If anyone deserves some extra appreciation, it’s your employees — the ones who pour endless time and energy into helping your company succeed. Gifts are a great way to show how much you value your team members and their contributions, and the right gift can create a memorable and meaningful moment. But how do you know what, exactly, the “right” gift is?
They say gift-giving is an art. Like all creative acts, it can be hard to know where to begin. Fortunately, Fond has curated a list of employee appreciation gifts that can help.
Whether you need a gift that can be shared among the whole team, something small and inexpensive, or something that will take your employees far away from the office, there’s an idea here for every occasion.
Ideas for Employee Appreciation Gifts
1. Offer Company-Branded Swag
Giving company-branded swag as an employee appreciation gift is a great way to show a team member you are grateful for their hard work, while simultaneously bolstering team spirit. Don’t hesitate to get creative when it comes to the items you can customize with your company’s branding. Sweatshirts, water bottles, and phone cases are well-loved classics, but quirkier options (like pool toys or comic books, for example) can be a hot commodity. Either way, branded swag is a fun way to celebrate the team members that make your organization great, and it has the added bonus of enhancing your brand awareness.
2. Give Employees Desk Plants
WeWork recently published an article claiming the effect of having plants in the workspace is much more impactful than added aesthetic appeal. Office plants increase productivity, relieve stress, and extend attentional capacity. Plus, there’s no denying the fact that having a bit of green throughout the office brightens up its look.
3. Make Charitable Donations
An increasing number of organizations have caught on to the fact that employees (and especially millennial employees) are highly driven by opportunities to give back to their local communities. Instead of recognizing stellar performance with traditional cash bonuses, consider making a donation to a charity of your employee’s choice. This not only demonstrates that your company is invested in its community — it also shows your employees that your organization is supportive of the causes they care about. And sometimes, giving back is the best gift of all.
4. Provide Organizational Supplies
This option won’t work for everyone, but any employee who uses a paper-and-pen system to stay on top of their to-do’s will love it. Despite the multitude of digital options available, a substantial portion of the workforce still relies on paper planners, calendars, and notepads to stay organized. These supplies make employee appreciation gifts for the right employees and will make staying on top of a never-ending agenda a little easier and a little more fun.
5. Gift a Massage
What better way to relieve the stress of a long workday than with a relaxing massage, courtesy of the company you put in all those hours for? Show your employees you appreciate them with a gift certificate to visit a local masseuse. At the end of their next difficult day, they will be so grateful for the opportunity to unwind and leave the day behind.
6. Provide Corporate Discounts
Corporate discounts are an employee appreciation gift that keeps on giving. Longer lasting than a one-time act of appreciation, corporate discounts are the perfect way to continually thank your employees for their hard work by offering them lower rates on a variety of popular items. If you choose to invest in perks for your team, make sure to pick a vendor that offers discounts on all kinds of products and experiences to ensure there’s something for everyone.
7. Give Handwritten Notes
This employee appreciation gift doesn’t cost a dime. In the modern office, employees receive a constant influx of digitally delivered messages, so getting a personalized and handwritten message stands out as unique. It doesn’t need to be more than a couple of lines, and taking the time to write your employees a quick note about why you appreciate them can go a long way. Not only does the handwriting add a charming personal touch, but they’ll have a physical memento to hold on to as a reminder that their hard work is valued.
8. Offer Catered Lunch
Delivering lunch to the office is more than an employee appreciation gift, it’s a gift for the whole team. Catered lunch comes as a welcome departure from your teams’ normal dining routine and provides a great chance to build camaraderie. Let your team members weigh in on where their favorite lunch spots are and treat them to a meal from the most popular choice! Tip: be sure to take note of your employees’ dietary needs when selecting a restaurant so everyone is included and able to eat. It’s always good to verify in advance that restaurants have vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, halal, and other dietary options to suit your diverse workforce.
9. Give Them Books
Books are a great employee appreciation gift for team members. Look for something that speaks to an interest you share, a topic they’ve said they want to learn more about, or anything else you think they would enjoy. You can also give them a book on management or a topic closely aligned with their position at the company you think would benefit them. This demonstrates that you’re invested in their learning and development.
To take this employee appreciation gift to the next level, you can give multiple employees the same book — it’ll give everyone something to connect over. Maybe your team will start their own book club and bond over discussing their thoughts! Just make sure you only use this gift idea on team members you know genuinely enjoy reading; the last thing you want to do is burden your team members with more work than they already have.
10. Offer Continued Educational Opportunities
As millennials and Gen-Z become ever more dominant in the workforce, their thirst for personal and professional development grows more pressing, too. Employee appreciation gifts focused on continued education are a great way to feed this perpetual drive. Whether it’s a subscription to an online learning platform or an offer to subsidize their tickets to a professional workshop, giving your employees opportunities to learn and grow is a great way to show you appreciate them.
11. Provide Snack Packs
Show your employees you care with a personalized package of all their favorite snacks. Not only will it be a welcome show of gratitude, but it will make life at the office that much better (and tastier). Whether they’re a health nut, a chip fiend, or the owner of an insatiable sweet tooth, putting together a few of their favorite treats is a simple and delicious employee appreciation gift.
12. Give Them a Night on the Town
If you’re celebrating employees for a particularly effortful performance, it’s best to show you appreciate them with a gift focused on non-work activities. A great way to do this is by treating them to a fun night out. You can pair movie tickets with a gift card to their favorite restaurant or seats at the next basketball game with vouchers for free drinks across the street. Whatever you choose, make sure to pick something aligned with the way that person spends their leisure time. They will savor the chance to unwind with help from their company.
13. Offer Lunch with Senior Leadership
If you’re looking for a low-cost, high-impact employee appreciation gift, consider offering your team member lunch with an executive. Especially at larger organizations, the opportunity for a one-on-one chat over lunch gives the employee a rare chance for face time they may otherwise never have access. The insight, feedback, and connection they can gain at these lunches is truly priceless.
14. Surprise Them With Flowers
A tried-and-true way to brighten anyone’s day is with flowers, and this gesture is even better when they’re unexpected. Online flower delivery services make it easier than ever to get a fresh bouquet on your employee’s desk. This gesture is a classic and beautiful way to show your employees you appreciate them.
15. Give the Gift of a Coffee Credit
Companies are fueled by their people, but what are people fueled by? Coffee. Or at least 64% of self-described daily coffee consumers are. When giving an employee appreciation gift, consider giving them credit to their favorite local cafe. They’ll be delighted to get their caffeine fix on you, and flattered you paid attention to what their favorite coffee shop is too.
16. Organize a Team Outing
Take a casual team happy hour one step further with a team activity that gets your employees out to do something interesting. Escape rooms, craft bars, indoor golfing, bowling, and brew cycles are all great ideas for a shared new experience team members can bond over. Treating employees to some outside-the-office fun is a great way to reward their hard work as a group.
17. Gift a Framed Team Picture
If you follow through with the team outing idea, snap a picture of your employees having a blast together and frame it for yet another easy employee appreciation gift. You can give it to them right away, or wait for a later occasion that warrants appreciation. This employee appreciation gift has just the right personal touch and is a great reminder of the fond memories you’ve shared as a team.
18. Host Take Your Pet to Work Day
Research shows that having pets in the workplace reduces stress and nurtures productivity, not to mention the immense emotional value that comes as a result. It’s up to you to decide whether it’s appropriate to invite pets into the office all the time, once a week, or once a quarter, but giving your employees the chance to bring their dogs (or extremely social cats) to work is a great way to show you appreciate them. Just be mindful of allergies when implementing this employee appreciation tactic. You never want to alienate certain employees from the office, and if others have strong reactions to animals, make sure they are still able to work comfortably.
19. Give Them a Tasty Beverage
For employees who enjoy a drink to wind down at the end of a long day, consider a bottle of wine or craft beer the next time you need to give an employee appreciation gift. With these gifts, splurging a little can level quality up a lot, so don’t shy away from a slightly generous budget when shopping for bottled employee appreciation gifts. Alternatively, if an employee doesn’t partake, you can offer them hand-crafted sodas with unique flavors they can’t find anywhere else.
20. Offer Extra Vacation Time
Reward your employees’ hard work by giving them time to do anything but work. Offering extra days of vacation time isn’t an enormous sacrifice for any smoothly operating organization, but the gesture will go a long way for the employee that can indulge during those days off.
21. Play Office Games
Some employee appreciation gifts take your employees far away from the office, and others make their lives more fun while they’re in it. Foster your employees’ playful spirits by providing games to play around the office. In the moments they step away for a break, they’ll be able to indulge in a little well-deserved recreation. Whether it’s table tennis, foosball, or a backboard and net on the wastebasket, sometimes giving your team a little room for fun is a great way to keep them energized.
22. Give Them a Self-Care Kit
Another great employee appreciation gift is a workplace self-care kit. Essential oils, facial rollers, and Jack Knobber massage tools are popular options for staying physically relaxed (and maybe a little pampered) on the job. Put a few of these choice gifts in a basket and you have a perfect, yet subtly indulgent employee appreciation gift.
23. Offer a Workout Pass or Gym Membership
Another employee appreciation gift that helps employees take care of themselves is a pass to a local exercise class or discount at a local gym. While this gift won’t be right for everyone, those passionate about exercising will certainly appreciate your support. And those not-so-passionate about hitting the gym might enjoy an extra nudge in the direction of a healthy new habit.
24. Organize a Lunch and Learn
Another great way to show your employees you appreciate them is by scheduling educational opportunities for large groups. Pick a topic that will appeal to a whole team (most likely something that has to do with your company’s specific industry) and schedule a lunch and learn where you host an expert speaker on the topic. Bonus points if you have lunch catered that day, too.
25. Provide Commuter Benefits
If you prefer to give more practical employee appreciation gifts, consider lessening the financial toll of your team members’ daily commute. Offering bus passes, parking permits, and other forms of reimbursement for transportation to the office supports the lengths your employees go to support your company.
26. Surprise Them With Local Specialties
This idea works especially well if you’re giving employee appreciation gifts at a company with multiple offices. Gifting employees at one location special items from another is a great way to celebrate your team’s diversity. For example, at Fond, our Oregon office sends the San Francisco office marionberry jam and local pinot noir. The Oregon team receives sweets from their favorite San Francisco chocolatier in return. If you’re working with international offices, your options become even more diverse!
27. Provide Breakfast
What better way to start the day than with a delicious employee appreciation gift? Team lunches are standard (and still very well received), but providing breakfast for the whole team can come as an unexpected surprise. Walking into the office to the sight of fresh pastries, a bagel station, or cereal buffet will certainly start your team’s day off right and give them the energy they need to be productive in the morning.
28. Host Take Your Child to Work Day
For employees who have families, the opportunity to show their children the ins and outs of life at the office can be a memorable bonding experience. At least for offices in the United States, Take Your Child to Work Day is traditionally observed on the fourth Thursday of April. However, you can arrange a family visit to the office when you think the time is right for a gesture of employee appreciation.
29. Get an Office Espresso Machine
This employee appreciation gift is a splurge, but it’s a gesture that goes a long way. If you’re looking for a little daily indulgence to show your team you appreciate them, consider investing in an office espresso machine. Between the frothy milk and freshly poured shots, your employees will feel appreciated every time they enjoy a latte on you.
30. Offer Home Services
When you get home from a long day of work, the last thing you want to do is … more work. But household chores inevitably pile up throughout the week, and sometimes the at-home to-do list becomes unavoidable. Consider giving employee appreciation gifts that make life at home a little more effortless. Services like laundry delivery, house cleaning, and meal delivery kits can do a lot to help alleviate extra household work for employees so they can enjoy more free time at home.
31. Fill the Office With Pillows, Blankets, and Heaters
The age-old debate over the perfect office temperature rages on, and probably will far into the foreseeable future. According to recent research, those who shiver their way through work are in the slight majority (although the split is fairly even, with 56% of employees saying they’re too cold and 42% too hot). Appease your chillier employees with employee appreciation gifts like blankets, space heaters, or plush company sweatshirts — anything to make their office experience that much cozier. Not only will your employees appreciate the gesture, but they’ll be more productive, too.
32. Provide Travel Perks
Offering your employees discounts on travel costs like hotels, airfare, and rental car services is a great way to support their outside-the-office adventures. This employee appreciation gift will remind your employees that you care about their lives both in and outside the office every time they travel.
33. Reward and Recognize Employees
Our last employee appreciation gift idea doesn’t cost a thing. Give your employees the gift of personalized recognition. By publicly applauding employees for their success, you send a strong message of appreciation. Whether you go with something traditional like an Employee of the Month award or something hyper-personalized (think: the Dundies), you can’t go wrong by giving your employees the recognition for hard work they deserve.
Giving Great Gifts
Whichever employee appreciation gift you ultimately decide fits the occasion, make sure you emphasize why you’re giving the gift when you give it. Whether it’s a particular attribute of the employee that you want to celebrate, or a specific instance of above-and-beyond performance, it’s important to tie your token of appreciation back to something bigger.
And don’t forget: employee appreciation gifts should fall under the bigger umbrella of ways you let your employees know how much you value their contributions. From verbal praise and thriving rewards and recognition programs to offering competitive benefits, there are so many ways to communicate that you consider your people your biggest asset.