The Employee Recognition Toolkit: 28 Proven Employee Thank You Ideas to Try

Cassy Aite
January 17, 2023
Employee Thank You Ideas | Employee Recognition Ideas | Hoppier

Are you tired of losing valuable employees due to a lack of professional development and uninspiring leadership? 

You aren't alone.

Retaining top talent is crucial for the growth and success of your business. But the main question is how — how do you keep your employees engaged and motivated? 

The answer is actually simple: show them appreciation! 

In this blog, we'll dive into the importance of employee recognition, different types of recognition, and a list of 28 creative ways to say "thank you" to your staff. 

Whether you're looking to boost retention or simply show your gratitude, this guide has you covered. 

Let's get started.

Why is employee recognition important?

Girl holding a gift

Experts have found 69% of employees say they would work harder if their efforts were better recognized. But employee recognition influences more than employees — it affects the entire company. 

Here are just a few key benefits of recognizing and rewarding your employees:

  • Improved Retention: Recognizing and rewarding your employees can help to increase their loyalty to the company and reduce turnover.
  • Enhanced Teamwork and Collaboration: When employees see that their contributions are being recognized, it can encourage them to work together and collaborate more effectively.
  • Increased Productivity: Recognizing and rewarding employees for their hard work can help to increase their productivity by giving them a sense of purpose and encouraging them to perform at their best.
  • Greater Customer Satisfaction: Happy and motivated employees are more likely to provide better service to customers, which can lead to increased customer satisfaction.
  • Boosted Morale and Motivation: Recognizing the efforts of your employees can make them feel valued and appreciated, which can in turn boost their morale and motivation.

Prioritizing employee recognition creates a win-win situation for both you and your employees. By recognizing and rewarding their hard work, you can create a positive and productive work environment, resulting in a more engaged and motivated workforce, which ultimately leads to a successful business.

Employee recognition best practices

To ensure that your recognition efforts are meaningful and impactful, here are some best practices to keep in mind

  • Timeliness: Recognize employees as soon as possible after they have done something worthy of recognition. This will help to reinforce the behavior and show that it is valued by the company.
  • Specificity: Be specific about what the employee did that deserves recognition, rather than giving a general "good job." This will help to make the recognition more meaningful.
  • Personalization: Tailor the recognition to the employee's specific interests or preferences to make it feel more special and appreciated.
  • Consistency: Make recognition an ongoing process, rather than a one-time event, to create a culture of recognition within the company.
  • Visibility: Share recognition publicly, whether it be in a company-wide email or at a team meeting, to increase its impact and encourage others to strive for similar achievements.
  • Feedback: Ask employees for their input on the recognition process to ensure that it is meeting their needs and preferences.
  • Sincerity: Make sure the recognition is genuine and authentic, rather than feeling forced or insincere. Be clear on why the employee deserves recognition.

Now, let's get to the fun part!

Employee thank you ideas

Here is a list of 35 employee recognition ideas that you can employ in your company.

Verbal Recognition 

1. Just say “thank you”!

"Thank you" can be more powerful than you think. Showing appreciation for your employees' hard work can make a world of difference in their motivation and engagement. A simple handwritten note or card expressing your gratitude can make them feel valued and understood.

Written recognition

2. Go public with your appreciation.

Showcase your employees' achievements and hard work with a personal touch. 

Share their picture on signage or social media with a message about their contributions and how much you appreciate them. Make them feel like stars by highlighting their specific efforts and their impact on the business. 

Take a cue from Zomato. The company sends out personalized emails appreciating their delivery partners and discussing their journey to strike a personal chord. 

Zomato email

3. Send 'Thank you' notes 

Take a moment to express your gratitude for your employees' hard work and the specific ways in which they have contributed to the team. A heartfelt gesture such as a post-it note, certificate, or a real card on their work desks can make all the difference. 

4. Send a card

Surprise your employees with a card delivered to their doorstep for a job well done, rather than just a pat on the back, hugely impacts their motivation and engagement.

What's more, sending a card doesn't have to be reserved for special occasions like work anniversaries or years of service. Send a card when they complete challenging projects or even when welcoming new team members. 

Monetary rewards

5. Show them the money

Monetary benefits never disappointed anyone. If you can, make sure you pay them a little extra cash to show that you recognize and appreciate their efforts and achievements.

6. Give extra vacation time

Give your employees paid or unpaid time off for vacations with their families. Additionally, you can also start a team retreat that allows all your WFH and on-site staff to meet and enjoy themselves on a beach. Allow them to have a say in the vacation place and show them the rewards for their hard work.

7. Send them on a shopping spree.

A paid shopping experience is hands down an employee thank you idea your team will love.

​​

Hand out Hoppier virtual cards to your employees based on their preferences, such as a music subscription, restaurant, and bookstore. Just set your dollar limit and pick from Hoppier's extraordinary partnerships with global vendors like Starbucks for fresh morning coffee and IKEA for their WFH setups. 

Have large teams? Don't worry; Hoppier also has bulk gift cards for bulk gifting.

8. Help with the commute

If your staff has to visit the office in person, consider shouldering additional commuting or parking expenses. You don't have to cover all costs — just bear part of the expenses like one-way bus tickets and garage charges. 

Non-monetary rewards

9. Provide education assistance or mentoring​

Invest in your employees' professional growth by paying for education loans and training, and provide mentorship opportunities for experienced staff to guide and support new employees. These small but meaningful gestures can make a big impact on employee engagement and motivation.

10. Make a shout-out wall

Create a wall for employees to write sticky notes of appreciation, or display your company's programs on digital signage.

11. Employee recognition tees

Gift your company-branded t-shirts for different awards as a creative way to show appreciation. Allow employees to wear them on Fridays, or have teammates sign them with thank-you messages.

12. Give away prize tokens and tickets 

Whenever employees do good work, give them a token or ticket to enter a monthly prize drawing event. Use lucky draw machines to get prizes like massages, courses, gift cards, movie tickets, or company tees.

13. Make an employee recognition parking program

Offer one of the best parking spots for employees who go above and beyond to deliver results. Add a name board around the parking spot, or decorate it to show everyone who the winner is.

14. Celebrate daily wins

Starting team meetings with wins is a great way to promote a positive environment. Encourage employees to share their successes and ensure other employees show gratitude towards them.

Public recognition

15. Put your staff on your website or social media

Your website and social media platforms are a great way to appreciate your employees. Plus, the fact that it also humanizes your brand is another plus.

Check if only the top-level staff are on your website. If yes, try to include pictures of other staff members on the website on a rolling basis. This will also give your customers a chance to know your organization from within, by putting faces and bios on names. 

Or, you can share a simple status on LinkedIn or Twitter, giving them a shout-out.

 

16. Write a LinkedIn recommendation

LinkedIn recommendations are a great way of driving more employee engagement. When you write a review for them, it demonstrates your appreciation of their work and role in your company. Consider endorsing skills that match your employee’s role to help them in future career development and growth. 

17. Get a trophy out

Trophies are a great way to recognize staff efforts. You can include these trophies for big occasions like a huge sign-off deal and give them to the team member who contributed the most to achieving the goal. 

You can also add a touch of humor to your trophy and pass it around to employees who do good work.

Individualized recognition

18. Ask your employees!

Another awesome employee thank you idea is to simply ask them what they want. 

If this feels too direct, you can also run a survey asking employees what they’d like to receive as a token of appreciation. After this, you'll never have to worry about rewarding your team with something they won't find helpful.

19. Give career-based rewards

Provide your employees with opportunities to learn and grow by offering career-based rewards like courses, online classes, training, books, etc. Not only will this be beneficial for your employees, but it will also help your company grow.

20. Give employees real choices and real voices

Employee appreciation should be a key part of your company culture. Give your employees a chance to express their opinions and make choices. 

Ask yourself: do your staff get to decide on the projects they work on, or are they always allocated tasks? Do you listen to their opinions or problems and take active measures, or do you ignore what you’ve heard?

21. Reserve time in your subsequent 1:1 meetings 

Schedule one-on-one meetings with your employees to understand their concerns, views, and how they prefer to be recognized for their work in public. Use this time to understand your workforce better and express your genuine appreciation.

Alternatively, you can also run anonymous polls asking questions related to employee concerns and their preferred mode of appreciation. 

Team recognition 

22. Create memorable small moments

Don't wait for big wins to show your appreciation, take advantage of every opportunity to make your staff feel valued and appreciated. Show your appreciation for your staff's hard work, even when it's outside of their job description. Think: helping the new employee out, volunteering to organize lunch roulettes.

By acknowledging their contributions and making them feel seen and respected, you can boost their motivation and performance.

23. Take staff out to lunch

Take your staff out for lunch, cause why not!

You can choose to take them out in large or small groups to engage with them on an individual level. Ask them about their work life and new ideas and get them out of the work zone. 

Sometimes the best ideas come up when you’re not in the workplace but across a barbeque table.  

24. Treats at work

It's always fun to receive a surprise treat that no one expected. Order a pizza for lunch time. Take some bagels or muffins to the break room and leave them there. Show them you appreciate their efforts through food.

Creative awards

25. Give them a breakroom

Transform your breakroom into a refreshing oasis for your employees! Imagine a space where they can unwind and recharge between long working hours. Add some fun elements like a music system, games, a snacks counter, and even a small library. Better yet, ask your employees what they would like to see in the breakroom, and make it happen! 

26. Create memorable small moments

Don't wait for big wins to show your appreciation, take advantage of every opportunity to make your staff feel valued and appreciated. Show your appreciation for your staff's hard work, even when it's outside of their job description. Think: helping the new employee out, volunteering to organize lunch roulettes.

By acknowledging their contributions and making them feel seen and respected, you can boost their motivation and performance.

27. Cheers from peers

When colleagues cheer for you, it makes employees feel seen and appreciated. 

It's why peer recognition is a great way to appreciate the unseen small efforts that make big changes every day. Make it easy for your staff to appreciate each other, allowing them to highlight all the positive things their teammates do to make work a better place. 

Day celebrations

28. Celebrate Employee Appreciation Day

Celebrated on the first Friday of March each year, National Employee Appreciation Day is the perfect opportunity to show your employees you admire them.

Organize a formal employee appreciation day at work, where you recognize employees for their years of service or significant achievements. Or, you could try something fun like putting a giant cake in the break room and hiring a food van for a day.

Your team will love that!

Related Reading: 26 Employee Appreciation Day Ideas to Show Your Gratitude

Signing off…

These employee recognition ideas may seem relatively insignificant, but it is this kind of consistent flow and variety of recognition that keeps employees motivated. The bottom line of your organization will benefit if you take the time to acknowledge and appreciate your employees. 

Pay attention to what your employees want to make your employee recognition efforts more effective. Or, take the easier way out and let employees choose gifts they like with Hoppier virtual cards.

Simplify sending employee thank you gifts with Hoppier today.

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