List of employee appreciation gifts (and why they matter)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 25 April 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

The people who put endless time and energy into making your team successful deserve extra appreciation. Choosing an appropriate gift can make a memorable and meaningful moment for your team members and show how much you value their contributions. Demonstrating your appreciation can also greatly improve your company's culture. In this article, we explore various employee appreciation gifts while providing a list of options to help you choose the right one for your team.

Related: How to show recognition for employees (examples and tips)

List of employee appreciation gifts

Employee appreciation gifts come in all shapes and sizes. From the classic company-branded mug to a fancy night on the town, showing your appreciation for your team can be an exciting and unexpected treat. Below is a list of several employee appreciation gift ideas to help you celebrate your team's success:

Branded merchandise

Company-branded merchandise is a great company appreciation gift to show how much you appreciate their hard work. You can brand thousands of items with your company's logo. Along with the basics, such as shirts, water bottles and phone cases, quirkier items like comics or pool toys can also be popular.

A massage

A massage gift certificate is another great way to express your appreciation to your employees. One of the best ways to relax after working long hours is with a relaxing massage. Having the chance to unwind after a challenging day can be a restorative experience.

A handwritten message

Handwritten notes make employee appreciation gifts more personal, and you can give them at little to no cost. With so many digital messages arriving in the office daily, handwritten messages stand out as unique in the modern workplace. Take the time to write a short note to your employees expressing your appreciation for them. The handwritten note adds a unique personal touch, and it also serves as a physical token of appreciation for their efforts.

Related: How To Write a Recognition Letter with Guides and Templates

A luncheon

Providing lunch for the team does more than just show your appreciation for a single employee, it's a gift for everyone. Bringing your team together over a catered lunch is a welcome change of pace from regular dining routines, and it provides an excellent opportunity for building camaraderie. Get feedback on which lunch spots your team members prefer and treat them to a meal of their choice. If you choose a restaurant, be sure to consider your employees' dietary restrictions so everybody can eat.

A self-care kit

Self-care kits make a wonderful employee appreciation gift. Essential oils, facial rollers and massage tools are popular choices for staying physically relaxed and pampered during the working week. An employee appreciation basket filled with these gifts is the perfect subtle yet indulgent choice.

Continued education

Consider gifts that help employees grow professionally while showing your appreciation. In addition to becoming more widely represented in the workforce, millennial and Gen Z employees are seeking growth in both their personal and professional lives. Therefore, gifts that motivate employees to continue learning are a great way to reward them for their dedication. Give your employees a chance to learn and grow by offering them a subscription to an online learning platform or subsidising their attendance at a professional workshop.

An office espresso machine

Although this gift may be a bit pricey, it's a gesture that recipients often value greatly. Consider investing in an office espresso machine to show your team how grateful you are. The frothy milk and freshly poured shots can help make your employees feel appreciated each and every time they enjoy a latte at work.

A day trip

A shared experience like escape rooms, craft bars, happy hour, mini-golf, or bowling is a great way to bring team members together. As a manager, you can praise your employees' hard work by arranging to take them out of the office. It can also provide them with fond memories that bring the team together in the future.

Extra vacation time

Reward their hard work by letting your employees enjoy themselves instead of working. A few extra vacation days isn't usually a large strain for an organisation that runs smoothly. For the employees, the gesture can go a long way in allowing them to relax and indulge during their days off.

Related: Employee incentives: what they are and how to use them

Workout passes or gym memberships

Exercise class passes or discounts at a local gym are other gifts that encourage employees to take care of themselves. Even though this gift might not suit everyone, exercise enthusiasts are likely to appreciate your support. The extra push towards a new habit could also be helpful for people who aren't so enthusiastic about going to the gym.

Commuter benefits

You can show your employees you care by offering commuter benefits. If you would rather give more practical appreciation gifts, think about reducing your team members' daily commute costs. Your employees may feel appreciated if you provide them with bus passes, parking permits and other ways to travel to the office.

Donations to a charity in their name

More organisations are realising that community volunteer opportunities are highly motivating for many employees. Consider making a charitable donation in lieu of cash bonuses when you recognise stellar performance. By investing in your community, you not only show your employees that you care about their favourite causes, but you also demonstrate your commitment to your community.

A night to remember

Another great employee appreciation gift is a night out. One of the best ways to thank an employee for their hard work is by giving them a gift that has nothing to do with their job. One way to do this is to take them out on a fun night. Put together a gift that combines theatre tickets with a gift card to their favourite restaurant or tickets for the next football match and a free drink. Make sure it reflects how they like to spend their spare time.

Travel perks

Encourage your employees to venture outside and create new experiences. This can even stimulate more creativity once they return to work. Do this by offering discounts on travel costs, such as hotels, airfare and rental cars. You can give this appreciation gift to your employees to remind them that you care about their lives both in and outside the office.

Recognition and rewards

One of the most effective appreciation gifts simply letting them know how much you appreciate them. Appreciating employees publicly sends a powerful message. It doesn't matter if you go the traditional route with an Employee of the Month award or do something hyper-personalised, employees are likely to appreciate being acknowledged for their diligent work.

How to plan a memorable employee appreciation event

Providing your employees with an employee appreciation event they can cherish is simple. Here are some steps to follow:

1. Budget money for appreciation gifts

Set aside funds for employee appreciation gift ideas at the beginning of the year when planning your company's budget. The last thing you want is to compromise these costs because of poor planning. The company risks losing engagement and productivity if it does not recognise its employees. Incentivize your staff to work hard other than just for a paycheck. Consider investing money in events like a holiday party to thank your employees.

2. Provide adequate notice for an event

Inform your staff about the date and time of an event in an email or company announcement so you can maximise attendance. By planning ahead, they can leave that hour open or plan to come into the office if they work remotely that day. You can also gauge how many people are likely to attend based on responses.

3. Take advantage of vendor loyalty

Many companies use the same local restaurant for lunch meetings and company events. Restaurants commonly offer discounts to loyal customers, so it can be beneficial to cater events from the same place. Also, you can expect excellent food and reliable service.

4. Consider an all-inclusive package

Whenever you order food for your employees, make sure you consider everyone's diets and food preferences. Before the event, send out an email asking if anyone has food allergies. Provide vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free and other options to meet everyone's dietary needs and preferences. Your chances of success increase if you plan properly and do your best to ensure everyone has a good time at the event.

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