25 Employee Appreciation Ideas For In-Office and Virtual Employees

Employee appreciation ideas to keep your workforce engaged.

6 min read

Employees are the moving force behind many successful companies, but when employees don’t feel appreciated, you risk losing the talent that got here and also hurting your bottom line. Here are 25 employees' appreciation ideas to prevent that from happening. (Hint: one of them is a meal benefit from DoorDash for Business)

Why you can’t ignore your employees

A survey reported that 71% of employees aren’t engaged at work; only 19% of them are satisfied with their job, and a measly 10% look forward to work each day. However, 85% of employees surveyed said that being  “meaningfully recognized” by their bosses would inspire them to go above and beyond their basic job duties. 

Employee appreciation comes in many forms; you’re only limited by your creativity. The key is making sure the recognition is specific, relevant, and heartfelt. 

National Employee Appreciation Day may be the first Friday in March each year, but you can (and should!) celebrate your team members year-round. Find inspiration from some of these employee appreciation ideas.

Employee appreciation ideas that spread love 

1. Host a company lunch.

If you’re all in the office, commemorate goals accomplished or projects completed with an employee appreciation lunch. DoorDash for Business manages all the details for you and gives you plenty of delicious options to choose from. 

2. Create an Employee of the Month program.

This is easy to implement If your company doesn’t have one already. You can also give out monthly or quarterly recognition to employees who best embody the company’s values. Hold a ceremony for the recipients, and give a speech about why they earned their honors. 

3. Make your company’s own version of the Oscars.

At your annual holiday party or company picnic, give out merit-based awards to employees. It could be a mix of business-related honors (the top salesperson) and more personal honors (best mentor to younger coworkers).

4. Take recognition celebrations online.

 If your company still operates on a work-from-home basis, host regular virtual happy hours via video conference. Offer toasts to employees who’ve earned kudos for a job well done. 

5. Design an inviting work environment that emphasizes employee well-being.

Create a meditation room or buy a new vending machine for the break room stocked with healthy options. For employees working at home, give everyone an allowance or gift card they can use to buy something nice for their home office.

Personalize your activities to boost morale

6. Make the most of annual reviews.

Use one-on-one performance reviews as a tool to set measurable, specific goals for each employee, and offer assistance in meeting those goals, such as enrolling them in a training course so they can move into a management position. Also, be specific when focusing on their positive accomplishments during the review period. 

7. Say it with a card.

Make a habit to send notes or cards to employees on a regular basis. Write a personal message thanking them for their work. You can leave the note on their desk if you’re all back in the office, or mail it if everyone is working from home. Set calendar reminders to help you stick to a schedule.

Another option: send notes to all your employees at the start of the new year. Thank them for a great year, recognize their accomplishments, and say you’re looking forward to another successful year. 

8. Take your employees by surprise.

Unexpected gifts of appreciation are always fun to give and receive. For employees working from home, use DoorDash to deliver dessert or breakfast to your team members as a thank you for their hard work.

9. Treat employees’ work anniversaries like birthdays.

Bring in a cake or balloons, throw a celebratory lunch, or say something special about them during a gathering in the conference room (or during a virtual meeting).

10. Corporate gift cards are always welcome.

You can’t go wrong with a gift card, such as DoorDash’s Employee Gift Cards for Food. You can also tailor the gift to the employee’s interests. If someone loves baseball, for instance, give them a hat or T-shirt from their favorite team.

11. Offer a parking perk.

If you’re in the office, designate a prime parking spot for an employee VIP. The spot can go to your Employee of the Month, or you can hand it out for a different reason. 

12. Buy them individual meals.

If team members work especially hard on a project deadline, treat them to dinner while they work late. Arrange for a meal from their favorite restaurant to be delivered with DoorDash for Business' Expensed Meals. Just pick a restaurant and send a link to your employees; they’ll place their orders, which will be delivered together.

13. Make new employees feel welcome.

Set the tone by taking them out to lunch on the first day, along with a coworker who serves as their designated mentor during the first weeks on the job.

Good communication is key to showing your appreciation

14. Honor personal achievements.

Use the company’s internal communications channels to recognize employee milestones outside of work, such as graduating with an advanced degree or becoming a parent. (A gift makes this employee appreciation idea even sweeter.)  

15. Highlight your Employee of the Month online.

Profile the honorees on your company website, with a video or social media post about why they earned that distinction.

16. Spread the good news.

Include a regular section devoted to employee appreciation messages in the company’s internal newsletter, emails, or social channels.

17. Praise employees every day.

Don’t hesitate to acknowledge an employee’s outstanding efforts in the moment by giving them a shout out on the company’s Slack.

Show your appreciation by giving the gift of time

18. Close up early for the day.

On Monday, make a surprise announcement that all employees only have to work a half-day that Friday.

19. Give time off as a special perk.

Award PTO as part of an employee recognition package.

20. Encourage their personal interests.

Make the last Friday of each month a day when employees can take a half-day to work on their passion projects.

Let’s play: create a corporate rewards program

21. Earn points for play.

Use an app or program to set challenges or games for employees to accomplish. When they do, they earn points, badges, or other rewards. Give team members a way to track their progress (and others’ for a little friendly competition).

22. Make work a game.

Use games for onboarding new employees, training, teamwork-based projects, etc. With gamification, everyone can win: In one survey, 87% of employees said gamification makes them more productive. 

Foster employee appreciation among coworkers with peer recognition initiatives

23. Use a third-party vendor to implement a rewards program.

Each employee receives a certain number of points each month or quarter. They can award them to coworkers for helping on a project, leading a team, offering technical advice, or providing other valuable assistance. Employees cash in their points earned for prizes.

24. Create an award for peer recognition.

Choose a fun trophy for the winner. Each month, the trophy (and bragging rights) gets passed along to the new winner.

25. Set up a peer pals program.

Each employee draws a coworker’s name at random, and they spend a week giving them small gifts or notes detailing the things they appreciate in their peer pals partner. 

Show your team members some love—they deserve it. A creative, thoughtful approach to employee appreciation ideas reaps big dividends for everyone. Make DoorDash for Business a partner in this effort by using our meal solutions to treat your employees. 

Contact us today to learn more or download The Future of Work with Delivery to learn how food delivery is reconfiguring the way we work.


Sara DeForest

Sara DeForest