(Last-Minute) Recognition Ideas for Employee Appreciation Day

By: Christina Zurek
hand-written thank you note

It’s almost Employee Appreciation Day. Do you have your plans locked down for showing your gratitude? If you’re still looking for ideas—or it slipped your mind altogether—I’m here to help.

Here are six simple ideas I came up with for how you can show your appreciation in genuine and meaningful ways.

1. Consider Fun (yet Functional) Gifts

Show your people you understand their day-to-day work by giving them a practical item that supports the way they work. An insulated mug with their favorite type of coffee or a mobile device cleaning kit would be great options for workers on the go, while fuzzy socks or a new headset show those working from home you care about their needs.

2. Provide Experiences (Even if They’re Home-Based for Now)

Whether it’s hooking them up with an ultra-local experience to try or scouting out a cool virtual art class or wine tasting, there are seemingly endless options popping up that can break up their routine and encourage them to try something new or revisit an existing passion.

3. Take a Break (Together or Apart)

Sometimes just being told to take some time away from your day-to-day work can feel like the best recognition. Whether you coordinate a time for your people to unwind together or encourage them to take time to do as they please (Employee Appreciation Day does coincide with the Global Day of Unplugging this year), I guarantee your people will appreciate being given the all-clear to relax a bit.

4. Offer Charitable Donations

At a time when so many are looking to give back, supporting charities that your employees value shows that you care about what they care about. You can donate to organizations in employees' names or provide employees with a set amount to donate to a cause that matters to them.

5. Keep Tummies Fueled & Happy

Sure, food meets a basic human need—but for many it also brings comfort, unites people and evokes positive memories. Whether it’s a spread of doughnuts and bagels to welcome the start of the day, a porch drop of their favorite lunch (or, if you’re looking for the way to my heart, bacon breakfast pizza from Casey’s), I think it’s tough to go wrong with the gift of food.

6. Say (or Write) Your Feelings

Often overlooked as being too simple, one of the most impactful ways you can recognize employee contributions is by actually telling them about how much you value them. In today’s fast-paced world, we are all guilty of moving too quickly and not taking the time to give our undivided attention to others. Whether it’s a written note, collection of positive feedback you’ve received from others or a heart-to-heart conversation, you can’t go wrong with authentically explaining exactly why you appreciate them.

The Need for Recognition Has Never Been More Important

There’s no denying it: Work under normal circumstances can be hard, and this past year has been anything but normal. According to Gartner, during periods of disruption, employees’ desire for being recognized for their contribution increases by about 30%. That’s why recognizing and appreciating their contributions is so important. Right now—and always.

Christina Zurek
Christina Zurek

Christina is an experienced leader with a passion for improving the employee experience, employee engagement and workplace culture. Few things excite her as much as an opportunity to try something unfamiliar (be that a project, development opportunity, travel destination, food, drink or otherwise), though digging in to a research project is a close second.