18 Small Gestures That Make Employees Feel Appreciated

Employee appreciation day team meeting

It doesn’t matter if you’re a CEO, mid-level manager, or the cleaning staff — everyone wants to feel appreciated for the hard work they do. According to a Gallup poll, “the most effective recognition is honest, authentic, and individualized to how each employee wants to be recognized.” For example, some people love public praise while others prefer a private compliment. Once you know what your employee likes best, the rest is cake. With Employee Appreciation Day around the corner, try out some of these ideas to put out some good vibes in the office, and retain your best and brightest talent.

1. Saying thank you

Above all, hearing a genuine “thank you” is one of the best ways to appreciate your employee — and there are so many different ways to go about it! Say thank you with a handwritten note, tell your employee in person, send them an email, or share it on Slack. However you do it, a small “thanks” goes a long way.

2. Showing trust

When you trust an employee to take over a task without micromanaging, they’ll know that you appreciate their work, and feel much more loyal to you for giving them autonomy.  In fact, micromanagement lowers morale and makes employees more likely to quit.

3. Massages

Stress relief, oxytocin increase. An in-office massage is the perfect way to thank your employees for a job well done, and it will put them in a great mood, too. You can call for on-demand massages in 85+ cities with Zeel’s app.

4. Employee awards

Beyond the “employee of the month” award, get creative with other types of employee awards, such as “Best Team Player”, or “Going the Extra Mile”. Take the time to announce them at a company-wide meeting and share the special stories that helped your employees merit the award.

5. (Healthy) snacks

Healthy snacks are shown to boost productivity and increase energy levels. Fresh fruit, granola bars, or veggies and hummus are always a great choice for office happiness  That said, there’s nothing wrong with the occasional chocolate chip cookie.

6. Desk decorations

Creativity goes a long way. Give your employees between $20-100 to decorate their desk in a fun and lively way.

7. Gift cards

Did your employee go the extra mile? Say thanks with a gift card.  Good options include local movie theaters, spa nights like cards like Spafinder, and popular food and drink chains like Starbucks and Panera.

8. Announcement to the company

Share exciting news and achievements with the whole company to appreciate an employee or a team that stood out. It will inspire other employees to do the same.

9. Team shout-outs board

Help employees appreciate each other with a team shoutouts board! Whether you make it digital or an old-school cork board and paper, what matters is that other employees have the chance to sing each other’s praises on a daily basis. A Slack channel works here as well.

Related article: How to Create a Positive Culture at Your Company

10. Share work with the company

Did an employee create a notable presentation, piece of content, or sales deck? Share it with the company and point out why it’s such a great accomplishment or example of stellar work.

11. Desk candies

Nothing says appreciation like sweets. Chocolate, Twix, Starbursts, M&Ms…it’s hard to go too wrong.

12. Celebrate milestones

Did your team just hit $500K in sales? Did the company celebrate its five-year anniversary? Whatever the milestone, celebrate it in style, from popping open a bottle of champagne to treating everyone to a nice dinner.

13. Giving everyone a turn to speak

It sounds small, but it means so much. Studies have shown that women, minorities, and people who telecommute are more often interrupted or passed over in meetings. Make sure everyone on the team has an opportunity to speak their opinions and thoughts, and they will feel deeply appreciated.

14. Mentoring employees

Investing in employees through mentorship shows that you care about their future in the company. Whether you set up a peer mentorship program or more formalized program to teach specific skills, your employees will appreciate the gesture.

15. Creative projects

Everyone has a special project or idea they’d like to implement, but little time in the day-to-day to accomplish it. Set aside time for a Hack Week to make their passion projects happen!

16. Skip-levels

Everyone wants to be heard. Implementing skip-level meetings, where an employee occasionally meets up with someone two levels above them, is a great way to keep communication lines open between people in the company. For example, an individual contributor would have a 1-1 meeting with their boss’ boss (aka the grandboss), to check in on how everything is going.

17. Feedback surveys

Letting employees know you appreciate their feedback (and actually implementing it) shows that you care about their wellbeing. Although it’s not exciting to hand out surveys, it does show that you care.

18. Surprise treats

Bagels. Donuts. Smoothies. A giant tower of cream puffs. The sky’s the limit! However you decide to treat your employees, it hard to be unhappy with a sprinkled donut in hand.

Looking for even more ways to make this employee appreciation day the best ever? We’ve got a list of last-minute gifts you can give for Employee Appreciation Week.

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