remote work can feel isolating, but it doesn't have to be. Meetups or retreats can bring your team together if you spend time planning the perfect event.

Take a look at where all of your team members are. Host meetups in locations where several employees can go to events. You can host cross-departmental meetups or stick within a team to improve appreciation and team bonds.

Many remote-friendly companies also host annual retreats where their entire team can connect. Retreats are the perfect space to show your team how much you care by planning a fun and engaging event.

If planning an event isn't for you, you can hire an event planner to help make your team retreat a reality.

employee retreat with team

27. Build Out Clear Promotional Paths For Team Members

Do your employees know what they need to do to succeed at work? While promotions are typically recognition for hard work, building clear promotion paths is a way to show appreciation. When team members can easily see what they need to go from Point A to Point B, they will feel like you care for them.

Employees may not decide to go for a promotion, but they can't help but feel appreciated if you go the extra mile to let them know how to get to the next stage in their career. Standardizing promotions and raises is a great place for companies to start.

28. Create A Workplace Emergency Fund

Emergencies happen. Whether employees need to take care of a sick family member or flee a living situation, sometimes our team members need a little extra help. Where do your employees go when they need more support? Having an emergency fund is a quick way to help your team when they need you most.

Consider donating a certain percentage of your company's profits to help fund the workplace emergency fund. You can also allow employees to contribute to the emergency fund if they'd like to help colleagues.

Make the process of tapping into emergency funds as simple as possible. If the application process is too difficult, employees may feel that this perk is only helpful on paper and not in practice.

29. Create A Slack/Teams Channel For Employee Appreciation

As you grow your business, visibility can become a significant issue. Your team may not have the ability to share where they are succeeding. Your team may also be struggling to get consistent praise because their team members don't know what they are doing.

"At Voxpopme, we make sure to celebrate the wins of our team members in a couple of different ways. We have a Slack channel called #boom where employees recognize other employees for things well done," says Victoria Hedley, SVP of Operations at Voxpopme.

You can also align this with a tool like Nectar give points away that can be redeemed for bigger rewards.

30. Embrace The Local Community While Celebrating Your Team

One of the best ways to show appreciation embraces your local community in the process. As your team extends from your company's original headquarters, there may be ways to bring your organization together.

"Most recently, we sent out chocolate and cheese boxes sourced from local chefs and did a Zoom tasting of them together," shares David Aylor, Founder & CEO of David Aylor Law Offices.

Work with some area businesses to put together experiences or care packages that embrace where your company originated.

31. Give Out A Charitable Donation

Charitable donations can impact the world and your team at the same time. Try giving out philanthropic contributions for your employees to celebrate what they mean to you. If your group enjoys donating to local organizations, you can embrace the local community while appreciating your team members.

32. Focus On Creating Experiences

"When your team works remotely, you have the opportunity to give your team members the gift of an experience," shares Michael Lantry, Recruitment Director for GemPool.

Appreciation sticks with your employees more when you strive for more robust experiences. Since you don't see remote workers often, your appreciation has to go further than it used to. However, experiences don't have to break the bank.

"One way to do this is to have a team incentive trip away. This could be an overnight stay in a hotel, a trip abroad, or a dinner out with the team at the end of a quarter. The ability to bring people together, to celebrate, is a very powerful way to drive engagement and recognition," Lantry continues.

You can also shoot for simple experiences like:

  • Spa days
  • Movie nights
  • Theme park visits
  • Paint and sip classes
  • Restaurant date nights

33. Give Employees The Tools They Need To Work Successfully

Have you thought about what you are asking from your team and what they need to make it happen? Working on a project with the wrong tools can make it challenging to succeed. Set your team up for success by ensuring that they are working with the right tools.

For example, a sales representative probably needs access to a demo account and a sales management tool to appropriately sell your company's software. Likewise, a marketer might need access to some relevant marketing tools to keep up with industry trends and get ahead of the competition.

Investing in tools is more than sending out a laptop for employees.

tools for remote work

34. Check-In With Your Team Members

Do you feel overwhelmed with all the ways you can appreciate your team? Why not focus on a simple strategy: check-in with your team members.

When employees work from home, it's easy to lose track and forget to connect with them. Companies who make regular check-ins a part of their employee experience build a great connection with their team members.

Employee engagement starts with ensuring that your team feels seen and heard.

35. Celebrate Employee Appreciation Day

Last but not least, one way to appreciate your team is to celebrate Employee Appreciation Day. This is a yearly holiday on the first Friday in March. In 2022, it's being celebrated on March 4th.

Take this yearly holiday to plan something to tell your team how much you care. You can do something as small as sending out thank you emails, and you can create an event as large as you'd like.

Use today's post to think about what you can. Even last-minute celebrations can be a powerful way to celebrate your team.

Conclusion: Appreciating Your Team Begins With One Small Strategy

If you've been putting off employee appreciation because it overwhelms you, start small. You don't need to go above and beyond or spend thousands on employee appreciation ideas. There are simple ways to boost engagement that don't require weeks of planning. Begin with a simple strategy like sending out thank you notes. Then, as you get to know what your team enjoys, you can invest in larger employee appreciation strategies.

Keep it simple, and soon your team will feel loved year-round. 


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