30 employee appreciation day ideas your team will love

In 2023, Employee Appreciation Day falls on March 3. However, it’s important to get in the habit of showing employees you care and acknowledging their achievements, even when it’s not an official holiday. 

In fact, 40% of employees say they’d put a bigger effort into their work if they felt they were more appreciated, according to the Harvard Business Review. 

We thought outside of the box and came up with a few creative employee appreciation ideas so you can show gratitude for your team on both Employee Appreciation Day and throughout the rest of the year. 

1. Make employee recognition public

Appreciating an employee’s accomplishments is one thing, but making it known to the rest of your team is a great way to make people feel recognized on a larger scale. 

Consider using a tool that allows you to praise employees in front of their team members for their hard work. Homebase Shout Outs allow you and your team to show appreciation for a job well done through virtual badges that celebrate going above & beyond, being a team player, or having a great attitude.

homebase shoutouts

2. Create incentives for peer-to-peer recognition

Once you’ve got a peer-to-peer recognition program in place, encourage your team to use it by offering a small incentive. 

For example, every time an employee recognizes a coworker for a job well done, put that employee’s name into a jar. At the end of the week, draw a couple of names out of the hat and reward those employees that recognize their peers with a prize, like a free lunch.

3. Keep a rotating trophy

Find a trophy, figurine, or a fun object that captures the spirit of your business and use it to honor an employee who has gone above and beyond for the week. 

Let them keep it at their desk or work station, or even create a wearable trophy such as a customized badge or special t-shirt that they can show it off to your customers as well. 

With Homebase, you can celebrate employees with a type of virtual trophy. You can give employees virtual badges based on what they did remarkably during a shift. In the case of milestone recognition, the “Above and Beyond” badge is perfect.

4. Let employees choose projects

Instead of doing all of the planning, let employees choose a special project to work on a few times throughout the year. For example, instead of assigning them the same tasks, honor their request to create an innovative marketing plan or create a cool new event for your customers.

Your staff will not only appreciate the opportunity to try new things and grow professionally in the way they want, but also that you trust them enough to take the wheel on the responsibility. 

5. Keep a pulse on what your employees like 

The age-old saying “it’s the thought that counts” is true, but if you’re spending money or time on an employee appreciation idea that results in no one actually feeling appreciated, what’s the point? 

Ask your staff during your next team meeting what they’d like to see in terms of recognition. 

  • Do they prefer gift cards? 
  • Do they want to leave early once a month? 
  • Are off-site happy hours a good idea? 

Making incentives count will show them that you care. Here at Homebase we celebrated Employee Appreciation Day with donuts, because our Head of People knows we all just can’t get enough! 


6. Listen to employees and implement their ideas 

It’s also important to listen to your team in terms of changes or ideas they would like to see in their day-to-day activities. Give them a voice, take action on what they say. 

If one of your team members has a great idea on how to improve your employee meetings, try it out. If you run a restaurant and your server has an idea on how to be more efficient, encourage the rest of your team to follow the new practice. 

Some would argue that this is one of the most important forms of appreciation, because if an employee doesn’t feel heard, they might take their ideas somewhere else. 

7. Feature your staff on your website 

If your current website only shows off the leadership team, consider letting your customer base get to know your entire team when they’re checking you out online. 

While you may not be able to include everyone due to a large team or privacy reasons, think about increasing the number of staff members on the site by adding their photos (with their permission of course) and letting them write their own bios. 

If you can’t provide a solo photo and bio for all of your team members on your site, highlight a fun group photo on your “About Us” page, like we have here at Homebase. 

homebase staff

8. Give your break room a boost

Does your break area actually give off a relaxing vibe? If it consists of bare walls and a smelly refrigerator, it probably doesn’t. Spruce it up by making sure it’s clean, has modern furniture, and is away from your customers’ view.

But also take the opportunity to make it more than just a room. 

Use the intel you learned while questioning your employees on what they like to do during break time to add a little extra. 

  • Do they like to read? Create a library wall. 
  • Do they like video games? Add a gamer station. 
  • Do they like to work out? Add some yoga mats and exercise equipment

A next-level break room not only creates a welcoming space, but also opens the door for building a community among your staff. 

9. Invest in their careers

Show your staff how invested you are in their success. Send them to leadership training events or even online classes as a way to reward people for their hard work and effort. 

Be lenient about time off so they can attend educational events, and as they continue to grow in their learning and qualifications, think about how you can promote them.

These Employee Appreciation Day ideas may seem simple, but the results can be powerful. By instilling in your team that you care, you hear them, and you value their work and ideas, you’ll create a much stronger bond and a more effective and inviting work environment.

10.Write personal thank you notes

Personalized thank-you notes are a powerful way to show employees that their hard work is truly valued. Taking the time to write a heartfelt, handwritten note shows a sincere appreciation for their contributions and efforts. 

Highlight their achievements, mentioning specific instances where they excelled, and express gratitude for their exceptional work. Be authentic and specific, avoiding generic phrases. 

This small gesture can have a significant impact, making employees feel seen, appreciated, and motivated to continue giving their best.

11. Offer employees a flexible work schedule and paid time off

Offering a flexible work schedule and paid time off is a fantastic way to show your employees that you prioritize their work-life balance. By giving them the option to have flexible work hours or work remotely, you empower them to create a schedule that works best for them. 

This flexibility allows employees to better manage personal commitments, such as childcare or personal appointments, without sacrificing work productivity. It shows that you trust them to manage their time effectively and gives them the freedom to work in an environment where they feel most productive. 

Homebase offers a free work schedule app that helps employees make changes whenever they need to, making it easier to implement a flexible schedule policy if an employee needs to swap shifts, trade shifts, or fill an open shift.

12. Create an employee spotlight initiative

An employee spotlight initiative is a fun and engaging way to showcase the talents and personalities within your team. Each month, feature a different employee on your company’s intranet or social media platforms, highlighting their achievements, hobbies, and interests. 

You could share a brief bio and a Q&A session where they can talk about their favorite projects, hobbies outside of work, or even their go-to karaoke song. 

It’s a chance for everyone to get to know their colleagues better and celebrate their unique contributions. This not only builds camaraderie but can also boosts morale and create a sense of pride among your team.

13. Surprise your team with treats

Show your employees some sweet appreciation by treating them to unexpected goodies during the workday. Picture this: a sudden delivery of ice cream, freshly baked cookies, or even piping hot pizzas. 

The element of surprise adds an extra touch of delight. It’s a delicious way to say “thank you” and make their day a little brighter. It’s a simple gesture that goes a long way in showing your team how much you value their hard work and dedication.

14. Provide a professional development budget

Show your employees you’re invested in their growth by providing them with a professional development budget. It’s like giving them a ticket to conferences, workshops, and training programs of their choice. 

They get to choose what aligns with their career goals and interests, whether it’s a cutting-edge industry conference or a skill-enhancing workshop. This budget empowers them to take charge of their own learning journey, boosting their expertise and keeping them motivated.

15. Organize team-building activities

Plan exciting team-building activities to strengthen the bond and collaboration among your employees. Get creative with thrilling scavenger hunts, where they work together to solve clues and unlock hidden treasures.

Or challenge their problem-solving skills with thrilling escape room adventures that test their teamwork and quick thinking. Friendly sports competitions, like a company softball game or a bowling tournament, add a healthy dose of friendly competition while fostering camaraderie. 

These activities break the ice, build trust, and create lasting memories, enhancing the overall synergy and collaboration within your team.

16. Offer employee wellness programs

It’s time to promote a healthy lifestyle and reduce stress in a fun and relaxing way. Offer them yoga classes to stretch and find their zen, or meditation sessions to calm their minds and find inner peace. 

Providing gym memberships gives them the opportunity to stay active and fit. These programs show that you care about their holistic well-being, beyond just their work performance. 

Plus, a healthy and balanced team means happier and more productive employees. 

17. Provide mentorship opportunities 

Pair up experienced senior employees with enthusiastic juniors to create mentorship programs that fuel knowledge sharing and career growth. It’s like having a wise guide by your side. 

Seasoned employees can share their valuable insights, provide guidance, and offer advice on navigating challenges. Juniors get to learn from the best, gain industry wisdom, and expand their skill set. 

These mentorship opportunities foster a supportive environment where knowledge flows freely, boosting confidence and career development. It’s a win-win situation that builds strong relationships and cultivates a culture of learning and growth within your team.

18. Organize an employee awards ceremony

Give your exceptional employees the recognition they deserve with an annual awards ceremony. Take a moment to honor their outstanding achievements in categories like teamwork, innovation, and top-notch customer service. 

Showcasing their hard work and dedication in a special event, present personalized awards or trophies. It’s a time for applause, appreciation, and well-deserved acknowledgment. 

This ceremony not only boosts morale but also sends a powerful message that their contributions matter and inspire others. So, gather your team, create a meaningful atmosphere, and celebrate the remarkable accomplishments of your outstanding stars.

19. Create volunteer opportunities for your team

Arrange volunteer opportunities for your employees to give back to the community. Engage in charity events like serving meals at local shelters or participating in fundraising walks. 

Organize donation drives for causes that resonate with your team. These activities promote bonding, demonstrate your company’s commitment to social responsibility, and allow employees to experience the fulfillment of making a difference.

Through volunteerism, teamwork is strengthened, and your team contributes meaningful time to improve the lives of others.

20. Implement casual dress days

Implement casual dress days to create a relaxed work environment where employees can dress more comfortably. Ditching the formal attire and hello to jeans, sneakers, and cozy outfits once in a while can do wonders for your team. 

By allowing a more relaxed dress code, you can foster a laid-back and relaxed atmosphere. It’s a chance for your team to feel at ease, boost their morale, and let their personal style shine. 

This simple change can have a big impact on employee satisfaction and overall productivity.

21. Celebrate employees’ birthdays

Celebrate each employee’s birthday with a thoughtful gesture. Whether it’s a small gift, a heartfelt card, or a surprise office celebration, it’s all about showing that you care. 

Take the time to acknowledge their special day and make them feel valued. A small token of appreciation can go a long way in creating a positive work environment and strengthening relationships within the team. 

It’s a chance to bring smiles, laughter, and a sense of camaraderie.

22. Offer personal development resources

Provide your employees with access to a treasure trove of books, online courses, and subscriptions. Let them choose materials that align with their interests and aspirations. It’s like giving them a passport to knowledge and self-improvement. 

Whether they want to enhance their skills, explore new subjects, or cultivate a growth mindset, these resources will empower them on their journey. 

By investing in their personal development, you foster a culture of continuous learning and growth.

23. Treat your team to the occasional meal

Treat your team to occasional catered lunches or breakfasts, creating opportunities for them to bond and unwind together outside of work tasks. 

It’s a chance to take a break from the daily grind and enjoy good food in a relaxed setting. These shared meals foster a sense of belonging, boost morale, and create lasting memories.

24. Hold regular feedback sessions

Hold regular feedback sessions where employees have the space to share their ideas, concerns, and suggestions. It’s like creating a safe zone for open and honest conversations. 

These sessions give your team a voice, allowing them to contribute their insights and perspectives. By fostering a culture of open communication and collaboration, you build trust, boost engagement, and uncover valuable ideas. 

It’s a chance for everyone to be heard, address challenges, and work together towards solutions. 

With Homebase, you can collect feedback from employees at the end of every shift, so you can keep the communication channels consistently open.

25. Celebrate work anniversaries

Recognize and celebrate each employee’s work anniversary with a personalized gift or a special acknowledgment during team meetings.

 It’s a chance to reflect on their journey with the company and express gratitude for their dedication. Whether it’s a small token of appreciation or a heartfelt shout-out, it’s all about making them feel valued and recognized. 

These celebrations create a sense of belonging and loyalty, boosting morale and team spirit. 

With Homebase, you can store employee birthdays, anniversaries, and other milestones in your team roster, so you never forget these important dates.

26. Create employee-led project days

Dedicate a special day where employees can work on their passion projects or innovative ideas. It’s like giving them the freedom to pursue their own creative endeavors within the company’s framework. 

This day sparks motivation and encourages out-of-the-box thinking. Whether it’s developing a new product concept, exploring a unique marketing strategy, or diving into a personal project, this dedicated time fuels their creativity. 

It shows that you trust their expertise and value their unique ideas. These employee-led project days foster a culture of innovation, allowing your team to flourish and contribute their best.

27. Create thank you videos

Show your appreciation in a modern way by creating short video messages from the management team. 

Capture heartfelt moments as they express genuine gratitude and appreciation for each employee’s contributions. It’s like a virtual thank-you card that brings smiles and warm feelings. 

These videos add a personal touch, allowing your team to see and hear the heartfelt thanks directly from the management. It’s a powerful gesture that showcases their impact and makes them feel valued.

28. Start an employee book club

Start an employee book club where team members can explore and discuss books related to career development or personal growth. It’s like creating a community of avid readers within your organization. 

Choose books that inspire, educate, and ignite conversations. From leadership and productivity to creativity and mindfulness, there’s a wealth of knowledge waiting to be discovered. 

The book club provides a platform for meaningful discussions, shared insights, and personal growth. It’s a chance to connect, expand perspectives, and create a culture of continuous learning.

29. Offer your employees a surprise bonus

Show your appreciation for your employees’ hard work and dedication with occasional unexpected bonuses or gift cards. It’s like a spontaneous reward that leaves them feeling valued and appreciated.

Imagine the excitement as they receive an unexpected boost to their paycheck or a gift card to their favorite store. These surprises go beyond regular compensation, showing that you notice and value their contributions. It’s a gesture that sparks motivation and a sense of recognition.

30. Gift your team company swag

Equip your employees with some awesome company swag that showcases your brand. From trendy T-shirts to cool mugs and handy bags, provide them with branded merchandise that creates a sense of belonging and pride. 

When they proudly wear or use these items, it’s like showing off their association with the company. It fosters a feeling of camaraderie and unity among the team. Plus, it’s an excellent conversation starter that promotes your brand to the world. 

Whether they’re sipping coffee from a company mug or rocking a company T-shirt on a casual Friday, they become brand ambassadors. It’s a win-win situation where employees feel appreciated and connected, and your brand gains exposure. 

These Employee Appreciation Day ideas may seem simple, but the results can be powerful. By instilling in your team that you care, you hear them, and you value their work and ideas, you’ll create a much stronger bond and a more effective and inviting work environment. 

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