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How to show employee appreciation in 10 easy steps

Check out our 10 straightforward strategies for expressing gratitude and recognition towards your employees, enhancing workplace morale and productivity.

 Min Read 

Many organizations struggle with finding effective ways to show appreciation to their employees. The challenge often lies in balancing cost, personalization, and impact, ensuring that gestures of gratitude genuinely resonate with the team. 

The good news is that showing appreciation doesn't have to be a grandiose or expensive endeavor. 

Numerous strategies exist that are both innovative and cost-effective, capable of making employees feel valued and respected.

In this article, we delve into the practical steps and strategies for fostering a culture of appreciation within the workplace. 

Key takeaways

  • Showing employee appreciation boosts morale, increases productivity, and fosters a positive workplace culture.
  • Practical and cost-effective strategies, such as flexible scheduling and personalized rewards, make employees feel valued without significant financial investment.
  • Embracing work-life balance through flexible work options and encouraging time off supports employees' well-being.
  • Employee appreciation directly impacts engagement, performance, and company loyalty, reducing turnover rates.
  • Utilizing platforms like Forma enhances the personalization and effectiveness of appreciation efforts, offering tools like the flexible benefits ROI calculator to measure impact.
  • Regular assessment of appreciation initiatives through employee feedback and engagement metrics ensures their success and relevance.

How to show employee appreciation with 10 simple actions

The key to successful employee appreciation lies in thoughtfulness and personalization rather than extravagant gestures. 

Simple actions, when executed with sincerity, can profoundly impact an individual's sense of belonging and motivation. 

Here are a few ways to appreciate your dedicated employees.

1. Embrace work-life balance

A healthy work-life balance is not merely a perk but a fundamental aspect of a supportive work environment.

It acknowledges that employees have lives outside of their jobs that include family obligations, hobbies, and personal interests, all of which contribute to their sense of self and well-being.

Employers can foster an atmosphere where work-life balance is encouraged and actively supported. 

Several strategies for promoting a healthy balance between work and personal life include:

Flexible scheduling

Allowing for flexible work hours or the opportunity to work remotely when possible to adapt to the diverse needs of employees. 

This flexibility enables them to manage their work commitments alongside personal responsibilities, such as childcare or attending to health matters, without the stress of adhering to a strict office schedule.

Encourage regular breaks

Promote the practice of taking regular short breaks throughout the day. Stepping away from the workstation for a few minutes can help refresh the mind and reduce stress levels, leading to more productive work hours and a better balance between intense work periods and necessary rest.

Limit after-hours work

Set clear expectations regarding after-hours communication. Encourage a culture where emails and work calls outside of regular working hours are the exception, not the norm. 

Offer time-off opportunities

Provide ample vacation time and encourage employees to use it. Consider implementing policies that ensure time off is genuinely disconnected by discouraging work emails or calls during vacations.

Provide resources for time management

Offer workshops or resources on time management and productivity. Equipping employees with the skills to manage their workloads efficiently can reduce overtime and the need to encroach on personal time.

Adopting these strategies demonstrates a genuine respect for employees' time and personal lives, which, in turn, nurtures a culture of trust and mutual respect

2. Ask your employees what they want

Direct communication serves as the foundation for understanding and meeting the diverse needs of a workforce. 

Engaging in open dialogues with employees about their preferences for recognition and rewards ensures that efforts to show appreciation are meaningful and impactful. 

Implement strategies like the following:

Regular feedback channels

Creating structured opportunities for feedback, such as surveys, suggestion boxes, or one-on-one meetings, allows employees to share their thoughts on recognition and what forms of appreciation they find most rewarding. These channels should promise confidentiality to encourage honesty and openness.

Listening sessions

Organize periodic listening sessions where team members can voice their opinions and suggestions on various aspects of their work life, including appreciation and recognition. 

These sessions can be informal group discussions or part of regular team meetings, providing a platform for employees to express their preferences.

Personalized recognition efforts

Use the insights gained from direct communication to tailor recognition efforts to individual employees. 

For example, while some may appreciate public acknowledgment during team meetings, others prefer private recognition or handwritten notes. 

Act on the feedback

Actively demonstrating that employee feedback has been heard and implemented is crucial. 

Whether adjusting the types of rewards offered, the manner of recognition, or even the frequency of appreciation events, showing that employee input has directly influenced changes reinforces the value placed on their opinions.

3. Thank you notes are incredibly effective

Personal recognition through thank-you notes remains one of the most heartfelt and impactful ways to show appreciation. 

These digital or handwritten notes convey gratitude personally and directly, making employees feel valued for their specific contributions. 

Crafting sincere and meaningful thank-you notes involves more than just saying "thank you." Here are some tips to ensure your thank you notes resonate deeply with your employees:

  • Be specific: Mention the exact contribution or achievement you are recognizing. Specificity makes the appreciation feel more genuine and shows you pay attention to individual efforts.
  • Express sincerity: Write from the heart. Avoid generic phrases that could apply to anyone. Personalize your message to reflect the recipient's unique qualities and contributions.
  • Highlight impact: Describe how their contribution has positively impacted the team or project. Knowing their work makes a difference can be incredibly motivating for employees.
  • Make it timely: Send the thank you note after the achievement or contribution. Timely recognition reinforces positive behaviors and shows you are attentive and appreciative of their efforts.
  • Include personal touches: If handwriting a note, consider using stationery that adds a personal touch. A personalized email subject line or opening can make the message feel more special for digital notes.
  • Keep it professional yet warm: Use a tone that conveys warmth and approachability while maintaining professionalism. The goal is to make the recipient feel seen and appreciated on a personal level.

5. Celebrate the small wins

Celebrating small victories boosts morale and encourages a culture of continuous improvement and teamwork. 

Acknowledging even minor successes can make employees feel valued and motivated to maintain high-performance levels. 

Here are some creative ways to celebrate these moments as a team:

Personal shout-outs in team meetings

Start or end team meetings with a segment dedicated to shout-outs, where team members can acknowledge each other's accomplishments from the week. This practice not only highlights individual contributions but also strengthens team bonds.

Achievement wall

Create a physical or virtual "achievement wall" where employees can post their successes and see their colleagues' achievements. This visual representation of progress can be incredibly motivating and fosters a sense of community.

Surprise treats for milestones

For milestones, consider surprising the team with treats like a team lunch, a coffee run, or even just a break with snacks. These moments of relaxation and enjoyment offer a double benefit: they serve as a reward and provide an opportunity for team bonding.

6. Remember anniversaries and traditional holidays

Acknowledging personal milestones like work anniversaries and celebrating traditional holidays can enhance employees' sense of community and belonging. 

These occasions provide excellent opportunities for teams to connect on a more personal level and celebrate diversity and unity within the workplace. 

Some thoughtful ways to mark these special dates include the following.

Personalized anniversary acknowledgments

For work anniversaries, personalized messages or small tokens of appreciation from management can make employees feel valued for their loyalty and contributions over the years. Consider creating a unique award or gift that reflects the individual's role and achievements within the company.

Cultural and traditional holiday celebrations

Embrace your team's diversity by recognizing and celebrating various cultural and traditional holidays. This could involve decorating the office, organizing a potluck where employees bring dishes from their own cultures, or even hosting a small event that educates and shares the significance of these holidays. 

Team activities for major holidays

Organize team activities or outings for major holidays. Whether it's a Halloween costume contest, a Thanksgiving gratitude session, or a year-end celebration, these events can strengthen bonds and create lasting memories. 

Virtual celebrations with themed backgrounds, online games, or shared meals over video calls can be equally effective for remote teams.

Flexible scheduling around holidays

Recognize the importance of these times for your employees by offering flexible scheduling or additional time off around major holidays. This gesture shows respect for their time and commitments, allowing them to enjoy these moments with their loved ones fully.

Volunteer days for giving back

Consider organizing volunteer days around certain holidays, especially those focused on giving and community service. This allows the team to give back to the community and builds a sense of purpose and teamwork outside the usual work environment.

7. Encourage continuous learning

Fostering an environment that prioritizes continuous learning not only aids in employees' professional growth but also contributes to the overall innovation and adaptability of the organization. 

Offer access to online courses and workshops

Provide subscriptions or access to online learning platforms where employees can choose courses that interest them or align with their career goals. This approach allows for personalized learning paths and the flexibility to learn at one's own pace.

Organize in-house training sessions

Leverage the expertise within your organization by organizing regular in-house training sessions or workshops. These can cover various topics, from technical skills to soft skills development, and foster a culture of knowledge sharing.

Support attendance at conferences and seminars

Encourage employees to attend relevant conferences, seminars, or industry events. Covering the registration fees or providing time off to attend these events demonstrates a tangible investment in their professional development.

Create a Learning Library

Establish a resource library with books, journals, and other educational materials related to your industry. This resource can be physical or digital, making it accessible to all employees interested in expanding their knowledge.

Implement a Mentorship Program

Pairing less experienced employees with more seasoned professionals in a mentorship program can facilitate personalized learning and development. Mentors can provide guidance and support and share valuable insights and experiences.

Forma offers a flexible benefits platform tailored to support continuous learning initiatives within your organization. 

By utilizing Forma, companies can allocate specific benefits toward professional development, allowing employees to choose how they wish to grow their skills and knowledge. 

To get started, <class="text-style-link text-color-blue" fs-mirrorclick-element="trigger" role="button">Schedule a consultation</span> with one of our experts.

8. Offer financial incentives

Financial rewards are a significant part of the spectrum of employee appreciation strategies. They are tangible acknowledgments of an employee's hard work, dedication, and organizational contributions. 

When employees receive financial incentives, it boosts their morale and reinforces their value to the company, encouraging continued excellence in their roles.

Implementing a fair and motivating incentive program requires careful planning and considerations. Here’s how you can achieve that.

Establish clear criteria

Define explicit performance metrics or goals employees must meet to qualify for financial incentives. These criteria should be measurable, achievable, and directly tied to the company's objectives. 

Tailor incentives to different roles

Recognize that different roles contribute to the company's success in various ways. For instance, sales teams might be incentivized based on revenue targets, while product development teams could be rewarded for successful project completions or innovations.

Offer a variety of incentive types

Diversifying the types of financial incentives can cater to employees' varied preferences and motivations. Options might include performance bonuses, profit-sharing schemes, stock options, or spot bonuses for exceptional work. 

Communicate clearly and regularly

Effective communication is essential for the success of any employee incentive program. Regularly inform employees about the incentive schemes, how they work, and how they can participate. 

9. Be pet-friendly

Creating a pet-friendly workplace is a unique and increasingly popular way to show appreciation for employees.

Allowing pets in the office not only brings joy and reduces stress but also fosters a sense of camaraderie and openness among team members.

To establish a welcoming environment for employees’ furry companions, consider implementing the following.

Assess employee sentiment and allergies

Start with a survey or a series of meetings to gauge employee interest in having a pet-friendly office. Consider everyone's comfort and health, including potential allergies or fears. Ensuring a majority supports the initiative is the first step toward a harmonious, pet-friendly environment.

Establish clear guidelines

Develop a comprehensive policy that outlines the rules and expectations for bringing pets to work. This policy should cover which types of pets are allowed, behavior standards, and areas where pets are not permitted. It should also include vaccination requirements, flea control, and cleanliness to maintain a safe and healthy workplace.

Designate pet-free zones

Recognize that not every space is suitable for pets. Designating specific areas where pets are allowed and where they do not ensures that employees who are uncomfortable or allergic to animals can work without discomfort. Common areas like kitchens or meeting rooms might remain pet-free zones.

Create a pet schedule

Consider implementing a pet schedule to avoid overcrowding and ensure the peaceful coexistence of pets and people. This could involve allowing pets on certain days of the week or limiting the number of pets in the office at any given time.

Provide pet amenities

Equip the office with pet amenities to make the space welcoming for animals. This could include water bowls, pet beds, toys, and a designated outdoor area for walks and breaks. Having a pet-friendly office means accommodating pets' needs just as you would for their human counterparts.

Offer pet-related benefits

Extend your appreciation by offering pet-related benefits. This could range from pet insurance as part of your benefits package to having a pet daycare service nearby or organizing pet-related events. Such gestures show a deep level of care and understanding for the lives of your employees outside of work.

10. Personalize gifts for employees

Personalization in gift-giving reflects a deep level of appreciation and recognition for employees. It shows that an employer values not just the professional contributions of their team members but also acknowledges them as individuals with unique interests and needs. 

Here are some ideas on personalizing gifts for employees:

  • Customized professional development opportunities: Offer vouchers or subscriptions for courses and workshops that align with an employee's professional interests and career aspirations.
  • Personal interest kits: Create gift baskets or kits based on employees' hobbies or interests, such as a set of gourmet ingredients for a cooking enthusiast, art supplies for the creative, or a new pair of headphones for the tech-savvy.
  • Personalized office supplies: Customized items such as engraved pens, personalized notebooks, or desk organizers can add a personal touch to the workplace.
  • Health and wellness packages: Tailor wellness packages with items like fitness trackers, yoga mats, or subscriptions to meditation apps, depending on the employee's interest in health and wellness.
  • Custom awards or trophies: Design awards or trophies that highlight a specific achievement or milestone, adding a personal note that details their contribution and its impact on the team or company.

What are good employee appreciation gifts?

When considering gifts for employee appreciation, the aim should be to find something that resonates personally with the recipient and is practical or enjoyable. 

  • Tech gadgets: Useful gadgets like wireless earbuds, portable chargers, or ergonomic office tools can be great for tech enthusiasts.
  • Eco-friendly products: Sustainable gifts such as reusable water bottles, eco-friendly office supplies, or plant kits for the environmentally conscious.
  • Books: Curated selections based on the employee's reading preferences or inspirational books relevant to their professional field.
  • Personalized artwork: Commissioned artwork, such as a portrait, caricature, or custom illustration that captures something meaningful to the employee.
  • Experience gifts: Vouchers for experiences like dining at a fine restaurant, a day at the spa, or adventure activities for those who prefer experiences over material items.
  • Home office enhancements: Gifts that improve their home office setup, like ergonomic chairs, stylish desk lamps, or decorative items that brighten their workspace.

Reasons to show employee appreciation

Showing appreciation has tangible benefits that can significantly impact an organization's success and sustainability.

Increase employee performance

Recognition and appreciation are powerful motivators. Employees who feel valued for their contributions are likely to go above and beyond in their roles, leading to improved productivity and engagement. 

A study by the O.C. Tanner Institute revealed that 79% of employees who quit their jobs cite a lack of appreciation as a key reason for leaving. 

Conversely, organizations that effectively acknowledge their employees' efforts see a rise in individual performance levels, as employees are more invested in the company's success and feel a stronger sense of responsibility toward achieving its goals.

Strengthen company culture

A culture of appreciation fosters a positive and inclusive workplace environment. Employees who feel appreciated are more likely to contribute to a supportive and collaborative atmosphere. 

This sense of belonging can enhance team dynamics, encourage open communication, and promote innovation. 

Practices such as public recognition, personalized rewards, and celebrating team achievements contribute to a culture where employees feel valued and respected. 

Reduce turnover

Employee appreciation directly correlates with loyalty and retention. Recognizing employees' efforts and achievements makes them feel valued and understood, increasing their commitment to the organization. 

Implementing structured recognition programs, offering career development opportunities, and providing competitive compensation and benefits can help retain talent. 

Organizations prioritizing employee appreciation report lower turnover rates, saving on the costs of recruiting and training new hires.

Enhance employee well-being

Appreciation also plays a crucial role in supporting employees' mental and emotional well-being. Feeling valued and recognized can boost morale, reduce stress, and increase job satisfaction. 

Employers who acknowledge not just the professional achievements but also the personal milestones of their employees create a more empathetic and supportive workplace. 

This holistic approach to employee appreciation can lead to healthier, happier, more resilient employees facing challenges.

In this context, platforms like Forma play a pivotal role. Forma's flexible benefits system allows organizations to offer personalized rewards and recognitions catering to their employees' preferences and needs. 

Whether it's employee wellness programs, personal development funds, or health and fitness memberships, Forma enables employers to provide benefits that genuinely enhance the well-being of their team members. 

<class="text-style-link text-color-blue" fs-mirrorclick-element="trigger" role="button">Schedule a consultation</span> with one of our exports to get started.

Foster innovation and creativity

A culture of appreciation encourages employees to think outside the box and bring forward innovative ideas. Employees who feel secure and valued are likelier to take calculated risks and explore new possibilities. 

Recognizing and rewarding creative efforts and innovative solutions can propel an organization forward and keep it competitive and relevant in its industry.

Build customer satisfaction

The benefits of employee appreciation extend beyond internal metrics; they also impact customer satisfaction. 

Happy and engaged employees are more likely to provide superior customer service, increasing customer satisfaction and loyalty. This positive feedback loop can drive sales, enhance brand reputation, and contribute to long-term business success.

How to measure the impact of employee appreciation

While the benefits of showing appreciation are well-documented, quantifying these effects can provide concrete data to support continued investment in these programs. 

Here’s how organizations can assess the impact of their employee appreciation efforts.

Establish clear objectives

Before measuring the impact, it's essential to define what success looks like for your employee appreciation program. 

Objectives can range from increasing employee engagement scores, reducing turnover rates, enhancing performance metrics, or improving customer satisfaction. 

Clear goals allow you to tailor your measurement strategies to reflect what matters most to your organization.

Utilize employee surveys

Surveys are a direct method for gauging employee sentiment and the perceived value of appreciation efforts. 

Regularly conducting surveys can provide insights into how appreciated employees feel, changes in their job satisfaction levels, and their views on the organization's culture. 

These surveys should include questions specific to the appreciation initiatives, allowing employees to provide feedback on what's working and what's not.

Monitor key performance indicators (KPIs)

Linking employee appreciation to specific KPIs can reveal its impact on performance. 

Metrics such as productivity rates, sales figures, customer service ratings, and work quality can all indicate the effectiveness of appreciation programs. 

Observing trends in these areas before and after the implementation of appreciation initiatives can provide tangible evidence of their impact.

Analyze turnover and retention rates

One of the most telling signs of a successful employee appreciation program is its influence on turnover and retention. 

Organizations that excel in showing genuine appreciation to their employees often see higher retention rates and lower turnover. By comparing these rates over time, HR professionals can assess the long-term effectiveness of their appreciation strategies.

Leverage technology for insights

In today's digital age, leveraging technology to measure the impact of employee appreciation is more accessible than ever. 

Platforms like Forma offer sophisticated tools, such as the flexible benefits ROI calculator, which can help organizations understand the return on their investment in employee benefits and appreciation programs.

Need help with how to use the calculator? <class="text-style-link text-color-blue" fs-mirrorclick-element="trigger" role="button">Schedule a consultation</span> with one of our experts for guidance.

Final thoughts

Throughout this article, it's clear that showing appreciation should be a continuous and evolving process tailored to meet the unique needs and preferences of each workforce. 

Employers are encouraged to integrate these practices into their daily operations as a one-time initiative and a fundamental aspect of their organizational culture.

For those looking to take their employee appreciation efforts to the next level, Forma offers a suite of tools designed to customize and streamline the benefits experience. 

By utilizing Forma's flexible benefits platform, companies can offer a range of personalized rewards and recognitions that genuinely resonate with their employees, thereby amplifying the positive outcomes of their appreciation initiatives.

To explore how Forma can transform your employee appreciation and benefits programs, <class="text-style-link text-color-blue" fs-mirrorclick-element="trigger" role="button">Schedule a consultation</span> and witness the transformative power of appreciation in your workplace.

How to show employee appreciation: Frequently asked questions

Are employee appreciation gifts taxable?

The tax implications of employee appreciation gifts vary based on the type of gift, its value, and local tax laws. Generally, small tokens of appreciation, such as minor gifts and awards, may be exempt from taxes under the de minimis fringe benefit rules. However, cash gifts, gift cards, or items of significant value could be taxable to the employee as income. The specific rules can differ significantly from one jurisdiction to another, making it crucial for employers to consult with a tax professional to understand the applicable regulations and ensure compliance. Proper documentation and adherence to tax guidelines are essential to avoid unintended tax liabilities for the employer and the employee.

What to do for employee appreciation?

To express appreciation further, consider offering professional development workshops to foster skill growth, organizing team-building retreats that mix relaxation with bonding activities, and allowing for community service days where employees can volunteer for projects they're passionate about. Enhancing the office environment with perks such as a well-stocked pantry, premium coffee, and ergonomic workstations can also significantly boost morale.

How do employers show appreciation?

Employers can demonstrate appreciation in numerous ways, aligned with their team's distinct culture and preferences. Acknowledging employees' contributions publicly, in meetings or company-wide messages, offers validation. Personalized rewards, from event tickets to hobby items, cater to individual tastes. Facilitating professional growth through courses and seminars supports career advancement. Flexible work arrangements recognize dedication, offering adaptability in hours or remote work. Wellness programs, including gym memberships or meditation classes, emphasize physical and mental health, underscoring a commitment to employee well-being.

*This document is for informational purposes. Forma is not engaged in the practice of law. Nothing contained herein is intended as tax or legal advice, nor is it intended to replace tax or legal advice from counsel. If you need tax or legal advice, please consult with counsel or a certified tax professional.