30 Inspirational Employee Appreciation Ideas

Making your staff feel appreciated is the foundation of a successful business, but many use it as a marketing strategy to increase income. As a result, it has become a routine practice, dishonest and inauthentic. Employees receive automated congratulation emails and useless rewards. Sometimes, the company broadcasts personal details and photographs without the employee’s approval or organizes weekend events with mandatory participation without consulting the staff. Thus, instead of honoring and rewarding the employees, many staff appreciation methods are meant to glorify the company.

To create a positive work environment and a healthy company culture, you should start by valuing your employees and showing them the recognition and appreciation they deserve. Remember that everything relies on mutual respect, trust, and consideration. Regardless of how amazing an idea may sound to you, it isn’t about you. It doesn’t have to be expensive or glamorous, but it must be personalized and thoughtful. 

Below you will find probably the best ideas to show appreciation when you’re lacking inspiration.

1. Say “Thank you!”

The most honest and straightforward way to show your appreciation is to simply say “Thank you!” whenever it is deserved. Don’t wait for an extraordinary occasion. Thank your staff for small achievements, hard work, extra hours, exemplary behavior, and fair play. A simple, handwritten thank you letter or card goes a long way.

2. Celebrate important milestones together

Milestones and special events are good opportunities to get together with the staff. Birthdays, work anniversaries, and other such events happen all the time and allow you to get to know employees and show your appreciation in person. Of course, there is nothing wrong with sending a personalized birthday wishes either. Some businesses offer an extra time off day, within every work anniversary. Such initiatives not only showcase appreciation for the hard work of the employee but also bosts loyalty within the organization.

3. Offer gifts

A gift is always better than a card, but only if you choose it right. Most corporate gifts are either useless or offensive. Stay away from T-shirts and mugs with corporate messages, cheap plastic items, and awkward jokes. If you want to stay on the safe side, give gift cards or a bonus. Also, make sure you treat employees equally and don’t create animosities. 

4. Customize the benefits list

You can always show appreciation by offering extra benefits. But to achieve your purpose, the list of benefits should include something valuable to each employee. For example, a gym subscription may not be what everyone desires. Some people may prefer lunch tickets, team sports passes, health services, or family activities.

Image source: HBR.

5. Grant employees extra time off

Because it is so hard to please everyone with benefits, a simple way to show staff appreciation is to grant extra time off. You can give employees an extra leave day every two years or reward them with a half-day off for hard work, an extraordinary achievement, reaching a milestone, and so on. And if you use an HR app for leave tracking and management, personalizing leave entitlement and time off won’t become a burden.

6. Take care of employees’ wellbeing

The best way to show your staff that you care is to be actively considerate about their wellbeing. This includes providing safe work conditions, a comfortable environment, and a pleasant atmosphere. From time to time, you can go the extra mile and book them some massage sessions, provide medical prevention and safety training, offer healthy snacks, or gift spa passes.

If you want to go the extra mile within the HR department, you can consider having a brainstorming about how you can improve work-life balance, topics that we will cover later.

7. Provide flexible work schedules

Nothing helps more having a good life-work balance than being able to adapt your work schedule to your lifestyle. Therefore, one of the best appreciation gestures is to allow people to make their own schedules. It proves trust and consideration.

We have some templates that employees can use when they want to work from home. Moreover, LeaveBoard offers self-service solutions to track work from home, work from office, vacations, etc. 

Some additional work-life balance tips you can consider are:

  • Encourage and take short breaks throughout the day
  • Offer unpaid time off for employee’s life events
  • Provide access to a gym or pay for the subscription.

Achieving a balanced work-life involves a continuous battle on two different fronts: work and life.  We provide some extra ideas to reduce stress to achieve a work-life balance.

8. Offer relocation and commute support

Also, to improve your staff experience, you can offer to help with relocation and commute. Moving to a new place or traveling a long way every day takes a lot of effort and money. You show employees how valuable they are to the company by providing your support. Such initiatives are particularly relevant, especially when the organization goes through a reorganization or you’re hiring someone new, and the new hire will change its’ location.

9. Ask for feedback and listen to employees’ opinions

Acknowledging employees and listening to their views proves respect and consideration. It also shows that they are an important part of the company and in control of their future. Nothing motivates people more than being heard. 

There are multiple types of feedback: 

  • Positive
  • Negative
  • Constructive.

The way you provide feedback to your employees and it's impact, reflects the  expertise as a manager you have. Learn how to be a pro at engaging your workforce with key feedback examples to boost confidence, increase involvement and eliminate risks.

10. Invest in training programs

Constant care and attention to your staff's needs translate into investing in their future. Training programs allow people to keep up with the industry, advance their careers, and become even more valuable to your company.

Employee development should start from day one of the employees. As an HR manager, you will know which employees are keen to advance in their career, what skills they’re missing, or where they can improve. If you want better-prepared employees for tomorrow's challenges, invest in them.

11. Support volunteering

An excellent way to show appreciation is to admit that people may have other interests besides work. Volunteering may bring them personal rewards, the support of a community, and a life purpose. You may support them by being flexible with the work schedule, granting time off, donating money to charity, etc. 

Many times, volunteering activities are part of the CSR programs. Such initiatives boost the employer's brand and show employees that you care for the world's greater good. Some examples include environmental preservation (like planting trees, cleaning oceans), community development, and wildlife conservation.

12. Plan fun events

Fun events may be an excellent group reward for completing a difficult task or receiving an award. There are endless possibilities, such as going for lunch, attending a concert or sports event, going for a scavenger hunt with your colleagues, or having a party at work. Make sure you consult the staff before organizing the event.

One of the most common activities used within small- and mid-sized businesses is to organize a team building. Remember, when you organize such an event, think about the following elements: 

  • Analyzing the participants
  • Setting team-building goals
  • Establish an agenda
  • Reflect if you need to hire a trainer/organizer
  • Share the plan/date/location with the team.

Such events are fun, increase social bonds, and strengthen team morale and dynamics.

13. Create a healthy office space

When you value your employees, you ensure you provide the best work conditions. From comfortable chairs to high-quality monitors to green spaces to parking, innovative software, and everything that adds to employees’ wellbeing.

14. Provide food and beverage supplies

Small gestures go a long way. By providing healthy foods and beverages, you show employees you care about their health and are eager to provide a relaxed and friendly work environment. And a little surprise from time to time will be highly appreciated.

15. Create an inclusive company policy

When you set the base of a trustworthy company, you indirectly tell people they can count on you. An inclusive policy offers equal chances to everyone regardless of their status, profession, or experience. It also provides the same benefits to everyone. For example, people working remotely should receive the same attention as people working from the office (e.g., office equipment and furniture, foods and beverages, internet facilities, etc.). To help you treat everyone equally, you can use smart people management tools such as employee directory and database.

16. Support employees’ professional and personal growth

Respecting the individuality of each employee encourages them to grow and become better people and better employees. It denotes trust, respect, and appreciation. It also shows that you take time to get to know them individually and are interested in their lives.

“Everyone enjoys being inspired. But here’s the truth when it comes to personal growth: Motivation gets you going, but discipline keeps you growing. That’s the Law of Consistency. It doesn’t matter how talented you are. It doesn’t matter how many opportunities you receive. If you want to grow, consistency is key.” ― John C. Maxwell

Tip: Platforms like Coursera, Udemy, Domestika, and Udacity provide a broad set of courses that your workforce might enjoy. Many times, these courses are free or affordable. Good communication skills will help you identify if the employee is open to learning something new in their own time.  

17. Encourage peer-to-peer recognition

Appreciation is more authentic when it comes from different levels of the organizational chart. Peer-to-peer recognition may be more valuable than a message from the HR department. So, encourage people to develop trustworthy relationships, befriend their colleagues, and create a pleasant atmosphere.

18. Support participation in industry-related events

A food idea for staff appreciation is to send employees to industry-related events. Not only that it encourages them to keep up with the industry, but it also denotes you trust their experience and knowledge and are proud to show them off.

Great managers encourage employees to take risks and go beyond their comfort zone. Attending an industry-specific summit is one thing; however, representing the company and making a speech about the product/service boosts employee confidence, motivation, and loyalty.

19. Help employees complete their education

To invest in people means to stay by their side the entire journey. When you help someone complete their education, you show confidence in their abilities and determination. You invest in their future, and that translates into a trustworthy and thoughtful relationship.

The only thing worse than training your employees and having them leave is not training them and having them stay.” - Henry Ford

In this way, the employee will be better prepared for what’s next, including an upcoming promotion. And yes, the employee might consider leaving for a different company by then; however, don’t forget that the chances of retaining such talent are higher than by not caring about the employee's education.

20. Allow employees to take part in task planning

Another way to tell employees they matter is to allow them to be part of the task planning process. It empowers them to be responsible and motivates them to do their best. It also shows you trust their decision-making and hard-working abilities.

“My job as a leader is to make sure that everybody in the company has great opportunities and that they feel they’re having a meaningful impact to the good of the society." -Larry Page, Google

Collaboration within the team is essential. Leaders can share direction however many times, the employees are the ones that know how the technical aspects can be done most effectively, plus they know their current workload. 

Tip: If your organization has difficulties with vacation planning and looks to ensure business continuity and reduce absenteeism, LeaveBoard is a cloud-based HR solution specially created for such use cases.

21. Provide employee self-service

Employee self-service is a way of recognizing the staff’s capacity to take care of their work-related processes. Whether access to their work records or leave management, employee self-service is a continuous way of denoting respect and trust.

ESS portals have some benefits that are not straightforward:

  • Boosts transparency within the business
  • Give employees and managers the strings to make decisions with confidence
  • Increase productivity levels due to numerous automation
  • Eliminate repetitive tasks (sending emails, updating sheets, updating calendars, calculating allowances, etc.).

22. Offer access to a well-supplied library

Knowledge is power. Thus, reward your staff with access to information and help them become people and professionals. Subscriptions to renowned magazines and a wide range of books, including audiobooks may prove to be precisely what they need to be innovative and beat the competition. 

“What I love most about reading: It gives you the ability to reach higher ground. And keep climbing.”–Oprah

Best practice: Don’t hesitate to constantly refresh the books you have, exchange recommendations, discuss the books you read with your coworkers, and check what are the latest best sellers in your industry. 

23. Get involved in the community

Sometimes rewards come indirectly. By getting involved in the community, you let people know you care not only about your profit but also your legacy. You build a strong company culture and bring people together.

24. Create an environmental-friendly working space

Like getting involved in the community, creating an environmental-friendly working space denotes sound principles and goals. It offers a healthy alternative and encourages people to be more active and aware. It also builds a trustworthy and positive environment.

25. Design a recreational space

A playroom or recreational space should provide the right conditions for relaxation. It should be a bright and playful space where people find some peace and silence. An outdoor green space is ideal. But even if this isn’t possible, ensure it is an inviting and warm place with as many natural elements as possible.

Image: WeWork Amsterdam offices via Officelovin.

26. Recognize personal achievements

While many managers only show appreciation for professional achievements, recognizing personal achievement is something to consider. People are equally proud of their life and work achievements and love to be appreciated for both. Besides, a healthy life-work balance makes employees happier and healthier.

27. Invest in mentoring

From time to time, every employee struggles. A career or life coach may help them get over the difficult moment and regain their balance. By recognizing their human part and investing in their overall wellbeing, you help employees develop a good mindset and build stronger relationships.

"A mentor is someone who sees more talent and ability within you, than you see in yourself, and helps bring it out of you.” — Bob Proctor

28. Allow payment in advance

Another way to show your appreciation and trust is to allow payment in advance. When people struggle financially, it is harder for them to focus and be productive. By releasing them of the temporary stress, you show confidence in their abilities and support in hard times.

29. Empower employees by giving them a real voice

Invite employees to brainstorming sessions and give them a chance to speak their minds. Creativity and problem-solving abilities need training. By trusting your staff, you encourage them to learn and grow. It also motivates and engages employees because it makes them feel part of a team, not just the task executors.

In the next meeting, either physically or virtually, make sure that everyone has the chance to speak by doing a roundtable. Additionally, as a manager, you can organize weekly one-on-one meetings with a clear agenda covering ongoing work, bottlenecks, and everything else needed.

30. Ask for employees’ opinions when it comes to celebrating holidays and special events

It may seem counterintuitive but asking for staff’s opinion when it comes to celebrating holidays and special events at work is a good way to show your respect and appreciation. Many companies use a predesigned recipe for these events, which often contradicts employees’ preferences. Why not make a poll and ask for people’s opinions? It may surprise you, but many employees prefer a half-day off instead of a Christmas office party or a long lunch break with the team instead of corporate team building. Give them the chance to decide for themselves.


Staff appreciation should be honest and thoughtful. Instead of following recipes and listening to experts, try to ask your employees what they need. Denote respect and value their opinion. Avoid showing off on social media or hanging pictures with the employee of the month. Remember, it isn’t about you. So, give employees a voice and trust their ability to decide for themselves.

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