Employee Appreciation: Meaningful Ways to Make Your Employees Feel Valued

Ari Weinzweig, founder of Zingerman said -” If you don’t create a great, rewarding place for people to work, they won’t do great work.

As per a recent survey, 91% of HR professionals stated that appreciation is one of the biggest factors that aid in retaining an employee. We’re sure, you’re sensing a pattern by now- employee appreciation is an essential aspect of effective management. While employees are the most important asset for any business and most companies understand this, they are still unable to retain good talent. There can be plenty of reasons like low pay, stagnation, and workload, but one that’s increasingly gaining visibility is lack of acknowledgment or appreciation.

This article will help you create a framework for a vibrant culture of employee appreciation in your organization. 

1 What is Employee Appreciation?

Employee appreciation is the simple act of showing your employees that you appreciate all the work that they do for the organization. This helps employees feel valued for the efforts that they put into their work. 

Work can often get tedious, and appreciation is the fuel that drives them to do better. Even a small line like- “Great Work” or “Keep it up “has a more profound effect than what one can imagine.  While the good news is that most employers do understand this, they often lack the right systems to help implement it as a part of the organizational culture

2 Why is Employee Appreciation Important?

Employee appreciation is important as it is a low-cost, high-impact way to motivate your teams to do better and instill a positive work culture for your employees.  When employees feel valued, they’re more engaged, motivated, and more likely to perform better, which is great for both of them as well as the larger company. Organizations that implement an effective formal appreciation program see a 31% drop in voluntary turnover in comparison to companies that have an ineffective or non-existent appreciation program. 
If a business is looking to scale and grow, it is important to pay attention to and prioritize appreciation programs and explore creative ways to show employee appreciation

3 What Are the Benefits of Employee Appreciation?

3.1 Builds Trust

Appreciation helps foster trust between the employee and the organization. When they know that you value them and have their best interests at heart they will trust and value you more as well. It is a two-way street. A survey went as far as to state that 86% employees trust their managers more if they have recognized their work and efforts in the past month.

3.2 Boosts Employee Productivity

Happy employees work better, it really is as simple as that. When your employees know that you care about them, they will be happier and in turn more productive. Which makes it essential for the organization to invest in and build an effective appreciation program. 

3.3 Better Employee Retention

Voluntary turnover costs companies in the US about $1 trillion dollars annually. A simple fix to help bring this number down is the implementation of a good employee appreciation program. All you need to do is recognize and appreciate the work that is being done by them. 

3.4 Fosters Workplace Culture

Appreciation does not just flow from the managers to the employees. It is also from the employees to the managers and even within the employees themselves. A good appreciation program provides people with a platform to do so and helps in the creation of a positive work environment. One that is full of good vibes and constructive feedback.

3.5 Drives Engagement

Employee appreciation helps increase employee engagement. Employees feel good when the praise they receive is timely and their work is recognized on a regular basis. If you look at Maslow’s hierarchy of needs you will see that belonging and esteem are high on the list. Appreciation translates to social acceptance which validates them and they do better and are more engaged.

Check out the best employee appreciation software to make it easier to appreciate your staff here.

4 15 Creative Employee Appreciation Ideas

4.1 Employee Benefits

Employee Benefits
  • Upgrade Their Workspace

As a place where your employees spend a lot of their time, it is important that the workspace is functional and sustainable. You can do this by installing standing desks in the office or providing more ergonomically designed chairs that help them feel more comfortable while at work. If you operate remotely you can provide work laptops with the latest operating system and features. You can also send across basic remote working essentials like a wireless headphones and wifi range extenders. 

  • Arrange a Session with Top Leadership

Arranging a session with the top leadership will empower employees with more knowledge on the organization, their future vision and chart out a progressive career path for themselves. This could be a one-one session with the higher management or open-forum group discussions where employees can be encouraged to voice their opinions and be appreciated for good work. 

  • Endorse on LinkedIn

A more public way to show appreciation is by providing them with an endorsement on LinkedIn. This shows your employees that you are willing to back them up in a professional setting. An endorsement on LinkedIn is extremely helpful as it adds more value to their profile, helps them build a good network, and promotes more visibility among peers and industry members. 

4.2 Gift Cards

Gift Cards
  • Offer Free Lunch/Dinner

This one does not need to be an expensive affair, but you can sponsor a celebratory lunch/dinner as employee appreciation gifts. One of the best ways to go about this is if you support one of your local restaurants or cafes to go have a meal. This will also help in creating a memorable experience for your team. It provides a relaxed environment for team members which aids in team building. 

  • Sponsor a Trip

Trips are a welcome change of environment and you can provide them to your employees as a form of employee appreciation. Work with a travel agency to come up with a list of places from which your employees can pick. This way you can also work around any scheduling conflicts. Try to incorporate experiences like skydiving, and bungee jumping, and for people on the other side of the spectrum, you can have a spa day or a nature walk.

  • Give Stocks as a Gift

This may be an old-school incentive but it is still as effective as it was all those years provided you understand when to offer them. As part of a long-term package, it works really well for veterans who have served over 20 – 30 years in your company as it gives something for the employees to strive for. But this is not a blanket option as it largely depends on your company ethos about when you want to offer stock options. Some companies only offer it to higher management and others to a broad employee section.

4.3 Award

  • Give a Certificate

If you are looking to recognize a special accomplishment or achievement, then you should hand out certificates. These are a great way of showing appreciation to your employees. They also help employees feel proud of something they have completed or achieved. Additionally, they can be easily framed and displayed. 

  • Create a Virtual Wall of Fame

As one of the more creative ways to show employee appreciation, a virtual wall of fame is a dedicated space created to recognize and celebrate high achievers in your company. Usually, this used to be a bulletin board in the office but with the rise of remote work you can set up a dedicated page on your website which displays all achievements of your employees. These usually display the names, pictures, and other miscellaneous details regarding the employee’s achievements. Alternatively, you can use this page to showcase a standard set of achievements that you publish every week, month, or year.

Learn more about the creation of a virtual wall of fame here.

  • Organize An Appreciation Event

You can throw an appreciation event for all your employees. Arrange for food, games, and other fun activities to show that you appreciate everything that your employees are doing for your company. You can hand out some company swag during the event as employee appreciation gifts. An appreciation event is also a good place to hand out fun awards to your employees. The bottom line is to have people relax and enjoy themselves. 

4.4 Entertainment

  • Arrange a Family-Theme Party

Throw a party for both your employees and their families to show you care. This will help the employees enjoy a day out with their partners, children, and pets. Additionally, employees get to meet the families of the people they have spent the bulk of their time with. You can add activities like a photo booth, three-legged race, and pin the donkey’s tail for your employees and their families. This is one party that will allow for maximum participation. 

Celebrate employee appreciation day with these unique ideas.

  • Host a Gaming Night

Your first thought would be that this is a niche but you can move beyond FIFA and Mortal Kombat to have team games like scavenger hunts, and office trivia to have fun in the office. This allows different team members to know each other better in a different kind of environment and also bond as a team. 

  • Organize an In-Office Concert

An in-office concert is a great way for people to bond and have a fun time. Call a musician or a band for the concert and to make the event even better you can arrange food and drinks. If your office space is limited, you can always book a different location to host a concert. To accommodate your remote workforce, you can host the concert on a video conferencing platform like Zoom and everyone can join from their homes.

4.5 Non-Monetary Employee Appreciation Ideas 

Non-Monetary Appreciation Ideas
  • Allow Them to WFH Once in a While

This is one that is kind of a given, but if you as an organization have not adopted a hybrid model then probably you should. Allowing your employees to work from home helps them have a better work/ life balance. It is great for you as WFH can reduce the time taken to complete certain tasks. 

  • Give Day-offs on Birthdays

This is a small touch, but it works wonders to show your employees that you care. Giving someone a day off on their birthday helps them have a great celebration and does not cost anything to the company as a whole.

  • Offer First Choice on Vacation Days

If you have a long weekend coming up, you can let people pick a day extra and take a trip somewhere. You are just giving a day off, which will cost nothing to the organization but for a person who wants a change of scenery, the additional day will make a world of difference, 

Check out our complete list of No-Cost Appreciation Ideas here. 

4.6 Learning Development Opportunities

Learning Development Opportunities
Learning Development Opportunities
  • Give Them Leadership Roles

If someone is consistently performing well then you should give them a leadership role in an upcoming project to show your appreciation. It is not a formal promotion but rather a creative way for your employees to prove that they are ready to take the next step in their careers. 

  • One-on-One Career Advice

As a manager, you can take annual or bi-annual sessions to discuss a person’s long-term career goals and how the organization can aid in helping achieve them. List out everything they have done so far and help them figure out the creative steps required to progress within the organization. 

  •  Provide Access to Online Learning Platforms

One of the best steps that you can take as an organization for your employees is to help them grow in their fields. An easy way to do this is by giving them access to online courses. It helps them better understand the latest developments in their field and work better. This helps in both their personal growth as well the organization.

5 FAQs

  • What is the difference between recognition and appreciation?

Even though both of these terms are used interchangeably there is a difference between employee recognition and appreciation. Appreciation is about showing people gratitude for who they are, and recognition is praising a certain task that they have completed. 

  • How do you appreciate good work of an employee?
    You can choose to give employees appreciation through either formal or informal channels. Formal channels include a raise, promotion, or a session with the top leadership. Informal channels include a short employee appreciation message, shout-out or a thank-you note.

Check out gifts to show appreciation here.

  • What do you write on an employee appreciation card?
    You express your gratitude and appreciation in an appreciation card with a personalized employee appreciation message or some meaningful employee appreciation quotes. Start with saying thank-you along with a couple of lines expressing your appreciation. 
  • What are the best appreciation words?
  • Some of the best appreciation words include:

           Thank you for your support
           I appreciate your help
          Thank you for your help
          I value the insights you gave me