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Employee recognition ideas: 20 simple thank-yous to use right now

In elementary school, my principal let the students tape him to a wall.

Seriously. He gave each of us a piece of duct tape, stood on a chair, and we took turns taping him up good until he was so stuck we could remove the chair and he just… stayed in place. I have no idea what happened after that because all I can remember is the pure glee I felt laughing with my classmates as he rewarded our good behaviour with this gesture.

Do not do that. As an HR company, we absolutely cannot condone this type of nonsense. (Think of the legal bills and hours in therapy coverage this would invite!) But here is some good-spirited employee recognition ideas we can encourage for your amazing staff:

  1. Bring Your Dog to Work Day. Because, puppies.

  2. Lunch on you, their choice. A three-course meal at noon is fine, right?

  3. Company swag. The power of free stuff prevails.

  4. Choose their own adventure. Companies like BlueBoard offer personalized experiences.

  5. Catered meal for the whole team.

  6. Extra days off or flexible work hours.

  7. Company excursion. Bowling, anyone?

  8. Kudos at the next company huddle. Celebrate the little wins with a shout-out.

  9. In-office perks. Bring in a yoga instructor, buy a ping pong table. Stuff like that.

  10. Handwritten note. The written word isn’t dead yet.

  11. Prank the Boss Day. Not for the faint of heart, but goodness, give the people what they want!

  12. Sweet treats. Ain’t no party like a coffee cake party.

  13. Travelling trophy. Have the current employee pass the torch when they see another great job.

  14. Pay it forward. Donate to a cause of their choice.

  15. Illustrated headshot. Take a page from the tech industry’s playbook and personalize something.

  16. Social media praise. It’s okay to say it out loud: public recognition feels good.

  17. Training and development. Buy them admission to a conference they have their eye on.

  18. DJ for a day. Do you play music in your office? Give them the power.

  19. Gear budget. New keyboards and ergonomic pens for the win.

  20. Break-room makeover. Get a new microwave. It’s truly the small things.

At the end of the day, though, employee appreciation isn’t just a cute reward here and there. It should be built into your culture. Developing a full recognition and rewards program as your company grows is essential to attracting top talent, retaining current employees, and keeping your team happy, motivated, and loyal.

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