Top 25 Employee Recognition Ideas (Affordable yet Effective): Epic Ways to Reward Your Employees

Top 25 Employee Recognition Ideas (Affordable yet Effective): Epic Ways to Reward Your Employees-feature image
January 18, 2023 12 Min read

“People work for money but go the extra mile for recognition, praise and rewards.” -Dale Carnegie.

According to one survey, it was found that recognition is the most important form of support and motivation for 37% of employees.

Well, why is that the case? In simple terms, people want to feel appreciated and employee recognition acts as one of the key ingredients to meet those needs.

With today’s workplace experiencing a major shift, employee recognition is no longer a benefit that’s nice to have, but an organization needs to have!

employee recognition ideas banner image

With that said, it’s not always easy to come up with creative and genuine employee recognition ideas. To help you launch the best recognition ideas for your firm, we have handpicked some of the thoughtful and affordable employee appreciation gifts ideas in this article!

Why Is Employee Recognition Important?

Before we jump to reading the best employee of the month ideas, let’s quickly understand why employee recognition is important.

  • Engaged workforce
  • Increase in employee productivity and performance
  • Boosts happiness
  • Increased employee retention

Well, who doesn’t like feeling appreciated? Being recognized by the right leadership can act as a great motivator for employees to give their 100% at work. In turn, they can have a positive company, increase revenue & more.

So, it is safe to say that employee recognition impacts more than just employees -it affects the entire firm.

Suggested Read: Best Employee Lifecycle Management Strategies for Higher Productivity

25 Amazing Employee Recognition Ideas for 2022

  1. Peer Recognition Program
  2. Gift Cards
  3. Subscription Services
  4. Time Based Rewards
  5. Organize Team Bonding Activities
  6. Feature Them on Your Website
  7. Shoutout on Social Media
  8. Name a Menu Item After Them
  9. Organize a Fun Competition
  10. Have a Pizza Party
  11. Upgrade the Tech Your Staff Use
  12. Invest in Employee’s Health and Mental Health
  13. Let Employees Know That Their Work Matters
  14. Acknowledge Employee’s Personal Goals
  15. Offer Help for Employee Commutes
  16. Select Best Employee of the Month
  17. Raffle System
  18. Share Customer’s Positive Feedback
  19. Invest in Their Professional Growth
  20. Take Staff Out for Lunch
  21. Throw a Party
  22. Thank You Notes
  23. Send Care Packages
  24. Ask for Process Improvement Suggestions on a Regular Basis
  25. Personalized Recognition Video

Employee recognition programs play a key role in acknowledging the efforts of the people in your organization. Not every employee responds well to comprehensive feedback or a shoutout in team meetings. This is where awards for employees such as a thoughtful gift card or cheers from peers become essential.

So, without further delay, let’s go through some creative staff recognition ideas for small business, hospitals, restaurants & more that management can implement to retain their best talent. Combine these creative recognition ideas and create a well thought out employee recognition program that aligns with your company’s standard and meets the needs of your employees!

Employee Recognition Ideas for Small Business

Are you looking for the right team recognition ideas for your small business? Well, you are at the right place! Check out these unique and funny award ideas for employees and pick the one that meets your organization’s needs!

  • Peer Recognition Program

Implementing a culture of peer recognition is one of the best ways to strengthen the bond between team members. As valuable as recognition from the top management is, staff love being appreciated by their colleagues. Team trophies, surprise treats, thank you cards are a few great ways colleagues can act on to praise each other.

  • Gift Cards
employee appreciation ideas

Though gift cards are among the best employee recognition program ideas, they should always be accompanied by genuine praise. A thoughtful gift card to celebrate wins, birthdays or even work anniversaries can go a really long way. Some of the best gift ideas for employee rewards include gaming gift cards, streaming gift cards, to name a few.

  • Subscription Services
Subscription services

Subscription services as gifts is one of the best ways to recognize your employee’s birthday or individual achievements to boost their happiness and loyalty. Be it music subscription or OTT subscription services, it is one of the most fun recognition gifts for employees.

  • Time Based Rewards

Time-related rewards can be as simple as offering employees extended lunch breaks, additional leave days, remote work & so on. The inclusive leave policy is another great way to show employees that you truly care about and appreciate their hard work. Recognize your staff with these amazing inexpensive employee appreciation gifts.

  • Organize Team Bonding Activities

There are several activities you can organize to promote team building and at the same time help your staff feel appreciated. Team hikes, company picnics, escape rooms & trivia quizzes are some of the unique ideas to consider for employee engagement.

  • Feature Them on Your Website

While it is not possible to feature all your hospital staff on your website especially if you have a big team or for privacy reasons, consider putting loyal ones on your website. Make them write their own bios. Let your customers get to know your staff before heading to the hospitals.

Suggested Read: Employee Attrition and Why its Important: All You Need to Know

Employee Recognition Ideas for Restaurants

A well-motivated restaurant staff can boost your sales and deliver exceptional customer service which will help you to upsell and retain customers. Hence, giving a token of appreciation to your restaurant staff is a great way to show that you value them deeply. Some of the great staff incentives that can be provided are as follows:

  • Shoutout on Social Media
Shoutout on social media

If your colleague is a social media fan, there is nothing better than recognizing them on social media (Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram) or wherever your company has a strong social media presence. Take a photo of them and go public with your appreciation. In addition, encourage colleagues to add positive comments on social media posts.

  • Name a Menu Item After Them

This is one of the simplest and most creative ways to reward your restaurant staff. Name a drink or any dish after them. This will not only increase curiosity among your customers, but chances are that staff will brag about it on social media platforms, thus inviting more customers to the restaurants.

  • Organize a Fun Competition

You can throw a party so your staff can let loose or maybe add in a little competition to create opportunities for your team to express themselves. Or serve some of your own bestselling food or drinks on a night you’re usually shut. These are all fantastic ideas if you are looking for fun recognition gifts for employees.

  • Have a Pizza Party
types of awards for employees

While we know that there are plenty of creative and funny awards for employees that you can offer for their exceptional work, you might also try considering specific perks to their milestones. A few ideas include free parking spots, pizza parties, relaxing spa day & so on.

  • Upgrade the Tech Your Staff Use

Rewarding staffs with tools that make their jobs easier is especially useful in the restaurant business. It can be as simple as buying kitchen gadgets that improves their work efficiency. With that said, investing in the right tool can actually end up saving money for your business.

Suggested Read: Best Free and Paid Contactless Attendance System

Employee Recognition Ideas for Hospitals

Check out the best staff recognition ideas and create the best employee experience to make them feel appreciated at work!

  • Invest in your Employee’s Health and Mental Health
invest in health and mental health

Several studies have demonstrated that workplace health initiatives can reduce sick level absenteeism by approximately 27% and almost 26% reduction in health care costs. Hence, companies should invest in their employee’s health physical and mental health by providing them access to gym facilities, mental health resources among other things!

  • Let Employees Know that their Work Matters

To attract and retain employees, it is essential that you make them feel that their work is making a positive impact in the world. Employees who feel valued by their leaders would definitely go above and beyond at their job!

  • Acknowledge Employee’s Personal Goals

While most team recognition ideas focus on work accomplishment, this comes under unique employee appreciation gifts ideas. It makes people highly valued when the senior management takes out time to understand the personal goals of employees. That’s why this employee recognition tactic is highly valued and is also one of the best if you are looking for good inexpensive employee appreciation gifts.

  • Offer Help for Employee Commutes
offer commute help

In the hotel industry, commuting can easily be a large expense. While you can’t cover all transportation expenses, it is recommended to offer support to employees by paying, say, bus tickets, sending hospital vehicle for pickup and drop, and so on.

Employee Recognition Ideas for Call Center Agents

Seeing signs of employee disengagement at work? Well, here are some simple and fun recognition gifts for employees of Call centers

  • Select the Best Employee of the Month

Employee of the month awards can be quite effective in making top performers feel appreciated at work. Some amazing employees of the month ideas include hosting a monthly celebration lunch, team building event, extra PTO for award winners among other things!

  • Raffle System
Raffle system

Raffle is a type of contest in which you buy a ticket to win exciting prizes. Consider implementing an employee performance-based raffle system to motivate your agents. Employees attaining a number of satisfied customers earn a raffle entry. Some of the top raffle ideas include a weekend stay at a luxury hotel, gift card to a store of their choice & so on.

  • Share Customer’s Positive Feedback

Who doesn’t like knowing that their work is making an impact and their ideas and contribution is being noticed! So, make it a point that whenever a client or customer shares positive feedback, you share it with the employees who deserve it. Everyone feels great when their hard work is recognized. Undoubtedly, this is one of the best inexpensive employee appreciation gifts ideas for call center agents.

  • Invest in Their professional Growth

Rewards such as paid subscriptions of ed-tech websites are excellent ways to make your employees deeply valued and show that you care about their professional growth. What more? You get to reap the benefits of their new skills. Well, it’s a win-win situation for both!

  • Take Staff Out for Lunch
Take staff out for lunch

Whether it’s sandwiches in the morning, a pasta lunch or samosa snacks, food not only acts as a morale booster for employees but also is a great stress buster for them on a hectic day. When you efficiently reward employees for their effort you motivate them to continue working hard.

Suggested Read: Performance Management Vs Performance Appraisal: Key Differences

Employee Recognition Ideas for Virtual Teams/ Remote Worker / Work From Home 

Looking for fun virtual employee recognition ideas to bond with your team? Well, here is a list of ideas that every remote worker would love!

  • Throw a Party

Working remotely? Consider throwing a virtual party where you get all the team members together on a Zoom or Slack call. Plan fun and interactive games and send them some yummy treats that you can munch together while on the call.

  • Thank You Notes
award titles for employees

Yes, you read that right. Thank you notes are not dead yet, especially the handwritten ones. So, if you’re looking for the best virtual recognition ideas, sit down and write a thank you note or letter by hand, then get it delivered to the employee’s address. In a world that is advancing towards digital, a handwritten thank you note can go a long way to convey your heartiest gratitude.

  • Send Care Packages
employee appreciation gifts for employee recognition ideas

This is one of the best virtual recognition ideas. There are so many gift baskets/care packages available out there that can appeal to anyone especially in remote jobs. Such packages definitely help in building a better workspace.

All you have to take care is to match the theme of the package with what the employee is being praised for or with their personal interest!

  • Ask for Process Improvement Suggestions on a Regular Basis

This is another great virtual employee appreciation idea that your team will absolutely love. You can ask for the workflow of people and if they have any suggestions to improve the work process or the quality of work. You can then reward the most helpful suggestions and the kind of impact they are making on the team and organization at large.

  • Personalized Recognition Video

For employees working remotely, record a video of everyone wishing them success, mail a cake or a thoughtful personal gift to their address. Personal gifts can go a long way towards making employees feel appreciated and irreplaceable!

Suggested Read: How to Improve Employee Motivation with Herzberg’s Two Factor Theory


So, are you ready to implement these employee recognition ideas to show your team members how much you appreciate their hard work?

Hopefully, this article helped you to create an employee recognition program that empowers your workforce. By implementing employee recognition ideas like these will help improve work life for your current and future employees!

However, note that rewards should suit the interest of the individual. Be it a personalized gift or time off – it is important to remember that not every employee likes the same reward. Hence, don’t be afraid to reach out to your employees to ask what matters the most to them!


  1. What is the best way to reward an employee?

    The best employee recognition ideas are ones that are personalized and well thought out. It could be a paid day off or a subscription to any OTT depending on what the interest of the employee.

  2. How do you reward employees who are going above and beyond?

    Some great employee recognition ideas include peer to peer recognition, social media shoutouts, a personalized recognition video & so on.

  3. What are the different types of rewards and recognition?

    There are different types of reward and recognition programs that every organization should incorporate for a wonderful employee experience. The major types of recognition include informal recognition, formal recognition, monetary recognition and public recognition.

  4. How do you reward loyal employees?

    First thing first, you should consider making the employee recognition program a monthly or quarterly event. Some of the best employee appreciation gifts for loyal employees include offering extended breaks, organizing happy hour or a bonus day off!

  5. What are reward management strategies?

    Reward management refers to the implementation of strategies to help reward hardworking employees in the company. The common type of reward system to have for employee morale are employee assistance programs and employee recognition programs.

  6. How do you show employee appreciation virtually?

    Some of the best virtual staff appreciation ideas include sending a personalized recognition video, social media posts, thank you notes or a shoutout in team meetings!

Related Categories: Employee Management Software | Employee Monitoring Software | Employee Desktop Monitoring Software | Employee Recognition Software | Employee Scheduling Software

Written by Nishi Agrawal

Nishi Agarwal is a talented content writer and dance fitness instructor. She holds a degree in Mass Communication from Patna Women's College, where she acquired the tricks for writing, editing, and journalism. As a content writer with, she has gained valuable experience in creating engaging and informative... Read more

Still Have a Question in Mind?

Get answered by real users or software experts

Talk To Tech Expert