Home Blog 20 Employee Recognition Ideas to Reward Staff

20 Employee Recognition Ideas to Reward Staff

Photo of Andy Cakebread Andy Cakebread 04 July 2023
Man celebrating with confetti

Picture this – your team is buzzing with energy, their enthusiasm is through the roof, and every member feels genuinely valued. Thankfully, with peer recognition tactics, you can turn this dream into a fully-fledged reality. 

Every high-five, thank-you, and well done can work wonders, cultivating a positive, productive, and highly engaged workforce.

So, if you've ever wondered how to celebrate your team, don’t worry - Thankbox has got your back. We've compiled an exciting list of 20 employee recognition ideas that will turn your appreciation into meaningful action. 

With that in mind, gear up as we explore ideas that bring smiles to faces, boost morale levels to sky-high, and turn employee performance up to eleven! 

Let's go!

The importance of employee recognition

Think about a time when your efforts were recognised. 

Didn’t it make you feel like the Dirty Dancing song – “Now I’ve… had… the time of my liiiiife” – was playing 24/7? That’s the magic of employee recognition.

First up, it's a powerful morale booster. Nothing quite lifts an employee's spirits like knowing their work is seen. And, when employees feel cherished, they become even more committed, infusing their work with extra energy, creativity, and drive. 

Particularly as research shows 77% of employees would be more productive if they were recognised more frequently!

To put it simply, recognition is like an invisible string that ties employees to a company, securing a deep sense of staff loyalty. Feeling valued reduces the “itchy feet” syndrome, keeping your talented team intact and turnover rates low.

Types of employee recognition

When it comes to recognising employees, one size doesn’t fit all. Let's unwrap the different types of appreciation:

  • Public and private recognition: A public shout-out can make an employee feel like a superstar, while a heartfelt, private thank-you strikes a deeply personal chord.

  • Tangible and intangible recognition: Tangible rewards like bonuses and gifts act as celebratory high-fives, while intangible rewards such as verbal praise and opportunities boost personal growth and commitment.

  • Scheduled and spontaneous recognition: Scheduled recognition – like an employee of the month award – gives everyone something to look forward to. Whereas spontaneous recognition adds surprise to the working day.

Recognition, in all its forms, transforms your workplace into a thriving and popular ecosystem!

20 Employee recognition ideas to reward staff

three people sitting in front of table laughing together

Employee recognition ideas are tactics that companies use to thank their dedicated employees. When integrated into engagement strategies, they boost morale and elevate employee retention. 

Let’s take a closer look: 

1. Personalised thank you cards from Thankbox

A sincere online thank you card, sent using Thankbox, is much more than a digital message – it’s a token of appreciation. Our e-card builder allows you and your team to craft heartfelt notes of recognition. You can even jazz up your card with unique backgrounds, GIFs, photos, and videos.

Thankbox Thank You card landing page

2. Thankbox gift cards

Add an extra layer of appreciation with Thankbox's gift cards. Our digital tokens can be paired with personalised thank-you cards, allowing employees to treat themselves however they wish. Additionally, collecting money is as easy as pie and recipients can redeem their gift cards in 700+ retailers worldwide.

Thankbox Gift Cards description

3. Employee of the Month awards

This time-honoured recognition helps motivate employees to strive for excellence, fostering healthy competition.


4. Peer-to-peer recognition programmes 

Encouraging employees to recognise each other's efforts creates a culture of appreciation and camaraderie.

5. Celebrate work anniversaries

Don't let the remarkable milestone of a work anniversary go unnoticed. Recognise employees for their lasting commitment to your organisation and celebrate their journey from announcements when they join to each subsequent work anniversary.

6. Public shout-out during team meetings 

Publicly acknowledging your employee's good work during meetings is a surefire way to make them feel special. And if they’re a social media fan? Give them their props via your company’s social media channels.

7. Offering professional development opportunities 

Offering courses, seminars, or workshops tells employees you're invested in their growth and career advancement.

8. Surprise days off or flexible hours 

Nothing says “we value your well-being” better than unexpected time off or the gift of flexible working hours.

two blue beach chairs near body of water

9. Hosting company events or outings 

Company outings or special events aren't just fun – they foster a sense of community and mutual appreciation. Select a relaxing outing that caters to a diverse group, such as trivia, bowling, mini-golf, or an escape room.

10. Reward a bonus or pay raise 

Tangible rewards like bonuses and raises are powerful ways to recognise exceptional work or significant milestones.

11. Manager parking 

If your workplace designates prime parking spots for managers, why not transform them into an employee reward programme? Giving your best employees access to these spots can reinforce their sense of importance and value within the company – and it will also save them the hassle of finding a parking spot!

12. Department recognition days 

Celebrate the unique contributions of entire departments to highlight the impact of teamwork.

13. Providing opportunities for creative freedom

Giving employees the reins to lead a project or initiative shows trust in their skills and ideas. This gesture fuels their passion, stimulates innovative thinking, and fosters greater pride in their work.

14. Celebrating personal milestones 

Acknowledging birthdays, engagements, or other significant personal achievements guarantees a supportive and caring work environment.

15. Wellness programmes and perks 

Investing in wellness shows you care about your employee's health and happiness, not just their productivity. And with one survey revealing 67% of professionals are experiencing moderate to high levels of stress, employee wellness is more important than ever.

woman floating on body of water

16. Access to exclusive company swag 

Unique company merchandise can serve as a symbol of belonging and pride in the organisation.

17. Lunch with the boss 

A lunch invitation is an informal yet powerful way to recognise an employee's efforts. It shows that their work is noteworthy to the upper ranks, boosting their morale and motivation.

18. Implementing a mentorship programme 

Recognition isn't always about celebrating success – it's also about acknowledging potential. Mentorship programmes show you believe in your employees' future.

19. Amp up recognition with fun challenges and contests 

You can infuse fun and excitement into your recognition efforts by creating friendly competitions or challenges with attractive rewards.

20. Custom awards based on employee interests 

Personalise your recognition by aligning it with the employee's hobbies or passions. It shows you see and appreciate them as individuals, not just workers.

Ramp up your employee recognition with Thankbox

In this guide, we’ve covered an exciting array of 20 creative employee recognition ideas, each with the power to infuse positivity and camaraderie in your workplace. These vibrant ideas pave the path to fostering happy and motivated teams.

Remember, recognising your employees is much more than a gesture – it's a powerful tool that bolsters morale, ignites productivity, and fosters loyalty. 

With Thankbox, you're not just saying thank you, you're creating memorable experiences that resonate with each one of your employees. 

Create a Thankbox and watch your engagement fly!

Images: Cover | Team at desk | Blue beach chairs | Woman floating