Motivating Ideas: 26 Employee Reward & Recognition

Employee recognition is a powerful tool for motivating employees and improving morale. Here are 26 ideas to help you find the perfect employee reward and recognition program for your company.

26 Employee Reward and Recognition Ideas to Motivate Your Employees.

You've probably heard this phrase before: "People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care."

Building a great team of motivated individuals to achieve the goals they establish together with you is one of the most difficult things to do in business. It involves skills in management, supervision, communication and understanding your people's psychology as much as your organisation's specific culture. 

One of the most powerful components of a culture is recognition and appreciation. Employee appreciation and recognition motivate your employees to go above and beyond for your company. A motivated employee is a productive employee, so it just makes sense to thank your employees for a job well done and for motivating them to reach their full potential. 

Here are 26 Employee recognition and appreciation ideas to recognize and appreciate your employees' effort. 

1. Encourage Peer-to-Peer Recognition.

The best employee awards programs are ones that come from within the company — not just from managers or HR professionals, but from everyone on staff. Create a system that allows employees to recognize each other on a daily basis (or even hourly) by giving them points or virtual trophies they can redeem for rewards such as gift cards or discounts on merchandise.

2. Welcome New Employees With a Small Gift.

Consider giving each new hire an engraved pen or keychain as an introduction to your office culture. Gifts can be small and inexpensive, but they'll make an impact on new hires. These office swag goodies will also make employees get a sense of bonding and feel part of the company culture.

3. Be There for Them Even When They Can’t Be There For Your Company at The Moment.

Send flowers or balloons when someone is sick or injured at home or at work — especially if they're out for an extended period of time due to illness or injury. You'll not only be sending a message of support but also helping your employee feel included in the workplace even though they may not be there for the company at that period of time.

4. Surprise Employees With a Monthly Reward.

This is a great way to show your employees that you appreciate them and the work they do. You can use this type of reward as an incentive for a certain number of sales or referrals. It also works well if you have a team member who has been working hard and going above-and-beyond their duties.

5. Go Out of Your Way to Say "Thank You."

Thank employees for their hard work with handwritten notes — either individually or as part of an email chain where everyone gets one at the same time — so that they feel appreciated by everyone in the company rather than just one person (you).

6. Give Them an Unexpected Day Off.

This is a great way to show your team that you're paying attention and that they matter. When an employee's birthday or anniversary comes up, give them the day off as a surprise. Or, if you have a project coming up that will require extra hours, offer to swap out one of your employees' regular days for it so they can relax and enjoy their time off.

7. Reward Good Performance Each Quarter.

Reward good performance each quarter. It's a great opportunity to recognize your team for their hard work, and it also shows them how their individual efforts contribute to the company's success. This is a great idea for companies with quarterly goals or for sales teams who have quotas to hit.

It's also a good way of showing employees that their company values them and cares about how they're doing at work. This also drives the rest of your employees and improves their performance.

8. Make Sure Leadership Recognizes Employees' Contributions.

It's easy for managers to overlook the contributions that their direct reports make since they spend most of their time interacting with them directly. But it's important that they do so because it sends a message to other employees about what is valued by the company and what behaviours are expected of them.

9. Give Each Employee One To Two Paid Weeks of Volunteering/ Vacation Time Each Year.

This allows them to give back to their community in a way that they find meaningful, whether it be helping out at a local soup kitchen or spending some time at their favourite charity organisation. This time helps them to get involved in projects outside the office and help others while also allowing them some time off from work. 

10. Offer Flexible Working Hours.

A flexible schedule allows employees to decide when they want to work and how many hours they want to put in each week. This type of schedule is particularly useful for parents who need time off during childcare drop-off or pickup times and those who have other responsibilities outside of their jobs (such as caring for an elderly parent). It’s also beneficial for employees who have an unpredictable commute.

11. Put Up a Wall of Fame

 If you have a large team, create an environment where everyone can see how much their colleagues contribute to the organisation. Create an "All-Stars" wall or display cases that highlight employees who have made a difference in their field.

12. Team Lunch Outing

The best way to recognize your team is by treating them with a day trip or outing with some team activities. This is an excellent way of showing them that you care about their well-being and want to spend some time with them outside of work.

If you don't have enough time in your budget, you can always treat them to lunch or coffee as a small token of appreciation. You can also add some quick team bonding activities to make it more memorable to everyone in the team.

13. Management Role-Reversal 

Management role-reversal days are a great way to build team spirit and employee engagement. The idea is that everyone in the company takes on the role of a manager for one day. 

Employees are assigned random managers and they have to act as if they are that person. They get to see what it's like to be on the other side of the desk, so to speak, and it allows them to see how difficult being a manager can be at times. It also lets them know that management cares about them as people, not just employees who do their jobs well.

14. Send Team Members on Training Courses Unrelated to Work

Training is an excellent way to increase employees' skills and knowledge. It also helps them build their confidence and self-esteem, which are all crucial elements for a successful career.

When you send your employees on training courses, it shows that you trust them enough to let them learn on their own time and money. This makes them feel valued by their employer as well as confident in their abilities as professionals.

15. A Healthy Food Delivery

A healthy food delivery can be a great way to show your employees that you care about them. It’s also a nice way to reward them for hard work and good performance.

The most important thing is to make sure your employees know it’s for them and not for the whole office or company. This way, they’ll feel special and appreciated by you specifically.

16. Personalized Gift Cards For Hitting Targets

Gift cards are a great way to show appreciation at any time of year. If you know your employee's favourite place to eat out or shop at, consider getting them a gift card there! In this way you can make the gift card even more personalized.

Must read: 7 Important Rules (often-ignored) To Create A Positive Work Culture

17. Lunch With the Boss/Leadership Team

Let your employees know that their work is appreciated by inviting them out for lunch with you and other members of the leadership team. This is a great way to spend time getting to know each other better while building relationships at the same time.

18. Invite Them to Lead a Project or Initiative

You can get employees involved by inviting them to lead a project or initiative. It’s a great way to show that you value their time and ideas, and it’s also a nice way to give them some ownership over their work.

19. Provide an Opportunity for Learning and Growth

Does your employee have what it takes to become the next big thing? Recognize employees that are putting great efforts and offer them an opportunity to grow within your company by providing training opportunities and other resources that will help them reach new heights in their career.

20. Pick an Employee of the Month or Quarter

Create an employee of the month program. Create monthly awards for employees who go above and beyond what's expected of them at work — whether it's in sales, customer service or anything else that contributes to the success of the company. Make sure everyone knows what they're being recognized for so they can take pride in their achievements.

You may like : Strategies for Achieving Management and Leadership Success

21. Showcase Their Achievements on Social Media

Let everyone know when someone has been promoted or received an award at work by making an announcement on social media to let your audience know how they have contributed to your company’s mission. 

When you are doing this, don't forget to send out an email message to your team announcing his/ her accomplishments to let your internal team know that person’s efforts. 

22. Send a personalized birthday card to employees on their birthday. 

Send birthday cards to all employees on their birthdays (even if you have hundreds of them), and include a personal message from you along with an offer for free coffee or tea in the morning (or something else that's meaningful).

23. Give them a paid day off to celebrate their work anniversary.

Celebrate the anniversary of an employee's hire date with a cake or gift card and a day off to spend with family or friends. If you're feeling extra generous, give them two days off so they can spend one with each of their parents!

Create a personalized video celebrating an employee's accomplishments — and share it with the rest of the team!

24. Offer 'swag' to reinforce brand awareness.

Swag refers to promotional items such as T-shirts, hats, pens, mugs and other giveaways. These items can be branded with your company logo or slogan and distributed at events or conferences where people will see them and associate them with your business. The idea is that people will wear your swag around town, which reinforces brand awareness and connects your people across the borders in any events.

25. Throw pizza parties or other celebratory events after a successful product launch, sale or project completion.

Pizza parties are always fun, especially when they are held at the office or another location where everyone can enjoy the food and company together! You can even pair this celebration with some other recognition ideas such as giving out small gifts or providing some kind of entertainment such as a karaoke machine, dancing game, etc. This will make it much more memorable for everyone involved!

You may like: 9 Employee Engagement Strategies You Can Implement Today!

26. Host an annual company special awards ceremony. 

It is important to celebrate everyone on your team and thank them for their hard work. Acknowledge the efforts of your employees by giving out awards such as team saviour, team motivator, energetic employee, the hardest worker to acknowledge how they have helped the company grow. Employees would feel valued for their unique talents and will be motivated in their job.


Recognizing employees for a job well done is one of the smartest ways to motivate your staff and keep them happy. With so many ways to recognize your employees, it's easy to choose from and really not that expensive.

The key is learning what motivates people and using something from this list to fit the specific employee to thank. Simply put, be the biggest cheerleader for your people and help them grow and you will start reaping the rewards soon from your employees in the form of increased performance and ROI.

Bonus: From work anniversary celebrations to celebrating great milestones and improving employee engagement, we have  team building activities catering to every team need. Partner with us to unleash the fullest potential of your team with the help of fun and engaging experiences 
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