The Best Ways to Thank Your Employees for Their Hard Work

employee recognition

Employee recognition is an essential part of effective business management. Letting employees know when they’re doing well or recognizing them after a notable success can be a great way to reward your team for going above and beyond.

Gifts are a common strategy for employee recognition, used often as a reward for a specific win or to mark a major event, like the first year with a company. The right gift can be a great way to improve employee engagement, retain talent and create a workplace where employees feel like they’re valued.

These are some of the most common and effective methods for recognizing employees and thanking them for their hard work.

Strategies for Thanking Employees

Typically, businesses take one of two approaches when thanking an employee — a more private, low-key approach, or something a little more public. 

Birthday parties, celebrations and ceremonies are all great, high-energy ways to celebrate an event and deliver a physical gift to an employee, but not everyone wants a big public recognition of their work. For others, a one-on-one chat, thoughtful note or gift left on a desk may be preferable. 

Public emails, posts on social media or company chat rooms and similar recognition strategies can provide valuable in-between options.

In any case, you should follow a few key guidelines. Gifts and employee recognition should always be timely, specific and personalized. Ideally, you’ll be celebrating a specific event or accomplishment. 

The celebration should happen around the time of the event you’re recognizing. If you want to recognize years of service, most businesses celebrate at intervals of five years. Depending on the age of your business, you may want to celebrate more often, like every other year or annually. 

You’ll also need to adapt your recognition strategy based on the employee’s unique situation and interests. Personalizing gifts, creating curated gift baskets or offering rewards relevant to the event are a great way to demonstrate thoughtfulness.

For example, a company may want to celebrate a customer service representative who recently solved a tough problem for a client, winning the company a glowing review and retaining the client’s business. 

The celebration should happen a short time after this victory. The speakers at the celebration specifically mention how the representative went above and beyond to solve a client’s problem. The event and any gift given to the representative should also be tailored to celebrate the work of the employee in question.

Gift Ideas for Employees

Personalized gifts are one of the best ways to demonstrate appreciation for an employee. These are three of the most common gifts that employees use to thank employees. And how you can choose the perfect items for your celebration, ceremony or other event.

1. Personalized Water Bottles

Personal water bottles are becoming an increasingly popular desk item. Having a bottle at your desk can help you stay hydrated throughout the day without needing to run to the water cooler or kitchen and back to your desk.

Companies sell water bottles in a range of sizes and with features like insulation that keeps water cold. These water bottles can be personalized with custom decals that stick to the side of the bottle. Offering a water bottle with a name, company logo or image can be a great way to make the bottle more unique while also marking an important event or win.

2. Mugs and Reusable Coffee Cups

One advantage of this gift is that you have a surprisingly wide range of options. In addition to more standard mugs, which can be personalized with the company logo, employee name or images representing a certain event, you can also experiment with travel mugs and reusable coffee cups. 

These coffee vessels can have a lot of value for employees that are very invested in their morning coffee. 

Personalization can add a charming touch to many of these different options. And additional features like insulated sleeves can provide some extra value. 

3. Gift Baskets and Kits

Personalized or custom gift baskets are another popular gift option.

The sky’s the limit here. For any theme, you can assemble a variety of gifts, treats and curios that come together to be worth much more than they would be on their own. Pre-made gift baskets exist and it’s also possible to build your own with the right combination of decor and items. 

A Google search for “employee gift basket” returns millions of results. And there are many businesses that exist just to curate and customize gift baskets for companies wanting to recognize their workers.

During the push to remote work, for example, many businesses realized that they could no longer do in-office or local happy hours without excluding employees who were working remotely, often far away from the office. 

Happy hour kits — which included items like snacks and cocktail mixers — were one way that businesses made remote happy hours a little more like their in-person equivalent. 

Business gift guides also sometimes recommend wellness kits, baskets with products from local businesses and gift cards. 

How to Thank Employees With the Right Gift

The right gift at the right time is a great way to improve morale and build a positive workplace culture . However, the gift will need to be chosen carefully, and ideally be presented at an event that is timely, specific and personalized.

Many businesses have experimented with gifts like personalized water bottles, coffee mugs and gift baskets. These gifts are a great way to show your appreciation for a specific employee.

This guest post was authored by Eleanor Hecks

Eleanor is editor-in-chief at Designerly Magazine. She was the creative director at a digital marketing agency before becoming a full-time freelance designer. Eleanor lives in Philly with her husband and pup, Bear.

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