Employee Recognition

30 Employee Recognition Examples & Ideas For Companies With Any Budget

Amanda Cross
Last Updated October 13, 2023

In today's working world, showing your employees how much you care has a profound impact. In a recent Nectar survey, we found that:

  • 84% of employees feel that recognition affects their motivation to succeed.
  • 82% of employees agree that recognition for their contributions improves their engagement.
  • When employers have recognition programs, employee value goes p by 32%.

Because recognition matters to employees, it's easy to get concerned if you aren't sure how to budget for a decent recognition program. Thankfully, there are ways to appreciate your team, no matter your budget. Here are 30 employee recognition examples and ideas that work no matter how much money or resources you have.

1. Write A Thank You Note

If you are dealing with a lack of recognition at your company, one of the easiest things you can do is sit down and write a note to your employees. Writing and sending a note can be done in as little as five minutes, and it’s one of the cheapest forms of recognition.

2. Celebrate Wins During Company Meetings

If you have a company meeting and want to show appreciation for employees, start by mentioning their wins. Provide a bit of time during each all-team meeting to brag on employees in your department. It’s easy to get siloed into various departments (especially when you work from home). Don’t be afraid to get out of your bubble and brag about your staff.

3. Highlight Staff In Your Marketing Materials

Your company is always putting out interesting marketing material, so why not get your workers involved? Chat with your marketing department about the various ways you can spotlight employees across different marketing material. Here are a few examples to get you started:

  • Create employee day in the life/case studies for your website.
  • Ask them to appear on your company podcast.
  • Add pictures/quotes from them in your company one-pagers.
  • Post employees on social media.
  • Highlight employees in external-facing newsletters.

4. Use Employee Recognition Software And Reward Them with Points

If you don’t have a peer recognition program, you are missing out on some amazing opportunities. We recently surveyed 800 full-time employees in the United States and found that employees with a recognition program felt 32% more valued than those without one. We also found that 77.9% of the workers surveyed would be more productive if they were recognized more frequently. These employee recognition statistics show the importance of investing in a good recognition system.

Try using a recognition program like Nectar to recognize your employees and give them points to spend on larger items in your rewards catalog. This empowers peers to give each other praise for going above and beyond.

5. Implement Their Suggestions In Your Company’s Product

Your employees are being paid to understand the intricacies of what you sell. They probably have all sorts of ideas that would make your product better. Consider a suggestion box that you can pull from. Implement suggestions from every department.

6. Give Them A Gift Card To Their Favorite Place

Everyone loves a gift card to their favorite clothing shop or restaurant. If you have an employee who is particularly frugal and doesn’t like to treat themself, try a gift card to a place they love. Tell them to spend the gift card on themselves and get a treat on the company.

7. Make A Charity Donation In Their Honor

Charities need our donations. You probably have an employee or two that wants to give back to the community. Charities can make money stretch, and your workers will be delighted that you gave to a charity they trust. Charitable donations make a great gift if your employees are well taken care of.

8. Create A Wall Of Fame at Work

We all know how good it feels to be recognized at work. What if you could build a recognition wall that helps your employees feel appreciated? If you currently have an office, dedicate one area to a wall of fame. Print off blank stars and leave them by the wall. If your employees feel inclined or want to leave a message, they can write it down and stick it up on the wall. At the end of every month, take down all the stars and deliver them to coworkers who got one.

9. Ensure That You Are Giving Out Regular Promotions

According to data from ADP, “promotions within an organization are also associated with higher ultimate turnover among other team members.”

You would think that promoting employees would encourage employees to stay, but that’s not always the case. You have to consider promotion regularity. If one set of employees is constantly getting promoted, it makes the other employees feel less valued.

Ensure that you are giving out regular promotions to those who deserve them. If you can’t promise a promotion, at least have productive discussions with employees being passed over. You want your staff to know how to improve their chances of success.

10. Share Your Appreciation For Non-work Achievements

Non-work achievements are often on the bottom of the totem pole for recognition. Your employees are more than what they do at the office. If you are not spending an adequate amount of time giving recognition for outside achievements, you miss out on an opportunity to learn about your employees and create a bond with them.

11. Take Them On A Tour Of The Town

You might not be able to travel the world with your workers right now. If you’re feeling stuck, invest in a local field trip. See if museums, distilleries, or other locations are offering private tours of their facilities. Celebrate your employees by acting like a tourist in your own town (and seeing a part of it you’ve never seen before).

12. Make A Fun Treat (Or Send Them A Treat Kit)

Who doesn’t love a good brownie or a cookie? Your employees would love to be treated when you want to show your appreciation for their hard work. Bring some treats to the office or mail your employees a treat-making kit (along with your favorite recipe). Whether your employees work in-person or remotely, you can take advantage of this employee engagement idea.

13. Invest In Team Learning

The team that learns together grows together. If you are like most fields, your industry is always changing. Learning is an investment that companies make in their employees. With this investment, you tell your team that you want them to have the knowledge to succeed no matter where they go. Investing in your team members’ professional development is a small task. By doing so, you recognize their strengths and help them fill the gaps in their training.

14. Create A #DailyWins Slack Channel

When’s the last time employees got to brag about themselves to the company? If you have a team Slack, you might want to create a Daily Wins Slack channel. In this channel, you and your team can post one win throughout the day. This channel will be filled with amazing stories that keep the whole company engaged and moving forward before you know it.

15. Buy Your Employee A Coffee

If you are looking for a cheap employee recognition idea, try spending five dollars to buy one of your employees a coffee that they like. Whether you are going to Starbucks or a local coffee shop, your team member will appreciate the gesture (and the caffeine boost).

16. Change Up The Work Routine

Many employees love a good routine. Others find it disheartening, and they struggle with doing the same thing every day. If your employees are up to it, consider getting them out of their work routine with one of these routine shake-ups:

  • Let employees work from home.
  • Give them money toward refreshing their office (even $25 can buy a few items!).
  • Allow employees to move offices.
  • Let employees leave work early or arrive at work later.

17. Give Out Paid Time Off For Work Well Done

Who doesn’t love a day off after a long spell of working? Ensure that your employees are taking an adequate amount of time off throughout the year (on average, people get at least 11 days of PTO.) If your employees are progressing well, don’t hesitate to suggest random days off throughout their time with your company.

18. Write A LinkedIn Recommendation

Writing LinkedIn recommendations is a wonderful way to share how much you enjoy working with an employee. You don’t have to hold off writing these until the employee is about to leave your company. Writing them sooner will remind your employee why they like working for you and your company. Writing a recommendation only takes a few moments of your time, but it will mean a great deal to your staff.

19. Consider Gifting A Fun Subscription

What’s better than one gift? Multiple gifts delivered weekly, monthly, or quarterly! Subscriptions have become all the rage, and you can find a subscription for any mood, style, or hobby. If you intend to get a subscription, we suggest paying for at least:

  • one month (if it’s weekly),
  • three months (if it’s monthly), or
  • two quarters (if it’s quarterly).

20. Throw A Monthly Birthday Party For Everyone

Everyone loves celebrating their birthday, but it can feel a bit weird to throw tons of parties as your company grows. Create combined birthdays for all of your employees. During the first week of every month, throw a party for everyone who has a birthday that month. These mini-parties will stack up and create a sense of fun and camaraderie among your team (even if the parties are virtual!).

21. Work On A Project They Are Passionate About

Your staff is full of passionate, amazing people. They have projects in their domains that they care about. Does your sales team want to go after a particular vertical? Is a person on your marketing team itching to go after account-based marketing? Recognize your employees and their great ideas by giving them room to chase after projects that matter to them. Help clear their way by taking on a few of their duties. With that time, they can focus on the project that excites them most.

22. Encourage Employee Wellness

Employee wellness program

You love your employees, and you probably want them to stick around for a while. Encourage employees with whole-person wellness, not just losing weight. Mental health, nutrition, and stress reduction are all important. Treat your employees and recognize that they need a little extra attention to their health. Help them realize what they need to thrive. Here are some ideas of things you can give to your employees:

  • Gym passes
  • Spa days
  • Sports equipment rentals
  • Mental health opportunities (Consider virtual opportunities like Talkspace.)
  • Meditation apps
  • Nutrition advisors

23. Bring Live Entertainment To Work Meetings

If you look at NPR’s Glassdoor ratings, one of the most well-loved perks was their Tiny Desk Concerts. Employees got to see amazing musicians up close and even got the chance to invite a friend or two.

You might not be able to afford huge entertainment fees, but you would be surprised at how versatile your options are even with a lower budget. Consider connecting with local musicians, artists, or magicians to bring a bit of live entertainment to your meetings. Even if all your meetings are virtual, inviting a guest to perform is a great opportunity to treat your employees.

24. Give Them Cash

Let's face it—few things can help your employees more than cold, hard cash. If you want to recognize what your employees are doing, consider giving them a bonus. It is the ultimate expression of recognition for many employees. If you know some staff members who are dealing with money issues or are saving up for something big, opt for cash.

25. Purchase Something That Will Make Their Jobs Easier

Nothing runs better than a computer fresh out of the box. Refreshing your employees’ equipment regularly will save them tons of headaches and time wasted on freezing screens. Replacing equipment should be a part of your routine. If it’s been a while since you last did this, consider purchasing new:

  • computers
  • printers
  • headphones
  • tablets/smartphones
  • office supplies

26. Create An Employee Mentorship Program

Entry-level and mid-management employees want to know the best ways to advance within your corporate structure. Connect with the upper management at your company to pool your resources and create a cross-departmental employee mentorship program. Sometimes going to your boss isn’t the easiest thing.

If you are looking for a powerful employee recognition program, use the other managers in your organization. They can see something in your team members that you don’t see. These leaders can even help you manage your team better. No manager is in this alone. Reach out and see how you can best serve people outside of your department.

27. Surprise Them With A Personalized Video

Videos are an excellent form of recognition. If a picture is worth a thousand words, a video is worth way more than that. Taking a few minutes to film a quick video letting your employees know how much you appreciate them will do wonders. This is especially true if they are having a bad week! Make sure that you are mixing video recognition into your routine.

28. Give Detailed And Helpful Feedback

Ambiguity creates a lot of issues in the workplace. By giving detailed feedback on projects, you let your staff know that you value their efforts enough to provide deep feedback. Feedback isn’t always pretty, but it’s essential. Detailed feedback allows employees to understand what they did wrong and make a conscious effort to fix the issue.

29. Host An Awards Ceremony

Who doesn’t want to get dressed up for an evening out and win awards in the process? Indulge your employees with a night of great food and recognition for all their hard work. Even if your team is currently remote, you can still create a moment to recognize all of your employees.

30. Create Some Personalized Swag For Your Employees

Are you looking to recognize your team and build your employer brand at the same time? Try creating practical, customized swag for your team. What does your team always need and love? Find out where to get those items created and get some new swag distributed to your team. Here are some items that are always appreciated:

  • Pens
  • Shirts
  • Mugs
  • Notebooks
  • Backpacks
  • Face masks
  • Water bottles
  • Chargers

Check out our blog post "19 Meaningful Company Swag Ideas For Employees" if you want some extra ideas & examples.

Employee Appreciation Ideas You Can Use Any Day of the Year

These ideas aren’t just for Employee Appreciation Day. If you are thinking of ways to show how much you appreciate your team, they must be amazing! The list we shared today was full of ideas you can use to show your employees how much you care. Don’t get hung up on the specifics. Pick something interesting and get the process started. Your employees are bound to appreciate all the effort you are putting into recognizing them.

Actionable workplace tips & insights for fellow people lovers

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