20 Creative Employee Recognition and Appreciation Ideas for 2021 [Updated]

Creative Employee Recognition and Appreciation Ideas

Did you know that the lack of recognition and appreciation could be holding back your employees from being productive?

By appreciating your employees, you can create a positive culture and foster a sense of loyalty to the company. 

And I’m not talking about the usual “employee of the month” and occasional gift cards. You need employee recognition ideas that truly stand out and leave an impression.

Wondering what is the best way to recognize employees?

We’ve got you covered! 

In this guide, you’ll discover 20 creative employee rewards and recognition ideas your employees will love.

First, Why Employee Recognition Is Important

Let’s take a look at these stats:

78% of employees are highly engaged when they feel strong recognition from their organizations.

recognition stats

According to Gallup’s research, lack of recognition is one of the most common reasons why employees leave an organization.

69% of employees say they’d work harder if they were better appreciated. (Source)

Here are some benefits of employee recognition and appreciation:

Attracting talent. The best talent is looking for a workplace culture that recognizes and appreciates their people.

Employee Retention. Gallup found employees who are not adequately recognized are 2x more likely to say they’ll quit in the next year.

Culture. Employee recognition is an effective way to improve the relationship with company leaders.

Performance. Recognition is more effective than a salary bonus at encouraging people to give their best at work.

20 Employee Recognition and Appreciation Ideas 2020

1. Shout Out on Social Media

Simply post a pic of your employees on social media and brag about their achievements. It would be great if they hear from senior leadership. It will make them feel that they are making a genuine difference to the company’s business growth.

Apple’s CEO, Tim Cook, regularly calls out exemplary work done by the company’s global team.

2. Handwrite a Letter

One of the easiest and effective ways to recognize great work is by handwriting an employee recognition letter. Or just leave a sticky note saying “Thank you message” on their desk. 

Take time to praise your employees’ hard work and they are more likely to perform at the same levels in the future.

Here’s a template:

Hi [Employee Name], 

I wanted to tell you how much I appreciate your support in helping me prepare for my presentation yesterday. And I wanted to take the time to recognize that work directly.

You provided really great feedback for improving my talking points. You always show me what it means to “build each other” as our company values say! 

Your hard work is noticed by management and your colleagues, and you’re a great example of the people we want to work here.

Thank you!

[Your Name]

3. Give Employees a Surprise Day Off

“I don’t like a surprise day off.” – Nobody said ever.

It’s a great idea to give your top-performing employees the option to take an extra day away from work. They can use that time however they want—hanging out with their families or friends, relaxing on the couch, or going out on a date. They’ve earned it.

Costco, a retail giant, the company shuts shop on Thanksgiving, allowing the workforce to spend time with family right in the middle of the holiday shopping season.

4. Take Your Team Out For a Lunch

It’s an oldie but a goodie.

For some reason, eating on the company dime makes your favorite pizza taste that much better. 🙂

Every now and again, consider taking your team out for a meal. Depending on the occasion, it could be a lunch, it could be a fancy dinner, or it could be a formal holiday party.

5. Give Positive Feedback In Meetings

Start a meeting with a shout out to someone who put in extra effort or did something great that week. Describe what the person did and why they are being recognized. They will feel more valued when you give positive feedback in front of their peers.

6. Home Delivery

Keep in mind, however, that you don’t want to only give your team monetary awards to show your appreciation. Send a box of chocolates and a bouquet of flowers to your employee’s home address.

7. Showcase Your Employees Success Stories

Showcase your employees’ success stories in your company’s newsletter. Consider including a spotlight section into the Newsletter where employees get to know the company’s top performers’ stories. 

Disney showcases every promotion and employee success story, at every opportunity they get.

8. A Day In the Life of Employee Interview

A ‘day in the life’ interview with a team or an individual is a great idea to put employees and their work in the spotlight. Keep the interview short and publish it on your company’s blog page.

Springworks “A day in the life of…“ series gives you an insight into what a typical day looks like for our employees at Springworks.

A day in life series

9. Offer Learning Opportunities

Lack of professional development is a major source of workplace dissatisfaction. Invest in the professional development of your employees. Surprise your employees with tickets for a conference, seminar, training, or pay for the online courses they enroll. Don’t let your employees think that you’re not invested in their professional development.

10. Provide Work From Home Option

You can provide your team with a work-from-home day per week. It will make people happy and they will feel productive without any office distractions or meetings.

Studies have found that flexible work options increased job satisfaction more than cash itself.

11. Encourage Your Employees to Work on Special Projects

Allow your team to work on special projects beyond their regular responsibilities and skills.

Google encourages their employees to spend 20% of their time working on side projects, that’s why it’s the most innovative company in the world.

It’s an easy way to motivate your employees while helping them develop new skills and creating a more talented workforce.

12. Celebrate Work Anniversaries

Work anniversaries celebrate the loyalty your employee has shown to the company over the years. Have a calendar, so you don’t forget and go the extra mile when appreciating this. It should be more than just a casual email or a gift card.

Facebook (called Faceversaries bombards employees with custom balloons and shout outs on social media. For Facebook veterans, this is an essential point of pride.

13. Take Your Team on a Trip

Plan a company outing. It’s a great way to say thank you to your employees. Whether that’s to a speaking event, local conference, hill station, public park, a sporting event, or a local museum is up to you. It’s a fun break from work that encourages team bonding.

14. Ask for Feedback

Show your employees how much you value their insights and opinion by asking for their input. Asking for feedback from your employees makes them feel appreciated.

Typeform plugged a physical typewriter into an iPad in different areas of their office where employees can submit their suggestions and feedback.

15. Create Your Company’s Wall of Fame

One of the great ideas to build a happier company is by creating your company’s Wall of Fame in a visible location in your office.

Each month, add an employee’s photo (or employee of the month) to your Wall of Fame to make sure that they are recognized for their great work and contribution.

See how SnackNation does this:

16. Recognize Employees’ Other Talents

Your team has talent beyond what they bring to the workplace. Recognize your employees’ hidden creativity and talent in music, art, writing, and dance. It will make them feel that the company values their talent.

OpenDNS runs an employee recognition program called the “OpenDNS Art Experience.”

17. Run a Press Release

Share a story of your employees’ success with your local press. When the story was published in the local newspaper, get the article framed, and give it as a gift to your employees. 

Showcasing stories will inform interviewees and brand new hires of how the brand is constituted by the employee voice.

18. Start a Mentoring Program

Start a mentoring program in your company to boost employee development. The program should reflect the needs and wants of your employees.

This program helps to train new employees and build leadership and development skills. It also helps employees connect with each other, which allows them to feel more willing to speak their minds.

19. Recognize the Value of Helping Others

Do you recognize the employees who help a colleague at work?

Helping in the workplace can take various forms—training an intern, comforting a colleague in distress, or taking on extra work to complete a team project.

Limeade’s “Make Others Great” monthly award recognizes an employee who exemplifies the kind of collaboration and teamwork it takes to help make others great.

20. Make a Personalized Employee Recognition Certificate

There is nothing better than letting an employee know of their hard work and value to a company. Create a personalized employee recognition certificate.

Springworks gives employees recognition certificates. We care about its employees, and that their daily efforts and contributions are truly appreciated.

FAQs

How do you show appreciation to remote employees?

Remote employee appreciation isn’t as easy as office appreciation. Introduce a remote employee reward program. It’s a stellar way to show appreciation for remote workers. It will also create a fun atmosphere and friendly competition.

How do you improve recognition in the workplace?

Here are some quick tips:

Use positive words and make it personal.
Publish employee accomplishments across company newsletters and team meetings.
Motivate with financial incentives.
Give holiday rewards and surprise day off.

How do you reward employees without money?

In this article, we will show you how to reward your employees and stay within our budget. You can easily implement these incentive ideas at your workplace without breaking your bank.

What type of recognition is most meaningful?

In this article, you’ll find 20 meaningful ways to recognize your employees.

How do I build employee recognition program?

Want to have a recognition program for your organization that actually works? Here are employee recognition program best practices.

Now It’s Your Turn!

Today, employee recognition is no longer just nice to have – It’s critical. Employee recognition is the key to employee satisfaction.

Which of these 20 employee recognition ideas, caught your eye? Or do you have an idea we missed? Just drop your views in the comments section.

Free BONUS: Want to boost employee engagement at your office? Get a free ebook of 25 employee engagement ideas and activities (Includes examples from real companies)

Originally published April 9, 2020 12:42 PM, updated Sep 30 2020

6 Comments

  1. Very well articulated and included every possible action needed to make employees a part of organisation in real sense.
    Why do we need to make HR roles so complicated, when these simple 20 steps can spark up the initiatives from employees on its own?
    I hope the same is followed and trusted for the best to happen.

    Regards,

    Vibha Gupta

  2. Being an HR, Employee Engagement Activity is one of the subject of Interest for me. And with changing time these activities also needs to be upgraded, few of the good examples are articulated herein which should be adapted by the organizations. I must appreciate for giving effective ideas for Employee Engagement Activities.

    Regards,
    Jil Lakhani

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