Master employee appreciation with these 36 inexpensive ideas.

Try These 35 Inexpensive Employee Appreciation Day Ideas

Posted October 10, 2017 by Caroline Whitney in Managing Your Team
Employee appreciation days and other perks lead to higher satisfaction and retention. But can you do it on a tight budget? The answer is...absolutely!

We all work long, hard hours. And that hard work can sometimes go without much recognition or appreciation.  

But it’s important to reward your employees for a job well done.  Some surveys have shown that employee recognition has a direct correlation to employee satisfaction, and satisfied employees do better work and are less inclined to leave. 

Recognition makes employees feel appreciated: you're showing your peer, manager, or direct report that his or her work matters. Don't let the day-to-day of your job get in the way of showing your gratitude; a little workplace appreciation goes a long way towards boosting employee morale.  

Update: We've created a comprehensive guide on employee appreciation ideas that boost morale. You can download a free copy here.

35 Affordable Ideas for Employee Appreciation Events

  1. Celebrate small accomplishments— whether in a meeting, an email to the company, or another creative way.

  2. Invest in a fitbit as a treat for employees, to inspire them to be more active and therefore more productive.

  3. Two words: sundae bar!

  4. Implement an employee of the month program, and have nominations.

  5. Say it with flowers!

  6. Be vocal. If a colleague praises a coworker in a meeting, let that coworker know. Spread the word that they are appreciated.

  7. Give a gift card to the local coffee shop after a particularly hard week to show your appreciation. Who doesn’t love a good latte? Even a $10 card would make their day.  

  8. Be polite and friendly. It goes a long way.

  9. Take new employees out to lunch on their first day (or more often, if the budget allows)!

  10. Encourage and recognize those who participate in continuing education.  It will benefit the employee and the company, and make them feel good about it.

  11. Get your free copy of 109 ways to appreciate employees on a budget.

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  12. Plan a company potluck— it’s a fun break from work that builds morale.

  13. Start a suggestion program about how to improve your office. It will help your employees feel heard.

  14. Allow employees to have flexible schedules. For instance, be open to employees leaving work to go to the gym in the middle of the day. It will boost productivity and they’ll feel like you trust them. Just ensure they're getting their work done too.

  15. Celebrate when employees achieve big milestones, like the birth of a child or the completion of a marathon.

  16. Celebrate small milestones, like birthdays. Have a calendar so you don’t forget, get a cake, and/or have the office sign a card.

  17. Consider offering unlimited vacation... and encouraging employees to take time off.

  18. Have a mid-week treat in the breakroom. Waffle Wednesdays? Tuesday afternoon cookie platter?

  19. Send thank you notes for a job well done. It’s old fashioned, but it means a lot.

  20. Stock your office with a variety of snacks and treats. Believe me — I work at a snack-rich office, and it truly makes employees happy.

  21. Actually call a coworker to your office to thank them, rather than in passing or through email. The gesture is more personal will be a nice surprise.

  22. Bring in a masseuse or manicurist for an office-wide treat.

  23. Have a pizza party.

  24. Ask your employees for input about fun activities — what do THEY want to do?

  25. Plan company happy hours or dinners.  Even if your company can’t foot the bill, employees will look forward to it and appreciate the fun event.

  26. Appoint a “Rookie of the Year."

  27. Going out to get coffee or to grab take out? Ask if others would like some as well.

  28. Put some board games in the breakroom! It’ll bring a smile to your coworkers’ breaktime.

  29. Allow your office to leave early on the day before a holiday weekend. A simple way to make their day (and weekend!) better.

  30. Consider implementing summer fridays at your office.  It’s a surprisingly inexpensive perk!

  31. Have a flexible parental leave plan.

  32. Have an employee appreciation program — a points system rewarding good behavior that they can cash in for small rewards, like leaving early.

  33. Surprise your office with a summer picnic for lunch.

  34. Plan a staff appreciation day using a few suggestions from this list.

  35. Start a mentoring program in your office. Build one that truly reflects the needs and wants of your employees.

  36. Say “thank you” often. It’s a simple phrase that goes a long, long way.


36. Work with your direct reports on growth plans, so they know where they’re going in the company and what skills they can master next.

37. Treat everyone out to a fun company activity like bowling, laser tag, or karaoke.