15 Cost-Effective Employee Appreciation Ideas

Managing employees
  • Your employees are a great part of your business's success regardless of the size or expertise of it. And for that reason you need to show your appreciation to them as often as you can.
  • There are quite many ways to show your employees that you value what they're doing and motivate them to work even harder.
  • If you want to find out what those ways are, take a look at these 15 personalised ideas to show appreciation to your employees.

employee reward ideas

Showing your employees how much you value them and appreciate the hard work that they do for the company is critical. After all, you need to retain top talent, and you also want to promote productivity with your team. According to Glassdoor, more than 50 percent of employees would stay at their jobs longer if they received some kind of reward for their work.

However, employee appreciation gestures can seem expensive. You want to enjoy the incredible return on investment that comes from acknowledging productivity, but you also want to save money in the process.

Here are some affordable employee reward ideas that will bolster your team's productivity and help you increase business outcome in the process.

1. Food

If you need to show gratitude to a group of individuals or to an entire department, treating the team to food is a wonderful idea. This could be something as simple as having a basket of sweet treats delivered or catering lunch for a business meeting.

You may also order pizza at the spur of the moment when your team is working exceptionally hard. For a more individualised gesture, deliver a basket to the worker’s home or give a gift card to a restaurant with a handwritten "thank you" note.

2. Car Cleaning

A more unique way to say thanks is to have their car professionally cleaned and detailed. Some car detailing companies can travel to your location, and all you need is the employee to unlock his or her car door and grant access to the vehicle.

3. On-site Massage

Bringing a masseuse or even a chiropractor into your office to give neck or chair massages is a smart idea for a team appreciation. According to the American Institute of Stress, 80 percent of workers feel stress on the job, while nearly 50 percent say they need help in learning how to manage stress. A massage can help your team relax while also feeling pampered and appreciated.

4. Event or Movie Tickets

For special situations that require a very personalised gesture of thanks, giving one or several individuals who have made a stellar contribution to the company event tickets is a great idea. This may be tickets to a favourite sports team match, concert, art exhibit or a movie they might enjoy. 

5. A Handwritten "Thank You" Note

Simply saying a word of thanks may not seem sufficient, but you may be surprised how far this can go. According to a study by Cicero Group, 50 percent of employees believe that being thanked by managers improved their relationship and built trust with them.

It will even be more meaningful to your employees if you take the time to write a "thank you" note that is personalised specifically to them. You may place this note on the employee’s desk while they are out for lunch or on a break. This does not need to be an elaborate message, but it should be authentic and personal.

6. Flowers

Flowers are a popular go-to option when you need to say thanks. If you want to personalise your gift of flowers, add a handwritten note or even a small box of the person’s favourite candy.

7. Extended Breaks

If you cannot afford to make a big gesture to say thank you, you could offer the incentive of extra free time. This may be a lunch break that is double the length for a week. It may even include a day or two of extra paid time off to be taken at any time during the year.

8. Employee Reward Box

If you are not creative at thinking about great gift ideas or if you are not certain which gifts may be well-received, you can ask your employees to place reward ideas into a box. You can then let those who are being honored for their efforts select the reward that they want. An alternative is to ask them to reach blindly into the box to be surprised by their reward.

9. Remote Work

Allowing some members of your team to work remotely is a great way to treat them to something special while also benefiting the business. When your team works remotely, you can reduce overhead, and you may see productivity increase. American Express reported annual savings of $10 million to $15 million thanks to its remote work options.

This is a treat that allows your team to find an improved work-life balance as well. Letting your team work from home periodically as a reward will be well-received by most of your employees.

10. Performance Coupon

When individuals work exceptionally long hours, it makes sense to reward them with extra free time during slower periods. A performance coupon can be handed to each employee when they show signs of greatness. Coupons can be redeemed when individuals want to run a few errands during the workday, leave work early without reason and more.

11. Personal Desk Gift

Another type of personal gesture may be to give a special employee a unique and meaningful desk gift. This could be something practical, or it could be something related to their unique interest or hobby. You may know what this person likes or needs first-hand, or you may have to make subtle inquiries.

12. Flexible Work Day

If your office does not already allow for flex time, you can individually offer flex time as a benefit. When the employee has earned it, you can let that individual arrive late or leave work early. If your entire team has earned a special reward, you can work shortened hours on a specific, planned day.

13. Celebration of Personal Accomplishments

Your team may have milestones outside of work that are worthy of acknowledgement. For example, one of your employees may have just run his or her first marathon. Celebrating these types of personal accomplishments at work can create a more personalised work experience.

14. New Office Necessity

You could also give a new office necessity to a deserving employee that encourages continued hard work. For example, buying the individual a more comfortable desk chair may be an excellent idea. Even buying something small and affordable such as a new mouse could be a wonderful gift that will be well received.

15. Great Parking Spot

Honoring a top employee with a premium parking spot for a month is a great reward to consider. It acknowledges the individual and gives him or her a special reward that improves their life for a specified period of time.

While it is important to think about a thoughtful gift or reward for a hardworking individual or department, it is also important to express gratitude in a personalised and sincere way. The gift or reward that you provide will be much more meaningful when you make the extra effort to verbalise your gratitude as well. 


Jen McKenzie

Freelance Writer at Self-employed

Jen McKenzie is a self-employed author hailing from New York, NY. She writes extensively on business, education and human resource topics. When Jennifer is not at her desk working, you can usually find her hiking or taking a road trip with her two dogs. You can reach Jennifer @jenmcknzie


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