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14 Creative Ways to Show Employees You're Thankful For Them

November 22, 2019 | By 20/20 Onsite
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The holidays are almost here, making it the perfect time to do a little something extra for employees to show you’re thankful for them. It’s easy to get lost in the day-to-day happenings at work, but it’s important to take time to recognize the hard work of your team. After all, you spend most of your time with them! This will ultimately boost employee health and well-being, which in turn boosts employee productivity. In fact, according to the Aon 2018 Trends in Global Employee Engagement survey, rewards and recognition are considered the strongest drivers of employee engagement.

With this in mind, we’ve developed a list of 14 creative ways to show employees you appreciate them.

1. Plan a fun team activity outside of the office 

According to research, 27 percent of employees who plan to leave their employer within the first year cite feeling “disconnected” to their organization. Additionally, 86 percent of employees and executives cite lack of collaboration or ineffective communication for workplace failures. A great way to re-engage employees and foster collaboration and camaraderie is to get them outside the walls of the office. Do some research in your area to determine a fun activity for employees that will allow them to engage with one another in a less formal setting. Some ideas including bowling, axe throwing, a cooking class, or Escape the Room.

2. Create hand-written thank-you notes 

The art of hand-writing is not dead! Nothing says thank you quite like a hand-written, personalized note. Be sure to include a unique reason why you’re thankful for each employee. They will appreciate your thoughtfulness and effort! In fact, a study promoted in Psychology Today showed that expressing gratitude in a handwritten note boosts positive emotions and well-being for both the letter-writing “expresser” and the recipient.


3. Host catered lunches 

It may sound trite, but the research  from ZeroCater is compelling:

  • 60 percent of employees listed office food as one of the top three office perks. 
  • Over 50 percent of employees said it was very important or extremely important that their company provide office meals.
  • 90 percent of employers say that office meals and snacks help their employees build strong internal relationships.

Conduct a survey to determine what kind of food employees would like to see catered. This is an effective way to encourage employees to actually take their lunch break and engage with one another (while helping them save them money on food!). 

4. Reward employees with gift-cards

Are any of your employees big coffee drinkers? Do any of them have a favorite lunch spot? Do a little digging to find out what your employees like, and purchase gift cards that match their interests. Examples include gift-cards to Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts, Amazon, the grocery store, or a local restaurant. 


5. Give them the gift of wellness

Help employees stay healthy by allowing them to expense a workout class of their choice (something beyond the usual gym membership for which you may already pay). You can also consider bringing wellness onsite via a health coach or specialist. According to a HealthFitness survey, almost 75 percent of employees said personalization was important in their employee wellness program, and can come from knowledgeable experts, such as credible coaches and specialists. This will help empower employees to take control of their own health. 

Another idea is eye care at work! 2020 On-site brings eye exams and eyewear directly to employees at work in Boston, Chicago, and Atlanta. You’d gift them with good eye health AND save them time, all at once!

6. Help them grow professionally 

According to LinkedIn’s 2019 Workforce Learning Report, 94 percent of employees would stay at a company longer if it invested in helping them learn. In the New Year, set aside a specific budget to help employees better themselves. Empower them to identify areas in which they’d like to grow and invest in classes, webinars, conferences, and trainings to enable that growth.

7. Create a social media campaign to recognize employees 

Take your appreciation external! Create a social media campaign on your company channels to showcase each employee and write about the unique traits and contributions each employee makes to the success of your organization. This is also a great way to demonstrate a positive company culture to prospective job candidates or clients. 


8. Designate an employee of the month 

Do you have a monthly town hall meeting at your company? Leverage these meetings as an opportunity to recognize one employee per month. Have employees nominate team members they feel deserve to be recognized. Reward the winner with some sort of prize, like a gift card or even cash!

9. Survey your staff for something they’d like to see in the new year

Distribute a survey to employees, asking them what they’d like to see in the office in the New Year to make them feel more motivated and engaged in the workplace. This could be catered lunches, onsite yoga or wellness activities, professional development, or team bonding. By collecting feedback directly from employees, you’ll empower them to have a voice.

10. Celebrate work anniversaries 

Do your research and create a list of work anniversaries. Purchase decorations that can be used to decorate each employee’s desk on the day of their work anniversary, and gift them with some sort of treat! 


11. Start a mentor program 

Creating a mentor program is beneficial for three reasons. First, it engages new or entry-level employees and supports them in their professional growth. According to research, 76 percent of individuals  in a mentor program view their mentoring relationship as being important to their overall success. 

Second, it empowers senior-level team members at your organization with a leadership opportunity. Third, mentor programs boost retention.  Research shows that retention rates are higher for both mentees (22 percent more) and mentors (20 percent more) than for employees who did not participate in a mentoring program.


12. Organize volunteer opportunities 

In a study done in the UK, one of the highest ranking factors contributing to workplace happiness was feeling connected to a purpose. Additionally, 54 percent of employees  say a strong sense of community kept them at a company longer. One way to create shared purpose and community in your organization is by volunteering. This enables camaraderie and fosters teamwork.

13. Host quarterly lunch & learns 

Lunch and learns are an effective way to enhance professional development in an informal, fun way. Survey your staff in advance for topic ideas, and take a look at our checklist here for everything you need to know to run a successful lunch and learn - one that doesn’t put employees to sleep!

14. Run a raffle during the holidays 

Create a raffle event, where proceeds are donated to a local charity. Survey employees to see what kind of prizes they’d like to see, such as a sporting event, tickets to a concert, a show, restaurant gift-cards, etc. 

As we approach the end of the year, employees will likely face added stress as they work to wrap up projects and plan for the New Year. These simple acts of kindness will show them you care and give them the extra motivation they need to have a strong finish to 2019. Be the hero!

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Show how much you appreciate your employees by giving them the gift of On-site eye care - at no cost to you! Contact us to find out how! 


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