5 Business Leaders Share Their Best Employee Appreciation Ideas


Employees are the backbone of any successful business; it’s their hard work that helps turn visions into realities and investments into profits. All too often, in the rush of major projects and boardroom expectations, it can be easy to overlook employees. This might lead an employee to feel underappreciated, which can affect their performance on the job in addition to their happiness outside the workplace.

In order to ensure that your staff is happy at the company, it’s vital to show appreciation for the great work they do to encourage even better performance as time goes on. Maintaining or improving performance has plenty to do with tried-and-true tools and techniques which lead to results, but even more to do with consistently recognizing a job well done. It doesn’t have to be something big, sometimes it’s the smallest token of gratitude that makes an employee feel appreciated.

Creative Employee Appreciation Ideas

With that in mind, we asked five business leaders from a variety of industries and backgrounds for their most creative employee appreciation ideas that help keep their staff happy and motivated. Their answers prove that the same old Hallmark card or gift certificate to your local chain restaurant doesn’t cut it anymore in a highly competitive marketplace. Sometimes you need to take your efforts the extra mile to help reduce employee burnout, or worse, turnover.

ideas for showing employees you appreciate them

Deliver Something Special in Person

Michael Sitver, the founder of historic letter subscription service Letterjoy, believes hand-delivering some personal tokens of appreciation is vital to show thanks for a job well-done.

“One of the most meaningful gifts you can give in the digital age is a hand-written thank-you note. Thank-you emails are perfunctory. Employees expect them as an indicator that they’ve successfully finished a task,” said Sitver.

“Hand-written notes convey just how much you really appreciate them. Deliver it to their desk with coffee, tea, or a book you feel they may enjoy to make your gift extra special.”

Award an Extravagant Trip

James Lloyd-Townshend, CEO of niche technology recruiter Frank Recruitment Group, runs annual incentive contests for the firm’s employees to have a chance at winning a once-in-a-lifetime trip to meet up with their colleagues from around the globe and celebrate collective achievements.

“We run regular incentives to give our employees the chance to earn a place on once-in-a-lifetime holidays. Our latest incentive was an all-expenses paid, five-star trip to Cape Town which included cage diving with sharks. We rewarded 18 of our top performing consultants who produced great results across permanent and contract job placements in 2017. We also recognized four members of our support staff who went above and beyond to help the company. The trip, which doesn’t affect their annual leave allowance, brings together colleagues from our offices across the globe, letting them network with each other,” noted Lloyd-Townshend.

“These incentives have been a staple of our company for more than 10 years, and we find that they’re a great motivator for staff, a topic of conversation around the water cooler and, of course, we see great ROI from the trips as it encourages our sales team to go the extra mile to secure that vacation-winning deal.”

Give Them a Night on the Town

Andrei Vasilescu, CEO of money saving platform DontPayFull, likes to award his employees with passes to entertainment events they enjoy to help them have a fun night out on the company.

Vasilescu said, “People love to watch favorite sports events or musical performances of their favorite stars. Find and learn which of your team members like specific sports, or who have interests in music and provide them free passes of their individual favorite events as gifts. You cannot make them much happier in many other ways.”

Let Them Share Their Passion

Sid Soil, CEO of document scanning and storage company DOCUDavit Solutions, facilitates monthly master classes where his employees present on a subject either work or hobby related which they want to teach to their colleagues. Each contributor to these master classes is awarded with their own personalized luncheon.

“I oversee 20 employees, many of whom have been with the company since inception. I believe my high employee retention is the result of the following employee appreciation model,” noted Soil.

“Once a month we host an employee Master Class. The employee can share something personal (home DIY project, hobbies, etc) or it can be work related and they teach it to the rest of the group. The whole team attends this fun, interactive training. It is a great way for our staff to get to know each other better and inspire continuous education.”

Remember Them on Birthdays & Anniversaries

Serena Holmes, CEO of experiential marketing and event staffing agency Tigris Events, makes sure to adapt recognition gifts based on individual contributions and overall recent successes.

“For our team at headquarters, we recognize work anniversaries and birthdays. This may include decorating their desks, giving them gifts/cards and sweets. We also like to recognize wins or hard work. For example, one of our team members had to help empty garbage at a street festival so we gave her a certificate for a manicure as a token of gratitude the next day,” said Holmes.

“For BA’s on our roster, we send out recognition cards, highlight them in newsletters and on social—as well as reward the top BA’s on our team at the end of each year with gift cards. For clients, we send out gift baskets or take them out for lunch after big programs. We also send out gifts over the holidays and occasionally at Thanksgiving as well. What better time to recognize them than then!”

The More You Give, The More You Get

When it comes to employee appreciation, you’ll find that the more you give, the more you get. Use these 5 creative employee appreciation ideas to make your staff feel welcome and motivated to tackle the next milestone. Who knows, with this renewed energy they might be able to take your company further than you ever thought possible.

Make sure you’re recognizing your employees’ successes by arming them with the right tools to organize their work and projects. ProjectManager.com is the perfect tool for the occasion. Our cloud-based project management software has online data storage, task management tools and Gantt charts to organize all of your new projects. Try it out for yourself with this free 30-day trial.

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