15 Reward Ideas to Show Appreciation to Your Employees

perfect for a 9 minute break written by Camilla Brambilla Pisoni

Showing appreciation to your employees must be a priority in the workplace. Employees that don’t feel valued or appreciated in their companies don’t waste time looking for a place that does make them feel that way. This is why as a manager in your company, showing recognition is crucial, and Ambassify is here to suggest to you 15 ideas you can take inspiration from to make your employees feel appreciated for their efforts and hard work.

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It’s no secret that a lot of employees don’t feel appreciated at their current job. The thing is, when that feeling sets in, it doesn’t take long before they start looking elsewhere for a place that does make them feel valued.

Since we all spend most of our days at the workplace, it’s just nice to be in an environment that makes you and your efforts feel valued for your work. This is why you want to make sure you’re providing that kind of environment for your employees.If your employees lack motivation and their performance is suffering because of it, then it’s your company’s responsibility to change that.

The good news is that it doesn’t take much for employees to feel appreciated, respected, and valued at the end of the day. If you haven’t already taken steps to launch an employee recognition and appreciation program in your organization, here are some innovative ideas you can implement to do just that. 

Suppose you’re running an employee advocacy system that allows employees to collect points and exchange them for rewards, such as Ambassify, for example. In that case, here are ideas here that could be incorporated into that or to get inspiration from. 

Some of these ideas might be a bit pricey, sure, but they’re here for inspiration. Let your imagination roam free and remember: the most important thing about rewarding employees is that you do it in a way that genuinely fits your company culture. No matter what you pick, any way to show your employees how much you value them will work wonders!

Unique out-of-the-box employee rewards

1. A full week of sleeping in

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There’s nothing worse than life happening on a Sunday evening, right? And did you know how many short- and long-term repercussions sleep deprivation can cause? 

By rewarding employees with a whole week of sleeping in, not only will you let them catch up on some much-needed rest, but you tell them it’s okay not to worry too much about being late to work. They can sleep in, run their errands, or do their exercise routine — all without getting up at 5 AM and getting stuck in traffic!

2. Custom action figures

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Give your new hires something to talk about on their first day by gifting them with their own custom-made action figurine. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, just a little something to show that you think of them as part of the team from day one.

This makes for a great first impression and provides new employees with a social media-worthy story about their new company. If you want to stand out from the crowd and rock employer branding at the same time, this is the way to go!

3. Showcase your employees of the month on a giant wall clock

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There are 12 months in a year as well as 12 hours in a day, which means that you can neatly fit everyone into your wall clock display and hang it somewhere where it will be noticed, like your lounge, lobby, or reception area.

The element of public recognition that goes with this is something employees appreciate and remember for a long time. Instead of pictures, you can even use flattering sketches of people — that way, they can’t complain that you picked a bad picture of them!

Recognition and spotlight rewards

4. A handwritten “thank you” note

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You can’t get more personal than putting in the thought and the effort needed to craft a great “thank you” note. It might look inconsequential to you, but you’d be surprised how much employees appreciate it. 

If you ask me, I'd say it really shows a tremendous amount of care for your employees, and it's something not everyone would take the time to do.

And, hey, if you want to get some extra points on the best-boss list, try sending the ‘thank you’ card with a day off enclosed.

5.VIP parking spot

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A VIP parking space that’s right next to the entrance to the building is not just convenient — it’s a sign of prestige. Rotate one such spot between your employees every month and let them feel the thrill of owning the best spot in town.

6. Lunch with the boss

Depending on the size of your organization, chit-chat with the CEO might be hard to come by. An employee who wins this reward will feel appreciated and respected, will give him some time to get to know the big boss a little bit better and maybe even a chance to pitch their ideas to the ultimate decision-maker.

Your CEO, on the other hand, will get an opportunity to connect with employees that they don’t usually get to see, fostering a sense of community and strengthening the overall culture.

7. Corner office for the month

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That corner office is usually the manager’s office — again, just like the parking spot, it’s a matter of prestige.

Every employee who gets rewarded with it feels a massive amount of pride and accomplishment, especially in companies with a strict hierarchy. When management breaks the norms positively to reward employees, that resonates with the workforce and gets noticed.

8. A traveling trophy

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A traveling trophy — a faux golden hat, a figurine, or anything else, really — is a little visible token that tells everyone in the office that the person holding it did something praise-worthy. 

It’s a visual representation of kudos that travels from employee to employee according to merit and achievement. You can tie in a tangible perk with it, too — whoever has it gets to skip the line in the cafeteria that week!

9. Newsletter/social media feature

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Going public with employee recognition via social media and newsletters, for example, is a great and cost-effective way to shower someone with praise and make them feel special. It tells other employees that the company takes note of every employee’s win and is more than happy to brag about it to everyone. 

Experiential & team employee rewards

10. Visit a brewery or a winery

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Who doesn’t like to unwind with a glass of red or a cold beer, am I right?

These trips are a way for a team to connect outside of work and potentially become friends in addition to being coworkers. They also give managers a chance to bond with every team member on a more personal level. Pick a day where people can relax without worrying about getting into work the following day and enjoy the pleasure of the visit and the effects of this team-building exercise. 

11. An office party: they play, you pay

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, indeed. And, since office parties thrown by the management are usually stiff and boring, they need to get out of the way, too!

Fix the problem by allowing a high-performing team to organize a party they’d love to go to. Give them a budget and a stern lecture about work and fire safety but, otherwise, get out of their way.

Organizing this party will allow the team to socialize in a different, more relaxed way. It will foster new and exciting conversations, forge new bonds, and breathe some fun into everyday office activities.

Professional development & growth rewards

12. Attend a conference of choice

It’s a sign of confidence when you let an employee choose a conference they want to attend. You’re trusting them to make a decision that will benefit both their professional growth and your company while making use of your budget. 

At the same time, you’re offering them the possibility to dive deeper into something they might need to improve their performance in your company or something they are just interested in and will provide personal enrichment. Employees appreciate that level of trust and will rarely abuse it.

13. Mentorship hours from the CEO

Again, granting access to probably the busiest and the most influential member of your team is a sign of respect and appreciation. The employee in question will have an opportunity to learn from the decision-maker, leading to a greater appreciation of why the company does what it does. 

Not to mention that it’s an invaluable opportunity for the employee to glean the skills needed to rise through the company ranks and help shape their vision of where they see themselves in the company in 5-years’ time.

14. Let them choose the keynote speaker for the next company event

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Again, a transfer of power happens here that’s very significant in the employee’s eyes. You’re letting them know that you’re trusting them to make a good decision for their own professional growth and the growth of everyone in the company.

Monetary employee rewards

Monetary rewards are, by far, the most utilized type of employee rewards because bonus schemes are easy to implement, and I’m pretty sure no employee will dare say no to more money, right

However, it turns out that monetary rewards such as bonuses are not an ideal solution when it comes to employee recognition. Let’s just say that they can turn into a nuisance rather than a prize more often than not.

To be fair, though, there’s one thing that can be considered a kind of monetary bonus that you should look into, and it’s something a trusted employee should have anyway:

15. Company-branded swag

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Headphones, mugs, phone cases, briefcases — these are things that employees use every day at work but can be pretty pricey. Show your appreciation by ensuring that everyone in the office has access to the basics that they need. To celebrate work anniversaries and big wins, you can personalize these items by adding the employee’s name to them!

And don't forget...

When in doubt, instead of letting the dilemma drive you crazy, just ask your employees what rewards they would consider valuable.

 

Sure, you’ll get some high-ticket answers like company-sponsored trips, month-long paid vacations, and free personal laptops. There are jokers in every company — and you can’t blame people for trying, right?

But, you will be surprised how down-to-earth most of your employees are. Typical answers will range from working from home one day per week to Friday afternoons off occasionally so they can go on a weekend getaway. In most cases, you will find that what makes your employees happy costs less money than what you’ve budgeted. 

In the end, it’s going to come down to company flexibility and your willingness to work with employees to enable them to bring their A-game to work. 


We hope this extensive list of employee rewards and appreciation ideas helped you find inspiration for your organization’s personalized employee recognition program. Regardless of your industry, your employees are your greatest asset -- make them feel respected and valued, and they will give it their all to make sure that your organization comes out at the top every single quarter!