How to reward employees: 90 crazy (and not so crazy) ideas
In the bustling world of business, one of the key elements to success that often goes overlooked is employee retention. Having a team of devoted employees who’ve stood by your side, weathered the storms and celebrated the triumphs, is an invaluable asset that goes beyond mere experience—it’s the heart and soul of your organization. These long-serving employees have not only invested their time and talent in your vision but have also played a significant role in shaping the company’s culture, values, and identity.
Therefore, at Workstars we believe that recognizing and celebrating time served with rewards, isn’t just a kind gesture – it’s an opportunity to show your appreciation, boost morale, and reaffirm your commitment to your most loyal employees’ career growth. It’s a simple, yet powerful way, of saying, “We value your journey with us.” It’s about nurturing loyalty, fostering a sense of belonging, and most importantly, it’s about creating a work environment where people feel seen, appreciated, and motivated to build a lasting future.
If you’re wondering how to reward employees then you’re in luck because we’ve brainstormed the biggest list of creative ideas we could muster, in order to help you recognize and reward the important milestones of your people – in ways that resonate with their personalities, inspire their teammates, and ultimately strengthen the bond between individuals.
Drive in from the top below, or skip ahead using these links:
– Part One: Personal Recognition
– Part Two: Office Treats and Surprises
– Part Three: Gifts and Perks
– Part Four: Team Events and Activities
– Part Five: Investing in Learning and Development
– Part Six: Unique Experiences
– Part Seven: Recognition Within the Company
Part One: Personal Recognition
Let’s start by diving into the realm of personal recognition. But first, it’s crucial to appreciate the profound impact this can have as a motivator.
Recognition in the workplace is more than just a pat on the back; it’s a powerful tool that validates an employee’s efforts and contributions. According to Harvard Business Review, it has a huge effect on an morale. And when we personalize this recognition? It sends a clear message that the individual’s work is not only noticed, but also deeply appreciated. Such gestures cultivate a sense of personal connection and emotional engagement with the organization. They build self-esteem, enhance job satisfaction, and motivate employees to continue delivering their best.
From personalized thank-you notes to social media shout-outs, personal recognition methods strive to showcase an individual’s unique contributions, reinforcing the idea that they are a valued part of the team, not just another cog in the machine. The following suggestions look at how to reward employees through recognition, and aim to inspire you with a few creative ways to provide this crucial, personal acknowledgment when rewarding your employees.
1. Personalized Thank-You Notes: Forget generic, mass-produced cards. We’re talking about a truly custom-printed thank-you note, complete with a heartfelt message that shows you’ve noticed the little things they do. Instead of writing ‘thank you for your service,’ why not recall a special experience from their career? Such as ‘remember that time you calmed a raging client while juggling a double espresso?’
2. Company-Wide Email: In this digital age, there’s no town crier shouting your praises from the rooftop. But there is an email notification that pings everyone’s inbox. Imagine how that special somebody might feel when their name lights up screens company-wide, like a neon sign on the internet highway – “Look who’s celebrating a workiversary today!” or even “guess who just closed a 500k deal!”
3. Spotlight in Company Newsletter: If you have a company newsletter, then featuring the person in question is a great way to say “You’re not just an employee; you’re a star.” Why? Because stars deserve a feature role, a moment in the spotlight. Picture this – the company newsletter with their photo, their achievements, their very own superhero story. It’s not quite the Walk of Fame, but it could be your office’s version of the red carpet.
4. Announce in a Team Meeting: Being the centre of attention isn’t for everyone, but some people thrive on having all eyes on them. Whether it’s a one-month anniversary, or a new qualification… for the right person, having their name echo around the room during a team meeting could be just enough to remind them that they’re appreciated, and that their achievement didn’t go unnoticed.
5. Social Media Shout-Out: Why not give an employee their 15 seconds of viral fame? Especially if your organization has a healthy following. Whatever your chosen platform is, let the special person become the face of your brand for a few minutes, or even a few days. Instagrammers double-tap on their picture, LinkedIn connections send congratulatory messages, and Twitter goes abuzz with hashtags. Thanks for your service – by the way, you’re trending.
6. Personalized T-Shirt: This isn’t your average company tee, with a standard iron-on logo and a choice of 3 ill-fitting sizes. No, this proudly emblazons your recipient’s name and years of service, as a fashion statement. Each thread weaves a tale of their dedication, their perseverance, their spirit. It’s a truly wearable badge of honor that says “you’re doing a great job”.
7. Custom Coffee Mug: Have you ever sipped coffee from the cup of accomplishment? Maybe not – but you could give that special somebody the chance. Each morning, as they cradle their brand-new mug, they can let the aroma of success waft through the air. Alright, so it’s a mug… but it’s more than that. it’s a tribute to their journey – as stimulating and comforting as the beverage it holds.
8. Video Message: The more people you can get involved in this one, the better. Put yourself in the other person’s shoes for a moment, and imagine the silver screen of your computer lit up with faces of colleagues, each sharing a memorable moment with you, reminding you of all the highs – and maybe even the embarrassing lows – of your time with the company. It’s a cinematic masterpiece, an Oscar-worthy tribute in the making. The popcorn’s optional, but the sentiments are real. Get ready for the premiere of a lifetime!
9. Personalized Journal: There’s magic in ink and paper, especially when the journal wears its owner’s name. It’s an invitation to scribble their thoughts, dreams, and doodles. As each page turns, their story unfolds. So why not gift a personalized journal to celebrate a big achievement? It’s a great way for a person to chronicle their next few adventures within the company, after all.
10. Personalized Water Bottle: Hydration meets recognition in this sleek, personalized vessel. Each sip will be a refreshing reminder of the sipper’s accomplishments. And hey, there’s a wellbeing message in there, too – we’re saying “thanks for sticking with us, now make sure you take care of yourself and hydrate. Here’s to many more years of making waves!”
11. Custom Stickers: We all remember sticker books from our younger years. Some of us still love the thrill of these colorful, adhesive-backed works of art in our adult life. So why not embrace the charm of nostalgia, by gifting a sheet of stickers, each one symbolizing a special moment in the person’s career? It could be a project well done, or an inside office joke… whatever it is, make it theirs – but don’t be surprised when they start adorning their workspace with these little slips of adhesive delight.
12. Personalised Office Sign: For really special events or accomplishments, why not give a name to their creative fortress – their office. An engraved plaque on the door with their name is like the title on a book cover – it says that what is contained within, is truly a masterpiece. A personalized plaque shows that you’re delighted that this person is still with you, and that you hope they remain for many years to come.
13. Personalized Video Message from their Favoritee Celebrity: Cue the gasps! A surprise video from their idol celebrating their tenure? It’s like a personalized autograph, but in 4K and surround sound. And it’s probably far easier than you think. There’s no need to go hunting down agents or trawling the internet for contact details – many high-profile celebrities sell personalized video messages online, via websites like Cameo. Give it a go – we’re sure it will go down well. Disclaimer: A message from a celebrity they hate may have the opposite effect, so do your research!
Part Two: Office Treats and Surprises
There’s a little kid in all of us that just can’t resist the allure of an unexpected surprise or a delightful treat. So let’s turn the fun meter up a notch, as we delve into the realm of Office Treats and Surprises. A reason to celebrate in the middle of a humdrum workday? Yes, please!
The beauty of these treats and surprises is that they don’t just break the monotony; they infuse a burst of joy and excitement that can be downright contagious. Picture the shared laughter as an ice cream truck pulls up, or the wide-eyed wonder at a surprise flash mob. These moments do more than just spread smiles; they create shared memories and stories, strengthening not just the loyalty of the person we’re aiming to reward, but the entire team bond.
And the best part? The ripple effect of positivity can lead to a more relaxed, productive, and harmonious workplace. So, let’s get started and explore some fun, and sometimes unexpected ways to inject a dose of delight into your team’s workday. Buckle up – here’s how to reward employees with amazing office treats and suprises!
14. Office Decorations: Break out the confetti, crack open the streamers and transform their workspace into a visual fiesta celebrating their journey. You can get as creative as you like with this – just remember to make it an explosion of joy, a display that says ‘you’re cherished’. Bonus: It’s a fantastic backdrop for a celebratory selfie.
15. Surprise Party: Shhh! It’s a covert operation. Imagine their wide-eyed surprise as they walk into a room filled with cheers, balloons, and cake. It’s a classic, for sure – and one that echoes, ‘We remember, and we appreciate you!’ Just remember that not everybody likes this sort of surprise – for some employees, it may be their idea of a worst nightmare. So make sure you know them well, before surprising the living daylights out of them.
16. Professional Photo Shoot: Lights, camera, action! Let’s swap the office chair for a director’s seat. This photo shoot isn’t just about flashing lights and click-clicks. It’s about capturing their essence, their journey, the spark that makes them an invaluable asset. The outcome? A magazine-worthy portrait and an unforgettable experience. But on a serious note, while a photo shoot can be a ton of fun, they may also find that having a professional head-shot to use in their bio, or a professional portrait for their social media profiles, is a practical celebration – one that serves them well for many years to come.
17. Anniversary Pin: It’s more than just a pin. It’s an emblem of their dedication, worn proudly on the lapel, glinting each time it catches the light. Each glance at this little piece of art is a reminder of their years of service, making every day a mini celebration. This is a nice surprise for people who are celebrating a particular anniversary, such as their 5th or 10th year with the company.
18. Custom Trophy: Especially if the person in question is competitive, or is interested in competitive sports. A custom trophy becomes a sculpted recognition of their resilience and dedication, a tribute that gleams as much as their contribution. On their desk, it stands as a shining beacon of their story. A personal monument like this may seem like junk to people who keep a low profile – but for people who thrive on winning or attention, it’s the perfect way to show them you love what they’ve achieved so far.
19. Office Plant: A much more gentle surprise, for somebody who is perhaps a little more low-key – but don’t take it as a boring or meaningless gift. This living, breathing treat symbolizes growth, just like their journey with your company. And as they water it, it may even remind them of their personal and professional growth, along with their employer’s commitment to nurturing their potential.
20. Custom Illustration: Picture this, a custom illustration capturing their spirit, their essence, all wrapped up in a one-of-a-kind artistic rendering. It’s a creative salute to their individuality and their time with the organization. And if you pick the right illustrator? Then maybe this piece of art could give the Mona Lisa a run for her money. Of course, many companies like to stick with something light-hearted and fun, such as a highly exaggerated caricature that brings out a person’s wildest features, and helps bring a bit of laughter to their day.
21. Office Game: Surprise! Their favorite board game or video game is now a part of the office’s permanent leisure arsenal. But it’s not just for fun, it’s a testament to their impact on our work culture! After all, whatever it is that inspires them to work so hard, could well serve as an inspiration to others… So, roll the dice or grab the controller – it’s time to play a game in honour of their awesome achievement!
22. Professional Massage: Sometimes, instead of rolling out the red carpet, you need to roll out the massage table. After all, not everybody wants high-glamour and attention – sometimes, we just want the nice surprise of relaxation. A professional massage is about more than simply kneading out the knots; it’s a relaxation experience that says “hey, take the weight off your feet, and let us take care of you for a change.” It’s a great way to return the favor of many years of hard work.
23. Ice Cream Truck: Hear the jingle? No, you’re not imagining it – there really is an ice cream truck pulling up at work. And yes, it’s all because somebody just got another year under their belt. So let’s all celebrate with the world’s favorite frozen treat! The best part about serving this scoop of happiness as an employee reward, is that it rewards more than just one person. Everybody will be happy to join in and grab their own swirl of nostalgia – we’ve yet to meet a person who doesn’t like ice cream, meaning you get the knock-on effect of boosting morale for the whole team.
24. Surprise Flash Mob: If you’re not familiar with what a flash mob is, then watch this video. But could it really work to reward an employee? We think so. Lights dim, music starts, and suddenly the office corridor turns into a dance floor. What’s more, is everybody is in on it – doing a tightly choreographed number to the person’s favorite song. Then, as the final note hits, the whole office is clapping. Not just for the performance of the dancers – but for the victim, ahem, we mean the ‘guest’s’ starring role in the company’s success story. Flash mobs can be hired, or you can organise it yourself – whatever you decide, it’s sure to be a memorable way to celebrate any achievement.
25. Office Mural: It’s a splash of colour, a wave of creativity, but most importantly, it’s a bold statement that says how proud you are of a person’s journey with your company. Whether it’s painted onto the side of the building, or simply stuck to the wall of the break-out room, this large-scale “thank you” is a truly breath-taking way to celebrate the extra special moments in a person’s career.
26. Balloon Surprise: How about this? They are arriving at the office, and a burst of helium-filled joy awaits them when they enter. Each one is decorated with their favorite colour scheme, or perhaps even represents a year of their contribution – a whimsical surprise that bounces around in the air as they make their way to their desk.
27. Special Coffee Break: It’s time to interrupt their regular coffee routine with a barista-grade surprise. If you have the right equipment, you may be able to bring a professional in for the day using a service like Hire a Barista. Alternatively, there are plenty of portable coffee vans that can pack a brew-ti-ful surprise in the office car-park when the day of celebration comes around.
28. Custom Bobblehead: If the person is into gadgets, toys or collectables, then imagine their delight as they unbox a mini-me version of themselves. Each time it nods its head, it’s saying “yes, you did a great job”. As it takes a prideful place on their desk, or even in their car, it’s a reminder that they are truly a head that bobbles above the rest.
Part Three: Gifts and Perks
Some people don’t care much for recognition, and certainly don’t much like surprises. But almost everybody responds well to receiving something free of charge – whether that’s a gift, a perk, or even a workplace benefit. In fact, one study suggests that 70% of workers say they’d want to work harder if they received some sort of gift from their employer. Remember that gifts don’t have to be tangible – they can be benefits that reward a person’s personal development, or that deliver a unique and desirable experience.
So let’s take a look at some ideas for gifts and perks that can help you celebrate special achievements.
29. Extra Day Off: What’s a better gift than the gift of time? An extra day off isn’t just a break from work; it’s an invitation to indulge in their favorite pastime or simply put their feet up. It’s a great way of saying, ‘Clock out, you’ve earned a pause.’
30. Milestone Bonus: A milestone bonus is a nice and simple way to thank a person for their service. And as we all know, money talks! It’s a tribute to their dedication, a nod to their tireless efforts, but most importantly, it’s a tangible ‘Thank You’. You could set up a system of milestone bonuses that increase as years of service extend – sticking to only the special anniversaries, if you like, such as 1, 5, 10 and 25. Or, you could offer a payout each year, with incremental increases for each year that passes. You don’t even have to use milestone bonuses to measure time passed – they could represent certain achievements, such as number of customers served, or number of emails answered.
31. Personal Chef Experience: If you want to get a bit fancy, then you could hire a personal chef to deliver them a delicious meal in their own home, as a way to say thank you for your service. Imagine their kitchen taken over by a culinary maestro, whipping up their favorite dishes. It’s an epicurean celebration of their contributions – a bon appétit to their achievements and to many more servings of success.
32. Professional Development Funding: As people celebrate each passing year with your company, it’s important to invest in their future. Not only does this support that person in their next fendevors, but it can help them deliver better results for your company, too. Remember though, that for this to truly feel like a reward, you should give them as much control over how they spend the funding as possible. If you tell them they must use this funding in a particular area of skillset, then this isn’t a gift – it’s just a regular workplace training course that they’re being forced to take part in! So, rather than sending them on a particular course – which you could do, and which we’ll cover later on in this article – a professional development fund is an allocation of money that they can spend on any sort of development they like.
33. Charity Donation: A contribution to their favorite charity on their behalf shows that you appreciate their values, and you want to help them support the causes they care about. You could adjust the value of the donation to reflect their years of service – or a particular achievement. Or, just offer one lump sum and have done with it! Despite a charity donation not actually giving anything to the person themselves, don’t be surprised at its value as a reward – almost everybody has a non-profit cause they care deeply about, have a personal experience with, and want to help.
34. Fitness Tracker: For all those fitness fanatics in your workplace, giving a gift such as a smartwatch or some other similar fitness gadget, can be a great way to thank them for their time so far, and to assist them with their health, their wellness, and their quest for self-care. As they tick off another year with you, you’re making sure they’re not just counting years; they’re making the years count.
35. Cooking Ingredients Box: Help cooking enthusiasts unleash their inner Gordon Ramsay by sending them a celebration box full of fresh ingredients and a recipe. Not only could this be an exciting way for them to mix up their usual meal schedule, but you’re inspiring creativity too. What a way to add a dash of spice to any celebration!
36. Healthy Snacks Basket: On the subject of fresh ingredients, why not treat the special person to a rainbow of wholesome, delectable snacks? Keep it as delicious as possible, while keeping it healthy – so, think of sweet, crunchy apples and fat, juicy strawberries. Handpicked to keep them energized! As they munch through their favorites, you’ll be practically telling them: ‘Here’s to your health and many more fruitful years!’
37. Work from Home Day: If your workplace doesn’t have a hybrid working policy, then why not treat them with a day where they can work from home for once? Turn their commute into a leisurely stroll to their kitchen table – and turn their usual canteen snacks into a delicious home-prepared lunch. This work-from-home day isn’t just about comfort; it’s about balancing work-life, and about cherishing the small joys. It’s your way of saying, ‘Let’s celebrate how great you are in your favorite place – home!’ Remember that not everybody loves to work from home – but for those workplaces where home working is difficult to offer, it may be a nice way to mix up the usual routine.
38. Name a Star: Imagine giving somebody an interstellar acknowledgment of their shining role in your company? A star in the cosmos, bearing their name, etching their contribution into the universe… As they look up at the night sky, they’ll know their legacy twinkles from afar. Most star naming agencies will even supply you with a map that helps you to identify which of the thousand dots in the night sky is the one with your name on it.
39. Life Coach Session: Empower them with the guidance of a life coach. A life coach isn’t everybody’s cup of tea – but some people find a session with a life coach to be transformational. So if the person you’re rewarding is interested in self-development and reaching their true potential, then why not gift them a session with a life coach, as a special toast to their talents, and a vote of confidence in their ability to continue becoming a better person?
40. Company Swag: Not everybody buzzes for company-branded goodies, but in companies where this kind of commodity is hard to come by, why not put a big box of swag together to say “thanks”? Whether it’s a nice comfortable gilet or a bunch of notepads and nice handwriting pens, company swag can be a great motivator in the hands of the right person. Especially if you’ve taken pride in the design and quality of your branded gear.
41. Upgrade Office Equipment: A great nod to their service, is to revamp their workspace with the latest tech gadgets. We’re not talking about giving them the basic equipment they need to do their job – you should be doing that already. We’re talking here about giving them the best of the best. That premium mouse mat with special gel comfort support; an ergonomic keyboard that hugs each finger with every keystroke. Or you could go one step further and upgrade their office chair, with something that screams comfort and authority. Let them know that this cool gear is uniquely theirs, too – tell them that they can take it home with them, if they don’t want to use it for work. Serious video gamers will love this offering!
42. Art Class: Unleash their inner Picasso with a fun-filled art class. Whether you bring the art tutor to their home or workplace, or send them to a special art class in the city… if you’re celebrating somebody creative, then this idea is sure to help them feel appreciated, and will make them eager to continue painting their professional success story with your company.
43. Wine Tasting Experience: Wine tasting as a reward experience at work, goes beyond simple swirling and sipping. It becomes a sensory celebration that mirrors the richness of their contribution to your company. Alright, that line was a little bit cheesy – but cheese goes great with wine. And anyway, you really do want to let them know that you hope to celebrate many more vintages with them under your employment.
44. Home Office Upgrade: If an employee works from home, then why not infuse their home workspace with a touch of corporate luxury. You could buy them a better chair, upgrade their sound system, or even give them an adjustable desk that allows them to work while standing or sitting – something that the Huffington Post reports improves both happiness and health.
45. Pet Care Service: If you hire an animal lover, then why not give them the gift of a pet care service? This could be for a day, or even an extended period of time – whether that’s to cover a date night, or to give them the freedom to take a vacation somewhere wild. Pet lovers will always love their pets – but they may also love knowing their fluffy buddy is taken care of while they go enjoy some responsibility-free time doing something new.
46. Special Coffee Blend: Most people get used to the same tired old brand of coffee each morning. So why not wake your special employee up with a brand new blend of the world’s best coffee? Treat them to something fancy and expensive – something they’ve never tried before, something they would never buy themselves, but something that they’d appreciate the luxury of. Hopefully, it will be a reminder of the unique blend of skills that they’ve contributed to the company over the years!
47. Monthly Subscription Box: If you know what they like, why not treat them to a monthly subscription box that really aligns with their personal interests? This might be in the form of a food box, a movie streaming service, or even monthly trips to the theatre. There are services that offer subscriptions to all sorts of different activities and goodies – such as A Year’s Supply Of. Why not treat them to a full year’s worth of subscriptions, to celebrate their many years of service to your company?
48. Boosted Contribution to Retirement Fund: If somebody has dedicated a huge chunk of their professional life to your organization, then what better way to reward them for it than by making a boosted contribution to their retirement fund? This could be in the form of a one-off payment into their pension plan, or even a boosted contribution from now until retirement. However you do it, it’s sure to be seen as a true nod to their loyalty, and a pledge to support them to the very end.
49. Subscription to a Specialty Magazine: If you have an employee who loves a certain topic of interest, then why not celebrate their success with an annual subscription to a specialty magazine that covers their unique hobby? Whether it’s motorbikes, fishing, or even Live Action Role Play, there’s a magazine subscription that covers it all.
50. Personal Concierge for a Day: Maybe it sounds a little extravagant, but you’ve got to admit that it would be a real treat to be waited on for a full day, wouldn’t it? Whether that’s in the form of a professional assistant, or somebody to help around the house… a day of pampering and convenience is more than just a service. It’s a grand gesture that tells them ‘You’re royalty in our books’.
51. Gift Cards: Gift cards are a great option, because they give a person the freedom to pick their own gift, and treat themselves to the thing they love the most – without you having to know exactly what they love the most. When you give somebody a gift card as a reward, you’re essentially giving them a passport to a shopping spree – an open invitation to indulge. The message you’re giving, is that ‘your choice matters to us, just like your contributions do.’
52. Concert Tickets: Their favorite band, a night of music, an experience they won’t forget. If you already know what they love, then why not book the tickets as a surprise, and arrange for them to have the next day off work to double the value of your gift? Not only will they be out there listening to their favorite musical artist, but they won’t need to worry about setting an alarm for the next day. It’s also a nice idea to give a pair of activities, so they can bring a partner or a friend.
53. Podcast Subscription: Let them tune into learning, relaxation, or adventure – with an auditory journey that complements their interests. Podcast subscriptions are a great way to help a person indulge in their deepest interests, while going about their other activities – such as commuting to work, taking a bath, or even cleaning the house. And each time they listen to the latest episode, they’ll know that it was their loyalty and service to your company that earned them the privilege.
Part Four: Team Events and Activities
For many people, celebrating achievements at work shouldn’t be a solo act; after all, the journey is made meaningful by the companions we meet along the way.
Involving the entire team in these celebrations not only honors the individual, but also reinforces the sense of camaraderie and collective spirit. Imagine the uproarious laughter during a team karaoke night or the collective problem-solving during a virtual escape room experience. These shared moments of fun and bonding transform the workplace into a vibrant, supportive community where everyone is rooting for each other. Plus, it’s not just about the laughter and high-fives; it’s about nurturing a culture of recognition and appreciation that permeates throughout the team.
So, whether it’s a virtual celebration or a team lunch, let’s explore how to reward employees in a different way with team-wide celebrations that spread cheer, boost morale, and strengthen the bonds of togetherness.
54. Virtual Celebration: With the world going digital, why not take the celebrations along for the ride? Don your party hats and log into a work bash that knows no geographical boundaries. The virtual world offers limitless creativity, so think of an online karaoke or a virtual tour of a world-renowned museum. It’s a chance to bridge distances with a click and create a space where everyone can come together to commemorate a colleague’s journey with the company. So switch on the webcams, raise a virtual toast, and show that even in a digital realm, the warmth of your appreciation remains very real!
55. Team Lunch: Picture this – a table laden with everyone’s favorite delicacies, a buzz of conversation floating in the air, and the team gathered to celebrate their colleague’s work milestone. It’s not just another day at the office; it’s a mid-day culinary celebration that honors the guest of honor’s contributions. As everyone bonds over shared plates and stories, it serves as a poignant reminder that food has a magical way of bringing people together, reinforcing the bonds that make your team so special.
56. Stand-Up Comedy Show: Get ready to tickle the funny bones and let the laughter flow freely with a stand-up comedy show. It’s a reminder that the workplace can be a stage for joy, and every chuckle speaks to the fun-filled journey they’ve had with the company. As the comedian delivers a well-timed punchline, this kind of celebration can help laughter to frame the fact that the honoree’s journey with the company is not just about deadlines and meetings, but also about enjoying the ride.
57. Magic Show: A magic show is a dazzling treat that stands as a metaphor for a journey – full of surprises, transformations, and delightful moments. As the magician weaves his tricks, it mirrors the person’s role in the company’s success story – sometimes subtly in the background, other times leading the charge. And as the magic unfurls, it creates a space of astonishment and shared wonder. As magic shows are generally best enjoyed with groups, this makes for a great team activity for celebrating a joint success.
58. Outdoor Movie Night: Imagine a cool evening under a canopy of stars, a giant screen flickering with cinematic magic, and a crowd gathered to celebrate a person’s contributions. An outdoor movie night is an unusual choice of reward, but this can help the event to stand out in people’s memories – while remaining a cosy and comfortable celebration. It’s a night where popcorn meets appreciation, but it is heavily reliant on the weather forecast – so plan the day wisely!
59. Team Building Activities: Fun challenges, shared victories, a day full of camaraderie. Team building activities can be super fun, while also establishing stronger bonds between teammates. And as the team celebrates the special achievement, they’re also celebrating the shared spirit that built this grand success.
60. Team Volunteering: Extend the joy of rewarding employees to the community. And sure, this might not be for everyone – not everybody is happy to go out into the community and do a bit of good. But most people are happy to know that they’ve helped, and actually, if you let people use a paid day at work to go and jump into a community project, they may just get to the end of the day feeling excited and exhilarated and happy to have had a change in routine.
61. Team Karaoke Night: Microphones ready, it’s time for some off-key fun! Be warned though – depending on the levels of alcohol consumed, karaoke nights can get messy. Ear muffs are optional, but if somebody really starts to sing out of key, just remember that they probably bring plenty of harmony to the workspace – so give them a break!
62. Virtual Escape Room Experience: Crack the codes, solve the puzzles, embrace the thrill. If you’ve never done an escape room before, then we suggest you book one for the next employee reward experience you’re charged with organizing. Not only is it a virtual adventure that celebrates a team’s problem-solving skills, but as you and your team escape together, you’ll all be sharing a taste of success.
63. Team Sports Event: It’s game time! Does the person you’re rewarding have a favorite sport, or a favorite team? Whether it’s football, basketball or hockey, why not take to the pitch, the court or the rink, and cheer your team to victory.
Part Five: Investing in Learning and Development
In our quest to reward team members for their special contributions, we must not forget that growth and development are central to an employee’s journey with us. So, why not give the gift of a brighter future brimming with new skills and greater knowledge?
By investing in their learning and development, we’re not just commemorating the past, but also fostering their future. From public speaking courses to webinars and one-on-one mentoring, these workplace rewards serve a dual purpose. They validate their contributions, and simultaneously propel them towards new professional horizons. With every new skill they master, they’ll recall the special moment when they embarked on that journey. Learning is, after all, a gift that keeps giving, and what better occasion to impart it than as a workplace reward?
Remember, of course, that for professional development to feel like a reward, it must feel as if it is set apart from your company’s regular mandatory training programmes – otherwise, it’s just extra work disguised as a reward. But with that in mind, let’s explore how this celebration can turn into a catalyst for continual growth and engagement.
64. Additional Training Opportunities: Sharpen their skills with a suite of training programs that are not usually available for regular employees. Give them a little more freedom over what these courses could include – and remember that this could become a launchpad for their continued professional growth. After so long with your company, it may be the boost they need to re-invigorate themselves and move to the next level.
65. Public Speaking Course: Not many people think to embark on a public speaking course – often simply because they don’t feel as if it’s a skill they’ll ever need to use. But actually, public speaking is about more than standing on stage at a corporate event, or even delivering a good speech at a wedding. It’s about growing in confidence and improving your every-day story-telling. So why not unleash their voice with a comprehensive public speaking course? As they learn to command the stage, the room, or even just everyday conversation… they’ll know their achievement sparked this transformation.
66. Webinar Subscription: If there’s a subject the honoree is particularly interested in, why not find an expert in this field and then buy them a webinar subscription? This digital passport to wisdom is a great way to recognize their length of service and commitment to your organization.
67. One-on-one Mentoring: You could go one step further, and gift them a session (or a few sessions) of personal guidance from an industry expert. It’s surprising how much faster knowledge sinks in when we are trained one-on-one, but the key is the interactive learning experience – the asking of questions, and the dynamic adaptation of the training content to suit the learner.
68. Career Consultation: Offering somebody a career consultation to reward them for their hard work may seem a little backwards – after all, what if they discover that they want to embark on a career change, and you end up losing them? Don’t worry too much – if they’re engaged and they enjoy working with you, they won’t want to leave. A career consultation is more likely to help them understand their own potential, and how they can best use their skillset to progress within your organization.
69. Invite a Guest Speaker: An insightful session with an industry leader can be just what the doctor ordered when it comes to a relaxed but educational experience. Why not make a team event of it, and hire a nice venue with some delicious catering, too?
70. Professional Networking Event: Some people love to make new professional friends and connections. So why not set up a networking event with others from the person’s industry, as a way to reward their input? It will give them a refreshing change of scenery, but will also serve as a chance for them to build new relationships and create new alliances that could be invaluable for years to come.
Part Six: Unique Experiences
Sometimes, it’s nice to open a person’s eyes to an experience they may perhaps not otherwise take part in – or, simply, to give a gift that they may not be expecting, but one which says “hey, I know you, I see you, and I appreciate you.”
When an experience is unique, it is usually more memorable – and often more meaningful. So here’s a look at how to reward employees with an experience that will be remembered for (hopefully) many years to come.
71. Bury a Time Capsule: Take a record of the person’s achievements, accolades and memories… and bury them in a time capsule! Sure, you might be reflecting back on time that you’ve already spent – but this is a nice reminder that things will continue to change as the years pass, and that the moments happening right now may one day be nice to look back on. It’s a commitment to your future together, by celebrating your journey so far – and it’s a unique celebration that has a lot of long life.
72. Family Invite: For many families, the workplace is a mystery. Why not let them invite their loved ones into the celebration fold? We hope that this idea serves as a general inspiration to say that hey, your workers are probably proud of the work they do, and they no doubt want to show this off to their family. So let them bring them along!
73. Personalized Music Playlist: Compile their favorite tracks, the tunes that get them grooving, and give them their own personalized playlist. And for once, don’t complain when a song you hate comes on – let them have their own playlist, for the full day, and let others deal with it! Remember that music is a powerful motivating force, one that connects strongly with our emotions. If you can help a person to associate their time with your organization, with a soundtrack that gives them positive emotions, you’re helping to write their career so far as a positive memory in their personal history book.
74. Yoga Membership: Yoga isn’t for everyone. But it’s for way more people than most will ever realize – the trouble is that most aren’t willing to give it a go in the first place! Gifting a yoga membership may seem a bizarre idea on the surface, but it may actually be the entry ticket to a brand new passion in the next stage of the person’s life. Remember that yoga has many health and wellbeing benefits – and a healthy and happy employee is a more engaged and productive employee!
75. Cooking Class and Competition: Here’s another one for the culinary wizards in your workforce – why not stir up their passions with an expert-led cooking class and competition? Get a master baker to teach the group how to bake bread, and then have a panel of judges to rate the loafs! The winner gets to eat the bread?
76. Virtual Reality Experience: VR technology is getting better each year. From Google Cardboard to the latest Meta Quest, if you haven’t spent time in the VR world, you’re missing out. So why not use this growing digital experience as a way to reward your hardest workers? Whether it’s a 3D experience on a roller coaster that they’d never dare go on in real-life, or a virtual trip to an art gallery they’ve always wanted to visit, it’s a great and low-cost way to ignite their imagination and say ‘thanks for working with us’.
77. Murder Mystery Dinner: An enigmatic meal that tantalizes their taste buds and detective skills. This isn’t just a dinner; it’s a whodunnit with a side of gourmet. If you’ve never done a murder mystery dinner before, they’re an experience to behold. As well as tucking in to several delicious courses, a troupe of actors will play out scenes around you – scenes of grizzly murder. And your job will be to gather the clues, and solve the mystery by the end of the night. As they unravel the answer, they’ll be satisfied that their hard work with your company was the opening act for this thrilling drama!
78. Helicopter Ride: Sky-high views, adrenaline rush, an unforgettable experience. What more should we say about giving the gift of a helicopter ride? It’s certainly not a celebration for the faint hearted. But for those who love a thrill, this is the perfect way to celebrate a special achievement.
79. Skydiving Experience: So, a ride in a helicopter isn’t extreme enough, huh? OK, fine – how about you arrange for the participant to lunge into free-falling, the joy of flight. Knowing that they have nothing to stop them hitting the ground, but a thin piece of fabric! It’s not for us here at Workstars… but for the serious thrill-seekers out there, it’s certainly a reward that won’t be forgotten.
80. Private Tour of a Local Attraction: If your situation permits, why not arrange for them to delve into the secrets of a local landmark, with a personal tour? For the culture-seekers amongst your group, this voyage of discovery will be a true toast to their curiosity. And the perfect reward to spending all that time working hard for your organization!
81. High Tea Experience: The British know how to celebrate – so why not put on a traditional high tea experience, complete with scones, cream, and a touch of elegance.
Part Seven: Recognition Within the Company
Like some of the personal recognition ideas we suggested earlier in this article, giving an employee recognition within the company is a great way to immortalize their service, and recognize how much they have given to your organization.
Some of these next ideas are about making your employee feel like a special part of the company; other ideas aim to really focus on serving as tributes to the timelines that employees have created during their time with your company – after all, it is through positive reinforcement that we build a happy picture of the past. And if you’re interested in the psychology of how our brains create timelines of the past, this article may be a good one to check out.
82. Growth Chart: Track their progress, achievements, milestones on a vivid growth chart. Then present it to them on their anniversary date. If you do it right, this will serve as more than just a pretty poster that sings their praises – it will illustrate their evolution within your company, and tell a story with their triumphs. As they glance at the chart in the days, weeks and years to come, they will remember how that special anniversary really did tell a story, and marked yet another peak of their ascent.
83. pPersonalized Workspace: Deck out their space with personalized touches. This isn’t about giving them a bit of nice décor and making their space look fancy. It’s about creating a comfort zone that mirrors their personality. Think of things you know they love – hobbies they enjoy, artists they admire. And make it feel as personal as possible. As they settle into their newly personalized space, they’ll know their hard work got noticed, and sparked this unique transformation.
84. Book Dedication: Dedicate a volume in the company library to them. This could be a series of books by their favorite author, or even a selection of books on the topic that they are most skilled in – to show how much their own knowledge and contributions were valued.
85. Memory Scrapbook: Collate memories, moments, and messages in a unique scrapbook. You can actually get all of their teammates to contribute here – think of it like when everybody signs a get well card, or a leaving card… only this time, it’s a scrapbook where people can stick things in. Notes, pictures, stories, memories. All the things that bring a balanced touch of nostalgia to the work anniversary experience.
86. Special Parking Spot: Reserve the prime parking spot just for them. If the reason to celebrate is special enough, make it permanent – or, if parking is a bit of a difficult situation where you work, you could just give it on loan for a day. Either way, they’ll know that their loyalty and hard work earned them the VIP treatment.
87. Behind the Scenes Tour: Depending on the person’s level of seniority, you may want to consider inviting them to explore the unseen aspects of our business. It’s like the TV show, undercover boss – but in reverse! As they uncover your operational secrets, they’ll feel like they’re closer connected than ever before – and they’ll have their own graft to thank for it.
88. Reserved Lunch Area: Set aside a special spot in the lunch area. This mark of significance is a nice little nod to their social spirit, and a great way to say ‘thanks – you’ve earned this.’
89. Create a Company Award in their Honor: If your company has an annual awards ceremony – and many companies do – then why not launch an annual award named after them? This accolade will serve as a legacy, and a reflection on the impact they made, for years to come. As the award finds its winner each year, they’ll know their unique contribution has etched their name into your company’s hall of fame.
90. Mini Vacation: If they’ve worked so hard for so long? Yeah, they’ve earned a break. So if they’re the traveling sort, you could consider whisking them away for a weekend getaway. The chance to unwind, recharge and refresh will do wonders for their wellbeing – and their dedication to your organization will have earned them a whole bunch of memories that will last a lifetime.
Looking for even more ideas on how to reward employees?! Then you’re in luck! Check out 100 proven employee reward ideas here.