How to Show Employee Appreciation: A Leadership Guide

Staff who feel appreciated are good for business. Here are 7 ways to show appreciation to employees.

9 min read
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Happy employees are 20% more productive and more successful. With statistics like this increasing in popularity, leaders are dedicating more thought to making their employees feel valued and recognized by showing gratitude for their efforts. 

Creating a strong company culture through recognizing employee achievements and celebrating success together encourages retention, employee loyalty, and employee satisfaction. Demonstrating gratitude is a win-win, contributing to a healthier and happier workplace for both those giving and receiving appreciation.

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Showing gratitude builds a work culture that retains employees

Today’s job market is competitive. Employees are spending more time looking for companies that align with their values — for example, one survey found that 75% of American executives believe that environmental, social and governance (ESG) strategies have a positive impact on millennial and Gen Z employee engagement.

Employee appreciation ideas that contribute to keeping loyal, skilled, and engaged staff are essential to success. When employees are enjoying their role, customers can feel it. Demonstrating gratitude is a highly effective way to show appreciation for your employees and increase their commitment to your business.

Offering gratitude openly and often for both big accomplishments and small wins, shows employees their efforts are seen and appreciated. When employees feel valued, they are likely to stay with a business and take pride in their work. When gratitude is embedded in company culture and happens regularly at a leadership level, employee morale is higher, and staff members are engaged with their work and invested in their relationships with other employees. Engaged staff stay at their jobs longer and work harder for their leaders, resulting in overall success and profitability

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Employee appreciation ideas

Getting to know your employees and recognizing their individual strengths is vital to retaining their talent. Here are some tips business leaders can use to show appreciation to employees.

1. Incorporate appreciation in one-on-ones: During performance reviews or recurring 1:1 meetings, taking time to recognize the individual achievements of employees holds a lot of value. Making positive feedback personal, timely, and specific to an employee’s contributions demonstrates the gratitude a leader has for the individuals on their team. 

2. Send personalized notes: When a face-to-face conversation isn’t possible, taking time to write a note recognizing the work of an employee shows great appreciation. For remote employees, a simple, personal message recognizing a specific positive action and expressing gratitude makes employees feel seen and appreciated. 

3. Offer extra time off: Giving extra paid time off or flexible working options to a hard-working team demonstrates the value they offer your business. Awarding a team time to rest shows that a leader understands and appreciates the effort the job requires, and encourages hard workers to recharge.

4. Celebrate personal milestones: Acknowledging major achievements happening outside of work like a wedding, baby, or college graduation, as well as smaller milestones, such as a new puppy or marathon completion, shows appreciation for employees as individuals. These celebrations and acknowledgments allow employees to get to know one another and show that team members are valued beyond their contributions at work. Recognizing professional achievements like work anniversaries, employee of the month, and team wins shows appreciation for dedicated employees. Celebrations also enhance work culture and employee satisfaction. 

5. Create employee wellness benefits: Offering a meal allowance or complimentary snacks, continuing education, fitness programs, company-branded clothing, or transit reimbursement demonstrates investment in the lifestyle of employees. Providing monetary, educational, or wellness benefits increases employee retention and feelings of appreciation. Personal support and development opportunities demonstrate the value a company sees in the wellness of its people and their longevity. Valuing employees’ health and lifestyle is an attractive quality in any employer.

6. Offer employee-selected rewards: Gift cards are excellent employee appreciation ideas that encourage employees to select a reward that is meaningful to them. Gift cards can often be emailed or made easily transferable to accommodate remote employees company-wide, ensuring your flexible workforce feels equally appreciated. Offering gift cards or one-time vouchers is a simple way to show your employees appreciation by letting them order a meal when it suits their schedule. Take your appreciation a step further by sharing that gift card with a personalized message.

7. Organize team-building events: Coordinating team building outings or lunches, even virtually, connects employees and makes them feel a sense of belonging within your business. Bringing the team together for a group lunch order strengthens relationships and builds morale. Sharing a meal together offers employers the opportunity to recognize professional achievement or personal milestones in a group setting. 

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National Employee Appreciation Day

A perfect time to show appreciation to employees is National Employee Appreciation Day, which is celebrated annually on the first Friday of March. In 2024, National Employee Appreciation Day falls on March 1st. This is a great opportunity for leaders to bring their team together and show their gratitude. Marking this day with either a group event or individual recognition will show employees that they’re being thought of and are appreciated.

Despite a day dedicated to employee appreciation, employee appreciation ideas shouldn’t only be left to this designated holiday. Demonstrating and vocalizing year-round appreciation will ensure that employees feel valued throughout every season. 

Happy employees create happy customers  

When employees are engaged and feel they belong in the workplace, it shows in their performance. Happy employees encourage happy customers by creating a positive atmosphere throughout your business operations. Happy employees also influence other colleagues and the overall company culture. Showing appreciation and gratitude for employees contributes greatly to job satisfaction and job retention. When employees feel seen and personally recognized for small and big wins, it results in positive outcomes for the overall business.

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Gratitude is essential to wellness

“Gratitude is good medicine,” says Robert A. Emmons, Ph.D., a professor of psychology at the University of California, Davis. Investing in employee wellness is a smart business practice. Recognizing the need for employee wellness, including physical, mental, and spiritual, is the ultimate show of gratitude and appreciation. 

Offering benefits, time off, and support to employees to look after themselves is a clear indication of the value an organization puts on its people. Investing in employee wellness is investing in your business. Supporting wellness should be the foundation of any employee appreciation strategy. 

The Ultimate Employee Wellness Checklist will help you create a competitive wellness program, retain talented employees, and increase employee productivity. It will also serve to demonstrate the appreciation and gratitude you have for your employees.

Download the Ultimate Employee Wellness Checklist.


Kristen Van Nest

Kristen Van Nest

Freelance B2B Writer