Best Employee Appreciation Gifts

Friday, March 10, 2023

We've all been anxiously awaiting the company holiday party hoping for a bonus check or trendy gift that will be the envy of our friends, only to open a box containing yet another fountain pen with the company logo on the side.

Two women at a modern flower shop, one is handing over a bouquet wrapped in paper to the other across a wooden counter, under stylish pendant lights.

If you're the person who oversees finding the best employee appreciation gifts, don't settle for trite, cliché gifts that will land in the bottom of someone's desk drawer unappreciated. Instead, opt for a form of employee recognition that will make your employees feel truly valued for their contribution to your workforce.

Employee appreciation gifts are not only for the annual holiday party. You might consider creating an employee recognition program that motivates team members to meet or exceed expectations for productivity or creativity. There are multiple ways you might honor an employee who consistently reaches quotas or provides superior customer service.

An employee recognition award is one of the most common acknowledgments of employee performance. These awards can be presented at monthly, quarterly, or annual intervals depending on the reason for the award. Another common acknowledgment is employee recognition gifts that celebrate an employee's time of service with the company. Many employee recognition programs also provide a gift when someone chooses to retire from service to the company.

It's often difficult to find ideas for employee recognition that haven't been overdone to the point of causing disappointment. You particularly want to avoid disappointment with employee anniversary recognition because you want that employee to continue with your company for years to come. That's why we've compiled a list of the best employee appreciation gift ideas we've found and why we like them.

Employee Recognition Ideas

When we compiled our list of employee recognition ideas, we tried to select things that today's modern workers will find beneficial, fun, or simply mood-lifting. We have attempted to avoid the tried-and-true route of offering company swag. Although there is nothing wrong with occasionally offering a gift of logo items, we felt that it sent the wrong message for our purpose: to present an attitude of gratitude to valued team members.

Let's look at some suggestions for great employee recognition gifts without further ado.

1. Plants Brighten the Space and the Mood

“A thing of beauty is a joy forever,” or so the saying goes. The phrase is true in more ways than one. Plants brighten the office, hinting at the nature we all miss by spending a large portion of the day within the four walls of an office. So, aesthetics is a definite benefit of giving plants to your employees, but there's more!

Plants can lift the mood of the employee. Simply having a plant nearby can help to relieve stress. With stress relief comes improved attention and increased productivity. Some people thrive when they have one or more plants in their workspace.

2. Donate to a Favorite Charity in the Employee's Name

Modern employees want to give back to their communities. Many have charitable organizations that are near and dear to their hearts. For example, someone who had a loved one touched by cancer may dedicate time to American Cancer Society activities. Someone else may donate time to foster care organizations.

Learn what charities hold a place in the hearts of your employees. Then, consider donating the amount you would have spent to their favorite charity rather than providing a monetary bonus or a tangible gift they may simply stick on a shelf in the closet. This recognition gift idea has multiple benefits. It shows your community you care; it shows your employee that you are willing to support causes that matter to them, and you get the satisfaction of giving back.

3. Provide Personalized Snack Boxes

Most employees want a snack at some point during their workday. Perhaps they've had a stressful morning, and they take a brief break from their desk to enjoy their favorite chocolate bar. Maybe, you have someone in the office who craves salty every day at 2 pm. Perhaps someone has dietary restrictions and grabs a piece of fruit every morning at 10 am to keep themselves on track.

Creating corporate gift baskets personalized with their favorite snacks is an easy way to show employees that they are more than just a cog in the wheel to you. Whatever snack they choose, your employees will likely appreciate that you've noticed their favorites. Giving a simple, personalized gift is an easy way to show appreciation for your employee's efforts.

4. Have Flowers Delivered

Employees everywhere light up when they receive a beautiful bouquet of flowers at work. Choosing to have flowers delivered is a classic way to show appreciation. For example, on Secretary's Day, you could send a beautiful bouquet of your secretary's favorite flowers to say, "Thanks for keeping my day running smoothly."

Unexpected gifts of flowers are a simple yet beautiful way to brighten your employee's day. When flowers are delivered, it brightens the office space too. So, flower delivery is a win-win type of employee recognition gift.

5. Give the Gift of Caffeine (or Decaf if They Prefer)

Almost everyone who works a 9-to-5 job reaches for coffee or tea at some point during the day. Some of us are never without a cup of coffee or hot tea. With this in mind, you can create unique corporate gift boxes for your employees.

Take the time to discover their favorite coffee, tea, or creamer flavor, and place that in your gift box. You could add a personalized mug with their name or favorite quote. A gift card for the coffee shop they stop at every morning on the way to work is another appreciated addition to this gift idea. You might also consider taking this idea further and purchasing a subscription to a coffee or tea of the month service, so your employee can sample new flavors on you.

6. Don't Forget the Foodies

In every office, at least one person can be considered a foodie. They find trying new foods an adventure. They love to try new recipes, wine and food pairings, or the latest offering from the local microbrewery. The best appreciation gift for these people is going to include food.

A ready-made gift basket might seem easy, but don't forget that some people deal with food allergies and sensitivities. A simple way to avoid that issue is to put food-related non-food items in a gift basket for these employees.

Examples include a new cookbook, a gift card to their favorite restaurant or a new restaurant in town, or an excursion to the local brewery or winery. Including ways they can spend time with their family or friends while enjoying their passion for food is a great way to show them that you value their time outside the office.

7. Have Lunch Catered

Nothing says, "I see how hard you work," like feeding the troops. This idea is a way to treat multiple employees at once or to single out the top performer for the week or month. As with gifts for foodies, you must be mindful of food sensitivities and allergies. If possible, request an allergen-free menu.

The great thing about having lunch catered is that you can vary your offerings based on your budget, but your employees will still appreciate having food for them. One thing to consider with this gift is ensuring that the catered meal is provided when the employees can stop what they are doing to enjoy it. Otherwise, it simply becomes a working lunch.

8. Help Them Hear What They Need or Want to Hear

Sometimes the most appreciated gifts are practical ones. If your company participates in multiple telephone or video conferences during the workday, providing employees with high-end headphones or earbuds is a great idea. Believe it or not, one way to show an employee that you appreciate their work is to make it easier for them to do it.

Headphones are also a versatile gift because they can be used for work or recreation. Perhaps your employee is facing a deadline that has them worried about distractions. Providing employees with headphones can allow them to shut out the noise around them or to listen to calming music, sounds, or podcasts while they work. Less distraction means greater productivity; that's a win-win!

9. Acknowledge Their Passions

Do you have a theater buff or sports fan on staff? Maybe you have someone in the office who absolutely loves attending orchestral performances. Perhaps you have an avid movie-goer or a musician who attends every concert possible.

A simple yet highly appreciated gift for these employees is tickets for their favorite performances or sporting events. Whether it's sending them to their favorites or allowing them to try a new show, concert, or team they've never seen, employees will feel that you recognize they have a life outside the office. They will feel seen and valued.

10. Stress Is Real; Help Them Relieve It

No matter how laid back or employee-friendly an office is, there is still stress associated with the workplace. Deadlines can creep up faster than anticipated, and the days can seem too short to complete everything as expected. Those things can lead to employees feeling overwhelmed and hindered by stress.

You can help to alleviate that stress. There are several ideas for showing employees your appreciation by helping them reduce their stress levels. The simple idea is to provide everyone with stress balls or fidgety toys. Another great employee appreciation gift idea is to provide them with coupons for a professional massage.

Do Corporate Gifts for Employees Need to be Expensive?

Employers often fall into the trap of believing they must spend a fortune to show their employees how much they are appreciated. However, that belief is a misconception. Often, the most appreciated gifts are the ones that didn't cost much at all but show that you have taken the time to learn something about that person.

Of course, not every gift will be a grand slam, but if you take the time to learn something about your employees, you are more likely to choose things they will appreciate. If you are selecting tangible gifts, they don't have to break the company budget. For example, a cup of the employee's favorite coffee on you can be an inexpensive, highly appreciated gift.

Another idea is to provide a gift that doesn't cost you a dime as far as purchasing anything but that will be well-received by your employee. Examples include giving them an extra half-hour at lunch with pay or allowing them access to executive-only areas for a day (restrooms, breakrooms, resource areas). Giving them a private office for the day or giving them a random half or whole day off with pay that doesn't take away from vacation or sick time are other ways to show appreciation without spending a dime.

Sometimes, the rewards that are the simplest and least expensive are the ones that are the most appreciated. The best employee appreciation gift is the one that lets them know they are an integral part of your organization.

Final Thoughts

In our stress-filled world, it's more important than ever to let employees know that their efforts at work are appreciated. An action once relegated to an annual holiday event has become more meaningful when it happens periodically throughout the year. There are multiple reasons to show employees that you appreciate them. Some of those include improved performance, excellent customer service, or milestone anniversaries with the company.

No matter the reason, many ideas are available for employee recognition gifts. Personalized gifts are always preferred to sterile gifts that feel meaningless and impersonal. Getting to know your team can help you find the perfect appreciation gift for any employee.

With thought and creativity, you can show your appreciation in a meaningful way that doesn't break the bank. The best appreciation gift is the one that makes the employee feel seen, valued, and happy to come to work daily.