Small Business

8 Employee Appreciation Day ideas that won’t break the bank

Let’s face it: your team works hard. In fact, your business probably wouldn’t be where it is today without them.

While ideally you’re doing little things to make them feel loved year round, Employee Appreciation Day, which falls on the first Friday of March each year, is the perfect time to be intentional about showing your thanks.

Here are eight easy ways to make them feel loved this year:

Praise

Gifts don’t always have to cost money — sometimes the most meaningful and appreciated gesture is acknowledgement of a job well done. Figure out how your employees like to be recognized (for example, would they prefer it to be in front of the entire company, in a private one-on-one, or in a card they can keep?) and make sure your sentiment is genuine. Nothing ruins a nice moment like a generic “you’ve been an instrumental part of our success” form letter.

At Funding Circle, for example, we give out two trophies each week at our company-wide meeting: one to the employee who best demonstrated one of our values, and one to someone who rolled up their sleeves and really grinded hard to make it happen. It’s a simple but effective way to publicly show our appreciation to those who are doing extra-good work.

Food

If you’re looking to celebrate your entire company, food is always a good choice — no matter what your budget is. Whether it’s a waffle bar, pizza buffet, nice dinner, ice cream social, happy hour, or even just new treats in the break room, people always appreciate getting some time to relax over delicious grub. Just be sure to take note of (and cater to) everyone’s dietary restrictions so that everyone can enjoy the celebration!

Time off

As they say, time is money. And we can always use more of it, whether we want to spend more time with loved ones, head for a weekend in the snow, or just catch up on sleep. There are many ways you could go about this gift, from letting everyone out early on a Friday to giving them a floating day off. The gift of relaxation will be one to cherish, and your employees will return more energized and motivated than ever!

Swag

If your employees are as in love with your brand as you are, they’ll jump at the opportunity to get some snazzy new company-branded gear. The options are endless — these days, companies aren’t just handing out T-shirts and pens. Instead, think outside of the box and aim to give something you know your team will use every day, like backpacks, socks, or blankets. The more useful the swag is, the more likely your employees will be to promote your brand outside of work.

Fun

Want to do something extra-special for your team? Treat them to a special experience, whether it’s a baseball game, cooking class, or afternoon at the movie theater. As a bonus, this is a great way for your employees to get to know you and each other outside of work. The team that learns how to make pasta together stays together, right?

Books

Now, you may be rolling your eyes, thinking your employees would much rather get a free lunch or gift card than a book. However, there are numerous ways you can make this a personalized and thoughtful gift. For example, you could choose the book that single-handedly changed the way you do business. Or, you could pick a book about a specific topic you know your employee is interested in. In short, put some thought into your selection, and make sure your recipient knows why you chose it.

Fitness gear

If (and only if) you know your employees are into fitness (you don’t want to send the wrong message!), consider giving them gear that’ll help keep them active. After all, exercise has been shown to make people feel less stressed and happier, so really, you’re investing in their well-being.

There are many exercises employees can do in the office to stay active. All they need is some space and a few key items — and that’s where your gift comes in. Some good options to get them started include a yoga mat, weights, or medicine ball.

Or, you could do something like we do here at Funding Circle, and offer a gym stipend for your employees to spend on their fitness as they see fit.

Money

If you have no idea what to get your employees, you can’t go wrong with money. Try to make it special though — maybe add a note like “treat yourself to lunch” or “to add to your house fund” so they know you put some thought into it. Or, if you’re uncomfortable giving straight-up cash, consider giving a gift card to their favorite restaurant or store.

 

Bottom line: Your employees are the lifeblood of your company and your most valuable asset. Keep them happy and loyal by showing you care — not just on Employee Appreciation Day, but throughout the year.

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