Your employee has completed your team’s major project and accomplished the department’s goals well ahead of the project’s expected due date. Now that the hard work is done, your employee is most likely anticipating (most likely quietly to themselves) some form of appreciation for this milestone achievement. The dictionary defines appreciation as “a feeling or expression of admiration, approval, or gratitude” and everyone whether publicly or privately wants to feel appreciated or admired for what they do; especially employees for their hard work. Employee appreciation is an intrinsic motivation that affects individual and company performance. Whether it’s a mere thank you or a formal form of recognition or shoutout, the employee assumes some level an acknowledgment from the manager or employer for a job well done.

Why is employee appreciation important? It’s important for two main reasons:
  1. The impact it has on employee retention
  2. The influence it has on the organization’s culture
According to Gallup, a highly engaged organization may see an 18% higher revenue per employee compared with the average. Employee recognition is essential in today’s work environment and integral to an organization’s culture. Employee appreciation and recognition demonstrate the company’s commitment to valuing its employees. The 2018 SHRM/Globoforce Survey of HR Professionals indicates recognition can help create a positive workplace culture and employee experience, and more than one-half said their program positively affects retention (68%) and recruitment (56%). Although many organizations have adopted recognition programs; employees still feel underappreciated. It’s not the program that bears the responsibility of championing employee appreciation--it’s the manager’s responsibility to ensure that the employee feels appreciated. When a supervisor or manager recognizes an employee’s accomplishments, the employee feels more inclined to provide above-average performance. As an employer, how committed are you to recognizing employee performance? Organizations should be 100% committed to creating a culture of recognition, celebration, and praise by honoring employees’ accomplishments.

Employee appreciation should be a regular practice within the employee life cycle and incorporated into the work environment as a standard work principle. An organization devoid of gratitude creates a culture that neglects its most valuable resource: its employees. Effective employee appreciation drives employee engagement and influences employee morale. Productivity and job satisfaction increases when employees feel valued and recognized.

"How do you show staff appreciation on a budget?"

Organizations will often cite a limited budget prevents them from recognizing or appreciating employees’ performance. Despite popular opinion, it doesn’t take a substantial budget to show appreciation.

Always ask the employee the form of appreciation the employee prefers to receive. You can solicit this information during your normal feedback conversations or during an individual one on one meeting. The level of appreciation will vary according to the employee. There is an array of options to show staff appreciation with limited resources. Here are a few employee appreciation ideas that you can use in your company regardless of size and budget.

Thank You – Verbal 

This is the simplest form of appreciation. You can take a moment to personally thank the employee for the contribution in real-time. Depending on the employee’s feedback, the thank you can be conducted in the presence of the team or in private with the employee. The two words of THANK YOU spoken to the employee will go a long way, much farther than the 1-3 seconds it takes to muster the words.

Awards, Certificates, Fun Trophies

Some employees prefer formal or public recognition, we can certainly respect that. You may present a small award such as a plaque, a certificate, or even a fun/goofy company relevant trophy acknowledging the employee’s accomplishments. Presenting an award gives the employee a physical token of appreciation and personal keepsake to commemorate the achievement.

An Employee of the Month, a Wall of Honor or Parking Space/Commuting pass 

Public recognition is one of the most frequently and standard forms of appreciation. An employee of the Month or a Wall of Fame award is a low budget option to recognize employees amongst peers and the organization. Transportation is a major concern for most employees. Assigning a designated parking space, granting a parking space or providing a commuting pass is an ideal solution for employees experiencing transportation challenges.

Lunch of the employee’s choice or preferred snacks

Providing a lunch of the employee’s choice or series of snacks is a great unconventional form of appreciation. Who doesn’t appreciate a free meal or snack of choice? It’s a low-cost alternative that provides the employee with something they enjoy.

Gift Cards

Giving a gift card is one of the simplest options for recognizing your employees. There are various gift card options available for your staff including a department store gift card, retail and/or a standard Visa, MasterCard or Amex gift card. Employees may prefer having a gift card of their choosing than other appreciation options. Remember, this option does include taxable consequences if used. Assembly offers a catalog of 75+ gift card brands.

Small monetary spot award or incentive 

Of course, the concept of having a monetary award is frequently referenced as a form of employee appreciation. The amount may be extremely limited if your company has a small budget. Consider the taxable requirements prior to offering cash incentives as an option. The employee could perceive the award in a negative view if the taxable treatment outweighs the award’s value.

Extra time off/PTO

Time off can be one of the best ways to show your appreciation to an employee. Granting a couple of hours to a day off is meaningful and displays an employer’s support of a work-life balance. Your employees will thank you for providing the time off to use.

Company-wide announcement using the company’s intranet, email, or comms tool 

Informing other employees of an employee’s success encourages team development and instills recognition within the culture. A quick email from the department head or the CEO displays how the organization values performance and employee contributions.

Peer to peer recognition and shoutouts

Employees value recognition and appreciation received from customers and their peers. This recognition can be done through a formal system or an informal method such as a thank you note. Either way, employees appreciate receiving shoutouts from fellow co-workers and customers.

You can show your appreciation by recognizing & rewarding employees. Engaged teams are more productive & have better communication with Assembly. Assembly is a peer to peer employee recognition platform where co-workers can easily recognize each other with meaningful messages and rewards and companies can manage culture spend with a positive and justifiable ROI.

Assembly has a 95% employee engagement, it has unique rewards and can be easily integrated with Slack.

Grow and sustain your culture with Assembly.



About the Authour, Angelique J. Hamilton, MBA

Angelique is is an HR Practitioner, Diversity Consultant, Coach and Professional Development Director with a National Non-Profit organization. She is passionate about disrupting the status quo to create engaging and progressive cultures. She has held leadership roles for Fortune 500, non-profit and service organizations. She is a certified coach with Gallup Strengthfnders 2.0 and a certified Life Coach. She is the Founder of HR Chique Consultancy Group; where she partners with entrepreneurs, individuals, businesses to discover their “strengths” and fortify their brands to develop sustainable platforms and lifestyles.