Employee Appreciation: 23 Fun Ways to Show Gratitude

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Employee appreciation day should never be limited to March 3rd. Over the years and across many employee appreciation days, organizations have come up with various terms and methods to discuss the simple concept of employee appreciation.

Whether you’re calling it employee kudos, praise, or the far more common employee recognition, the simple fact remains that if your employees feel they are being appreciated, there will be some immense benefits.

What are the benefits of employee appreciation? One doesn’t need to be a behavioral psychologist to assume that if employees feel they are being appreciated for all the hard work they are putting in, then they will be far more likely to feel engaged.

As we’ve discussed in our article “Why is employee engagement important?“, an engaged employee is a productive employee. Employee engagement is one of the leading employee performance metrics that should be tracked. It also plays a massive part as an employee retention metric!

Simply cutting to the chase: If you appreciate your employees, then they will appreciate your effort right back at you. That being said, showing just how much someone means to us isn’t always the easiest thing in life. That is no different in the workplace.

Finding effective ways to show employee appreciation can end up being a chore. Guess what? We took care of it for ya! Here are 23 ways to show employee appreciation!

23 ways to show employee appreciation

1. Use specific examples in your recognition

It’s easy to say “good job,” but it means a lot more when you can point to a specific project or task that they excelled at. While we all love a decent pat on the back, it simply doesn’t cut it anymore when it comes to employee praise. It is important to remember that every single recognition you give to someone has a story behind it. Storys have power. Use it!

Instead of simply saying “good job”, tell the story behind the job that was so good that it warranted recognition from the higher-ups! As you keep appreciating the stories of your employees, you will start to realize that you are a frequent positive character within those stories.

2. Get personal with your appreciation

Personalize your appreciation.

Speaking of stories; Call us sentimental all you want but we stand by our old-fashionedness when necessary. Nobody puts pen to paper anymore! A thoughtful note or small gift can go a long way in showing your employees that you value their hard work.

We just talked about how important the story behind each recognition is. If you take the time to appreciate just how unique each of those stories is, you’ll get to know your team on a much higher level.

If your employee praise or recognition truly feels genuine and unique to your employee, then you can rest assured you’ll be seeing that effort return to you 10-fold in terms of productivity and employee engagement.

3. Give a public shoutout!

And finally, putting a neat little bow on the whole “Story” angle we had going on in this list: Every story needs a bard! We told you to focus on the full story and we told you to make your recognition unique and genuine.

Our third suggestion to you is to make it public. Everyone loves a bit of recognition in front of their peers. Plus, it’s a great way to build a positive team culture.

4. Create a “Wall of Fame”

Create a display where you can showcase your employees’ achievements. It’s a fun way to keep track of everyone’s accomplishments and encourage healthy competition.

You can have a lot of fun with this by not only using the wall of fame as a display but also as an active, ongoing leaderboard with challenges and rewards up for grabs! Healthy competition is a great employee engagement tool. If you follow that up with a dash of gamification, you end up with pure magic.

5. Pick your poison!

Choose your path.

This is an employee recognition strategy that is so simple and so easy, that it actually borders on genius. Why bother with choosing between one employee recognition idea and another? What if your employees had the final say?

Let your employees choose their own rewards. Offering a menu of rewards, such as extra vacation time or a team outing, can show your employees that you care about their individual preferences and needs. Having a say in how they are being rewarded is also a great way to boost the mutual respect and trust shared between employees and employers.

6. Encourage open communication

Let your employees know that their opinions and ideas are valued. Encourage them to speak up and provide feedback to help improve the workplace. Does this need further explanation? Every member of your team has a voice and an opinion that matters. If they didn’t, they never would’ve made it passed the recruitment process anyway.

Giving your employees a platform to express their opinions and ideas shows just how much you appreciate them and lets managers spot employees with great ideas and leadership potential. A great way to hear your employees out is to make use of pulse surveys.

There is a wide array of tools available to leaders who wish to conduct pulse surveys within their organizations. You can find them here: Top Employee Pulse Survey Software.

7. Celebrate employee birthdays and milestones

A little bit of celebration goes a long way in boosting morale and creating a positive workplace culture. Plus, who doesn’t love cake?

8. Provide opportunities for team-building activities

Whether it’s a company retreat or a team outing, bonding and having fun with colleagues can help improve teamwork and communication. We put together a list of some of the best team-building activities for remote teams right here: Top 10 Virtual Teambuilding Activities.

9. Offer flexible work schedules

Giving your employees some control over their work schedules can help them feel more balanced and productive. It’s a great perk to offer! Not everyone is a morning person, and not everyone is a night owl.

With a flexible schedule, employees can work during their most productive hours, which can lead to better quality work and increased productivity. Plus, it means fewer grumpy co-workers in the morning, which is always a win in our book.

Bonus benefit: Offering a flexible work schedule can also be the ace up your sleeve in terms of recruitment and retention. Picture this: An amazing employee who has to leave because of unrelated circumstances that require him to be elsewhere.

Don’t start typing up that exit interview just yet! Your new flexible work schedule lets your team both have their cake and eat it at the same time!

What about a great candidate who you know would be an amazing addition to your team? Your recruitment options shouldn’t be limited by partially outdated concepts like fixed hours and schedules. You can cast a wider net than ever!

BONUS BONUS POINT: Flexible schedules DON’T mean that the work day can suddenly stretch into 7 PM no questions asked!

10. Employee Recognition Software

Making use of employee recognition software can be one of the best ways to show employee appreciation. Especially while working in remote models where recognition can’t be a simple pat on the back.

We highlighted some of the best recognition software available to consumers currently right here: Top Employee Recognition Software of 2023

That being said, if your organization uses Microsoft Teams on a day-to-day basis, then the best employee appreciation tool for you is Teamflect.

Teamflect is an all-in-one performance management software, designed specifically to be fully integrated into Microsoft Teams. Initially built to be an employee recognition software, Teamflect lets users exchange customizable recognition badges without ever having to leave Microsoft Teams chat, let alone Teams as an application.

Employee appreciation: screenshot of teamflect's leaderboard function.

Another great employee appreciation feature that comes with Teamflect is the ability to create leaderboards. Leaderboards function as effective catalysts of a healthy spirit of competition in the workplace. Teamflect users can also take advantage of the many incredible customizable feedback templates to practice employee appreciation with ease.

The best employee recognition software for Microsoft Teams!
No sign-up required.
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11. Professional Development Opportunities

Whether it’s a conference or a training program, investing in your employee’s growth and development can show them that you value their skills and want to see them succeed. More often than not, employees have the sense that their organizations don’t invest nearly as much in them as they are investing in their organization. That is a straight path to having disengaged employees.

A great way to show that you are investing in your employees is through employee development opportunities. If your employees feel that you are seeing a future in them, then you can rest assured that they will start seeing a future in you.

12. Offer bonuses or other incentives

Do you know what the best way to make your employees feel like they have been invested in is? Actually investing in them! There are countless organizations in the world that are trying to solve simple monetary problems or issues of insufficient pay through gimmicky engagement and recognition activities. Don’t forget why your employee is here. No matter what your CEO once said in that company picnic, you are not family.

After all, money talks, right? A little bit of extra cash or a performance-based bonus can show your employees that their hard work is noticed and appreciated.

13. Give your employees the gift of time.

If there is one perk you can offer that can compete with cold hard cash, it is time. It is the single most valuable commodity we humans possess and we spend a massive amount of it at work. Whether it’s a surprise day off or a flexible work schedule, giving your employees some extra time to relax and recharge can help improve their job satisfaction and motivation.

14. Create rituals

Weekly check-ins are underrated! We will stand by them until the day this blog crashes down! Using them to create rituals around the workweek. These rituals can vary anywhere from simple coffee hours to full-on trivia nights. No matter which direction you take, having this small nugget of excitement in the middle of the workday is always a welcome surprise.

15. Celebrate your team’s successes, big and small

No achievement is too small to go underappreciated! Whether it’s hitting a major company milestone or just completing a difficult project, taking time to celebrate your team’s achievements can help boost morale and promote a positive, empowering workplace culture.

16. Offer mental health support

Whether it’s an Employee Assistance Program or simply providing resources for counseling and therapy, promoting mental health support is a great way to show your employees that they are valued and supported.

17. Provide healthy snacks and meals in the office

A well-fed employee is a happy employee, right? Offering healthy snacks and meals can show your team that you care about their well-being and want to promote healthy habits.

18. Encourage exercise and movement

Whether it’s a company fitness challenge or simply providing standing desks, promoting exercise and movement in the workplace can improve your employees’ physical and mental health. What is that old saying? You take care of your employees and your employees will take care of you!

We discussed some of the best health and wellness apps for Microsoft Teams right here!

19. Embrace hybrid work

Sometimes life happens, and your employees may need to work from home or take time off for personal reasons. Offering hybrid work arrangements is a great way to show your team that you are willing to let them work at their own pace. Giving your team the freedom to work from home shows just how much you trust in them.

In a previous article, we discussed one of the greatest detractors to the trust between employee and employer: Remote Employee Monitoring.

20. Define your company values and mission

Communicating your company’s values and mission allows your employees to understand what your company stands for and how they can contribute to its success. There is no better time than now to be a business with purpose.

How well do your values and mission align with today’s world and its needs? Are they things your employees can get behind or causes your employees will be proud to strive towards? Or are they generic filler words?

21. Encourage collaboration and teamwork

Creating opportunities for your employees to work together and share ideas promotes a sense of community and support within your workplace. If your team is working remotely, you’re in luck! We’ve highlighted some of the best tools for remote collaboration right here: Remote Collaboration Tools.

22. Celebrate your team’s unique talents and contributions

Recognizing your employees’ individual strengths and contributions fosters a workplace culture that values diversity and inclusivity. Soon enough, you will be rewarded with cross-functional teams that are ready to take your organization by storm. You will be blown away by just how much a diverse team with unique skill sets can bring out of each other!

23. Promote a healthy work-life balance

Without a healthy work-life balance, your team may experience employee burnout, stress, and other negative effects on their physical and mental health. This in turn will lead to decreased productivity and engagement at work, strained relationships with loved ones, and reduced quality of life overall.

It only takes one workday to overflow into the weekend for someone’s work-life balance to be upset. What was that quote from Alan Moore’s Joker: “All it takes is one bad day!”

Frequently Asked Questions About Employee Appreciation

What are the benefits of employee appreciation?

There are multiple core benefits to giving employee appreciation the importance it deserves. Why is employee appreciation important? Here is why!

A positive team culture

Recognizing employees’ contributions fosters a positive team culture and encourages collaboration, which leads to better outcomes and more innovative thinking. Appreciated employees in turn speak positively about their company to others, improving the company’s reputation and brand, and attracting top talent.

In an era when word of mouth about an organization’s culture is more important than ever in terms of employee retention, this is an advantage that simply can’t be passed by.

Motivation and engagement

Employees are more motivated to perform well and go above and beyond in their work when they feel appreciated. As a result, they might be more productive, produce better quality work, and feel more content in their profession.

Benefits of emlpoyee appreciation.

Loyalty to the organization

We need to face the facts here. The days of people being company men are over. Employees aren’t loyal to organizations anymore. They are loyal to themselves and their career goals. And for good reason!

Can anyone in good consciousness look at the bank crashes, tech layoffs, and billionaire blunders of 2023 and say they blame Gen-Z employees for not trusting corporations with their future?

In recent years, the trust between employees and employers has taken massive and public hits. Fancy appreciation quotes for employees aren’t going to be enough to fix it.

Showing your employees that you truly appreciate them through sincere gestures and tangible actions is as good of a place to start as any. The road is long and difficult. If however, organizations remain consistent in how they show appreciation to their employees, then the trust can be repaired and loyalty be restored once more.

What are good ideas for Employee Appreciation Day?

  • Thank you notes or personalized letters: Write a heartfelt message to each employee expressing your appreciation for their contribution to the company.
  • Gifts and tokens of appreciation: A small gift like a coffee mug, a personalized pen, or a gift card can go a long way in making employees feel appreciated.
  • Celebrate with food: Provide lunch, breakfast, or snacks as a way to celebrate the day and show appreciation.
  • Company outing: Plan an outing like a company picnic, bowling, or other fun activity as a way to show your appreciation and foster camaraderie.

How do you appreciate team members?

Regularly thanking team members for their contributions, giving positive feedback, and expressing gratitude for their efforts can go a long way in making them feel valued and appreciated. Celebrating team milestones and successes, such as completing a challenging project, can also prove to be an extremely effective method of employee appreciation.

How do you write an appreciation message?

When writing an appreciation message to an employee it is important to be concise, sincere, and warm. Greet warmly, express your gratitude, then explain the impact of the other person’s actions that has led to you writing this appreciation message.

How do you praise someone professionally?

Making use of employee praise software can be a good idea when praising someone professionally. It is important that your praise is specific. The praise you give to someone in a professional sense should easily highlight what exactly you are praising them for without beating around the bush for too long.

What are the common pitfalls of employee appreciation day?

Insincerity: If appreciation efforts come across as insincere or forced on your end, they can backfire and have the opposite effect, demotivating your team. Ensure that gestures of appreciation are genuine.

One-size-fits-all approach: Avoid treating all employees the same way. Recognize that different individuals have unique preferences and motivations. For example, there may be some employees who don’t feel comfortable with public recognition. Tailor appreciation efforts to each employee whenever possible, and make sure your efforts, messages, etc. are not too generic.

Ignoring feedback: Employee appreciation day should be an opportunity to listen to employee feedback and act upon it. Ignoring feedback or failing to address concerns can signal to employees that their opinions don’t matter, hence demotivating your workforce.

Inconsistent recognition: Appreciation efforts shouldn’t be limited to a single day. Consistently recognizing and appreciating employees throughout the year is crucial for maintaining morale and motivation. This way, your employee appreciation initiatives won’t be simply packed in a day and feel insincere to your employees.

Overlooking small gestures: Sometimes the small everyday gestures matter most to people. Don’t overlook the importance of saying “thank you” or showing appreciation for small contributions not just on employee appreciation day but all throughout the year to show your workforce they are supported and celebrated.

Is there an employee appreciation day?

Employee Appreciation Day falls exactly on the first Friday of March.

When is employee appreciation day?

In 2023, employee appreciation day was on March 3rd. The next employee appreciation day will be March 1st, 2024.

How to celebrate employee appreciation day virtually?

There are multiple different remote employee recognition methods at the disposal of managers. Implementing employee recognition software and encouraging its use can be a very effective way of celebrating Employee Appreciation Day virtually.

Have you stuck with us this far?

If you stuck this far with an article on how you can show appreciation to your employees, then you must have some lucky employees! We here at Teamflect, pride ourselves in providing Microsoft users with the best performance management software out there. A leader who scrolls this far down and the best performance management system working together? That sounds like a party to us! So here is an idea:

Teamflect has a free plan for up to 10 users with full functionality! Not a trial. Not Teamflect Lite. Why don’t you give it a try and see how it fits your team? You can schedule a free demo right here!

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Written by Emre Ok

Emre is a content writer at Teamflect who aims to share fun and unique insight into the world of performance management.

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