Many people praise Bob Nelson for single-handedly creating Employee Appreciation Day with the launch of his book 1001 Ways to Reward Employees (updated to 1,501 ways). The book catapulted to the top of the charts, selling more than 1.4 million copies before it was even updated.
Nelson has said that it’s a silly concept to reward employees for loyalty, hard work and dedication on just one day out of the year, when every day gives you an opportunity to show how much you value each worker’s contribution to your success.
We heartily agree, so we’ve put together this list of 19 inspiring ideas to show your team members how much you value them — on March 3rd or any day of the year!
First a Few Gift-Giving Tips
Some of the suggestions below are very simple so that everyone can adopt the idea, while others will require some adjustments for the size of your staff and the nature of your business. Please keep these three tips in mind as you choose gifts and plan appreciation festivities:
- Match the reward to the recipient whenever possible. For example, don’t give someone who is allergic to pet dander an annual pass to the petting zoo.
- Match the reward to the history. No matter how amazing that first-week-on-the-job staffer is, they probably haven’t earned the same status as a 20-year vet who worked his way up with hard work and loyalty.
- Match the reward to specific events or timing. Offering a free weekend getaway for two to your best selling rep won’t be worth much if the only time she can claim it is the weekend her spouse or significant other is covering for a colleague.
1. Gift Cards
When you’re not sure of your employee’s taste, give them a gift card to use at a generic retailer, such Amazon.com — the can’t-go-wrong solution.
2. Event Tickets
Gift tickets to music concerts, live theater, sporting events, or entrance to a state fair.
Offer memberships to the local discount buyers club, gym, dance studio, museum, or online courses.
4. Tech Gadgets
5. Company Swag
Hand out logo-emblazioned jackets, caps, t-shirts, water bottles, or portfolios.
6. Sweet Treats
A box of quality chocolates or a basket of baked goods (cupcakes, donuts, pastries) is a no-fail gift idea! Mix it up with some savory treats if you want to cut down on the sugar factor.
7. A “Stay Home With Pay” Card
This gives your team member permission to take a wellness day just because they deserve it.
8. Stress Survival Kit
Make personalized kits to combat stress. You could include a soothing CD, a comedy video, essential oils, and a neck cushion.
9. Cash Bonus
Give your employee a cash bonus along with a note identifying the great work they’ve done to deserve. Don’t subtract this amount from any standard end-of-year bonus.
1. On-Site Massage Therapist
Hire a massage therapist to bring their massage table or chair to the office for a day, set them up in a private room, and post a sign-up sheet on the door.
2. Professional Development Workshop
Give your employees the gift of more education with a career workshop or tuition reimbursement benefits.
3. Notable Mentions in Your Newsletter
Recognize an employee’s great work by giving them public praise in your company newsletter and/or on your website and social media channels.
4. All-Inclusive Weekend Getaway
Just remember to make the dates flexible so that the recipient can choose his or her own weekend.
5. Personal Project Time
Allow your employees to work on a passion project during office hours (that’s how Art Fry invented the Post-It Note!)
Building a team that works — and plays — together is essential, especially for small businesses that often need employees to take on multiple roles. Having fun together outside of the office reinforces the team attitude when you and your employees get back to the job.
1. In-Office Pizza Party
You can substitute pizza with any other staff favorite. Have a team lunch on a weekly or monthly basis.
2. Healthy Snack Delivery
Get a subscription to an office snack delivery service, like Snack Nation, which offers a curated mix of snacks each month.
3. Staff Field Trip
Play company-wide hooky for an afternoon with a trip to a local museum, paintball facility, a matinee movie, or a picnic in the park. You pay the admission fees, of course.
4. Company Sports Team
Join a corporate sports league to build a sense of camaraderie on and off the field, track, or court.
5. Evening Yacht Cruise
Book a dinner or drinks yacht for a few hours after work to relax, have fun, and see a bit of the city.
Everyone needs to be appreciated! Today gives business owners a concrete opportunity to show their employees just how valuable they are and how much their skills, attitude, and dedication are appreciated. How will you say thanks?