Everybody loves recognition. Who doesn’t like being seen and appreciated for what they do? We all have an innate desire for being praised and recognized. We can find the recognition we need in different spheres of our lives, but a lot of people want appreciation in the workplace. That’s why companies that want to retain talent focus on employee appreciation.
In 2021, employee recognition has gotten much harder than before. The lack of physical togetherness means that companies have to show appreciation within certain limits. By no means does that mean that employee appreciation isn’t possible. As the old adage goes, where there is a will, there is a way.
If you’re looking for ideas to make your employees feel recognized, there’s no need to fret. At SurveySparrow, we care deeply about employee engagement and satisfaction. That is why we’ve brought you 25 unique ideas for showing employee appreciation in 2021.
24 Employee Appreciation Ideas For A Happier 2023
Recognizing employees and making them feel seen is really all about the little things. You can’t expect to have one grand gesture in a year and be done with it. Employee appreciation needs to become part of your work culture. The ideas we’ve listed below may seem like small, insignificant steps. If you put them in practice, though, you’ll realize how much of a difference they can make.
1. Celebrate Those Birthdays
In our relationships, remembering and celebrating birthdays is a meaningful gesture. For a lot of us, it’s the way we show our love for our friends and family. Managers need to get the hint here. For organizations, birthdays offer great opportunities for employee appreciation.
There are plenty of things companies can do in 2021 to make employees feel special on their birthdays. You could send them a cake, a personalized gift or organize a zoom call to celebrate. If you make their birthdays special, employees will feel valued and appreciated.
2. Send Them Work From Home Gifts
For a lot of companies, working from home has become the norm. For the rest, it is at least the short term predicament we’re in. Since you don’t have to worry about the office lease and workplace costs, you can try to make sure employees are comfortable working at home.
If you’re ambitious, an ergonomic chair is an excellent work from home gift. A bedside table also makes for a meaningful gift. Since there’s no office coffee machine anymore, why not send them some fancy coffee? Employee appreciation is all about these little gestures. While working from home, your employees will love these thoughtful gifts.
3. Have Company Townhall Meetings
It’s one thing to shower employees with rewards and recognition. If your internal communication is weak, though, these efforts will lead you nowhere. You can conduct an internal communication survey with SurveySparrow to make sure your employees aren’t being left out of the loop.
Company town hall meetings are gatherings where senior leadership meets employees and gives them essential updates. It’s also an opportunity for leaders to address employee queries and listen to their concerns. Townhall meetings show employee appreciation by keeping them updated and giving them a platform to voice their thoughts.
4. Give Employee Rewards
Rewards and recognition are a very mainstream part of our culture, starting from kindergarten competitions to award shows. Have you ever wondered why? Because people care about them. A reward is a way of showing your appreciation for a job well done.
Employee rewards serve two functions. Not only do they help with employee appreciation, but they also push employees to keep up the quality of their work. Employees will set goals for themselves to make sure they live up to the reward. Employee rewards are great for showing appreciation while also giving your employees a performance boost.
5. Encourage Physical Activity
As the pandemic has disrupted all our routines in 2021, some employees are barely getting any physical exercise. That’s not a good thing. Physically active employees are happier and more productive. This year, your employees might need an extra push to get out on their feet.
Companies can show employee appreciation by caring for their employees’ well being. You could allow employees to take a ‘gym break’ during the workday or even gift them with a gym subscription. Another team-building activity is exercising together on video calls. While staying at home, yoga mats also make for nice gifts that encourage physical wellness.
6. Arrange for Personalized Gifts
Broad-based acts of employee appreciation have their place in an organization. You also want to make sure, though, that employees feel individually known and recognized. A personalized gift is a perfect gesture to make employees feel appreciated.
The only problem with personalized gifts, of course, is knowing what employees might like. Team members who work with them might help you out. Teams should have a general sense of the personal preferences of coworkers. You can also take note when employees mention their wants and desires around the year. A personally meaningful surprise gift is pretty much the gold standard of employee appreciation.
7. Have An Employee Appreciation Day
Dedicating a day to a particular activity makes sure that you prioritize it at least once a year. When it comes to employee appreciation, all companies could use a day or two to prioritize that. It keeps employees motivated and leads to a thriving work culture.
What do you do on employee appreciation day? There are many gestures that facilitate employee recognition. You could make employees write gratitude notes to another employee for helping them through a project. You could also have an awards ceremony to publicly appreciate employees for traits that you want in your workforce. There are plenty of ways to make good use of an employee appreciation day.
8. Conduct Employee Engagement Surveys
Gestures like rewards and recognition are only meaningful if more serious issues are taken care of. If employees are not engaged, your employee appreciation efforts will go nowhere. One of the biggest mistakes companies make is to turn a blind eye to employee engagement. You should know if your employees are motivated or if they’re losing interest in your organization.
With SurveySparrow, you can create and share an employee engagement survey within seconds. The ready-made templates make it smooth and easy to conduct this exercise. Using an online survey, you can listen in to what your employees have to say and make sure you’re rooting out all obstacles in the way of an engaged workforce.
9. Celebrate Work Anniversaries
The workplace is where employees find meaning by creating things they love or just working hard to support their dreams and ambitions. Companies must recognize this and join employees in celebrating milestones. Make a big deal out of work anniversaries. It will go a long way in facilitating employee appreciation.
One of the saddest things is when a longtime employee of a company finds that they’re disposable. They feel like nobody cares about the years they’ve given to the company. As an organization, you should make sure you reward people for the time they give to your company. That’s what celebrating work anniversaries is about: employee recognition.
10. Take Them Out For Meals
Everyone loves a free meal. There is something primal about breaking bread together that helps us bond with each other. Taking teams out for a meal is an excellent way for employees to get to know each other in an informal setting. It promotes camaraderie, and the change of environment can be relaxing. It’s a great way to show employee appreciation.
During the pandemic, having meals outside is not the best idea. It’s not entirely impossible with the proper precautions, though. You could have small team gatherings at someone’s home or explore outdoor seating to minimize risk. These small steps can go a long way in boosting employee satisfaction.
11. Make Their Commute Easier
For normal times, this is a good employee appreciation tip. During the pandemic, it is almost a necessity. Companies that have started asking employees to show up in the office need to make sure that their commute isn’t too stressful. If you can’t work from home, it’s just a cost you’re going to have to bear.
Since public transport options like metros and buses are not the safest, you could explore the possibility of a company shuttle. Sponsoring cabs for employees is also an easy way out. If you take care of your employees’ troubles, your employees will thank you for it and stay loyal to your organization.
12. Encourage Well-Being Leaves
In the pandemic, taking care of our mental health has been challenging for all of us. Every employee will have a unique set of challenges to overcome, and at times, that might take its toll. When it does, it is crucial that companies show empathy and allow employees to take some time off. Employee appreciation involves treating employees with care and concern.
When employees have to work at the cost of their mental health, they don’t feel recognized or understood. Employee engagement falls drastically. To avoid such situations and show employee appreciation, make employees feel comfortable taking wellbeing leaves.
13. Make Cool Company Merchandise
One of the side-perks of working at any company is the merchandise they get. Tech companies like Google have taken the merch game to another level. Company merch does two things at once. It helps employees feel part of the company while also making for a great employee reward.
When employees are working from home, they feel less tied to your company. It’s harder to feel part of a community. Cool merchandise helps employees feel more involved. This could range from T-shirts to laptop stickers. It’s always lovely to receive free merch that employees like and use.
14. Walks As Meetings
While we are locked down at homes during the pandemic, a large part of self-care is just going out for a walk. People are increasingly overburdened, having to manage work and home at the same time. In such a situation, promoting innovative solutions like walking meetings can go a long way in showing employee appreciation.
It might not be possible for large teams to meet each other, but a few coworkers who live close by can try to walk together. Walking enhances creativity, and of course, we could all use some fresh air and greenery.
15. Show Them Off On Your Website
Isn’t it great when, on a company’s ‘About Us’ page, you can see the faces behind the organization? Some companies choose, for brevity, to only include senior management on their website. If you’re looking to boost your employee appreciation game, giving them some real estate on your website is a great way to do it.
Adding employees to your website gives them a sense of belonging. In 2021, that’s something all employees tucked away at home could use more of. A small gesture like this can make employees feel recognized and boost employee satisfaction.
16. Organize A Professional Photoshoot
This is one of the quirkier ideas of the lot, but it could be fun to try. We all love it when someone captures our best selves. In a digital-first world, good pictures are immensely useful as display pictures or for team profiles. Help your employees look great by sponsoring a photoshoot.
In 2021, this might mean an at-home photoshoot or perhaps at the office with staggered participants. Getting your pictures clicked is a fun activity that can lighten the mood and help employees have a bit of fun.
17. Lunch With A Leader
When companies scale, it often becomes impossible for employees to interact with senior leadership. For your organization’s internal communications, that’s not a good thing. Another employee appreciation idea is to make better use of meals by pairing employees with leaders.
As an employee, you tend to look up to those heading your organization. Being personally introduced to them and having a conversation can be really meaningful. It’s one of the best ways to facilitate communication and improve employee recognition.
18. An Employee Mentorship Programme
While we’re on the topic of leadership, employees who learn in an organization tend not to leave easily. Ensuring that your employees have adequate mentorship is hence crucial to employee appreciation and engagement.
The way to facilitate mentorship is to assign mentors to employees and ask managers to take their roles seriously. This can be an exciting challenge for managers and a great learning opportunity for employees.
19. Organize Team Building Activities
A large part of employee recognition comes from the team they work with. When you’re in a team that works well together, you naturally get appreciated and rewarded. But sometimes, teams need an extra push to work well together.
Team building activities in the workplace are effective in making employees feel part of a collective. In 2021, team building activities have to be primarily digital. However, there are still a significant number of games and fun activities you can do.
20. Quiet Spaces for the Introverts
A cornerstone of employee appreciation is to understand and accommodate the needs of your employees. In the past, introverts have often been ignored in workplace culture; being positioned in noisy shared workplaces when what they need is just the opposite.
You need to make sure that different personalities feel comfortable in the workplace. If you plan your workplace such that introverts have quiet spaces, they will feel seen. Such gestures are bound to improve employee satisfaction, and hence employee engagement. 21. Gamify The Work
21. Help Employees Support Causes They Care About
When done right, giving back to society can feel like one of the most meaningful activities of life. Everyone cares, in their own way, about making the world a better place. As an organization, you can help nurture and support that desire.
A meaningful employee appreciation gesture can be to offer to support charities that employees care about. This can make for a grand personalized gesture while at the same time doing a lot of good. Show your employees that they’re working for a company that loves to do good.
22. Employee Recognition In Public
Small gestures have a place when it comes to employee appreciation, but you can’t ignore the big gestures either. Sometimes, employees step out of their way to rescue or benefit your company. It’s important to dwell on these moments with rewards and recognition.
There’s no better way to show your appreciation to an employee than to do it in public. Everyone loves being made to feel special in the community they work with. You’ll know when the time is right for such gestures, and you should make the best use of that time.
23. Everyone Loves A Holiday
At times, your employees will be overburdened with work. Every company goes through phases where it asks a lot out of its employees. In such times, it’s crucial to show employee appreciation with gestures like a sponsored trip.
When employees go the extra mile for companies, they deserve some time to themselves to destress and come back rejuvenated. A holiday is hence an excellent employee reward that leaves employees feeling satisfied and thankful.
24. Conduct Regular Employee Surveys
Companies often suffer from not paying enough attention to their employees’ concerns. After all, it is not easy to know how your employees feel at the workplace. One of the best employee appreciation ideas is to listen to employees by conducting employee surveys.
With an online survey tool like SurveySparrow, you can find templates for surveys ranging from employee engagement surveys to performance evaluations. SurveySparrow lets you design beautiful surveys that your employees will love to fill out.
When an employee chooses to leave your organization, replacing them is both costly and tedious. Often it happens because of preventable factors. Employees changing jobs because of a lack of appreciation is a widespread phenomenon.
If you want to retain your talent, you need to treat them with care and make employee appreciation a regular part of the work culture. When employees are adequately recognized and rewarded, they are more likely to stay on. This makes for a more stable, happier organization that people love working for.
Your employees will only go the extra mile for you if you appreciate them and don’t take them for granted. We’ve listed plenty of employee appreciation ideas that can be implemented during the pandemic. Put in the effort to make your employees feel valued and take the first step towards a better, more productive workplace.