Employee Appreciation Best Practices: Strategies and Benefits

break room, employee appreciation day ideas

In this article, we will explore best practices for fostering a workplace recognition and gratitude culture.

What is employee appreciation?

Employee appreciation is a form of recognition that acknowledges, celebrates, and rewards the efforts and successes of individual employees or teams. It can take many forms, including verbal praise, awards, gifts, bonuses, or promotions.

Employers should make sure to recognize both small achievements and major successes to show their appreciation for all levels of employee performance.

Benefits of employee appreciation

Employee appreciation is an important part of any workplace. It helps create a positive work environment, increases morale and productivity, and encourages employees to stay with the company longer. Here are the benefits of employee appreciation for employers and the workplace:

Better Company Culture

  • Improved Employee Morale: Regularly showing appreciation to employees for their efforts and contributions help boost their morale, leading to a more positive and supportive work environment. Employees who feel valued and appreciated are likely to be more engaged, motivated, and satisfied in their roles.

  • Enhanced Employee Relationships: Employee appreciation fosters positive relationships among team members and between employees and their managers. Recognizing and celebrating their achievements promotes collaboration, camaraderie, and mutual respect, which can lead to improved teamwork, communication, and overall workplace culture.

  • Increased Employee Loyalty: Employees who feel appreciated are more likely to develop a sense of loyalty and commitment to their organization. Recognizing their hard work and dedication creates a sense of belonging, which can result in higher levels of employee engagement, loyalty, and advocacy for the company.

Useful Read: Employee Loyalty and The Different Generations in The Workplace

Increased Productivity and Creativity:

  • Higher Employee Motivation: Recognizing and appreciating employees' efforts and achievements can significantly boost their motivation to perform at their best. It creates a sense of purpose and accomplishment, encouraging employees to take pride in their work and strive for excellence, increasing productivity and creativity.

  • Enhanced Employee Engagement: Employee appreciation helps to improve employee engagement, as employees feel valued and connected to the organization's goals and values. Engaged employees are more likely to go the extra mile, come up with innovative ideas, and contribute to problem-solving efforts, resulting in increased productivity and creativity.

Useful Read: 6 Metrics to Measure Employee Engagement: The Employers Guide

  • Encourages Initiative and Risk-Taking: When employees know their contributions are recognized and appreciated, they feel empowered to take the initiative and explore new ideas without fearing failure. Employee appreciation encourages a positive risk-taking mindset, fostering creativity, innovation, and continuous improvement in the workplace.

Employee Retention and Satisfaction:

  • Improved Job Satisfaction: Employees who feel appreciated are more likely to be satisfied with their jobs and stay committed to their organization. Appreciation validates their efforts, boosts their self-esteem, and promotes job satisfaction, leading to higher levels of employee retention and loyalty.

  • Reduced Turnover: Employee appreciation plays a critical role in reducing employee turnover. When employees feel valued and appreciated, they are more likely to stay with their current organization rather than seek opportunities elsewhere. This helps organizations retain their top talent, saving recruitment and training costs associated with high turnover rates.

  • Enhanced Employer Branding: Organizations that prioritize employee appreciation are more likely to have a positive employer branding. Employees who feel appreciated are more likely to share positive feedback about their organization, resulting in improved employer branding and attracting top talent. This can also lead to increased referrals from satisfied employees, further contributing to higher retention rates.

Useful Read: The Great Place To Work Certification: The Employers Guide

30 creative employee appreciation ideas

Here are 31 ideas:

1. Celebrate "Employee Appreciation Day"

Setting aside a day to recognize and appreciate your employees is a great way to show that you value their commitment. This can be done through various activities such as company-sponsored lunches, gift cards, games, or other special events.

Best Practice

Designate a day each year to celebrate employee appreciation. Make the event meaningful by engaging with employees and showing appreciation for their hard work and contributions. Take the time to recognize individual efforts or team accomplishments and thank your employees for their dedication.

2. Recognize Your Employees. Say "Great Job" In the Public


Recognizing your employees publicly for a job well done is an underrated idea for showing employee appreciation. As a boss, your positive words can greatly boost employee morale, especially if the praise is given in front of colleagues and peers.

Best Practice

Please express your gratitude towards the specific employee by highlighting their contributions to the successful completion of a project. Emphasize their desirable qualities, such as punctuality, and convey a thoughtful and meaningful message of appreciation that resonates with the particular employee well.

3. Peer To Peer Recognition

Encourage a culture of recognition by implementing a peer-to-peer recognition program. This allows employees to appreciate and acknowledge the efforts of their colleagues. Peer-to-peer recognition promotes teamwork, boosts morale, and fosters a positive work environment.

Best Practice

It can be through a formal recognition platform or simply by creating opportunities for team and staff members to publicly recognize each other's achievements during team meetings or through a designated channel.

4. Take Them Out To A Coffee Shop Or For Lunch

Take your employees out for a coffee or lunch break to show your appreciation. This provides an opportunity for informal conversations and allows you to express your gratitude in a more relaxed setting. It also gives you a chance to connect with your employees personally, strengthening your relationship and building rapport.

Best Practice

Make sure you choose a place everyone can enjoy and don't forget to pick up the tab!

5. Celebrate Work Anniversaries and Milestones

Recognize and celebrate the work anniversaries and milestones of your employees. Celebrating work anniversaries and milestones shows that you value your employees' commitment and dedication to the organization and encourages loyalty and long-term engagement of new employees.

Best Practice

This can be done through a simple acknowledgment during team meetings, a personalized note, or a small gift.

6. Provide Professional Development Opportunities

Professional development opportunities enhance employees' skills and knowledge and demonstrate that you are invested in their career advancement and growth within the organization.

Best Practice

Invest in your employees' professional growth by providing opportunities for professional development. This can include offering training programs, workshops, seminars, or sponsoring certifications or courses.

Useful Read: The 5 stages of team development: Strategies for Success

7. Create a Wall of Fame

The Wall of Fame serves as a public recognition platform that acknowledges and celebrates the outstanding work of your employees, boosting their motivation and morale.

Best Practice

Create a physical or digital "Wall of Fame" where you showcase your employees' achievements, contributions, and milestones. This can include photos, testimonials, or quotes that highlight their accomplishments.

8. Personalized Notes or Thank You Cards

Personalized notes or thank you cards show that you genuinely recognize and value your employees' hard work and dedication.

Best Practice

Take the time to write personalized notes or thank you cards to express your appreciation to your employees. Use specific examples of their accomplishments or contributions and highlight how their efforts have positively impacted the other team member or the organization.

9. Flexible Work Arrangements

Flexible work arrangements demonstrate that you respect and care about your employees' personal needs and commitments, which can greatly contribute to their job satisfaction and overall well-being.

Useful Reads: 

The 4-day work week schedule - An Implementation  Guide
Workation Definition: A Complete Guide For Manager

Best Practice

Offer flexible work arrangements to your employees to show appreciation for their work-life balance. This can include remote work, flexible work hours, compressed work weeks, or job-sharing.

Related: Building Engagement with Remote Employees: Tips and Strategies

10. Employee Appreciation Events

Employee appreciation events provide an opportunity to acknowledge and celebrate your employees' hard work and dedication in a fun and engaging way, promoting a positive and inclusive work culture.

Best Practice

Organize employee appreciation events to celebrate the achievements and contributions of your employees. This can include a simple team lunch or breakfast, social gatherings, team-building activities, or themed events.

11. An employee of the Month/Quarter/Year Program

Reward employees with an Employee of the Month/Quarter/Year award, acknowledge their exceptional contributions and motivate others to strive for excellence.

Best Practice

Implement an Employee of the Month/Quarter/Year program to recognize and reward outstanding employees. This program can be based on specific criteria, such as performance, leadership, teamwork, or innovation.

12. Create a Recognition Wall or Board

A recognition wall or board constantly reminds employees of the value of employees contributions and encourages a positive and collaborative work environment.

Best Practice

Create a physical or digital recognition wall or board where employees can post notes, messages, or shout-outs to recognize and appreciate their peers' efforts.

This lets employees publicly acknowledge and appreciate their colleagues' achievements, creating a workplace recognition and appreciation culture.

13. Provide Opportunities for Employee Feedback

Listening to your employees' feedback and taking action on their suggestions shows that you appreciate their input and are committed to continuous improvement. It also helps employees feel heard and valued, increasing engagement and satisfaction.

Best Practice

Show your employees that you value their opinions and ideas by providing regular opportunities for feedback. This can be done through surveys, focus groups, suggestion boxes, or one-on-one meetings.

Free Download: Cheatsheet: 1-on-1 meeting Do's and Don'ts for managers

14. Offer Unique Perks or Benefits

Unique perks or health benefits demonstrate that you value your employees' well-being and work-life balance and can enhance their overall job satisfaction and loyalty.

Useful Read: Types of Benefits for Employees: A Complete Guide

Best Practice

Show appreciation to your employees by offering unique perks or benefits beyond traditional compensation. This can include benefits such as a flexible dress code, gym memberships, wellness programs, pet-friendly policies, or additional time off.

15. Organize Team-building Activities

Team work concept. People put their hands together at the meeting-1

Team-building activities allow employees to bond, build relationships, and appreciate each other's unique contributions to the team, creating a positive and cohesive work environment.

Best Practice

Foster team spirit and camaraderie by organizing team-building activities that promote collaboration, communication, and fun. This can include team-building games, competitions, off-site retreats, or social events.

16. Create a Recognition Newsletter or Blog

A recognition newsletter or blog provides a platform to acknowledge and appreciate your employees' efforts publicly, and it also helps to inspire and motivate others to excel.

Best practice

Create a regular recognition newsletter or blog where you highlight your employees' achievements, milestones, and contributions. This can include stories, testimonials, or interviews that showcase their success and impact on the organization.

17. Allow Time for Passion Projects

Allowing time for passion projects shows that you value your employees as individuals and recognize their unique talents and interests.

It can also boost creativity and innovation, as employees are encouraged to pursue their passions and bring new ideas.

Best Practice

Show appreciation for your employees' interests and passions by allowing them time to work on their projects or hobbies. This can be during work hours or as part of a flexible work arrangement.

18. Create Opportunities for Career Advancement

Creating opportunities for career advancement shows that you are invested in your employees' long-term success and development, and it encourages them to continue contributing their best efforts to the organization.

Best Practice

Recognize and support your employees' career growth by creating opportunities for advancement within the organization. This can include offering promotions, mentoring or coaching, or assigning challenging projects for skill development.

19. Recognize Extra Efforts

Recognizing extra efforts demonstrates that you value and appreciate your employees' hard work and dedication, and it encourages a culture of excellence and continuous improvement.

Best Practice

Acknowledge and appreciate the extra efforts put in by your employees to achieve exceptional results. This can include recognizing employees who go above and beyond their regular duties, consistently meet or exceed targets, or show exceptional dedication and commitment to their work.

20. Offer Employee Wellness Programs

Employee wellness programs demonstrate that you care about your employees' physical and mental well-being, and they can contribute to a healthier and more engaged workforce.

Best Practice

Show appreciation for your employees' well-being by offering employee wellness programs. This can include wellness challenges, yoga or meditation classes, mental health resources, or Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs)

21. Offer Flexible Time Off Policies

Flexible time off policies demonstrate that you understand and appreciate the importance of work-life balance, and it allows employees to take care of their personal well-being, which can lead to increased productivity and job satisfaction.

Useful Read: What is a Duvet Day and How Does It Work?

Best Practice

Provide flexibility in time off policies to allow employees to recharge, relax, and rejuvenate. This can include offering additional paid time off, allowing employees to use their vacation time or sick leave as needed, or implementing a flexible time off policy where employees can manage their own time off based on their needs

22. Create a Mentorship Program

A mentorship program shows you are invested in your employee's career development and growth. It allows employees to learn from each other, share knowledge, and make employees feel appreciated for their expertise.

Best Practice

Foster a culture of learning and development by creating a mentorship program within your organization's marketing team. This can pair experienced employees with newer or less experienced employees to provide guidance, support, and professional growth opportunities.

23. Recognize Diversity and Inclusion Efforts

Recognizing diversity and inclusion efforts demonstrates that you value and appreciate employees' contributions to fostering a diverse and inclusive work environment, and it encourages others to follow suit.

Best Practice

Appreciate and recognize employees who contribute to creating a diverse and inclusive workplace. This can include acknowledging employees who champion diversity and inclusion initiatives, actively promoting diversity in hiring and promotion decisions, or participating in diversity and inclusion training programs.

24. Share Positive News

Sharing positive news acknowledges and appreciates your employees' efforts, boosts morale, motivates others, and creates a positive work culture where achievements are celebrated and recognized.

Best Practice

Celebrate and share positive news about your employees' achievements, milestones, or successes within the organization or industry. This can be done through internal communication channels such as newsletters, social media, or company-wide announcements.

25. Host Family or Friends' Days

Hosting family or friends days demonstrates that you value and appreciate the support and contributions of employees' families and friends, and it promotes healthy work-life integration.

Useful Read: From Work Life Balance to Work Life Fit: The New Trend of 2024

Best Practice

Show appreciation for your employees' personal lives by hosting family or friends' days at the workplace. This can include inviting employees' families or friends to the office for a fun-filled day of activities, games, or special events.

26. Say Thank You

Last but not least, simply saying "thank you" goes a long way in showing appreciation to your employees. A heartfelt thank you can make employees feel valued, motivated, and appreciated for their efforts.

Best Practice

Take the time to genuinely express gratitude for their hard work, dedication, and contributions to the organization. Personalize your thank you messages and be specific about what you appreciate.

27. Appreciating Employee Ideas

Appreciating employee ideas shows that you value their input and are open to new ideas. Doing so encourages employees to continue being creative and innovative in their work, which can help the organization stay ahead of the competition.

Best Practice

Create an open environment where employees feel comfortable voicing their opinions and sharing ideas without fear of criticism or judgment. Encourage employees to contribute their ideas and provide feedback on how the organization can improve its products, services, or processes. Show appreciation for their suggestions by recognizing and rewarding their efforts.

28. Celebrating Employee Birthdays

Casual business people celebrating birthday in the officeCelebrating employee birthday parties shows that you value and appreciate your employees as individuals, not just for their work. It also helps to build relationships and foster a sense of team spirit within the organization.

Best Practice

Show your appreciation for each employee by celebrating their birthday in some way. This could include organizing a small gathering or special event, providing a gift or token of appreciation, or hosting a birthday breakfast. Any recognition will help to make employees feel valued and appreciated.

29. Team Members' Day Out

Organizing a team members' day out shows that you value and appreciate your employees as individuals, not just for their work. It also helps to build relationships and foster a sense of team spirit within the organization.

Best Practice

Plan a special event or outing for your employees to relax, have fun, and bond with each other. This could include taking a field trip to an interesting location or organizing a special activity such as cooking classes, spa days, or outdoor activities.

30. Personalized Workspaces

Providing personalized workspaces for employees shows that you value their personal preferences and want them to be comfortable and productive in their workspace. Allowing employees to customize their workspace can create a sense of ownership and boost morale.

Best Practice

Allow your employees to personalize their workspace by providing decorations, furniture, or equipment that matches their preferences. Consider organizing a workspace makeover day where employees can choose their decorations and furniture to create a personalized workspace that reflects their style and comfort.

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Creating a successful employee appreciation program

To create a successful employee appreciation program, consider the following tips:

Define the purpose and objectives of the program:

Clearly outline the purpose and objectives of your employee appreciation program. What are you trying to achieve? Is it to recognize outstanding performance, promote teamwork, or encourage innovation? Defining the purpose and objectives will help you align the program with your organization's values and goals.

Involve employees in the program design

  • Seek input from employees: Involve employees in the design of the appreciation program to ensure it resonates with their needs and preferences. Conduct surveys or focus groups to gather feedback on what types of recognition and rewards are meaningful to them.

  • Customization options: Offer customization options so employees can choose the type of recognition or reward that suits them best. For example, some employees may prefer public recognition, while others prefer private acknowledgment or tangible reward.

Establish a variety of recognition methods

  • Formal and informal recognition: Implement a mix of formal and informal recognition methods. Formal methods can include an employee of the month awards, certificates, or performance bonuses. Informal methods can include verbal praise, thank-you notes, or team shout-outs during meetings.

  • Peer-to-peer recognition: Encourage peer-to-peer recognition where employees can nominate and appreciate their colleagues. This fosters a culture of appreciation and promotes teamwork among employees.

  • Personalized recognition: Ensure the recognition is personalized and tailored to each employee's preferences and achievements. Avoid a one-size-fits-all approach, as it may not have the same impact on every employee.

Communicate and promote the program

  • Clear communication: Communicate the details of the employee appreciation program clearly to all employees. Explain the purpose, objectives, and how it works. Provide information on how employees can participate, nominate others, or be eligible for recognition.

  • Regular reminders: Send reminders about the program to keep it on employees' minds. Use multiple communication channels, such as email, posters, or intranet, to promote the program and its benefits.

  • Celebrate successes: Celebrate the success stories of employees recognized through the program. Share their achievements with the rest of the organization to create a positive ripple effect and inspire others.

Evaluate and refine the program

  • Measure and evaluate: Regularly measure and evaluate the effectiveness of your employee appreciation program. Collect employee feedback, track participation rates, and assess the impact on employee morale, engagement, and retention.

  • Refine and improve: Based on the feedback and evaluation results, refine and improve the program as needed. Adjust recognition methods, rewards, or communication strategies to ensure the program remains relevant and impactful.

Related: 4 Types of Communication Styles in the Workplace

What is employee appreciation day?

Employee Appreciation Day is an entire day dedicated to recognizing and thanking employees for their hard work and contributions to the organization. It's a chance for employers to show their staff they are valued and their efforts are appreciated.

Here's a breakdown of the concept:

  • Focus: Employee appreciation
  • Goal: To express gratitude and boost employee morale and engagement
  • Activities: Can include anything from handwritten thank you notes and gift certificates to company lunches and team-building events.

While there may be specific days dedicated to employee appreciation, the true spirit behind it goes beyond a single date. Ideally, employers should strive to create a culture of appreciation throughout the year, and Employee Appreciation Day serves as a dedicated time to heighten those efforts.

When is Employee Appreciation Day?

Employee Appreciation Day is always on the first Friday of March.

There actually are two ways to look at "Employee Appreciation Day":

  • Informal Observance: The first Friday of March has become widely recognized in the US as a day for employers to celebrate their employees.

  • National Employee Appreciation Day: There is actually a registered trademark called "National Employee Appreciation Day" established by Bob Nelson in 1995. This day falls on a different date each year and isn't consistently observed across the country. In 2025, National Employee Appreciation Day will be on March 7th.

So, while the "First Friday of March" is the more common way to recognize employees, there is a trademarked National Employee Appreciation Day as well.

What are good employee appreciation gifts?

Choosing an employee appreciation gift depends on your budget, company culture, and the individual employee. Here are some options to consider, categorized by approach:

Practical Gifts:

  • Desk Accessories: A nice pen set, a personalized mousepad, or a wireless charging station can be both useful and stylish.
  • Tech Accessories: A portable phone charger, noise-canceling headphones, or a blue light filter for their computer screen can enhance their workday.
  • Drinkware: A high-quality travel mug or a water bottle with their name on it is a thoughtful and eco-friendly gift.
  • Organizational Supplies: A beautiful desk organizer or a planner with a motivational quote can help them stay on top of their tasks.


  • Tickets to a Live Event: Consider their interests and offer tickets to a concert, sporting event, or a play.
  • Gift Certificates: A gift certificate for a massage, a cooking class, or a weekend getaway allows them to choose something they'll truly enjoy.
  • Subscription Boxes: There are subscription boxes for almost anything these days! Find one that caters to their hobbies, like coffee, craft beer, or self-care products.

Gifts that Promote Well-being:

  • Fresh Flowers or a Houseplant: Liven up their workspace with a beautiful flower arrangement or a low-maintenance houseplant.
  • Stress Relievers: A squishy stress ball, a mini Zen garden, or a white noise machine can help them de-stress during the workday.
  • Healthy Snacks: A basket filled with healthy and delicious snacks shows you care about their overall well-being.

Gifts with a Personal Touch:

  • Personalized Gifts: A mug, a notebook, or a phone case with their name or initials adds a special touch.
  • Company-Branded Swag: A high-quality water bottle, a hoodie, or a tote bag with your company logo can be a source of pride and promote team spirit.
  • Charitable Donation in their Name: Make a donation to a charity they support and let them know about it. This shows you value their interests and want to give back to a cause they care about.


  • Consider your budget: There are thoughtful gifts at all price points.
  • Think about the individual: Tailor your gift to their personality and interests.
  • A handwritten card is a must: No matter what gift you choose, include a heartfelt message of appreciation.


An effective employee appreciation program can help strengthen relationships between employees and their supervisors, foster a culture of recognition and appreciation, and enhance employee engagement.

It is also important to ensure that the program aligns with organizational values and goals by involving stakeholders in its development and implementation.

Regularly monitor progress, evaluate outcomes, and refine the program to remain relevant and impactful. Ultimately, an effective employee recognition program can help create a positive work environment and foster productive relationships within the organization.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • A handwritten note of appreciation is a simple yet meaningful way to show you care. Here are some tips for what to write:

    • Personalize it: Mention a specific accomplishment or contribution of the employee.
    • Express gratitude: Thank them for their hard work, dedication, or positive attitude.
    • Be specific: Avoid generic phrases. Tailor your message to the individual.
    • Keep it sincere: A genuine thank you goes a long way.

    Bonus Tip: For managers, consider going beyond cards. Offer flexible work arrangements, team lunches, or professional development opportunities as additional ways to show appreciation.

  • There is actually a registered trademark called "National Employee Appreciation Day" established by Bob Nelson in 1995. This day falls on a different date each year and isn't consistently observed across the country. In 2025, National Employee Appreciation Day will be on March 7th.
Topic: Employees
Carin Vreede

Written by:

Carin Vreede

With years of experience in the HR field, Carin has a lot of experience with HR processes. As a content marketer, she translates this knowledge into engaging and informative content that helps companies optimize their HR processes and motivate and develop their employees.


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