There are plenty of employee appreciation ideas, but more money doesn’t have to be one of them. 


When recognition doesn’t just mean a pay-rise, you need to develop exciting ways to show your appreciation for your employees to have higher performance and retention. 


Here are eight ideas to show your appreciation for your staff without breaking the bank. 

1. Remember birthdays

We sometimes forget how important birthdays are for people. Creating a culture when you celebrate birthdays in the workplace will do amazing things. 


Organise a cake, sing happy birthday, give a quirky gift or get a card the team can sign. Whatever it is, it’s sure to make your staff feel special. 

2. Create a chance for employees to show recognition 

Give your employees an opportunity where they can recognise the hard work of their co-workers. It could be a whiteboard in the office where staff can write awesome feedback about each other or a slack channel for shoutouts across the entire organisation. 


It helps when you build a framework in which someone should recognise an employee. For example, that employee was embodying the company values and mission that week. 

3. Make your recognition public amongst the team

Private recognition via an email or a one-on-one conversation is excellent, but public credit is worth ten times as much to employees. 


Unlike the slack channel idea, let this shoutout be amongst individual teams. It will make the star employee feel fantastic, but it will help others realise why the employee has done a great job and how they can achieve a similar level of recognition.


4. Write a note

In the days of emails and slack messages, the impact of a handwritten thank you note is amazing. Chances are, if you take the time to write a genuine note of thanks to an employee, it will end up displayed on their desk. 

5. Be silly

Saying “hey thank you, you’ve been awesome” in a funny way is a great way to recognise and also have fun in the workplace. 


When I ran a Mexican restaurant; we came up with the “Golden Burrito”. On the first day of each month, we present the month’s employee with a large golden burrito trophy with their name on the plaque. It was then proudly displayed for customers to see (and have a giggle at).

6. Unexpected treats

We all love surprises. Merely coming in early and shouting your 5 am shift employees a hot coffee or bring the whole team for lunch can never be underestimated. 

7. Lunch with the boss

As we grow in our careers and become managers or business owners ourselves, we can forget how special that handful of times our boss asked us to a one-on-one lunch to recognise our achievements. It means the world to employees and won’t forget in a hurry.

8. When available, let your staff off early 


When it’s been an extra busy week, and your staff have been working hard, offer an early sign off on a Friday. You build company morale and show an appreciation for their hard work. Be careful not to make it a regular thing, or you could lose productivity. 

No time like the present 

Like all great intentions, unless you work out a plan to implement employee recognition in your workplace, chances are you will read this article be full of enthusiasm, and nothing will happen. 


Instead, try picking 2-3 ideas from the list above that resonate with you, and implement them immediately. A business culture filled with employee recognition will make your staff happy, reduce turnover and most importantly make your P+L smile.