21 Ways to Show Appreciation to Employees

What are the best ways to show appreciation to employees and promote healthy working culture? Acknowledging positive behavior is the best way to perpetuate it. One way to create a positive workplace that engages employees and team members is by appreciating and rewarding people for their hard work. This will help by motivating them and improve employee retention. If you have a human resources department, this is a great job for them. If you have a small business, it doesn’t always have to be your task to organize; this is a great option for practicing task delegation. Seek out a team member that is enthusiastic, and pass this task to them. If you are feeling overwhelmed at implementing something like an employee appreciation day, seek a mentor or take a business coaching class. It’s okay to follow in the footsteps of great leaders. Everyone learns to become an effective leader by first understanding their own successes and failures.

Americans spend 8.7 hours per day working. At least one-third of your life is spent conducting work-related activities; according to the Bureau of Labor StatisticsMore than 70 percent of U.S. employees are not engaged at work, as reported by Gallup Polls on Employee Engagement.


Here is a short list of ways to show appreciation to employees and acknowledge co-workers:

1. Send a handwritten note.

In a digital era, handwritten notes are rare and can greatly impact the recipient. A thoughtful handwritten note is often saved by being taped in their work area or saved in a drawer that is referenced many times over. This is just one of the great ways to show appreciation to employees and friends.

“We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit.” -Albert Schweitzer


2. Display a photo of the person.

Have a Wall of Fame that highlights all of your employees. Add their photo on the company website and post it on company social media sites to publicly display the ways you show appreciation to employees. Also, submit the photo with newspaper press releases. If you have a human resources department, this is a great job for them. If you have a small business, it doesn’t always have to be your task to organize. Seek out a team member that is enthusiastic; this is a great option for practicing task delegation. Keep in mind the best practice is to use a professional photo.


3. Hold an appreciation ceremony.

This can be a formal event or as informal as part of an agenda item for your weekly team meeting, where you take a few minutes for employees to verbally acknowledge the efforts of coworkers. Staff appreciation ceremonies offer public recognition for both large-scale and small-scale tasks. Many times, the tiny tasks an employee accomplishes in a day are completely overlooked company-wide because “it gets done,” but no one bothers to see who does it. Team building is cultivated when people appreciate and trust.

“The deepest craving of human nature is the need to be appreciated.” -William James


4. Give away a gift card of your choice.

A smorgasbord of gift cards to choose from, ranging in price from free gas cards, free meals, free hotel stays, or whatever. You can offer it randomly, tie it to performance milestones, or both. In fact, there is no limit of creative  ways to show appreciation to employees. Undoubtedly, these efforts are not only a great shout-out to one person, but also serve as a creative way to incentivize others in the future and provide subltle ways to show appreciation to employees.


5. Offer a paid day off.

Everyone can use a day to take care of personal issues, their well-being or to enjoy a little more leisure time. A paid day off can afford a three-day weekend or another excursion. It can provide the opportunity for the recipient to simply relax from the pressures of everyday life. These small perks encourage a work/life balance and let your staff know that you care about their wellness and home life as much as you do their job.


6. Give credit to others.

Cite your sources, publicly applaud the ideas of others and recognize the people in your life that have helped you. After all, their good work deserves a pat on the back. Public acknowledgement and reward are valuable ways to show appreciation to employees. A deep sense of admiration and respect is built when someone gives credit to others. The opposite occurs when a person claims all the credit for him or herself.

“Everybody likes a compliment.” -Abraham Lincoln


7. Cater a monthly lunch.

Have lunch brought in, or hire a food truck. This time allows employees to eat with other coworkers. Take a few minutes to let everyone know how much the company values its contributions. This can be a great opportunity to acknowledge others for their efforts and showcase ways to show appreciation to employees. It can also serve to celebrate the birthdays of employees during that month, work anniversaries, or all of the above and more. Don’t forget your remote employees on these special occasions. Give them an extra hour for lunch, or ship them some gift cards. They put in those zoom hours like a champ, and they deserve the same kudos. We all remember how hard life was during the pandemic. remote workers are just as valuable as those ones using the parking spots.


8. Provide development training.

Offering ongoing training in areas like team building, leadership, effective communication, goal setting, and time management are just some of the offerings a company can provide to build a powerful company culture. It also helps to improve their personal life! This special day is intended to expand personal growth and teach them new skills that they can bring back to the workplace and hopefully ignite enthusiasm and passion from within. This may be the most important offering of appreciation because enthusiasm is contagious.

“Character building begins in our infancy, and continues until death.” -Eleanor Roosevelt


9. Say thank you.

It’s easy to offer your appreciation, just say “thank you.” It only takes two seconds to build employee morale! For some people uttering these words is like an act of Congress. For others, they have simply fallen out of the day-to-day habit of being courteous. Make it a point, on a regular basis, to say thank you when people honor your requests or when someone does or says something nice to you.

“I can live for two months on a good compliment.” -Mark Twain


10. Give VIP Tickets.

Furnish tickets to their favorite famous band, professional sports game, art show, or any event that they would enjoy that offers special treatment to attendees. It is a tax write-off and can be the greatest reward for an employee’s hard work. These efforts offer hard-working employees a reward and opportunity to thank you for the clever ways you show appreciation to employees.

11. Provide random gifts.

Create an inventory that coworkers can grab from to give to each other anonymously or in person. Work swag is fun! It can be as simple as new pens, company logo note cards, or a small box of candy at their desk. Really dig deep and use your imagination to find new and exciting ways to show appreciation to employees.  Each item you give should be accompanied by a note that shares words of appreciation.

“The roots of all goodness lie in the soil of appreciation for goodness.” –Dalai Lama


12. Rotating trophy.

Get a trophy that circulates through your team. Each person awarded the trophy holds it for one week and then passes it on to another coworker. Each pass-off from one trophy holder to another must announce why the person is receiving the trophy. This can also work for employee of the month. They can have the trophy at their desk for the month. Perhaps whoever has the trophy also gets a preferred parking spot for that month as well.


13. Give the power of voice.

Create a culture of insight and innovation by allowing employees to be heard. This confirms that you value their opinion and perspective. Important ideas come from both ends of the organizational structure.

“The greatest compliment that was ever paid me was when one asked me what I thought, and attended to my answer.” -Henry David Thoreau


14. Be polite.

Politeness opens doors, while rudeness closes them. We make requests so that people will carry them out. One tool to increase the probability of gaining the help you want is to attach the word “please” when asking. Be sincere, too. If you are not sincere in your approach, then your efforts will backfire. Be genuine.


15. Implement a succession plan.

Develop a mentor and mentee program to develop your next level of leaders. Match current leaders with future leaders to share and transfer knowledge and encourage teamwork. Making sure that they level up, relieving stress from overload, and offering more money with succession are a few ways to show appreciation to employees.  Offering advancement through mentoring makes one feel accepted and appreciated.


16. Provide autonomy.

Set forth the expectations that are to be met. Providing the necessary training to meet or exceed performance is necessary. Then, allow independence and self-determination to fulfill defined expectations. Being mindful to avoid the pitfall of micromanagement is imperative. Freedom to perform is appreciation in action.

  “My best friend is the one who brings out the best in me.” -Henry Ford


17. Go for the win/win.

Successful relationships are achieved when both parties’ needs are fulfilled. When fulfilling the needs of others, you are allowing them to walk away feeling good. Developing a win/win outcome establishes a positive connotation with the experience, ultimately setting the tone for future interactions.


18. Offer an award plaque.

Have a special plaque with their name and achievement on it that can be hung on the wall or placed on a shelf honoring them. Who wouldn’t love to have a plaque to commemorate their hard work? You know your industry best, can you think of any other ways to show appreciation to employees that might be better suited to your specific field?  Go for it; everyone loves kudos.

  “There is more hunger in the world for love and appreciation in this world than for bread.” -Mother Teresa


19. Support community outreach.

Employees generally have a special cause they like to volunteer their time. Let employees use a couple of hours per month or per year of company time to give back to the community.


20. Ask instead of telling.

Generally, universally we all resent being told what to do. It is the opposite of encouragement. Exercise the habit of asking people to do what you want them to do instead of telling them what to do. Remember, people respond much better when they are asked rather than told. Don’t you?

“I have yet to find a man, however, exalted his station, who did not do better work and put forth greater effort under a spirit of approval than under a spirit of criticism.” -Charles Schwab


21. Encourage collaboration.

Create a culture that collaborates on projects and departmental and organizational goals. Allow for brainstorming and input from everyone on how to best achieve goals. When onboarding a new employee, reach out to other staff members, let them know who is coming, and encourage your star players to reach out. Allowing other staff members to help with onboarding and welcoming tasks is one of the more subtle ways to show appreciation to employees.  The employee that is asked to help with onboarding might not even realize it, but you are showing the new hire that they are an exemplary employee and, specifically, one that you respect.



Here are 2 bonus options to show appreciation to employees:

Compliment more than you criticize.

Search for ways you can compliment. If you are only criticizing, it will be hard to establish a positive working relationship that is needed to achieve organizational goals. Perhaps you have an exemplary employee, and their workspace is clutter-free. Celebrate that with a public compliment. They aren’t paid to be tidy, but their effort to show pride in their job deserves an accolade.

“I suppose my best attribute if you want to call it that, is sincerity. I can sell that because that is the way I am.” John Wayne


Create a culture of engagement. 

Certainly, everyone can benefit from a positive work environment. Subsequently, work culture is directly correlated with leadership.  Undoubtedly, when effective leaders proritize ways to show appreciation to employees and co-workers, they are initiating the type of environment that grows company culture and comradery.  Without a doubt, people remember when they make a mistake, true leaders showcase the successful times and expand on positivity. 


Now understand all the ways to show appreciation to employees, get creative, and expand on them.

Use a few of these ideas on how to acknowledge others and show appreciation to get you on the road to success. With gratitude in the forefront, you are headed in the right direction. By creating an employee recognition program, you show employee appreciation and cultivate a team-building work environment. Employee morale and camaraderie in the workplace are imperative for a positive work environment. People, as a whole, do more when they are recognized for it and are valued. It is worth the extra time.

Best of success to you!

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