Appreciate Your Team with These Employee Recognition Ideas

Employee Appreciation Day is an unofficial holiday in the US that falls on the first Friday in March, but showing employees appreciation year-round is an important way to strengthen the bond between employer and employee.

In fact, employee recognition gifts and regular employee recognition both lead to more productive, engaged employees and better overall employee morale. Find out more about the importance of employee recognition and get creative employee recognition ideas to support and celebrate your team.



Why Employee Recognition Matters

Employees who feel valued, seen, and appreciated in the workplace are more likely to perform at their best and stay loyal to your company. Recognizing your employees and celebrating staff with work award ideas isn’t just good for your individual team members; it’s good for your business as a whole. Here’s how businesses benefit from a strong employee recognition program.


increased productivity icon

Increased productivity

When employees feel appreciated, they’re more likely to go the extra mile because they know their contributions are valued and that their work matters. Employees want to feel connected to how their day to day work impacts the organization and feel like their time and effort counts. By exploring office awards ideas, you can create a more positive, productive culture.

employee retention

Higher employee retention rates

People want to work at a place where their work matters. Employers who create strong employee recognition programs and initiatives will attract more talent with their positive culture and through employee word of mouth. Workplace recognition leads to employees who are satisfied with their jobs, their employer, and the company they work for, which means they’ll be more likely to stay on board for the long haul. This helps drive down recruitment costs and reduces the disruption of employee turnover.

teamwork icon

Increased teamwork and collaboration

In addition to rewarding and recognizing individual employees, celebrating teams for their work is a significant way to boost team collaboration. If project teams, departments, and business units know they’ll be recognized for their hard work as a group, they have a stronger incentive to work together and improve collaboration.



    When to Consider Employee Recognition Gifts

    There’s no shortage of reasons to celebrate your employees, but how should you do it? Finding occasions to thank and recognize employees – even just with small employee appreciation gifts – can be a meaningful gesture that goes a long way. Here are some of the key reasons to thank your team with fun employee recognition ideas.

    working extra hours

    Working extra hours

    If you have employees who are going above and beyond by working extra hours, they deserve some above and beyond recognition. Whether it’s a hand-signed card that calls out an employee’s above and beyond efforts, an extra day of PTO, or a gift card to a local restaurant, recognizing an employee with a gift or token of thanks makes employees who put in the extra time not feel noticed and valued.



    Birthdays are an easy way to create employee appreciation efforts and ensure recognition is regular, since birthdays are an annual event. Whether it’s an employee birthday or the company’s birthday, sharing even small employee appreciation gifts like a birthday card or an e-gift card can increase employee engagement and improve the employer/employee dynamic.

    company record

    Setting a company record

    Did a sales rep just close the largest deal in company history? Has your warehouse team gone through its longest stretch of accident-free days? Has your social media manager helped one of your social platforms pass an important engagement milestone? Use these opportunities to celebrate your employees, from individual contributors to full teams.

    project completion

    Project completion

    Businesses are built on the completion of long-term projects. Whether it’s a website redesign, company rebrand, or a product launch, completing projects takes the effort and skills of a whole team. Project completion is a great time to recognize team contributions and reward everyone’s work, which was critical to the success of the project.

    long-term service

    Long-term service

    Reward your team members for their long-term service. Many companies come up with creative employee recognition ideas to thank their employees after several years of employment; many businesses start recognition at the five-year mark and continue to offer recognition and rewards at five-year intervals going forward. Not only does this give you an opportunity to thank your team members for their significant contributions, it gives your employees incentive to stay on board and enjoy a gift for their service. Employee recognition gifts for employee anniversaries can vary from gift cards to extra vacation days to an employee-chosen gift from a catalog, but what matters more than the reward itself is the gesture of recognition.

    regular team meetings

    Regular team meetings

    One of the most important things for employee recognition programs is consistency. Regular recognition is the key in keeping morale and engagement high. Many teams hold weekly or monthly status meetings to share project updates, ask questions, or hear business strategy news. Why not use this an opportunity to praise someone’s performance on a recent project or applaud a recent idea or initiative? Public recognition is a huge source of self-esteem for many employees and can boost productivity and morale in a big way. Recognizing employees publicly also gives other team members an idea of what to strive for and how management defines success.


      No matter what the occasion, look for regular opportunities, small and large, to tell employees they matter and that you appreciate them.



      How We Do It

      At Blue Summit Supplies, we take employee recognition seriously – some may say a little too seriously, like when we award our colleagues for… failing.

      I know, I know, it sounds bizarre, but at Blue Summit Supplies we embrace a fail-forward attitude, meaning we allow each other the room to make mistakes as long as we learn from these mistakes.

      The latest recipient of the failure award, also called the Whiteboard Award?

      Grace Whiteboard award

      Me, Grace.

      I won it because I made a pretty serious blunder last week when I recorded a video with our CEO, Owen, only to realize after recording that there was no audio. Yep, none at all. After this, I learned to always run an audio test (always!) and I came up with a way to repurpose the mute footage into little video bites with captions for future use.

      Some other awards we have at Blue Summit Supplies are the Transparency Award, which encourages openness and honesty even when it’s uncomfortable, and the 1014 Award, which encourages outside-of-the-box thinking to constantly improve our operations.



      The Best Employee Recognition Ideas

      Fair compensation is one of the best ways to thank employees for a hard day’s work and encourage the highest innovation and greatest engagement. But these days, people are looking for more than just a paycheck at their jobs. They want to feel connected to the company and know their contributions matter and are valued. Here are some creative employee recognition ideas to try.

      peer recognition

      Peer recognition

      Employee recognition ideas are usually brainstormed by members of leadership or managers who are looking for ways to thank and appreciate their staff members. Encouraging a peer-to-peer recognition program is a fun way to increase appreciation and recognition efforts by driving up communication and encouragement through coworker recognition.

        For many years, Starbucks had a simple system of cards that allowed their baristas and other store staff to shout out an example of service from their colleagues and hang it on a community board. You can start small in your owns space: set up a whiteboard in a common space and encourage your team to write notes of thanks and call out the contributions of their team members for all to see.

        employee of the month

        Employee of the month

        This is a longstanding method of employee recognition – retail locations and business offices everywhere have hung plaques and offered dedicated parking to a high-performing employee every month for years. This is an easy tradition to keep alive at your business and is a public way to regularly highlight the contributions of different employees.


        office lunch

        Food and drinks

        Having lunch catered, hiring an on-site taco truck, hosting a potluck, or inviting employees to a one-on-one coffee are not just ideas for how to show employee appreciation, but also a way to help employees save on food costs and connect and socialize with colleagues from peers to managers. It’s one of the ultimate win-win situations in employee recognition ideas.

          casual dress days

          Casual dress days or work-from-home days

          Employees appreciate the opportunity to let loose from time to time, so some companies offer dress-down or casual dress days after a successful quarter or after completing a tough project. Some employers will bump up the gift of casualness and give their team members work-from-home days as a reward or a thank you.  

          tangible gifts

          Tangible (non-cash) rewards

          A Christmas bonus is one way to tell your employees you appreciate their hard work over the past year, but you can also make recognition more regular with smaller incentives like scratch off tickets, concert tickets, movie passes, Amazon gift cards, and much more. These are the perfect gifts for employee birthdays, an incentive for internal sales competition, or a way to quickly and easily recognize someone for a job well done.

          written note

          The written word

          Employee recognition ideas don’t need to be fancy to be effective. A simple gesture like a heartfelt card or personal email can be a significant way to thank and recognize an employee. It gives bosses and peers both an opportunity to connect with fellow employees and share a simple thank you more regularly. The most important thing is initiating moments of thanks and recognition to ensure employees know that their work is appreciated.

          tuition assistance

          Regular, built-in benefits

          You don’t need to wait for an employee to do something exceptional to recognize their contributions. If you want to build appreciation and recognition into the culture of your company, consider adding new perks like paid time off for employees to volunteer, tuition assistance, free fitness classes, and other benefits that give employees a sense of appreciation for their work every day.

          Your employees matter – they make up the foundation of any successful business. Find ways to recognize them for all they do, get creative with your employee recognition ideas, and watch productivity, engagement, and job satisfaction soar.



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