You may love 'em like they're family. You may know that all your success depends on them. You may want to say “thank you" and improve morale with some grand, elaborate gesture. But you know there's a limit to the cash you can spend on employee appreciation gifts. That doesn't mean you can't express your deep gratitude, though. I've compiled some of my favorite employee appreciation ideas that don't cost a fortune.
(A note on these employee appreciation ideas: Some are clearly better suited for certain types of businesses than others. Choose the options that best suit your needs and work with your business model.)
1. Give them some downtime.
When you're looking for employee appreciation gifts, one of the most precious resources you can spend is time.
We all know that taking breaks actually makes us more productive, so one great way to show your gratitude is to let your employees blow off some steam while they're on the clock.
You could give folks an afternoon off with pay. You might bring in some fun and office-appropriate games and take a couple of hours to spend some quality time being silly. Maybe you blow off work on a gorgeous afternoon to play kickball in the field next door.
Anytime I've given my staff some playtime, they've come back to work refreshed and reinvigorated.
2. Take them out to the ball game.
A minor league ballgame, that is!
While most major league sporting events cost serious money, an employee appreciation gift of a minor league event can be more affordable than you think. Tickets can run as little as $10, and you can even get those prices down if you negotiate a better group rate. Throw in a drink and a hot dog, and you've got a great event that lets your employees relax and have fun without spending a fortune.
Bonus: My local minor league baseball games are full of folksy, wholesome antics, and they'll also mention my company and my great employees with a shout-out during the game.
3. Team up with another business.
Since bringing a crowd can seriously reduce the per-person cost, it can make sense to explore employee appreciation ideas with a buddy.
By working together with another local business—maybe one across the parking lot or in the same office building—you can get to that group rate much more easily.
You could organize a friendly softball game that pits one company against the other, or you could just enjoy a local festival at a discount.
4. Host themed potluck lunches.
One of my favorite ways to introduce a little chill time in the office is a fun potluck lunch. Pick a theme—Italian, casseroles, salads or breakfast-for-dinner—and invite your staff to bring a dish they're proud of and spend a little time socializing.
While most major league sporting events cost serious money, an employee appreciation gift of a minor league event can be more affordable than you think.
I often provide the foundation of the meal. So for a taco bar, I'll supply the tortillas and protein for fillings and let people bring creative toppings.
We fuel up, relax a bit, and then we're ready to get back to work. Trust me—this really helps with driving a positive company culture.
5. Spend your money wisely.
Sometimes you want to give an employee appreciation gift that does cost money. How do you get the biggest bang for your buck? Use a corporate credit card that gives you cash back or other valuable rewards. I've even had opportunities to spend solely rewards points to get my employees gift cards they absolutely love, with no cash outlay on my part.
Saying thank you doesn't have to cost anything. In fact, you should verbally let your staff know every day that you appreciate their energy and efforts. But there are times when ponying up a little something extra can really show your staff you care.
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