47 creative rewards and recognition to boost employee morale and improve productivity.
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Finding new ways to reward employees can be difficult, especially when you have day-to-day operations to think about. But if you give employees the same old restaurant voucher every time you want to show appreciation, they may question how much you value them. Luckily, there are multiple employee rewards and recognition ideas that can show your employees just how much you care.
From personalized gifts to company-wide events, we’ve compiled a list of the best rewards and recognition ideas to increase employee engagement and satisfaction. With plenty of low-budget and low-effort options included, we have ideas to suit all types of companies.
47 Rewards and Recognition Ideas For Motivating Employees
Here are our 47 meaningful, fun, and effective employee recognition ideas to help develop your company culture and keep your employees happy.
Praise and recognition are great in any form, but public recognition is far more valuable in a professional setting. It helps employees build their reputations, grow their networks, and access more opportunities. Plus, it just feels good to be recognized when you make a difference.
There are all sorts of ways to praise your employees publicly, like making announcements during meetings or creating a wall of fame showcasing current and previous employees of the month.
Our tip: Use a dedicated employee recognition app to show your appreciation for outstanding employees.
Rewarding employees with gift cards is a tried and true method of employee recognition. You can choose from restaurants, retailers, or even brands like Apple and Amazon to give employees more buying options.
With the Connecteam Rewards app, you can give out tokens to your employees for a job well done. When employees collect enough tokens, they can exchange them for gift cards, allowing you to reward even the smallest achievements in a practical yet meaningful way.
You can also recognize good work, distribute rewards, and track usage all in one app with Connecteam’s employee recognition software.
You can test it out first with a free 14-day trial to see all of its helpful features.
For industries with a strict dress code, implementing casual attire days is a great way to reward employees. It’s common for dress-down days to happen on Fridays so employees can end the week comfortably. It also allows them to start socializing right after work ends, rather than going home to change first. These can be weekly or monthly events depending on what suits your company, and it costs little to no money or effort.
Massage Gift Cards
Workplace massage programs are typically hugely popular with employees of all ages. They help promote relaxation, reduce stress, and improve circulation, ultimately improving morale and productivity. Look for a local therapist to partner with to help support local small business owners with your generosity.
If you’re a smaller company or even a large company with a dedicated work experience team, distributing personalized gifts to employees can be worth the effort. By tailoring a gift to an individual, you can make them feel special and appreciated. Some popular personalized gift ideas include office supplies with names engraved or framed photos of previous workplace events.
Work From Home
Studies indicate that employees working with a hybrid office and remote work system have experienced significant improvements in their mental health. You can customize the specifics to suit your company, but any extra freedom you can give to your employees will help improve their work-life balance.
Thank You Videos
Managers won’t always be geographically close to the employee they want to recognize, but this doesn’t mean thank-you notes have to be restricted to written messages. Instead, you can send your appreciation in video form. Seeing your body language and hearing your tone of voice will help make even simple praise feel more sincere and special.
Swapping out an email for a handwritten note is another way to make your praise seem more human and less corporate. It’s also a good method for managers and employees who may visit the same locations but not be in the same place at the same time.
Blog or Newsletter Features
When you’re blessed with standout employees, there’s nothing wrong with shouting it from the rooftops. Let the company, your competitors, and clients see how proud you are of your staff by posting their achievements in public spaces like your newsletter or blog. This can help motivate employees and even boost their careers by building their reputations.
Our tip: Invest in a team chat app to instantly share updates, news, and important messages with everyone in your organization
Care packages are a fun way to treat employees, whether you send them directly to their houses or leave them on their desks. The contents can vary from stationery and useful tools to snacks and luxury items. It’s common to send a care package as a surprise with a note explaining how you value that employee.
Gifting a popular subscription like Netflix, Spotify, Disney Plus, or Amazon Prime is a practical but luxurious reward for employees. Subscriptions are often the first thing to go when someone decides they need to start budgeting, but you can help your employees continue to enjoy their favorite services without any monetary stress. This generosity can also build employee loyalty.
Company swag is a smart combination of self-promotion and employee appreciation. By giving employees a yearly merchandise allowance, they can treat themselves to branded clothing, office supplies, and useful items while conveniently promoting your company wherever they go.
Many popular coffee chains worldwide offer a monthly membership that pre-pays for a person’s daily coffee. The service often comes with an app so you can order the coffee in advance for pick-up, and it helps streamline that morning commute. While many people might consider it an unnecessary expense, it’s sure to be appreciated as a reward.
Good food and drinks go further than you’d think. Treats make the work day more enjoyable, and it’s easy to give employees instant access by keeping the office well-stocked. You can do this by setting up a permanent snack corner in the office. You can even get creative and offer both fun and healthy snacks and order cakes or other special treats during a busy period when morale is likely to be low. You should also provide alternatives for different dietary requirements.
Custom Emoji on Slack
One quirky and fun way to reward and recognize an employee is to create a custom emoji for them on Slack. This could be their face, their pet, or something they love. Slack is a tool many employees use on a daily basis, so this effortless token of appreciation can work as a fun and frequent reminder of their hard work.
Online Courses and Certifications
Supporting your employees’ growth and education is another meaningful way to show your appreciation for them. From role-specific certifications to recreational and personal interests, you can grant your employees access to all sorts of educational content to help their personal and professional development.
Employee rewards and recognition ideas that help your team members grow professionally are beneficial on a range of levels. While it’s possible that this training might be put to use at another company one day, the more rewards you give and the appreciation you show, the more your employees will be inclined to stay.
If you have loyal workers that have proven themselves time and time again, granting them new levels of freedom can really make them feel appreciated and even help their mental health. Giving employees the option to be a little more flexible with their hours is a low-cost, low-risk reward when you give it to someone who will use it responsibly and continue producing high-quality work.
Books are timeless gifts that work well as employee rewards. You can choose from work-related topics to help aid professional development or use your knowledge of their hobbies and personality to choose something they enjoy. A third option is to give them a book you have or want to recommend to them to reward them and improve your relationship.
This is often an impromptu reward a manager announces to a team after a particularly hard day’s work or a well-done job. Letting your team go home early after finishing a project or hitting a milestone is a great way to end the day on a high note, encourage motivation, and start the next day extra rested and refreshed.
Parties and Group Activities
Office parties don’t suit everyone, so most companies no longer implement this as their primary form of employee appreciation. However, they’re still enjoyable for many people and can be a great way to promote networking and socializing within the company. If you go this route, you can organize big events for special occasions or just provide food, drink, and music in the office social area for a more casual event. If your team is remote, plan an online trivia game or offer a bingo card for employees to keep up with during the next company-wide meeting.
If your employees are working with a free or limited version of certain software, upgrading them to a higher tier is a practical but thoughtful way to show appreciation. In exchange for the expense, you’ll gain appreciative employees and a possible increase in productivity thanks to the additional software features.
Discounts for Local Attractions
Most local attractions, such as museums, aquariums, and leisure centers, offer discounts and special passes you can give to your employees. You can hand these out when a team member does a great job or distribute them on work anniversaries and birthdays.
Office dogs are a perk implemented by many different kinds of companies all over the world. Petting and playing with a friendly puppy is proven to reduce stress and promote relaxation, and it’s something that gets employees excited. You can partner with local shelters or pay for a service to bring dogs in. You could also implement a bring-your-dog-to-work day to give your team members fluffy companions.
Free tickets to events like movies, concerts, sports matches, or festivals give employees a memorable experience. You can go the extra mile and match tickets to employees’ tastes and hobbies to make the gift special and appreciated. This is a great way to make an employee feel like their manager not only appreciates their work but also knows and cares about them as a person.
Off-sites are company-wide events where employees from different offices gather in a special location for a mixture of work-related and recreational activities. Many companies hold conferences and summits, while others host hackathons or training events. Off-sites are usually held in a nice location where employees can socialize and have fun after the workday.
It’s a great opportunity to encourage productivity and reward employees, as many offsites are held over multiple days where everyone works hard and plays hard. Off-sites can also be a good time to hold employee achievement ceremonies and give out peer-to-peer recognition awards. These events are very effective at motivating employees, and it’s usually a yearly occurrence that the entire company looks forward to.
If you want to reward your employees but give them the freedom to choose their own perks, care benefits can be an efficient way to do this. Instead of preparing gifts and rewards to give out, you give an employee a budget to buy whatever they want. Then they can simply use the receipt to expense the purchase. You can give employees complete freedom or restrict purchases for certain purposes like personal well-being.
Buying and preparing food daily for lunch can be tiresome and costly for employees. You can take one thing off your employees’ plates with catered lunches. It’s common in many countries for workplaces of all types to provide lunch for their workers. Although it’s not typically free (it comes from employees’ paychecks), it often costs less than buying lunch from a store daily and saves employees time.
This reward takes effort, planning, and maintenance, but it can become something that keeps employees at your company for longer and attracts new talent as well.
Time off is arguably one of the best rewards and recognition ideas to offer to your employees, and it’s often reserved for special occasions like birthdays. However, you can reward your team members with days off however you see fit. You can use them to recognize employees’ achievements or as a prize for a friendly competition.
Rewards don’t always have to be fun and recreational. Providing your staff with useful perks to help increase their spare cash or improve their work-life balance is also a valid way to show your appreciation. These rewards are particularly effective at increasing loyalty to the company and reducing turnover because you’re helping your staff live better than they could at another company.
Subsidized travel is one of the most popular practical rewards, and it can help most employees. You can help pay for fuel for drivers, tickets for public transport users, bikes for cyclists, and even walking shoes for those who commute on foot.
Celebrating birthdays is a reasonably inexpensive way to reward employees and keep morale up. It helps people feel special on their birthdays and helps perk up everyone who celebrates alongside them. Of course, larger companies will have birthdays nearly every day, so it’s best to keep celebrations between teams, departments, or office floors.
You can celebrate with a cake or a small gift and involve other team members in the planning. Gift cards for a birthday meal are also a good idea. And keep in mind the celebration doesn’t always have to take place on-site.
Restricted Stock Units (RSUs) are a type of compensation in the form of stock shares. Companies give these to employees as rewards for good work or milestones within the company. Special rules dictate when ownership transfers to the employee and when they can sell, but they’re lower risk than normal shares as they always retain value.
Upgraded Social Space
Give your employees somewhere to socialize during lunch or after hours by setting up or improving your social space. Provide comfy sofas and chairs, big TVs, game consoles and board games, and a kitchenette stocked with drinks and snacks.
Office social spaces are always popular because they give colleagues somewhere to talk without making reservations for a large party. They can also control the music volume and enjoy their own private space.
Plus, giving your passionate employees more opportunities to spend time together will result in great new ideas and collaborations, even when the focus is recreation, not work.
Upgrading your equipment frequently is beneficial for your employees and their productivity. When old computers and equipment get in the way of efficiency, your staff must push themselves harder to meet deadlines and keep the pace up. This can negatively affect their stress levels and cause them to exert more effort than necessary.
By keeping equipment new and up to date, you can help team members complete jobs faster and more efficiently, leaving them time and energy to start their next task. It’s also an excellent way for upper management to show that they pay attention and care about the day-to-day efforts of their staff.
Another possible employee benefit you can reward your employees with is a free gym membership. Gym memberships are typically costly, so taking on this expense for your employees will make them feel appreciated and let them know you care about their well-being. By giving your employees a gym membership, you can promote good health and boost morale all in one.
Small Token Gifts
This can include desk decorations, stationery, office supplies, humorous mugs, magnets, or stickers. Any small token you think an employee would enjoy or find a use for can work as a small reward for daily efforts. You can also use a desk decoration as a trophy to present to an employee for winning a competition, performing well, or hitting targets on a weekly basis.
You can give out literal tokens with Connecteam’s Rewards app. When you have a limited number of gift cards to give way, you can only reward your employees when they do something significant enough to warrant a gift card. With tokens, however, you can reward any small achievement as frequently as you choose, and when employees collect enough tokens, they can redeem a gift card.
Give your employees the rewards they deserve with Connecteam’s Rewards app. And you can get started today for free!
Employees want to make a difference and feel like they’re contributing to big ideas in their company. Providing opportunities for employees of all levels to pitch ideas to upper management is a great way to motivate employees, promote professional development, and make people feel significant and valuable.
You can organize meetings with VPs and directors using an attendance lottery or conduct smaller sessions with managers to let people have their say. This is a great way to incorporate a “best idea wins” atmosphere into your company culture.
Milestone Gifts and Recognition
Staying with a company for a long time is a big deal. It’s a big deal for the employee and an ideal situation for the company that should be promoted and encouraged. When you hold a company-wide town hall or large-scale meeting, announcing recent milestones for employees is a great way to recognize long-time contributors.
For gifts, you can choose between personalized items that reflect the company’s relationship with the individual or a standardized gift everyone can look forward to earning one day. The key is to convey your appreciation sincerely. Long-serving employees contribute a lot of value to your company by accumulating experience and reducing turnover, so let them know that you acknowledge their service.
Small and friendly competitions between team members can motivate and boost morale. The achievement doesn’t have to be huge, and the prize doesn’t have to be significant. It just has to be enough to create laughs and incentivize employees to push themselves a little harder regularly.
Competitions are among the most fun and customizable rewards and recognition ideas. They help with team building, improve the atmosphere, and encourage everyone to acknowledge each other’s achievements.
Work-life balance is notoriously difficult to perfect, and sometimes project deadlines require employees and managers alike to push themselves harder and work extra hours. In situations like this, having a nap space in the office is the best way to help your employees rest whenever the opportunity arises.
Office nap spaces are often set up as small capsule rooms with a lock, a simple small bed, and some soundproofing. Overtime can be unavoidable sometimes, but employees don’t need to suffer more than necessary.
Quality-of-life improvements include better office chairs, standing desks, refreshments, and other perks to promote well-being. For example, some companies gift their employees a high-quality company-branded water bottle to encourage proper hydration habits.
It can also refer to building improvements or repairs, creating extra parking, improving airflow and heating, or anything else your employees might request. Not all improvements are easy to achieve, but if your team members work hard and you want to reward them, you can go the extra mile to break through the red tape and get things done.
Social Slack Channels
Promoting social interactions within your company is a great way to develop your company culture and help employees improve their lives outside of work. One hands-off approach is to allow employees to create and participate in social slack channels. This helps like-minded colleagues find each other through hobbies and interests and encourages employees to make new connections that can positively impact their work lives.
A LinkedIn recommendation is a personal and impactful reward for a manager to give an employee. This involves leaving a professional review of an individual on their LinkedIn profile where recruiters and potential future employers can see it. It can help your team members grow their reputations and influence in the industry and help them land their next role. It’s the ultimate way to thank someone for their service and acknowledge them as a valuable individual.
You can run half-day Fridays in a variety of different ways. For some companies, it means going home early, while for others, it means moving over to the social space for a drink. Other organizations allow their employees to put down their current work for the day and engage in their own professional development projects.
The latter half of a Friday is known to be one of the least productive times in the week, so rather than pushing your employees for little gain, you can choose to boost morale and increase productivity for the next week.
Colleagues and managers see different parts of an employee’s efforts, so giving out a mixture of peer-voted and manager-voted rewards is a good idea. This helps highlight different kinds of value and talent in your employees, giving the supportive and helpful people a chance to shine alongside the high-achievers.
Employee Appreciation Day
It’s possible to pick a variety of ideas and implement them all on one special day dedicated to recognition, awards, and prizes. This could be a yearly event when a range of awards are given out, food and beverages are supplied, and employees have the chance to socialize and have fun. You could combine this with the company off-site or staff party to create a fun and elaborate way to publicly recognize your most hardworking employees.
Reward remote teams by flying members to the same office for a special collaboration project or hackathon. This can be an awesome opportunity for colleagues to get to know each other, socialize, and improve their teamwork. It also lets employees experience new places and travel for free.
It can be challenging for a permanently remote team to bond, so office visits can help them improve their relationships and start to work better even when separated. Make sure to change up the locations over time so each team member gets a chance to travel.
For passionate and motivated employees, rewards that help them to grow and develop their skills are invaluable. Show them you’re invested in their future by scheduling a personal mentoring session with a director, VP, or executive they respect. Not only will they be grateful for the experience, but you can help shape the future executives of your company by helping your younger employees grow.
Why Rewards Are So Important
Good employee morale levels are hugely beneficial for your business. It keeps productivity up and turnover down and helps you produce long-term, experienced employees that know your company inside out. You already compensate your employees with a salary, but individual recognition and rewards keep people fulfilled and motivated daily.
Putting thought and care into showing employee appreciation will also help keep your employees with you instead of moving to competitor companies. With these rewards and recognition ideas, you can give your employees the perfect combination of personal, practical, and social rewards to help them grow and thrive at your company.