It's the Little Things: 5 Employee Appreciation Ideas That Can Make a Big Difference

It's the Little Things: 5 Employee Appreciation Ideas That Can Make a Big Difference

This article was updated on September 25, 2018.

Employee appreciation ideas can play a huge role when it comes to retaining your top performers. Workers who toil away at an organization that doesn't reward them for a job well-done have little motivation to stay where they are. And, when they decide to head for greener pastures and move to an organization where employee appreciation is integral to the company culture, their former employer is left with the costly task of hiring and training their replacements.

Everyone craves recognition, but when you turn your focus to employee acknowledgment, make sure that you're not passing out gold stars "just because;" reserve celebration for serious achievements so your employees know that their contributions are truly valued.

Here are some creative employee appreciation ideas to reward your hardworking team.

1. Make the Best of the Worst

Forward-thinking organizations understand that, without risk, there's no progress. Author and strategist Lisa Bodell offers some examples in TLNT. Notably, W.L. Gore & Associates, a plastics firm, celebrates the "death" of a failed project with beer and champagne. This approach encourages employee risk-taking and innovation — valuable assets for any organization.

2. Empower Them

Your employees know who the real superstars are. In a peer-to-peer recognition program, they have the opportunity to nominate and honor these special individuals. This can imbue the workplace with an atmosphere of friendly competition and a stronger sense of camaraderie. Peer-to-peer recognition can take place over your company's social networking service or at all-company meetings.

3. Have Fun

Shooting a humorous video honoring an individual or a team can spread the word about your gratitude and offer a memorable gesture of appreciation that everyone can enjoy. Get together with your most creative people and produce a personalized video highlighting your employees, then upload it to YouTube for the world to see. (This can also serve as a powerful recruitment tool.)

4. Have Even More Fun

When a business owner willingly sacrifices a day or half day of work to take the team on an off-site excursion, employees get the message that he or she genuinely cares about them. Whether it's a daytrip to a baseball game, a company-wide bowling tournament or a catered company picnic, an occasion where employees and managers can congregate away from the workplace provides an opportunity for both employee appreciation and team-building; it's a win-win situation.

5. Offer Opportunities

Your MVP employees most likely have valuable skills that are worth nurturing. Show your appreciation by offering them advanced training opportunities in their areas of interest. Ideally, those interests would align with the skills and talents you need to grow the organization, but don't make that the sole criterion for awarding these opportunities. An employee who can get valuable training free of charge may be more likely to stay with their business.

Start planning your next employee appreciation event soon, and show your team how much you value their hard work and commitment to your organization.