11 Ways on How to Show Employee Appreciation

11 Ways on How to Show Employee Appreciation

Building and sustaining a successful business is a collaborative effort, requiring a dedicated team of talented individuals. However, securing and retaining top talent takes effort. It hinges on demonstrating the value employees hold within your organization.

According to Forbes, the highest driver of engagement is whether employees feel their leaders genuinely care about them. But “only 28% strongly agree that leadership genuinely cares about their health and well-being.”

With the end of the year and holiday season quickly approaching, many business leaders are searching for ways to show their employees how much they care. Now, at WorkProud, we believe that showcasing recognition and appreciation is a year-round initiative, but we are open to sharing some of our secrets and expert findings. Below are 11 creative, and some obvious, ways to show your valuable employees a little appreciation.

1 Offer a Raise or Bonus (This One is Somewhat Obvious)

One of the most direct and effective ways to express appreciation to your employees is by providing them with raises or bonuses as recognition for their exceptional performance. Offering salary increases beyond routine cost-of-living adjustments is a powerful method for retaining your top talent and ensuring their job satisfaction and productivity remain high. Additionally, incorporating bonuses into your compensation structure for high-achieving individuals or teams can serve as both an incentive for continued excellence and a token of gratitude for achieving their objectives.

With that said, tides are changing. Younger generations, such as Millennials and Gen Z are seeking more than monetary compensation. I can’t speak for all of them, but studies have shown that they value meaningful work where personal growth and a sense of purpose are prevalent. That’s why I said it was somewhat obvious.

2 Use A Gamification System

As hinted above, employee recognition and appreciation are not one size fits all. That’s where the beauty of a corporate gamification system comes into play. What is gamification? Great question. “Gamification” was a buzzword coined in 2003 by game designer Nick Pelling, to describe the application of game-like design and mechanics to non-gaming environments and/or circumstances.

In the workplace, gamification is the allocation of points or tokens as an award for achievements and recognition. The employee then uses those earnings to select an item or experience from the company catalog (i.e. earphones, purses, travel, gift cards, etc.). Companies worldwide have implemented this technique to drive motivation, productivity, and connectivity.

3 Promote Peer-to-Peer & Leadership-to-Employee Recognition

Public recognition from a peer or, better yet, leadership may not come with compensation, but it is rewarding in its own right. Hearing that you are doing a ‘great job’ or being recognized for your work on a task naturally boosts pride and a sense of fulfillment. There are many ways to express public appreciation, written or verbal, in front of colleagues or customers, and so on. Social recognition has also become very important as younger generations rise.

Public recognition aims to create a positive company culture filled with teamwork and connectivity. Peer-to-peer promotes a sense of belonging and leadership-to-employee provides a sense of reassurance.

Public recognition is not an end-all-be-all solution. This form of appreciation works well as a year-round initiative but should be paired with other methods. You can tell employees how great they are but eventually, it will need to be backed.

4 This One is Easy – FEED THEM

Okay, this one is actually easy, at least for the hybrid and in-office workers. As simple and worn as this method is, no one can deny the feeling they get when food is provided. It’s like each year when you pull out that old winter jacket and it hugs you like it did ten years ago. It can be keeping the kitchen stocked with snacks, providing lunch here and there, or scheduling a cookout for a few hours one day. Whatever your method is, occasionally feeding your employees is an expected, but still exciting form of appreciation.

A few things to remember as you order food for your teams.

  1. It has to be on the company’s dime. Potlucks are a great way to bring people together, but should be seen as a social engagement initiative, not as employee appreciation.
  2. Make sure that you consider dietary and cultural restrictions. Feeding your employees is only impactful if everyone gets to participate.
  3. Time it correctly. If it is the busiest time of the year for your team, ordering something for them to grab and go back to their desk is one thing, but do not expect people to stop their work to mingle. The right food at the right time, or else it won’t have the same effect.
  4. There are ways to include remote and deskless employees. The food fun doesn’t have to stop in the office. Have food delivered and coordinate a virtual meeting or send out gift baskets, there are many creative ways to get all employees fed.

5 Implement Reoccurring Team Awards

Internal team awards amp up all of our natural human needs for competition. That sounds a little hostile, but friendly competition drives connectivity between teams as they unify for one outcome. This allows individuals to increase productivity as they strive to reach specific goals and metrics as a team. The success can be measured in many ways.

No matter if you are awarding a team weekly, monthly, or quarterly, you must make sure that the reward is valuable. Some companies even include actual trophies in the reward packages as a symbol that is constantly handed off to deserving teams.

Another way to utilize friendly competition is to have votes within teams for specific awards such as, Most Improved, Leader of the Year, Best Team Player, etc.

6 Supply Wellness and Fitness Options

The desire for work-life balance is more prominent than ever before. It is hard enough to juggle work and personal life, but including wellness in the mix can make finding downtime near impossible. The acknowledgment that occupational burnout greatly impacts employee mental health and productivity is critical to showing that you care. There are many options to provide wellness and fitness opportunities to your employees, no matter if you are remote, hybrid, deskless, etc.

4 Ways to Show You Care:

  • Promote your on-site fitness center.
  • Reimburse employees for standing desks, under-desk treadmills, and other wellness while working devices.
  • Consider providing a stipend or allowance for a gym membership or other wellness purchases.
  • Host an internal company wellness day with group fitness classes, mental release sessions, and more.

7 Give the Gift of PTO

Another easy one for you. No matter how much someone enjoys their job, we all appreciate some extra time away from work. This is a powerful incentive and form of employee appreciation. For decades, people have worked to earn more PTO and as long as they have the time management to use it, they will.

PTO is not only something that many desire, it is a notion that you care about their well-being. This time away is commonly used for travel, time with friends and family, relaxation, improving a hobby, and many other things that ultimately make your employees happy. You’re putting extra time back into their control. Who wouldn’t appreciate that form of appreciation?

Giving PTO is a gift that can be dispersed year-round and to all types of employees. With that said, this method should be paired with other forms of recognition and appreciation. You can only accrue so many PTO hours before it carries over for decades to come. Again, appreciation and recognition are not one size fits all.

11 Ways on How to Show Employee Appreciation

8 Create a Comfortable Environment for Feedback

One way that can make anyone feel appreciated is by listening to them. When you provide a simple way to welcome constructive feedback and then take action, it does not go unnoticed. This can be as easy as a periodic and anonymous employee survey. This allows you to gauge the true feelings and status of your employees. Take this feedback, meet with leaders, and decide how you can make changes.

Going beyond surveys, it is important to create an environment where your workforce feels comfortable giving feedback. Promoting a culture where all levels of employees can openly discuss opinions and mindsets is crucial. Whether you implement skip-level meetings, or create a separate digital platform that thrives on positivity, feedback, and the sharing of knowledge, you need an outlet(s) where they can be heard.

9 Host Company Events

I can’t say that this one is easy because anyone who’s planned one would disagree, but it isn’t a new discovery. Hosting fun events or team outings, that the company pays for, is essential for growing relationships and expressing appreciation. If your teams are geographically dispersed, these outings might take place annually and/or virtually. If most of the team is local, these outings can become regular monthly or quarterly events that employees look forward to.

It is proven that employees who are friends with their coworkers are generally more happy at work. This promotes workplace collaboration and productivity. Now, that doesn’t mean that every event or outing needs to be at a ropes course. These relationships grow naturally when you give them the space to have different conversations outside of the workplace, even just at a dinner.

With the holidays around the corner, many companies will be having some sort of holiday outing. Remember to keep cultural differences and, if you are going to eat, dietary restrictions in mind. The key to a successful company event that aims to show appreciation is inclusivity.

10 Offer Education and Training Opportunities

Show that you care by providing opportunities for employees to grow their knowledge. Education is fuel for an employee and when you provide that, you are showing that you are willing to supply them with the tools they need to succeed in the company. At larger companies, it is easy to feel ‘like a number’. This form of appreciation says the opposite.

There are many different ways to encourage the expansion of knowledge. Maybe one employee would benefit from the empowerment of a women’s leadership conference. Maybe another would really enjoy an online class. You could also consider tuition reimbursement. Knowledge comes in many forms, so the options are nearly endless.

11 Ways on How to Show Employee Appreciation

11 Celebrate Community with Volunteer Outings

There are many ways to give back to your community. Doing it together as an organization boasts the sense of purpose that many employees want. It allows employees to slow down, take a step back, and work with their peers to achieve something meaningful. It is important to choose causes that employees care about. This sounds tricky, but here are some solutions to consider:

  1. Plan a Day of Giving. This annual event is when each team chooses the cause they want to spend the day volunteering at. For example, Team A may choose to help a local shelter, Team B might go to an animal rescue, and Team C may choose to go to a children’s hospital. This allows small teams to participate in a cause they genuinely care about.
  2. Allow employees to vote on how to disperse charitable donations. This one is straightforward. Send out a survey that asks employees to rank 5-6 charitable organizations and tier the donations based on the feedback.
  3. Offer your employees one charity day a year, that doesn’t impact PTO. Allow your employees to choose an event that benefits their cause of choice. And let them attend during business hours. Maybe they can even take their peers and participate as a group.
  4. Begin sponsoring local charitable events. If a local organization has a golf tournament to raise funds for a local soup kitchen, put some money towards sponsoring the event and send a group to participate.

Conclusion: Appreciation is Not One Size Fits All

In conclusion, creating a culture of appreciation within the workplace is not only a morale booster but also a key driver of organizational success. Recognizing and valuing your employees not only enhances their job satisfaction but also fuels their motivation to contribute their best efforts. The 11 ways discussed in this blog—whether it’s offering personalized recognition, providing professional development opportunities, or creating a positive work environment—serve as a roadmap for cultivating a workplace where employees feel seen, heard, and appreciated.

Remember, employee appreciation is not a one-size-fits-all endeavor. Tailoring your approach to the unique preferences and needs of your team members is crucial for genuine and effective acknowledgment. As you embark on this journey of appreciation, you’re not just building a successful business; you’re building a community of motivated and engaged individuals committed to collective success.



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WorkProud is committed to helping its clients create a unified approach to the employee experience by helping them build cultures of workplace pride. Trusted by millions of users at some of the world’s most recognized employer brands, WorkProud delivers a comprehensive approach to building company cultures that inspire people to be Proud of their Work and Proud of their Company.

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