Create a Successful Appreciation Strategy at Work

A Top Workplace Research Lab study recently found only 35% of HR professionals and company leaders consider their workplace appreciation efforts as very or extremely effective. It underscores the need for meaningful employee recognition. Successful workplace appreciation strategies depend on understanding what matters most to employees.

So how do you know how to best show appreciation to employees? Ask them. Every employee has a different way of accepting praise. Employee feedback will serve as a guide to how to best reward their efforts.


Balance informal gestures and formal recognition. The same research study reveals what HR professionals deem essential:

  • Personalized forms of appreciation
  • Recognition from senior leadership and direct managers
  • Financial incentives
  • Opportunities for training and growth
  • Consistency and fairness
  • Alignment with employee values
  • Celebrating professional milestones

Perhaps these ideas will inspire a culture of gratitude where employees feel valued and seen.

1. Say thank you: You can enhance this with a handwritten or digital note to convey gratitude. 

2. Employee-of-the-month award: Encourage fellow employees to nominate their peers with personal comments, highlighting their alignment with company values. 

3. Work anniversaries: Celebrate at company-wide meetings, internal channels, and thoughtful gifts for milestone years.

4. Passion projects: Allow employees to carve out time to explore their interests and passions alongside their regular duties.

5. Company swag: Provide branded merchandise such as T-shirts or mugs. Create a sense of belonging and pride.

6. Customer service excellence recognition: Acknowledge and appreciate employees who ensure positive customer experiences and build a stronger brand reputation.

7. Social media spotlight: Showcase your most valuable assets – your dedicated employees. Plus, it can attract top talent who value recognition.

8. Summer Fridays: Shorter workdays or early Fridays are a refreshing way to encourage employees to recharge.

9. Employee appreciation events: Boost team morale with happy hours, office outings, and company-sponsored social events.

10. Appreciation wall: These walls often feature peer-to-peer recognition, leadership quotes, and guidance on how to express gratitude.

11. Driving success award: Reward creativity, hard work, innovation, and embodiment of essential company values.

12. Above and beyond accolades: This award is great for employees who consistently go the extra mile.

13. Birthday celebrations: This is a simple yet meaningful way to show you care about their special day.

14. Wellness stipend: Invest in employee well-being and physical and mental health. It can also minimize employee burnout.

15. Dinner out: A meal is a delicious way to connect with employees.

16. Recognize outside achievements: Acknowledge personal milestones, such as weddings, graduations, or births to show you care about people as individuals.

17. Virtual lunches: This is a fun way of engaging remote employees to ensure they feel connected and appreciated. 

18. Workplace flexibility: Give employees room to balance work and life according to their needs. 

19. ‘No meetings’ day: Allow employees to focus on tasks without interruptions.

20. Gift cards: Something from a favorite store or restaurant is a special treat.

21. Monthly subscriptions: Surprise people with monthly subscriptions to services such as streaming, magazines, or meal kits.

22. Bonuses: Everyone appreciates extra cash.

23. Holiday celebrations: Mark holidays with festive events and decorations to create a joyful atmosphere.

24. Team retreat: Organize team-building retreats to strengthen bonds.

25. Non-profit donations: Support causes that matter to your team members to support their values.

26. VIP parking spot: Reward exceptional performance.

27. Extra PTO: Provide additional paid time off for a break to recharge.

28. Appreciation round: Start team meetings by encouraging employees to share gratitude for other team members. Celebrate teamwork. 

29. Customer praise: Highlight positive reviews from customers and share how it makes a positive impact on the organization. 

30. Be a role model: This starts at the top. Encourage and model a culture of appreciation. 

Learn what matters most to your employees. After all, appreciation consistently ranks as one of the strongest drivers of employee engagement. 

Bob Helbig is media partnerships director at Energage, a Philadelphia-based employee survey firm. Energage is The Washington Post’s survey partner for Top Workplaces. To nominate your company as a Top Workplace, go to

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