Appreciating employees, even in small wins, boosts employee morale. It makes employees feel that they are seen and heard. When employees feel valued and appreciated they become more productive and motivated.
When appreciating your team, take into consideration their preferences. Nothing is more powerful than the appreciation that resonates with the receiver. To help in that regard, here are 28 employee appreciation ideas we categorized according to the five love languages: words of affirmation, acts of service, receiving gifts, quality time, and physical touch.
Words of Affirmation
Individuals whose love language is words of affirmation would love hearing positive feedback, kind words, and compliments. Thus, giving affirming statements to employees with this love language will feel valued. Here are some ideas:
1. Personalized “Thank You” Emails
Email your employees with individualized notes appreciating each specific contribution they made to the team and the organization. You can take it a notch higher by giving them a personalized handwritten thank-you note
2. Employee Recognition Board
Complimenting your employees in private is appropriate on some occasions. However, public recognition can have more impact in boosting not only employee morale but also the whole team. According to the Harvard Business Review, public accolades could motivate other employees to improve their performance.
3. Virtual Shout-Outs
This employee appreciation day idea is perfect for those with remote teams. You can use a messaging app like Slack where you can post your appreciation or recognition for someone.
4. Compliment Jar
Encourage employees to write words of appreciation to their colleagues and drop it in the jar. Then, allocate an hour where you can read them for everyone to hear. You can do it daily or once a week.
5. Positive Performance Reviews
This is different from the regular performance reviews you might normally do. This one focuses more on a recent and specific accomplishment the employee has done. Make sure to provide constructive criticism alongside the praise you give.
6. Thank-You Video
Create a personalized short thank you video for your high-performing employees. You can invite other team members and have them record a short employee appreciation video and compile them together.
7. Nominate for an Award
If an employee has exhibited exceptional performance, nominating them for an award can have a powerful impact on them. By doing so, you are showcasing them and their exceptional talent to the professional community. Not only does this hit those that appreciate words of affirmation, but it also reaches those that prefer “receiving gifts,” particularly if they actually win the award.
For example, here at Technology Advice, managers get to nominate employees who exhibited exceptional performance during the year. Those who were chosen get recognized during the company’s annual Kick-Off Meeting every January.
Acts of Service
For employees whose love language is acts of service, actions speak louder than words. Let them feel valued with small acts of kindness, thoughtful gestures, and some assistance.
1. Task Delegation Support
Surprise your high-performing employee by scheduling a day to help them with their task. You can also involve others by distributing the tasks among other team members.
2. Professional Development Opportunities
Professional development is one of the top driving factors of employee retention. Providing training programs and skills development workshops to show your appreciation will make your employees feel valued. Learn more about improving employee’s professional growth through training in our guide to training employees.
3. Flexible Work Options
It is one of the best staff appreciation ideas for those whose love language is service—offering them flexible work hours or remote options (if possible). Such a gesture sends a message that you understand their needs. It also shows the organization’s commitment to creating a workplace where each member is valued, understood, and empowered. Learn how to implement this in our guide to flexible work schedules.
4. Wellness Programs
Giving your employees access to wellness programs is an excellent staff appreciation idea. It shows that you don’t just acknowledge their contributions but their well-being as well. Additionally, they help employees become more aware of their health, leading to improved focus, increased productivity, and enhanced job satisfaction. If you haven’t set any up yet, check our ideas for employee wellness programs.
5. Coffee or Snack Bar
Setting up a coffee or snack bar at the office for a day shows employees that you acknowledge the little things that bring them pleasure. Having a well-stocked coffee or snack bar not only satisfies their simple cravings but also provides a place where employees can have small talks and get to know each other more.
6. Child or Pet Care Assistance
Providing child or pet care assistance to show employee appreciation shows employees that you acknowledge the responsibilities they handle at work and at home. This can significantly reduce their stress knowing that their children or pets are well cared for. Consequently, they can focus more on their tasks and increase their productivity.
7. On-site Amenities
Having on-site amenities, like a gym, relaxation zones, or recreational areas, provides employees with convenient access to services that contribute to their well-being. It also helps them save time that they would otherwise spend commuting to another location.
For individuals who love receiving gifts, the cost or size of the gift does not matter. Any gift they receive makes them feel appreciated because it serves as a tangible reminder that you value them as well as their efforts.
1. Customized Desk Accessories
Choose items that your employees use in the office daily like pens, cups, or notebooks.
Personalize the gift according to the employee’s preference, such as engraving their name, to make it truly memorable.
2. Gift Cards
Give them gift cards to their favorite coffee shops, restaurants, or stores, so they can indulge in the little things they enjoy. This might be a simple gesture, but the thought will significantly impact them as they choose their rewards.
3. Company Swag Bags
Giving your employees branded merchandise like T-shirts, tote bags, or water bottles is a cool staff appreciation idea. For one, it gives employees a sense of connection to their companies. It also serves as a visible representation of the company’s brand and values.
4. Customized GIFs or Memes
Incorporating memes and GIFs into employee appreciation makes the recognition process fun and exciting. It is also more relatable to the younger generation and creates positive memories for everyone. Most of all, you can easily share it on social media, allowing more people to see it and celebrate the win.
Giving your employees tickets to local events, sporting games, or concerts can be a fantastic way to show your appreciation. It does not only acknowledge their accomplishments but also gives them a unique and enjoyable experience. It also allows them to relax, unwind, and recharge, making them more focused and productive at work
6. Subscription Boxes
Some of your employees might not like crowds or going out. They might prefer staying at home reading a book or doing a hobby. That’s where subscription boxes come in. Choose something that is related to your employees’ hobbies and interests, such as a DIY crafting kit, a cooking book subscription, and more.
Employees with this love language will feel their value if you spend meaningful time with them. That includes giving them your undivided attention and having deep conversations with them. Below are some activities that can help you do that:
1. One-on-One Meetings
Employees who value quality time will appreciate having a one-on-one meeting with their managers. Use this time not only to talk about their career goals, but also to build authentic and deep connections with your employees. Ask them about their goals, dreams, hobbies, and more.
2. Team Lunches/Dinners
Team lunches or dinners can be much more than just eating together. They can also be avenues where teams can share their experiences and expertise with each other. To make these events more meaningful, organize roundtables where employees with similar expertise and roles can share best practices and strategies.
3. Mentoring Programs
Connecting senior employees with their junior colleagues goes beyond employee appreciation. It is also about encouraging knowledge transfer, building a legacy, and ensuring long-term success.
4. Team Activities
Engaging your team in group activities, like going to a virtual escape room, shows your employees that you appreciate them because it acknowledges the value of shared experiences and the importance of building strong working relationships. It also allows team members to understand each other’s strengths and weaknesses, leading to a more cohesive work environment.
Those who have physical touch as their love language feel valued and connected through physical gestures. However, you need to be careful about this in the workplace because touch can be misconstrued as sexual harassment.
1. Handshakes, Casual Celebratory High-Fives, or Fist Bumps
Physical gestures, like handshakes, fist bumps, or high-fives, are a powerful way to acknowledge appreciation because it’s very spontaneous. You get to feel the moment and savor each win immediately. However, be mindful of individual preferences and cultural norms. Physical touch might be someone’s love language but their cultural background prohibits them from making physical contact.
2. Ergonomic Workspaces
Providing your employees with ergonomic workspaces shows them that your appreciation is not just a lip service. It also shows your commitment to put their health and wellness as a priority. As a result, they’re healthier, more focused, and more productive.
3. Complimentary Chair Massages
A study showed that a 10-minute massage is enough to help your body fight stress, making it an effective tool for promoting relaxation. It might be a good idea, then to include on-site chair massages conducted by a professional masseuse/massage therapist to your corporate health and wellness program. You can offer it on a quarterly basis or after a busy season. Before implementing it, however, you might like to have a survey whether your employees are comfortable about it.
4. Trip to the Spa
If your employees are not comfortable with on-site massages, you can instead give them a gift card for a spa experience. An hour or more of relaxing massage can rejuvenate the mind, body, and soul. Just a note: consider where the employee lives and the spa’s locations if you want to give this reward.
Showing employee appreciation regularly fosters a strong and healthy work environment. When choosing which employee appreciation ideas to give, remember that it doesn’t have to be expensive. What’s more important is to tailor it to each employee’s preferences to achieve the impact you intend it to have.