We’ve all heard the phrase “Happy wife, happy life.” Well, think about what would happen if you replaced “wife” with “employees.” Typically companies rely on their employees for a lot more than they might give them credit for. Aside from expecting our employees to carry out the normal responsibilities of arriving to work consistently and on time, and requiring them to perform various duties as needed, we have to recognize that sometimes employees are the only link between whether our business thrives or not. One customer’s experience with an employee can determine whether they go on Facebook and tell everyone to use your services or whether they Tweet to millions that your product is awful.

Sometimes all it takes to make an employee love coming to work, rather than dreading it, is to show them a little appreciation. According to the national day calendar (did you know that was a thing?), employee appreciation day is observed the first Friday in March. However, you can really make it whenever you want to. If you want to go the extra mile, schedule two a year, one a quarter, or have one every time your team reaches a big goal. We’ve taken the guesswork out of it with 15 employee appreciation ideas that won’t break the bank.

1. Recognition board

We’ve all seen it before: the “Employee of the Month” plaque where one lucky person gets recognized. Well on Employee Appreciation Day, take the time to recognize all of your employees. Include a photo, how long they’ve been working for you, and a fun fact to make everyone feel special.

2. “Thank you” notes

A little thank you goes a long way, and handwriting a note makes it even sweeter.

3. Raffles

Sure, it might be too expensive to buy every employee a gift, but raffles are fun and exciting. Get a couple of gift cards or movie tickets and give everyone a ticket. They’ll feel like they won the lottery!

4. B-I-N-G-O

Like raffles, Bingo has that element of surprise that people love. Play a few rounds after work and have some small prizes to give away.

5. Special parking

Mark a coveted spot and rotate who gets to use it each week.

6. Discounts$$$

If your company has 20+ employees, chances are other businesses would want them as customers. Partner with some other businesses on the block like gyms or hair salons to offer your employees some real perks. Or just buy them an IndiCard and that’s already been done for you!

7. Pizza

It’s amazing what people will do for some free dough, sauce, and cheese.

8. Ice cream

It’s equally amazing what people will do for some free ice cream. Provide a topping bar to make it even more delicious.

9. Make break room more inviting

Install lockers, a magazine rack, a Keurig, and a few comfy chairs so that breaks are actually relaxing.

10. Have a company park day

It can be as simple as grilling burgers and hot dogs at a park or go all out and hire a DJ and rent inflatables.

11. Photo booth fun

Hire a company to set it up for a few hours one day. Post the pictures in the office and let them take home a keepsake. If it’s too expensive to hire a professional, DIY with a backdrop, fun props, and instant cameras.

12. Brag buttons

It might sound cheesy, but it’s pretty cheap to design a button with your company logo and keep them on hand so when you catch an employee being outstanding, they can wear it as a reminder of how awesome they are.

13. Birthday treats

Everyone should feel special on the day of their birth, so make sure you at least give them cards. If someone has to work on their birthday, give them a cupcake or candy bar too!


14. Break coupons

While it may not be feasible to give everyone extra vacation days, you could easily give them coupons for a 15-minute break that they can redeem at their leisure.

Although we’ve provided some fantastic ideas, you could also get feedback from your employees. Create a survey or poll to find out what they would enjoy. Their input will help you understand their preferences. Employee appreciation is a win/win for everyone.

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