65 employee recognition ideas – the ultimate list

There are plenty of great employee recognition ideas that we have seen over the years, and so we thought we’d put together a comprehensive list of the best ones we’ve seen. These examples will help you to acknowledge the hard work and achievements of the people who work for your organization.

Recognition is a key ingredient to success. If you fail to show your employees that you notice their hard work, and how much you appreciate it, then they will never give you their best. We have included all the ideas we believe could help you to create a stronger emotional relationship between you and your employees, while helping staff feel motivated, energetic and appreciated.


Insight and strategic analysis on all things social recognition and employee engagement.

So, even if you only find one single gem of inspiration from this post, then it will have been worth writing. Let’s get straight into it 🤓

Small gesture recognition ideas

Small and simple gestures

Some of the best employee recognition ideas are easy to organize and cost very little. But while some of these next ideas might sound quite basic, do not underestimate how effective they can be.

1. Say thanks more often

We often underestimate the power of a simple thanks. But how many times have you held the door for somebody, only to wonder if they even noticed?

Research suggests that we are happier and more motivated when we feel appreciated. So we believe it is important to say thanks more often to your colleagues at work.

Try to make a habit out of it. It might feel forced at first, but don’t worry about that. If you say it often enough, it will eventually come naturally without you even having to think about it.

2. Give sincere compliments

When you notice somebody doing something well, you should make a point to comment on it. For example “you always respond to my emails quickly – I like that about you”.

When done right, this is a great way to reinforce positive behaviour. But the keyword here is ‘sincere’. And that’s because if you go around making vague compliments, it’s going to get noticed pretty quickly. And soon, even your sincere compliments won’t have an impact.

Imagine telling somebody they’ve worked really hard today, only for them to tell you that they’re on vacation, and just stopped by to pick up their mail?

3. Send a “thank you” card

Instead of simply saying thank you, why not make it more official by sending a thank you card? A card is more memorable, and may become a nice physical keepsake for the recipient.

There are plenty of ways you can do this, from finding a good online service that lets you deliver a thank you card to your employee’s home address, to designing your own branded thank you cards and hand-writing them yourself.

When sending a thank you card, you should remember to write down what the employee is being thanked for – saying thanks without saying why, is almost like saying “thanks for nothing”!

4. Provide a pad of sticky notes

Sure, they’re a bit old-school. But in a way, that gives them a rustic sort of charm. And besides, who’s not going to love finding a little picture or a thank-you note waiting for them on their desk, their locker, or their computer monitor?

And you don’t need to keep the sticky notes exclusively for yourself. You could have them out on the office floor, or in the staff room, and encourage employees to show appreciation for their colleagues whenever the mood strikes.

5. Have a company thanks feed

However you announce things internally – whether that’s through a piece of software, a catch-all email chain, or even a physical tannoy system… make sure to include a company thanks feed as part of your cadence.

If you announce the good things people have done internally, then you are encouraging a culture of appreciation and recognition. The people who you recognize will feel good, while the people who witness these announcements may even work harder to earn a mention for themselves. 

6. Store gift cards

Cash incentives might come with their fair share of difficulties, from clauses in employment contracts, to complications with the taxman. But it’s pretty easy and relatively cheap to give out store gift cards as a way to show recognition for your employees’ hard work.

Gift cards let employees choose the reward they’ll like the most, too. Of course, this does mean you need to think wisely about which store to buy the gift card for – if it’s a gift card for a farming supplies store, you may find there are only a few employees who will actually appreciate this reward.

7. Company “town hall” meetings

A “town hall” meeting is a great way to open up dialogue between the people making the big decisions within your company, and the employees who are ultimately executing these decisions.

Generally, a good town hall meeting will teach your employees why your company has made certain decisions, and will show them your strategic vision for the future. But it’s not just a one-sided presentation – a good town hall meeting will also give employees the chance to provide their own opinions and feedback about your organization’s direction. And that’s what is so special about town hall meetings – they open up a two-way line of communication, between two groups who might normally never speak to each other.

The reason regular town hall meetings are great for showing employee recognition, is because firstly, they send the message that your employees are important enough to be “let in” on your organization’s secret to success. But also, when you listen to the views of your workforce, you’re reminding them that they matter.

8. Award certificates

If you want to recognize a special accomplishment or achievement, don’t be afraid to hand out certificates.

You might not want to hand out certificates for everything, because this might cause them to lose some of their value – they’ll feel less special. But when given out in moderation, certificates can be a great way of helping an employee feel really proud of something they’ve achieved.

Not only can certificates be a nice little gesture, but they can easily be framed and placed on display, if an employee chooses. For example, on their desk – if they want to show other people that they are proud of what they’ve achieved.

Timeout employee recognition ideas

Tactical time-outs

In most employment scenarios, employees are selling you their time, right? Whether they’re hourly shift workers, or on an annual salary, you tend to pay your staff to work as hard as they can, during specific pre-agreed hours. So one of the best ways to show employee recognition for hard work while “on duty”, is to extend the “off duty” time they’re allowed to enjoy.

9. Extended breaks

A fairly easy way to show recognition, is to reward employees with an extra long break. For example, an extra 30 minutes added to their regular 1-hour lunch break.

If you struggle with staffing the shop floor or the inbound telephone lines by giving staff extended periods away from duty, you could try scattering smaller breaks as rewards throughout the day. Not only might this be more manageable from a logistics perspective, but research suggests that extra screen breaks or movement breaks during the day can even improve productivity.

10. Early finishes

Of course, why bother breaking up the day with extra breaks, when you can just give your employees an early finish? Of course, it goes without saying that they should be paid as if they worked their full shift – otherwise you’re not recognizing them at all, you’re just cutting their hours!

This is a particularly good way to recognize employees who work with a daily target, such as your sales team. If you hit your daily target, you get to go home – it doesn’t get much better than that!

And not only is this a great way to show recognition, but it’s also a great way to motivate your employees to hit those daily targets. By 3pm, when the afternoon slump kicks in, it may just be the light at the end of the tunnel they need to pick up that phone and push for that one last sale.

11. Late starts

We all know somebody who likes a lay-in. In fact, we may be able to see that person by looking into a mirror! While it doesn’t always provide instant gratification, offering a late start for a future shift can be a very juicy reward for some.

Perhaps you want to thank somebody for stopping on an extra couple of hours to help you out when things got busy. Or maybe you know somebody who is feeling a little run-down and could use some extra sleep.

It isn’t the most widely-used item in our list of employee recognition ideas, but offering late starts can be a great technique when used wisely. And as long as you can manage the brief staffing shortfall, it’s a relatively easy gesture to make.

12. Give free gym time

If you can, giving your employees free time to visit the gym is a great way to show them that you value their health and wellbeing. What’s even better, is if you can pay for their gym membership yourself!

If you set aside set times for your team to take time out from work and visit the gym, you might even find that this becomes a great bonding exercise. You may even find that people who might not normally give the gym a go, are encouraged by their colleagues.

It’s also worth adding that spending time at the gym helps your employees improve both their physical and mental wellbeing, which in turn can improve their productivity.

13. Team walks

You can help your employees to keep active, by encouraging team walks. Again, this shows employees that you care about their physical health and their mental wellbeing – not only is the exercise great, but the change of scenery can really help people feel fresh and invigorated.

Some organizations give employees extra time off during the day, for them to take a stroll. But another great way to do team walks, is by trying an idea called “walking meetings”. It’s that ‘walk and talk’ idea. Why restrict yourself to an office or boardroom, when you could get your blood pumping, and feel the fresh air on your skin, by walking and talking?

According to Harvard Business Review, walking meetings can help to boost creativity. In fact, creativity increases by 5.25% during walking meetings – which may not sound like a big deal, but when you consider the fact that going for a walk with your team costs nothing, then why wouldn’t you give it a try?

14. Power naps

We’ve all been in that situation where we feel our brain start to shut down, and we struggle to keep our eyes open. And it seems to happen in the worst possible scenarios – on the road, in social settings, and at work.

Instead of forcing employees to battle through their tiredness, you might want to offer them the option of a power nap. And a great way to do this, is to have a quiet room full of comfortable chairs and sofas, especially for this.

Most experts agree that for a quick and effective jolt of alertness, the ideal length of time for a power nap is between 10 and 20 minutes.

Team employee recognition ideas

Recognition for your entire team

The small gestures above are nice, but they’re designed with individual employees in mind. The next few employee recognition ideas are things you can do for your entire team – or, if you are feeling ambitious, your whole workforce.

15. Take staff out for lunch

It doesn’t have to be anywhere fancy. In fact, your employees might relax more if it’s not!

An approach we have seen work particularly well, is when business leaders support local businesses when taking staff out for lunch. That quirky little restaurant on the corner, or the local cafe. These are all great ideas for creating memorable team experiences that will show your staff how much you appreciate them.

But not only are staff lunches a nice way to show recognition, they can be a great environment for team meetings, too. Your team members will not be constantly wondering when the meeting is going to end so they can grab a snack, and it’s a great team building exercise too.

16. Random surprises

You could show recognition to your team by surprising them with random treats or days out.

For example, you could get to work early and leave a little basket of treats on each person’s desk. Or even surprise your team with a day away at the weekend – make it child friendly if a lot of your employees have kids.

Or why not order pizza for the whole team? For extra effect, don’t tell them until the delivery person shows up at the main entrance.

17. Regular treats every month or week

Of course, while the element of surprise can be very enjoyable, some employees prefer a bit of predictability. So your team might prefer it if you show recognition by planning a regular treat – whether that’s something once a month, once a week, or even once a day!

Whatever it is, make sure you can keep doing it. For example, if you decide to treat your staff to an open bar on the last Friday of every month, make sure you don’t give up on it after the first couple of attempts. After all, employees may begin to plan their personal schedules around it – the point here is predictability.

Having a regular treat to look forward to once a week or once a month can be a great way to show staff recognition, as it keeps their motivation levels topped up the whole way through the year!

18. Team drinks

As well as a regular treat for your whole workforce, many organizations find it beneficial to encourage individual teams to go out for regular team drinks.

Team drinks every Friday is a really nice way to show employee recognition for their hard work during the week. And choosing to do this on a weekend is usually helpful because employees have time to relax and recover before work starts again. Of course, if your employees don’t work the traditional Monday to Friday, you might want to get creative with dates.

When taking staff out for team drinks, you want to protect your finances. So it might not be wise to offer to pay for all drinks. But many organizations find that a great way to approach this, is to offer to pay for the first round.

19. Publish an annual yearbook

Sure, it’s a little old-school, but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad idea.

Publishing a yearbook once a year can be a great way of showing employees recognition for their hard work over the last 12 months, and it can be super fun, too. Think back to your yearbook from high school, and let yourself get a bit creative – pick the best picture of each employee, and think of a unique line to write about them. You could also include their greatest achievement from that year.

A yearbook is a great way to show employee recognition for your team. But it’s also a great way to build special memories and bonds between your colleagues, which can improve culture and engagement. Plus, it’s a nice branded keepsake.

20. Add each employee to your ‘About Us’ page

Who made the rule saying that only senior directors or company founders can have their picture and a bio on the company website? We have seen companies add every single member of their workforce to their website. Normally just a headshot and a first name, but some even include a short bio.

Giving each of your employees a little bit of public real estate on your website can really show that you appreciate their contribution to your organization. And besides, the days of the top-down hierarchy are starting to fade – it can seem a little bit outdated to put senior management on a pedestal, while failing to recognize the rest of your staff.

Sure, your ‘About Us’ page might get a bit long. Especially if you hire a lot of people. But if you can find a way to make it fit, this is a relatively low-cost initiative that can spread waves of recognition across your entire workforce.

Getting personal employee recognition ideas

Getting personal

The best way to show a person that you truly do recognize them, is to show them how much you appreciate their individual contribution. And the best way to do this, is to show them how much you know them. That’s why this next section is all about employee recognition ideas that help you take things right down to a personal level.

21. Personalised gifts and rewards

When giving out gifts or prizes for hard work, you could consider personalising these according to the individual.

And we’re not talking about simply slapping their name onto a mug, either. Anybody can do that. We mean gifts that actually relate to the employee’s hobbies and interests outside of work.

Do they really dig a particular musician? Send them a poster, or tickets to their next show! Do they love football? Consider anything from a football keyring, to a ticket to the next Super Bowl… OK, maybe that’s a little extreme. But you get the idea.

22. Ask how they want to be recognized

We’re sorry if this feels like we’re stating the obvious. But actually, it’s often overlooked.

If you want to give recognition in the most personal way possible, then why not actually take the time to ask employees how they’d prefer to be recognized? And sure, you could do this en-masse, by way of a suggestion box or similar. But why not actually take the time to have a chat with each employee, and ask them directly how they would prefer their hard work to be recognized?

You’ll quickly learn that some people thrive on praise and attention, whereas others would prefer a more subtle approach.

23. Custom oil painting

OK, this is going to sound crazy, but hear us out. Because we’ve not just pulled this idea from somewhere the sun doesn’t shine – this is something big companies like Yelp and Twitter have been doing to recognize their own employees.

Custom oil paintings.

That’s right. Actually commissioning a real-deal artist to paint a portrait of your employees in exquisite detail… it sounds a little over the top. And sure, it could get very expensive. But your employees sure aren’t going to forget you in a heartbeat.

24. Custom caricature

Alright, so a full-blown oil painting isn’t quite within your budget? Try this idea instead. Hire a cartoonist to sketch a colorful caricature of your employees.

This is likely going to be a lot cheaper than commissioning actual oil paintings. But it is personal as heck, and a lot of fun.

Remember though that most cartoonists will exaggerate physical characteristics when drawing caricatures. Big ears, big noses, extra chins… you name it. So either make sure your employees have a good sense of humor, or ask the cartoonist to draw with a little kindness.

25. Personal poem

A picture might paint a thousand words. But what if you want to just use a thousand words?

Sticking with the creative theme here, if you don’t want to get visual, then you could ask a wordsmith to pen a custom poem for each employee.

Whether it’s a haiku, a limerick or a sonnet, it’s definitely going to be memorable. And if you have a decent copywriter in your workforce, you may even find that you don’t need to outsource the job!

26. Professional photoshoot

Something we’ve seen done in some companies, is giving each employee their own professional photoshoot.

You don’t have to go full catwalk with this – it’s not a fashion shoot (unless you want it to be). Rather, the aim is to capture the employee in their absolute best light, so that they have a top-quality professional photograph that they can use for their professional and personal profiles.

This will be good for your image as a company, too. Customers will be able to see top-quality headshots of the employees they are interacting with, instead of blurry selfies taken in bad lighting. And this little idea ties in really nicely with idea number 16 in our list – go on, go back and take a look if you skipped down here.

A good way to arrange this photoshoot, is to get the photographer to come to the office periodically. That way, you can ask them to snap all of the new starters since the last time in one fell swoop, meaning you’re saving money on individual trips for individual employees.

27. Give everybody a nickname

Nicknames are a really nice way of showing somebody that you notice and appreciate them. As long as the nicknames you give them are kind and thoughtful.

If you think nicknames could be a good fit for your workforce, then we recommend basing these nicknames on the individual’s professional strengths, instead of their physical attributes. For example, “Sketch” might be a far better nickname than “Fatso”.

Oh, and just calling them by shortened versions of their regular names kinda defeats the object, too.

Professional employee recognition ideas

Getting professional

Employee recognition isn’t all about gifts, rewards, stickers and certificates. Sometimes, it’s about the opportunities you provide them as part of their career with your organization. Providing employees with professional development opportunities shows that you care about their career, and that you believe in their ability.

28. Provide training opportunities

You’ll need to train employees in certain areas because the law requires you to do so. You’ll also probably want to train your employees to become better at their jobs. But when developing a training plan for employees, try to also consider making it relevant and engaging for them as an individual.

Think about training courses that will help employees improve in the areas they are passionate about, especially the ones which give an official qualification at the end of it.

Employees will love being taken seriously, will love the chance to improve their resume, and hey, the more skilled your workers are, the better their work will be. Win win.

29. Lunch with a leader

Giving employees the opportunity to rub shoulders with senior management is a great way to recognize their contribution to your organization, while making them feel special.

Most employees would jump at the chance to share their opinions with the people making the big decisions in their company, or even just to meet and get to know them. Scheduling a date each month where people can earn a place at the dinner table with senior management is a great way to do this.

You could make it one-on-one, or you could assign a number of places at the table, and let the top 10 employees each month take part.

30. Pitch your ideas to leadership

You could take the idea of connecting employees with senior leaders one step further. Instead of arranging an informal lunch, you could create a whole event where employees are allowed to prepare a pitch, and attempt to sell their idea to senior management.

If you turn this into a bit of a game like the popular TV series Dragon’s Den, then there’s a lot of fun to be had – and employees might simply join in for the experience, without worrying whether their idea gets chosen or not.

But giving employees a serious opportunity to get their big ideas listened to, and possibly even actioned, can be a great way to reward creativity, and encourage strategic thinking.

31. Role shadowing opportunities

You may find that employees are interested in roles that are a little different to their own. A great way to recognize this, while giving them a taste of what such a job might be like, is to provide role shadowing opportunities.

Role shadowing helps employees to develop a deeper knowledge and understanding of other roles and functions, especially those they might be interested in. They’ll be able to see how other teams and colleagues work, without taking a risk with their career.

When offering role shadowing, remember that this can be quite demanding on the person being shadowed. So you might want to limit the time spent to one day per quarter, or perhaps half a day per month.

32. Job swap for the day

For employees who are seriously interested in other roles, you can take the role shadowing idea one step further, and offer employees the chance to swap roles for the day. This can be a lot of fun, but can be quite chaotic if not organized carefully!

Try to avoid offering job swap opportunities across roles where there is only one person responsible for the function – this could be an operational nightmare. This type of idea works really nicely within teams where there are multiple versions of the same job role working, because colleagues can take the job-swapper under their wing for the day and help them along.

Welcoming employee recognition ideas

Create welcome connections

Humans are social creatures. You can show your employees recognition by recognizing this fact – i.e. by improving their social spaces, and helping foster stronger connections with their colleagues.

33. Give new starters a mentor

One of the most effective employee recognition ideas we have come across, is probably the idea of giving each new starter a mentor for their first couple of weeks at work.

This doesn’t have to be a professional mentor who does the same job as them. It just needs to be somebody who has been at the company for a while, knows the ropes, and who can show them around, help them settle in, and introduce them to more of their peers.

This benefits both parties. The new starter feels cared for and comfortable, while the mentor feels special and appreciated – you’re effectively telling them that you believe they are an experienced employee, who you trust to improve the experience of another employee.

34. Organize team building experiences

Don’t knock team building experiences. They might get a groan or an eye roll when you mention them, but when done right, they can not only bring your team closer together, but they can be a lot of fun.

Organising thoughtful and fun team building activities can be a great way to show your staff that you care about them getting along with each other. Unfortunately, it’s too common for employers to expect employees to look straight ahead, ignore their coworkers and avoid fun at all costs.

The right team building activities show them that you want them to mingle, and that you’re not afraid of them having a good time at work!

35. Pay attention to their social spaces

You can’t claim to care about your workforce, if the only break-out space you give them is a broom cupboard round the back of the parking lot.

Your employees need space to really disconnect from their work, and relax. Plus, they need a place to mix, mingle and socialise.

So make sure their break-out spaces are large, comfortable, and encourage social activity – think about foosball tables, ping pong tables, sofas and TVs.

36. Give some autonomy over social spaces

If you want to go one step further, then let your employees have some sort of decision in how their social spaces look and feel.

We’ve seen this done a few ways at different organizations. For example, some employers let employees vote on the next item to be installed – pinball machine, anybody? Whereas others will let the top performer of the month make one change of their choice to the break-out area… subject to approval, of course.

Employees will respond far better to something they have helped to build.

37. Quiet break-out areas

While you’re busy kitting out your break-out space with games, sofas and sound systems, spare a thought for those amongst us who are not quite as social.

In fact, having quiet break-out areas is helpful for everybody. Because we all have days where we don’t feel like being in the middle of the noise, or where we just need space to sit and think.

Showing employees that you recognize their need to reflect, as well as their need to interact, can be a powerful gesture in your toolkit. So if you’re able, design a small break-out space where the modus operandi is silence and solitude.

Birthdays and special vacations

Not everything you do to show recognition should be focused on the workplace. You should plan ways to recognize things like birthdays, and other special occasions that happen outside of the office. Here are some of our favorite ways to do that.

38. Give a vacation day on their birthday

This is a really popular benefit, and there are many companies like Virgin Media already running this perk very successfully.

Giving employees a paid day off for their birthday can be a really great way to recognize the hard work they do for your organization. And research suggests that it is one of the most popular perks employees go nuts for.

Chances are, your employees will be celebrating their birthday in some form or another anyway. What better way to contribute than by letting them sleep in a little longer, or spend their special day with family, instead of throwing a shift at work into their birthday planning?

Of course, not everybody’s birthday falls on a working day. So to make it fair, you might want to give employees a day off in lieu, for example if their birthday falls on a weekend.

39. Cake on their birthday

Making a point to buy each employee a cake on their birthday is a great way to show that you recognize their importance to your company – and is a really easy perk to schedule into your calendar. Simply pull a list of birthdays from your HR system, and assign a person to be responsible for the cake-buying.

Some companies like to gather everybody into a room, light the candles on the cake, and sing happy birthday to the employee in question. But be careful – not everybody likes the spotlight being on them, and you might find this has a negative effect instead of a positive one.

40. A small gift on their birthday

It’s probably safer to leave a discreet birthday gift on the person’s desk.

Almost everybody loves gifts, and there’s no embarrassment from a round of badly-sung happy birthdays.

You can personalise birthday gifts according to each employee’s tastes, if you can. Or if you just want to make the gesture, you could settle on a nice card to show you’ve remembered their birthday.

41. Pet-ternity leave

We are all familiar with maternity leave, paternity leave, adoption leave, etc. But very few employers spare a thought for employees who are welcoming a new pet into their homes.

For many people, their pets are just as important as other members of their family. And we have seen great results from employers who recognize this, by offering “pet-ternity leave” – for example, a week off to welcome a new puppy into the home.

Animals take time to adjust to a new home, and form new bonds, just like babies do. And even if you don’t appreciate this yourself, I’ll bet you have an animal lover or two on your payroll who would go wild at this idea.

Achievement employee recognition ideas

Celebrating employee achievements

Recognition works best when it is assigned to a particular action or achievement. Not only does this feel more sincere – the employee can understand what they have done well to deserve the recognition – but it encourages more of the same. Positive reinforcement means your workforce will continue to upskill and improve.

42. Put achievements on display

The most simple way to recognize achievements, is to show employees that you are noticing them. For employees with measurable targets, this can be as easy as displaying their achievements somewhere where others can see them.

For example, you could put a daily sales tracker on the wall, showing the top performers for that day. Or another neat idea we’ve seen, is having a large digital monitor on display, showing the best ticket-closing times, or customer satisfaction scores, from the customer service team.

And if employees ever win external awards for your company, it goes without saying that you should find a nice place to put these where they can be admired.

43. Have a team trophy

A cool idea for recognizing achievement, is to have a team trophy that you award once a week or once a month.

Let employees take it home, or even display it proudly on their desks. Then, then next week or month, it gets awarded to another employee.

You can award the trophy for all sorts, depending on the type of team, and the sorts of targets they’re working towards. Or award it based on a different quality or achievement each time!

44. Have a company trophy

If you want to take the team trophy idea to the next level, you could award a trophy to one lucky employee out of your entire workforce – the ultimate prize.

This doesn’t have to replace the team trophy. It could be an added incentive, and you could use it to reward employees who do a particularly good job of working towards your company values.

45. Gamify your workplace

Achievement unlocked!

Research suggests that ‘gamification’ in the workplace can improve productivity and motivation. And hey, it keeps us hooked to video games, so why not use it as a tool to keep employees getting that instant hit, and that buzz of achievement, in the workplace?

One way we’ve seen this done well, is having a big list of achievements which employees can complete during their time with your company, each of which has its own unique badge upon completion. It could be anything from surviving their first week, to finally working out how to operate the coffee machine.

Gamification can be fun, rewarding, and highly motivational.

Practical impact recognition ideas

Making a practical impact

Some of the best employee recognition ideas are the practical ones. You know, like that new frying pan you bought your parents last Christmas? Seriously though, doing things which make a real practical difference to the working lives of your employees, can make a massive impact. Even if they only seem small on the surface.

46. Make sure parking is free

Nothing says “we hate you” more than making employees pay to park at work. But believe it or not, that’s actually a thing for some workers!

Of course, there aren’t many employers putting parking meters into their own private parking lots. But what if you are based in the middle of a city, with no private parking available?

If possible, you might want to buy reserved spaces in a nearby secure parking lot, and let your employees use them free of charge. You might even get a bulk discount, and your employees will appreciate not having to pay to park.

47. Support the commute

On the subject of traveling to and from work locations, the commute can get seriously expensive. For some employees, this is a huge cause of stress and unhappiness. Which is why many employees choose to recognize and ease this pressure, by supporting the daily commute.

There are plenty of ways to do this. If most of your employees drive to work, you could arrange a fuel allowance or company car. Or if you’re close to public transport links, consider buying a travel pass for the bus, the subway or the train.

Another great idea is to start your own cycle scheme. This is particularly popular in European countries, but there’s no reason why it can’t be transferred elsewhere in the world. If you provide employees with a bicycle, or at least subsidise the cost of buying or renting one, you could be helping them get fit, while shaving significant costs from their daily commute.

48. Provide equipment

Do we even need to tell you this? We’re sorry if this insults your intelligence a little, but as a standard rule, you should be providing employees with the equipment they need to do the jobs you’re asking them to do.

This means things like laptops, telephones, water coolers and a fully-stocked stationary cupboard. But you don’t have to stop at the essentials.

Even if you don’t have a strict uniform policy, offering branded company clothing or equipment like laptop bags for free can be a great way to treat your employees in a very practical way, while promoting your brand far and wide.

49. Food trucks to the workplace

When the clock strikes “LUNCH”, where do your workers all go?

We know that many employees bring their own lunch to work. And some employers offer subsidised canteens. But sometimes, employees have to travel quite the distance before they find a decent place to eat.

You can solve this problem, and make lunchtime more interesting in the process, by inviting food trucks to pull up in your car park and sell their wares.

Pop-up sandwich bars and burger vans normally go down a treat, and if you can guarantee a lot of custom for the vendor, you might even be able to negotiate a special discount for your employees.

50. Write a LinkedIn recommendation

Offering to do something like writing a LinkedIn recommendation may seem a little counterproductive. After all, aren’t you just helping your employee get a job somewhere else? But actually, in many cases, you’ll find this actually increases loyalty and retention.

For a start, it shows that you have confidence in the employee. It shows that you value their talents, and that their skills are recognized. Why would an employee want to leave an employer when they are feeling valued?

And besides, if you’re showing that you care about their career on a deeper level than just the way in which it will benefit your bottom line, you’re going to earn a ton of respect.

Philanthropy employee recognition ideas


Almost everybody has a good cause or two that they support with a passion. Sometimes, there is no better way to show recognition for your workforce, than by supporting a cause they care about. And it’s a double-whammy, too – because you’re supporting your staff members, and you’re supporting a good cause, all at the same time.

51. Donate to a charity of their choice

The easiest way to show recognition via philanthropy, is by pledging a set donation to an employee’s charity of choice.

You might need to review their choice to make sure it is a registered charity. And you may wish to make the donation publicly, to pick up the positive PR for your brand. But the important element here is that you’re investing in a charity that your employee has chosen, which supports a cause they care about.

52. Do paid charity days

If you want to mix supporting a good cause with a bit of team building, then organising a team volunteering day can be a really rewarding experience.

This could be almost anything. From doing a trash walk at a local beauty spot to spending the day planting trees. You can think of your own idea, you can look into organizations which organize this kind of thing, or you could even contact a charity directly and ask how they might put your team to use for the day.

Of course, make sure your staff are paid for this day. Otherwise, you’re not recognizing them as valuable – you’re just forcing them to give up a day for free.

53. Offer a free charity day each year

One very interesting idea we’ve seen, is to let each employee take one paid day per year to volunteer for a charity of their choice.

This can be a little tricky to manage, especially if you’re nervous that your employees might abuse the system and just take the day off. But being allowed the freedom to spend a full day volunteering for a good cause can make your employees feel exceptionally good, and can strengthen your employer-employee relationship significantly.

When you’re recognizing the things your employees care about, it sticks around in their memory and motivates them to give you 110%.

54. Nominate a charity of the month

If you want to make a huge impact while engaging your workforce, then you could run a “charity of the month” scheme.

How this works, is each month, a different member of staff gets to nominate a charity of their choice. Then, during that whole month, you can get everyone behind this chosen charity for a mass-impact.

Everything you might normally do for charity, from collection tins in your reception areas to regular company donations, should go to this chosen charity.

Many companies will have a nominated charity they partner with anyway. This follows the same principle, but you’re making sure to recognize and support the causes most important to the people who run your business.

360 degree employee recognition ideas

360-degree recognition

The best recognition doesn’t come from just one person. it comes from all angles. Not only does it feel nicer to be recognized by more than one person, but sometimes we trust people like our peers more than we trust our superiors. So we have collected some of our favorite ideas for encouraging what we call ‘360-degree recognition’ – helping employees feel recognized from multiple perspectives.

55. Allocate a personal reward budget

Peer recognition is super powerful. And for this reason, we really like the idea of giving each and every colleague their own personal ‘reward budget’, which they can use to recognize their colleagues throughout the year.

Each time they see something that they believe deserves recognition, they can use a portion of their budget to reward their co-worker.

The budget doesn’t have to be financial, either! We’ve seen this work super well with points systems. Each employee has a set number of “points” they can award over any given period, and they can allocate these however they see fit. The points don’t have to mean anything significant, and you don’t even need to allocate prizes at the end of the exercise.

The magic comes in knowing that the recognition has come from a limited resource pool. Anybody can say “well done”. But if you can only give out 5 gold stars per year? It suddenly means more.

56. Share positive feedback with the whole company

Sometimes, customers send their compliments. For example, if they’ve received a particularly good service, or if a worker has gone the extra mile to help them.

This can be a very special experience in its own right. After all, you’re probably already making sure this feedback is passed directly to the employee in question. But why stop there?

A great idea for employee recognition, is to share this positive feedback with your entire company. Put it into your company newsfeed, or post it in your Slack channel. Let your employees see that you’re proud of them, and let them enjoy all the compliments and congratulations that come with a job well done.

57. Team nominations

A good way to get the whole team involved in employee recognition, is to hold a regular nomination huddle for “Team Member of the Week”.

Get the team together, ask them to vote on who has worked particularly hard that week, and then award a small prize to the winner. In our experience, if you hold your team nominations on a Friday, it’s a nice positive way to wrap up a week – and the winner goes home feeling good for the weekend.

58. Personal thanks from senior management

Let’s not forget that not all front-line employees have a line of communication with company directors. Especially not in bigger companies, where their daily dealings will be with their direct colleagues and their line manager.

One really special way to recognize employees is by having a senior member of company management deliver a personal, heartfelt message of thanks.

Imagine working in a large corporation, and having the CEO call you – or even come over to your desk – to tell you that they’ve been informed how well you did with something, and that they’d like to thank you for your contribution to the company.

This might not be effective in all organizational structures, but we’ve seen it work in some – especially those with a strong top-down hierarchy.

Philanthropy employee recognition ideas

Going public

Nothing says “great job” better than announcing it to the world. It shows you have nothing to hide, and can be great for your public image, too – a company recognizing its workers? Nice. These ideas are ways you can recognize your staff using your communication channels with your customers and the rest of the outside world.

59. Social media announcements

A quick and easy way to show recognition publicly for your employees is to give them a shout out on your company’s social media feeds.

An announcement on LinkedIn, a mention on Twitter, a tag on Facebook… if it’s shared with your public audience, and if it’s full of nice comments, it’s bound to cause a fuzzy feel-good sensation for the employee in question.

60. Mentions in your monthly newsletter

If you don’t want to bombard your company’s social media followings with constant “well done” messages, then you could do a round-up each month in your customer newsletter.

Employees will still appreciate the recognition and will feel good knowing that you’re confident enough to share this recognition with your customer base.

61. Publish on your company website

If you have the resources, then you could even set up a dedicated page on your company website, especially for recognizing employee achievements.

This could be done like a “wall of fame”, where monumental achievements are published forever in your company’s history. Alternatively, you could have a set of standard achievements which you publish the winners for every week, month or year.

Go big employee recognition ideas

Going big

Some companies like to make very grand gestures when it comes to employee recognition. Especially when recognizing a particularly big achievement. And these final few ideas are the ones we like the most. Of course, these tend to require a slightly bigger budget!

62. Once in a lifetime experiences

For exceptional achievements, you might want to give an employee a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Something they have never done, and will likely never get the chance to do again.

For example, skydiving, bungee jumping, a ride in a hot air balloon, or even a session driving on a race track. The sky is your limit, probably quite literally – although we’re quite sure Virgin did once talk about leisure trips to space.

63. Annual holiday

Once a year, why not treat your entire workforce to a holiday away. Or, if your entire workforce is a little too ambitious, you could limit the places, and offer the chance to those who hit their targets.

We have seen this done within companies where they rent out an entire hotel for a weekend. And you can stay as local, or go as far abroad, as you like.

Cocktails in the Mediterranean, anyone?

64. Spa day

Why not treat all of your employees once a year to a full day of pampering at a luxurious spa resort?

A day of massages, aromatherapy, saunas and hot tubs will not only show your workforce how much you love them, but it may well be just the experience they need to refresh and reset, ready to jump back into their work.

65. Mini spa-day at your office

Of course, if you want the full spa experience without the hassle of taking your employees away for the day, it might be easier – and more affordable – to find out which service providers are willing to travel.

Book the masseuse, hire the nail technician, and get the body scrub specialist’s availability – have them all come to you, and create a mini spa experience from directly within the office.

Bringing employee recognition ideas to life for modern organizations

We couldn’t spend weeks coming up with our favorite employee recognition ideas without adding a quick plug at the end 😉

Whilst all of these ideas can be effective in showing your people that you appreciate them, many are one-offs or require work from a manager or HR team to organize and implement.

Organizations that embrace recognition as part of their day-to-day workplace conversations have instead adopted online employee recognition programs, unifying recognition and reward into one social platform that empowers employees to give thanks to their peers, and enables managers to see all the great things that are going on which they may otherwise have missed.

Intrigued? Take a quick look at this next article which outlines seven practical HR benefits of employee recognition software. Or request a super quick demo using the form below and we can show you Workstars in action.