Employee acknowledgement is a simple, yet often neglected, way to boost morale and retain top talent. And the best part about it is that it doesn’t have to be an expensive exercise.
Here are 32 employee appreciation ideas that won’t break the bank ...
32 inexpensive employee appreciation ideas
1. Celebrate birthdays
Celebrating birthdays can show that the company takes a personal interest in its staff. There are many ways you can do this from a cake for every birthday in the office or monthly birthday recognition lunch, to paid birthdays off. However you choose to celebrate, be consistent - there’s no faster way to hurt an employee’s feelings than forgetting their birthday or celebrating certain people more than others.
2. Push peer praise
Give coworkers the opportunity to revel in each others success by allowing them to send all-staff emails, encouraging ‘shout outs’ on the company’s chatter or letting them post notes on the company bulletin board.
3. Add a suggestion box
A suggestion box, whether physical or virtual, can be a powerful way to foster pride in an organisation through active participation. It can also make your employees feel heard. Be sure to keep things anonymous so employees can voice legitimate suggestions or issues.
4. Go social
There’s a good chance your employees are on social media, so recognising them publically where they ‘hang out’ online can be really meaningful. It’s also a free way to show your customers how well you treat staff.
5. Leave a Post-it note
A little thank you note on your employees desk can go a long way in showing how much you appreciate the little things they do.
6. Celebrate small achievements
Call out small wins or individual accomplishments in team meetings or over email. It can make all the difference in how your employees feel and perform.
7. Keep it individual
Rewarding people with something unique to them is a sure-fire way to show your appreciation. So, take the time to learn what your employees like or want and tweak your rewards to suit.
8. Say thank you
How many times do you simply say thank you to your employees? Let good performers know that you value them by saying it more often. To make a real impact, consider swapping it up with phrases like “I really appreciate you” and explaining why
9. Organise surprises
Every once in a while, treat your staff to a little surprise - like an unexpected lunch or time off - simply to show how much you appreciate them. I mean, who doesn’t like surprises?
10. Celebrate anniversaries
A work anniversary is a significant milestone, particularly in an age of job-hopping. So it’s important to celebrate them, even after a year of employment.
11. Take staff out to lunch
Depending on the budget, have managers take their teams out for lunch on the company. It can be a fairly inexpensive team-building exercise and provide a relaxed environment to talk about the job.
12. Recognise what your staff are doing outside of work
Unsurprisingly, you’ll have people in the office that are doing some pretty great things outside of work hours, like volunteering. Why not give them a shout out for their contribution?
13. Send in the dogs
This one won’t work everywhere, but if your staff have a love for animals consider allowing pets in the office or introducing “bring in your pet” days.
14. Put together a mentoring program
Mentoring provides a safe place for employees to learn and is said to be one of the most effective methods of teaching. The best bit? Even the mentors benefit from the relationship, reporting higher job satisfaction and commitment to the company.
15. Offer unlimited vacation time
Hold the phone … unlimited vacation? Are you crazy?
Studies show that it’s actually so crazy, it works! The idea here is that you give your employees the freedom to figure out their own vacation time, as long as they get the job done; shifting the focus on results rather than hours. Sure, there’ll need to be some rules in place. But it can be a great and inexpensive way to show your employees that you trust and respect them.
16. Encourage employees to take time off
Around 35% of Australians have four or more weeks of annual leave accrued, a figure that is no doubt contributing to the rise of workplace burnout. So, encourage your employees to take a well-deserved break - it’ll be good for them and good for business.
17. Ask for your employee’s help or opinion
There’s no better way to make someone feel valued, appreciated and heard then by asking for their help or opinion, and utilising it.
18. Organise Lunch & Learns
Lunch & Learns are training sessions that are scheduled during lunch breaks. Be sure to provide lunch and keep the program interesting to encourage attendance and engagement.
19. Organise a thank you meeting
Some employees may only hear from their bosses when there’s something wrong or at a performance review. So, why not call a one-on-one meeting just to say thank you?
20. Ask employees what they want
It’s all well and good to organise lunches and send all-staff emails. But these may not be the things that make your employees feel valued. So, send around a staff survey to better understand how your employees want to be shown appreciation.
21. Include an employee appreciation section in the company newsletter
Call out great work or big wins in a company-wide newsletter.
22. Write a letter
In today's ever-connected world, emails are the norm. But a thoughtful letter takes a bit more effort and will likely be treasured by your employee for years. Ensure your letter outlines what they have done to impress you and how it makes a difference to the brand or bottom line.
23. Allow for flexible schedules or remote working
Another great way to show your employees that you have complete trust in them and value their work-life balance.
24. Give a trophy
Trophies and other physical awards are a great way to show employees that you recognise the work they are putting in. They’re also said to boost morale and productivity.
25. Put together an employee appreciation program
Be clear about what behaviours or actions will be recognised and how they impact the bottom line. While annual, bi-annual or quarterly award ceremonies are great, it’s important to regularly recognise your team in a consistent way - from regular shoutouts to a reward system where points can be cashed in for small perks, like starting late or leaving early.
26. Organise an employee appreciation day (or week)
Employee Appreciation Day is celebrated on the first Friday of March every year. It’s not an official holiday. But it’s a great excuse to show your employees how much you value them. Consider putting on a lunch or closing early. You could even plan a week of activities in the lead-up!
27. Give out little treats
At the end of every month or every quarter give out little treats to celebrate good work done. Couple them with an all-staff email outlining company progress or achievements during that time.
28. Add a People’s Choice Award to your recognition program
Sometimes awards handed out by top management overlook work that is seen by peers. What’s more, managers may play favourites. So, mix it up by adding awards that your employees create and vote on. Put some controls in place to stop it from becoming a popularity contest.
29. Add employees to the company website
Adding employees to your website is a great way to make them feel like part of a bigger team. It’s also a great way to help your customers and clients put a face to a name.
30. Zhush up your break room
Create a place where your employees can take a true break from office stressors and recharge.
31. Allow for some friendly competition
Like a decorate your desk competition. Be sure to entice participation with fun prizes.
32. Let a top performer be the boss for a day
Give them your parking spot (or any other perk you or management enjoy), trade desks and let them learn by sitting in on important meetings. Be sure to arrange it on a ‘slow’ day so that it can be managed properly.
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