20 creative (and affordable) ideas for employee recognition

Remember that feeling you experienced when you were awarded a gold star in school for a job well done? Even though we’re older now and the stakes are higher than learning the ABCs, that “gold star” feeling still can be a powerful motivator.

Employees who believe that their employers recognise and value their contributions generally are more satisfied at work, which is why most organisations today have employee recognition programmes in place. On the following slides, we present some creative yet simple ideas for business owners and managers to give employees that “gold star” feeling in recognition of their efforts.

1. WRITE A LETTER Presenting a letter to an employee recognising his or her good work is a simple but effective way to show in a personal manner that you value that employee’s contributions.

2. WALL OF FAME Post pictures of employees on a wall or on your company’s website to honour their hard work.

3. SURPRISE TREATS Leave a candy bar, gift card or other token of appreciation on an employee’s desk with a note thanking him or her.

4. PRIZE TICKETS Give tickets to employees for going above and beyond, with those tickets redeemable for time off, a special lunch or other prizes.

5. SPECIAL PARKING Honouring the employee of the month with his or her own parking space is an easy way to make employees feel special.

6. SOCIAL MEDIA Use your company’s Twitter or Facebook page to publicly honour employees who do a great job.

7. WORKING OFF SITE You can reward employees who do a good job by allowing them to work off site, if possible.

8. TROPHIES Honour an employee of the week or month with a trophy that he or she can keep at his or her desk until a new winner is crowned.

9. PEER RECOGNITION Allowing employees to nominate their peers for special recognition can help everyone feel appreciated.

10. SURPRISE PARTIES You can mark the completion of a big project or other significant team achievement with a surprise celebration.

11. SHARING PRAISE When you hear someone say something positive about another employee, pass it along to that employee.

12. MAKE IT PERSONAL Taking the time to learn more about your employees’ outside interests and families can make them feel more valued.

13. QUICK MEETINGS Calling an employee into your office to offer a quick nod to his or her achievement can be an effective way to boost morale.

14. OPEN-DOOR POLICY When employees know that you’re available to listen to their concerns at any time, they can feel better about their situations.

15. OFFER LONGER BREAKS Giving staff members an extra-long lunch break or a half-day after completing a big project can help them feel refreshed.

16. SHARE MORE OFTEN Arrange regular meetings during which employees can show off their accomplishments to management. This can boost their engagement.

17. LEAVE A NOTE A simple handwritten thank you note can go a long way toward helping employees feel more valuable.

18. DAY OF RECOGNITION Scheduling an official staff recognition day with team-building exercises and an awards ceremony can provide a welcome break for employees.

19. BOOKKEEPING Keep a journal of all the times you notice employees going above and beyond, and show it off at the end of the month.

20. PERSONALISED RECOGNITION When you know more about your employees’ interests, you can reward them with personalised gifts or honours.


Even though your employees are being compensated for their work, going the extra mile to recognise their unique and valuable contributions can be a powerful way to make them feel appreciated. These and other simple and affordable ideas demonstrate that you don’t have to break the bank to show your staff that you care.


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