23 Year-Round Employee Appreciation Ideas on a Budget

Cassy Aite
February 22, 2024
23 Employee Appreciation Ideas You Can Do Year-Round

Valuing employees as individuals, workers, and true assets to a company is integral to the success of a business. Doing so improves office morale, productivity, and employee retention rates — three central tenets of a happy and engaged workforce.

But this isn’t something you should put on the back burner or save only for Employee Appreciation Day. Instead, employee appreciation should be a frequent affair, woven into the very fabric of your company culture.

Yet intertwining company-wide appreciation into your approach and employee-first initiatives isn’t always as simple as it sounds — a few suggestions never hurt. Use these staff appreciation ideas year-round to celebrate milestones, forge a fun work environment, and reward your employees for propelling your company forward.

Why You Should Apply Employee Appreciation Ideas at Your Business

Employee appreciation increases employee morale, consequently lowering churn rates and rehiring costs for the company. Plus, you can attract the best people when they hear about the incredible employee experience, how you reward employees, and how you value their contributions to the company.  

A University of South Florida study found that regular staff appreciation improved worker retention by up to 68%. The same study found that recruitment efforts increased by up to 56% when staff appreciation ideas were touted by current and former employees. All of this leads to improved value and satisfaction among employees.

Unsurprisingly, when employees feel valued and satisfied, they're also more productive and engaged. Promoting employee engagement can lead to a 23% increase in profitability, an 18% increase in sales, and a 10% improvement in customer satisfaction.

Despite employee appreciation and recognition being valuable, it isn't a common practice. Only one in three workers received recognition for great work. This percentage can fall even further in remote teams, showcasing one of the pitfalls of remote work, even if the face of its improved work-life balance and remote talent acquisition.

The same case study found the most memorable (and often impactful) recognition came directly from the employee’s direct manager, showing you don’t need to have complex systems in place or ritually award Employee of the Month titles. Even simple gestures like a shoutout on social media or Slack or a handwritten note work just as well.

But, you must consciously analyze what they do for you to recognize employees and the whole team. The best staff appreciation ideas come from an objective look at accomplishments — and then an inward dive into each employee’s personality, tastes, and unique qualities.

23 Year-Round Staff Appreciation Ideas That Your Employees Will Enjoy

Manager appreciating and recognizing an employee in front of staff members

Aside from work anniversaries or birthdays, Employee Appreciation Day is the most popular day for employers to give employee appreciation gifts — and with good reason. Not every employee needs constant adoration, positivity, or even a pat on the back for every task. But the more they receive, the greater the odds of overcoming staff member turnover, burnout, or workday doldrums.

However, you don’t have to wait to celebrate Employee Appreciation Day to bestow gifts on your top performers or new employees. Any individual or team achievement can act as a recognition platform — the day is irrelevant.

Incorporate as many options into your company’s mix as possible, ensuring everyone feels recognized regularly — whether online or in person.

5 Perks for Remote and In-office Workers

Today's remote workers aren't hanging around the water cooler — well, maybe the virtual one — but still, extra perks beyond health insurance and retirement funds are all the rage these days.  With perks as part of your staff appreciation ideas, you can make your employees feel valued (and fueled) for the day.

1. Provide Healthy Foods for Free

Healthy snacks everyone likes to eat are a small perk that can show your appreciation for your employees. Hoppier has you covered with gift cards so your employees can get what they want — from a pint of ice cream at home to a mocha in the break room.

2. Maintain a Clean Office

Sending a cleaning crew to clean employee home offices prevents your team from worrying about vacuuming, dusting, and organizing. Instead, they can work and think clearly and creatively in a fresh space.

3. Provide Quality Office Supplies

Paper clips, markers, pens, and stationery as part of your company swag are game-changers, saving your staff money and acting as a top employee appreciation idea. If you want other creative ways to boost your staff’s morale and working ability — albeit on a higher budget — charging docks, headphones, and other gadgets for the home office can make great corporate gifts.

4. Offer Collective Meals on Occasion

Perhaps pizzas once a week, coffee twice a month, or even a food truck to the company parking lot where employees can safely gather on the first Friday of the month. Whatever you choose, collective meals are a fun way to gather your team for onboarding, team-building, or just because. Your team will almost certainly feel appreciated when they’ve got amazing food to enjoy.

5. Pay for Parking or Transit

Parking has become oppressively expensive in many major cities. Cover a yearly parking pass, or consider covering transit to meetings or conferences as part of your staff appreciation ideas. Your employees certainly won’t mind a thousand dollars or more in their pockets each year.

3 Ways To Express Gratitude as Part of Your Staff Appreciation Initiatives

Woman smiling while typing on a tablet

Sometimes, all employees need to hear to know they’re appreciated is “Good work on that project.” With simplicity at the core of praise, employee appreciation ideas aren’t overblown or taken as insincere. When you express gratitude, the overt message hits home.

6. Thank-you Cards

A personal thank-you card is a nice gesture for employees who’ve made a difference in the office. Paired with a virtual or digital personalized gift, your employees will appreciate the gesture even more.

7. Regular Employee Recognition

Everyone has a strength they bring to the table, and together, everyone shines. Host an awards ceremony where you call out everyone's one shining moment. Recognize everyone together to foster a sense of gratitude among the entire team and encourage teamwork — a synergistic move that supports camaraderie on top of your staff appreciation ideas.

8. Incorporate Positive Feedback in the Employee Review Process

Hold regular employee reviews and train your management staff to incorporate positive feedback and praise. You can also have each employee write a nice note about an employee's skills and work presence to show how valued they really are.

5 Methods To Create a Culture of Appreciation and Advancement

Employee appreciation ideas are most impactful when they’re integrated into your company culture. Embrace this fully, offering opportunities for career advancement or employee services like the ones listed below.

9. Offer Regular Training

Equip your people with the necessary skills and education to see them excel. With a personal or professional stipend, you can give employees the chance for improved on-the-job performance or passionate pursuits.

10. Set Up Mentoring Programs

Offering career advancement opportunities and mentoring are sure to excite your best employees. Improve employee engagement by creating one-on-one mentorship programs with higher-level employees that teach your staff new skills coming straight from someone they revere.

11. Cover Educational Conferences

Conferences are an excellent place to learn new skills and a strong networking opportunity. Covering one or two conferences a year (including a hotel stay if possible) is a smart, win-win way to show appreciation for your team.

12. Provide Tax Services

No one likes doing their taxes, and the more complex they are, the more the fear of an audit grows. Services like employer-sponsored tax support during tax season are a huge asset and a top staff appreciation idea.

13. Create Employee Recognition Programs

These formal programs facilitate peer-to-peer recognition, often with financial rewards received as participants' perks. You can build upon these programs with other employee appreciation ideas as a one-two punch.

Do Something Fun With These 4 Employee Appreciation Ideas

Staff members having a work party

At the end of a busy period or during a slower season, take some time to do something fun for your team. This counts as going above and beyond in a way your team may recognize.

14. Get Personalized Cups and Mugs

Whether you purchase a personalized water bottle, coffee cup, or beer mug, this staff appreciation idea gives you a chance to pick something each team member would personally like and even add some humor, which is good for morale. Plus, they'll provide a fun talking point during your next Zoom conference call.

15. Throw a Work Party

End a little early Friday afternoon and have an in-office or virtual party with food, drinks, and games. Think Mario Cart tournaments, board games, or escape rooms at the end of every project period for positive team building or take-home cocktail kits for the perfect digital happy hour.

16. Take Everyone to Lunch

Taking your teams out for lunch is a proven employee appreciation idea to show you care. Pick a fan-favorite restaurant or a local hot spot, but be sure to remain mindful of those with dietary restrictions.

If you have a fully distributed team, try Lunch Roulette, which combines lunch's social and delicious aspects with the chance for team members to get to know each other.

17. Give Virtual Tickets

What if you could make it easy for employees to tune into events from anywhere? From live concerts to Broadway productions to comedy shows, virtual tickets allow people to see top-notch entertainment anywhere in the world.

Hoppier is one of the best virtual gifts out there to streamline the ticket-buying process. You can set up a Hoppier gift to pay for various live events through different vendors. Then, the recipient can choose from whatever specific events they'd like to see.

Add 3 Financial Rewards to Your Staff Appreciation Ideas

Put your money where your mouth is…literally. While a day off is a nice surprise, employees are (unsurprisingly) motivated by financial rewards. Well-paid employees typically stay longer, reducing the costs associated with high turnover.

18. Offer Bonuses

If your team dominates a project and you have room in the budget to give bonuses, add it to your list of employee appreciation ideas. Even $100 a person makes a big impact. You can get more creative with bonuses by offering sales challenges as part of a sales kickoff.

19. Incentivize With PTO

Few people will turn up their noses at one more vacation day or eight more hours of PTO. Offer this staff appreciation idea to show how much you value an employee's hard work — and let them choose what they want to do with their time on your dollar.

20. Distribute Gift Cards

Order bulk gift cards and pass them to team members at the end of a big project or during the holidays. Keep a few on hand for birthdays, milestones, or anniversaries, allowing your staff to purchase everything from Amazon necessities to Starbucks caffeine injections.

Promote Employee Well-being in 3 Steps

Employee fitness

Healthy employees are happy employees, and investing in your team's feelings always breeds great results. Wellness is becoming more accessible and recognized than ever, so you can easily create a corporate wellness program for remote employees as part of your staff appreciation ideas.

21. Introduce a Fitness Perks Program

A recent trend that's received quite a lot of popularity is that fitness perks allow employees to stay healthy mentally and physically without the extra cost. Provide a monthly stipend for fitness and offer group classes online so employees can stay motivated together.

22. Make Mindfulness Accessible

Mindfulness can make your employees happier, less stressed, and more resilient. Give your team members a mental health stipend for talk therapy, meditation classes, yoga, and more for a fresh approach to employee appreciation ideas. You're guaranteed to see a difference!

23. Offer Free Coaching Services

Health coaches can help people learn to incorporate better habits into their lifestyles, whether improving sleep, cooking healthier, or walking daily. Give your workers a chance to access the expertise of a health coach so they can focus on goals that matter to them.

Add Employee Appreciation Ideas To Your Employee Retention and Management Approach

Staff appreciation ideas can impact your company culture and increase productivity significantly. Recognizing your workers also improves employee retention, making your business more successful in the long run and curbing the costs of finding, hiring, and training new team members.

For best results, incorporate a mixture of different tactics to demonstrate employee appreciation into your company culture, ensuring that employees are shown appreciation on multiple fronts. This low-cost and high-reward strategy will easily pay for itself before you know it. Visit our other posts for more gift ideas that say "thank you" to your employees!

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