10 (Ten) Outstanding Employee Appreciation Ideas Your Staff Will Remember

Show Employee Appreciation with ten fun and memorable ideas your staff members will love

June 30, 2022
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You've heard of Employee Appreciation Day, but if you're hoping to increase employee appreciation in your workplace, one day a year may not be enough. With the recent emphasis on employee recognition and appreciation, you may be wondering how best to show gratitude to your staff. 

Whether you're a small remote collaborative or a bustling in-person office, show that you value your employees by incorporating some of these fun employee appreciation ideas into your workplace repertoire (still, don't forget about the employee appreciation day).

What is Employee Appreciation?

Employee appreciation is recognizing and rewarding employee contributions in the workplace. This appreciation can be formal or informal but always aims to acknowledge the good work an employee does to benefit the business and culture of your work environment. 

It’s common for employees at a company to feel that their best efforts are routinely unappreciated or ignored. A recent Gallup poll found that only one in three workers in the United States strongly agreed when asked if they received praise or recognition for their excellent work in the last seven days. 

Another recent survey of 1.7 million employees from companies of all sizes gathered between 2018 and 2020 revealed that 37% of employees said more personal recognition in the workplace would encourage them to produce better work more regularly. 

With the competition for talent acquisition reaching new heights, it is more important than ever for businesses to develop strategies to attract and retain top performers. Employee appreciation is directly linked with job satisfaction, workplace morale, and increased happiness, all of which make employees more likely to remain at their current job. 

How Do You Show Employee Appreciation?

One way to illustrate your gratitude is through associate appreciation ideas that include both your frontline associates and back-end team members. Celebrating achievements, regardless of hierarchy, is essential for the entire organization's morale and well being throughout.

Monetary gestures, such as bonuses or gift cards, are tangible ways of showing employee appreciation. However, company swag, ranging from branded attire to tech gadgets, can serve as a constant reminder of company culture and the value placed on each employee.

Social events, such as company-sponsored happy hours or retreats, offer a relaxed environment for employees to interact. And then there's Employee Appreciation Day. Celebrated on the first Friday in March, it's a dedicated day for employers to express their gratitude. If you're seeking inspiration, consider brainstorming employee appreciation day ideas with your team. This inclusivity ensures fresh perspectives and fosters unity.

What is the Difference Between Employee Recognition and Employee Appreciation? 

Employee recognition acknowledges what an employee does, while employee appreciation recognizes who an employee is. Recognition is showing gratitude for a person's actions, while appreciation is showing gratitude for a person's value. 

Employee Recognition

Employee recognition generally consists of positive feedback based on work performance. This can be formal praise in the form of a raise, bonus, promotion, or award for particular employee alone, or informal praise like a verbal thank-you or handwritten note.

Some companies give out employee recognition awards to motivate their team. Even minor forms of recognition, such as an informal shout-out during a meeting, can be highly effective and meaningful if done in a genuine, timely way.

Recognition is performance-based and generally measured against what other employees have been able to accomplish in the past. When you give recognition, it typically aims to recognize employees who have met or surpassed company expectations. This may be a well-researched presentation, a big sale, or a new organizational system, and usually acknowledges a specific, measurable action. 

Because employee recognition is a form of work appreciation, it has nothing to do with an employee's inherent value as a human being.

Unlike employee appreciation, there is generally a limited amount of recognition to go around. Not everyone can receive a bonus or be mentioned in a company-wide memo. Employee recognition relies on this scarcity to increase the value of the praise it offers. If everyone is recognized, higher-achieving employees have less incentive to continue working at their peak level. 

Start using the Celebrate a Teammate workflow today or schedule a demo to get started for free.

Employee Appreciation

Employee appreciation is about acknowledging your employee's inherent value, regardless of their specific accomplishments. Employee appreciation focuses on who an employee is and what they bring to the company beyond completing their work. 

Employers who only recognize employees for positive outcomes may miss out on opportunities to connect with and support their employees on a human level. This may sound cheesy or overly sentimental, but a recent poll found that 67% of employees rated praise and commendation from managers as their top motivators for work performance

Glassdoor Employee Appreciation Survey further revealed that 53% of employees said that more appreciation from their boss would make them want to remain longer at the company. 

At its core, employee appreciation is about recognizing an employee's inherent value. For some employees thrive for instance, offering words of affirmation during daily interactions can significantly boost morale. An informal commendation or a dedicated channel for shouting out achievements, both inside and outside of work, can make employees feel appreciated and connected.

10 Memorable Employee Appreciation Ideas 

Employee appreciation will look different depending on workplace style and how much a company has in its budget to spend on perks. These fun and memorable staff appreciation ideas are a great starting point and can easily be modified to fit your individual work environment. 

  1. Take Lunch to the Next Level

Take your employees out to lunch to show appreciation. Talk to them about how their work is going and show them that you are actively listening. Your employees may feel more willing to open up in a non-office environment. 

  1. Make Your Appreciation Visible With Shout-Outs

Put your appreciation into words. If you use an efficiency platform like Assembly, create a channel dedicated to shouting out to your employees for their accomplishments inside or outside the workplace. If your company sends out company-wide updates, find a spot to call attention to a specific employee. You can even try implementing an Employee of the Week system if that suits your business. 

  1. LinkedIn Recommendation 

Show an appreciated employee that you care about their career. LinkedIn Kudos offers an easy way to share your appreciation for people in your professional community. 

  1. Rethink Your Break Room

Ditch the old folding chairs and dirty microwave. Investing in an environment where your employees can come to relax and decompress is an excellent way to show employee appreciation. Ask your employees what changes they would like to see. A few books, games, or comfortable chairs won't break the bank and can make your office space a place where employees feel valued. 

  1. Celebrate Milestones 

Show your employees you value them by celebrating birthdays, work anniversaries, and holidays. If you're feeling ambitious, create your own holiday dedicated to something specific to your workplace. Whatever it is, make sure your celebration is something your staff can all enjoy together. 

  1. VIP Parking Spot

Showcase an appreciated employee by offering them the best parking spot in the lot for a week. Driving up into a spot fit for a CEO can make an employee's morning a little brighter. 

  1. Offer Extended Learning Opportunities

Learning shouldn't stop when you graduate. Show your employees you care about their education and skill development by encouraging extended learning. If possible, offer subsidized education opportunities or finance educational retreats. As a bonus, your employees may learn skills that directly benefit the company. 

  1. Provide Wellness Stipends

Investing in the health of your employees is a great way to show appreciation. A wellness stipend can often cover gym memberships, massage or spa services, and even counseling. 

  1. Personalized Gifts

Show your employees you know who they are outside the workplace. Giving a small, personalized gift that relates to an employee's interests or hobbies is an excellent way to show that you value them as a person, not just as a worker. 

  1. Unexpected Treats

This tried and true method is a great way to foster workplace community and increase overall employee happiness. Bringing in food or snacks is a common but effective way to show your employees you appreciate them. Surprise your staff with donuts, a lunchtime pizza party, or take the whole team or office out for ice cream.

Even on a tight budget, there are numerous ways to show appreciation and recognize your team members efforts with the right employee recognition program. Recognizing the value in both your frontline associates and back-end team members doesn’t always necessitate a hefty price tag. Here are some cost-effective associate and employee appreciation day idea ideas that will boost company culture, reward employees and help retain talent:

  1. Personal Words of Affirmation: Take a moment to offer genuine praise for an employee’s work. A simple "thank you" or "great job" goes a long way.
  2. Employee Appreciation Day: Though celebrated once a year, you don’t need to break the bank. Plan ahead, brainstorm employee appreciation day ideas, and perhaps organize a potluck where everyone contributes, creating a sense of community.
  3. Use of Platforms like Assembly: Digital platforms, like Assembly, offer tools to send kudos, recognizing achievements. Such platforms might also allow peers to recognize each other, fostering a culture of gratitude.
  4. Company Swag: While some swag can be expensive, think about smaller items like stickers, keychains, or even handwritten notes. These tokens, imbued with company culture, can be meaningful mementos.
  5. Social Gatherings: Instead of a lavish company-sponsored happy hour, consider hosting a game night or a picnic in a local park. Such events can foster bonding without a significant financial outlay.
  6. LinkedIn Kudos: A free feature on LinkedIn allows users to recognize their colleagues for various skills and achievements. It not only boosts morale but also enhances the individual's professional profile.
  7. Rotating Trophies or Certificates: Have a 'Star of the Month' or similar titles, and rotate a trophy or certificate among employees. This tangible recognition can be a fun and motivating way to spotlight different team members.
  8. Virtual Shout-Outs: For remote collaborators, utilize team meetings or dedicated channels on platforms like Slack or Microsoft Teams to highlight standout performances and initiatives.
  9. Flexible Hours or an Extra Break: If possible, offer a well-performing employee the chance to come in late, leave early, or take an extended break. This gesture can provide much-needed rest and shows you recognize their hard work.
  10. Encourage Peer Recognition: Create a culture where employees are encouraged to recognize and appreciate each other. This mutual admiration can be more valuable than any physical reward.

Inexpensive employee recognition is about creativity, thoughtfulness, and genuine appreciation. Whether you’re distributing company swag, planning for Employee Appreciation Day, or simply offering heartfelt words of affirmation, the gesture, no matter how small, can have a profound impact on morale and productivity.

Show Employee Appreciation  and Reward Employees with Assembly

Employee appreciation is not a one-size-fits-all strategy, especially for the entire organization. Whether you're planning company swag giveaways or organizing a company-sponsored happy hour, the ultimate goal is to make each team member, including remote employees, feel valued and integral, giving team members more to the company's success.

Assembly is a fully customizable employee engagement solution that helps employees feel appreciated to drive productivity and retention while boosting internal culture. With Assembly, it is easier than ever to recognize any team member within the workplace.

Ready to give your work culture a boost and start recognizing employees? Schedule a meeting with our employee recognition experts to get more employee appreciation ideas, and we'll waive your implementation fee. Book a demo online today to start employee recognition program. 

Try Assembly for free and discover our employee engagement and productivity solutions today.

Browse our Free Employee Recognition Guide

Get the foundational knowledge on creating an employee recognition program that boosts employee engagement and helps them feel valued.

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Employee recognition guide

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Assembly SOC 2 compliant?

Yes, at Assembly, security is a top priority. Each quarter, we have ongoing security work that is everyone’s responsibility. While we maintain a strong security posture, it was important for us to prove to our customers that we do everything we claim to do. This led us to pursue a SOC 2 Type II report that would provide evidence of our compliance with industry gold-standard security practice.

What's the ROI for employee recognition?

There is study after study showing that employee recognition leads to increased engagement. This in return creates an environment where employees are happier and more motivated which increase productivity and reduces voluntary turnover significantly. In order to filled critical roles, companies tend to spend nearly twice the value of an annual salary. Assembly is an investment in your employees that supports your bottom line.

Does Assembly offer longer-term contracts?

Yes, we will offer contracts for companies with longer-term agreements to help larger customers have more certainty around future costs.

The minimum agreement term is a 12-month subscription.

Does Assembly offer onboarding support?

We do and for FREE! Any new customer needing further support to get started with Assembly to ensure you're set up for success can request custom onboarding support. Improving your employee experience is about much more than just using our amazing software; it’s about transforming your business to create a workplace that people love. That’s much easier to do with the personal support and advice from our passionate people experts.

Is there a free version of Assembly?

Yes. We offer a completely free plan for up to 50 team members. This plan is intended for teams or organizations that are looking to get started with an employee engagement tool. Keep in mind, this plan is limited in features.

All customers can open an Assembly account for free and get started without a credit card. Then you can change plans as necessary.

How much do rewards cost?

At the time of redemption (when your employees exchange their points for a paid reward) you'll pay face value. If a reward is a $10 Amazon gift card, your cost will be $10. All paid rewards are billed for on a monthly basis.

The good news is that you don't have to pay for rewards upfront because we only charge you when points are redeemed, not when they're earned.

Does Assembly offer discounts?

We offer discounts or educational or charitable organizations. In order to secure a discount, you'll first need to book a demo with a customer support specialist.

For all other organizations, we are willing to consider longer-term agreements in exchange for discounts. To set up annual plans or longer, you will need to book a demo with a customer support specialist.

How do I cancel my plan if needed?

If you're on a month to month plan, you can go here and cancel anytime. If you're having concerns or need help setting up your account for success, you can always book a demo with a customer support specialist.

If you're on a longer-term custom plan, you'll need to reach out to your customer support specialist to cancel your account or email us at support@joinassembly.com.

What customizations are available?

Great question! You can customize your core values to match your organization's to boost and track alignment. You can change your currency from the 🏆 emoji (our default) to any emoji of your choice. You can swap our logo for your own. You can also set up company culture rewards such as, "Lunch with the CEO," "Buy a book on us," and so much more!

Who can give or receive recognition?

While we recommend a peer to peer set up where anyone in your organization can give or receive recognition, you can set up Assembly however you want. If you need to limit the people who can give or receive recognition, that's perfectly fine and can be done from your Admin, here.

What integrations are available?

Assembly connects to the tools your employees use every day to offer an easy, seamless experience with minimal change management.  

Assembly has integrations with HCM/HRIS systems like ADP, Google, Office 365, and Slack. We also integrate with communication tools like Slack and Teams so you and your employees can access Assembly wherever they work now.

What's your average adoption rate?

That depends on the company's permissions set up. That said, over 90% of the employees on Assembly's platform are recognized on a monthly basis. That means nearly every employee across all of our customers are receiving regular recognition from their peers, managers, or leadership. We're extremely proud of this.

Must rewards be set up to use Assembly?

They are not required. You can use Assembly without having rewards set up. However, we don't recommend it if you intend to have a high adoption and usage rate. You can always keep the costs down by offering internal culture rewards that are fulfilled by you internally.

Are points required to use Assembly?

No, you can remove allowances from anyone or everyone. It's up to you but we do recommend using points whether they're worth a real dollar value or not. Companies that use points have a much higher engagement rate even if those points don't exchange for real dollars.

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Please schedule time with an expert and we will help you to get all your questions answered