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Employee Appreciation Gifts: 15 Impactful Ways to Show Your Gratitude

February 18, 2019 | By 2020 On-site Optometry
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An appreciated employee is a happy and productive employee. Countless studies show that employees experience greater job satisfaction and motivation when they feel a sense of gratitude from their managers.

The question is: How can you show your employees that you appreciate them in meaningful ways?

With "Employee Appreciation Day" around the corner (the first Friday of March), we've compiled a list of 15 impactful Employee Appreciation Gifts that you can show your team exactly how much they mean to you. But first, let's dive deeper into why maintaining an attitude of gratitude is essential to the success of your team.

employee appreciation day

In Praise of Gratitude: Proof that Saying "Thank You" Pays Dividends

Several years ago, Wharton School researchers tested the power of saying "thank you" and expressing gratitude to employees. They split a team of university fundraisers into two groups. Researchers left the first group to continue asking for donations like normal. The second group received a motivational talk from the director of annual giving.

The director told the fundraisers she was grateful for everything they did. Then, something magical happened. Throughout the following week, the fundraisers who received the message of gratitude earned 50 percent more than the ones who didn't.

happy employees

Another study by TimeJobs.com found that over 35 percent of employees feel a "lack of recognition" is their biggest roadblock to productivity. Respondents agreed that recognition and rewards for achievement boosted their morale while skyrocketing productivity.

Want more proof? These academic studies show that giving gratitude to employees achieves the following:

15 Ways to Show Employees That You Care

Employee Appreciation Day is more than passing out a bunch of gift cards. Effective employee appreciation gifts deliver a message that says "thank you" in such an impactful way that your team members genuinely feel it.

No matter how you deliver the message, through a personalized note, a meaningful gift, an office party, or one of the many ideas below, the impact of saying "I appreciate you" and "I'm grateful that you're here" is the most important part of Employee Appreciation Day.

Before you say thank you: If you haven't taken the time to build a meaningful relationship with your employees, anything you do on Employee Appreciation Day will fall on deaf ears. In fact, doing something once a year is going to feel meaningless to your workers if you haven't made an effort to connect with them; it could even cause frustration.

That's why you should practice the following ideas throughout the year. After all, shouldn't every day be Employee Appreciation Day?

1. Write a Personal Thank You Note

When Doug Conant was the CEO of Campbell Soup Company, he handwrote over 30,000 thank-you notes to Campbell's employees throughout the world. According to Janice Kaplan, in the book "Gratitude Diaries," Conant's thank-you notes helped to create a valuable culture of gratitude at the company. Here's what Business Insider says about Campbell's under Conant's leadership:

"...it's worth mentioning that when Conant took the reins at Campbell Soup, the stock price was falling and it was the worst performer of all the major food companies in the world, according to Fast Company. By 2009, the company was ahead of the S&P Food Group and the S&P 500, Fast Company reported."

Such a note can be as simple as a Post-It message where your team member will see it. A handwritten thank-you card or letter will also have a tremendous impact. This is probably something your employee will save, so put some thought into it.


2. Show Appreciation Verbally

Saying nice things and complimenting team members comes naturally to some managers. Others struggle to incorporate this practice. If you notice an all-star contributor on your team, make a point of calling him or her into your office. Say you've noticed the effort, point out exactly what you noticed, and say that you really appreciate it. Choose your words carefully and make them count!

3. Create a "Mutual Appreciation Society" Note Box

Put a new kind of "suggestion box" on the wall where team members are encouraged to write notes of gratitude for their colleagues. Employees will highlight things that came to their attention and what they appreciate most about their peers. Display these notes publicly where everyone can see them, or read them aloud at an all-hands meeting.

4. Pass Around a Gratitude Trophy

Everyone loves holding a trophy that recognizes their achievements. Create a special trophy for your team members that you pass around like a "heavyweight champion belt." The trophy could be a funny emblem, a homemade object, or a legitimate trophy of achievement. The important thing is that you pass it from person to person each week to recognize something specific and amazing that made you feel grateful.

5. Make Your Gratitude Public

A wall of gratitude with pictures, notes about achievements, or a public and verbal congratulation of one person's contribution, is an excellent way to help your employees feel proud, fulfilled and appreciated.

You may want to tell your customers as well, by posting a celebratory statement about an employee on your company's Facebook account. Or, put up a bulletin board where customers or clients can see a picture of your employee and read about what he or she has achieved.

6.  Display a Visual Success Indicator 

Create a visual indicator of success. Maybe you'll set up a "thermometer" for each team that tracks how close they are to achieving their goals. Post it in the break room or somewhere else that team members congregate. Update the image regularly. Here's a tutorial for building a success indicator in Excel.

7. Give Personalized Gifts

None of your team members will complain about a $100 Amazon gift card. But it's not going to say "thank you" in a way that leaves an impact when everyone gets the same thing. A personalized gift takes more time and thought, but surprising your team members with a present that reflects their hobbies and personal interests will leave a greater impression on Employee Appreciation Day.

If you don't know your employees that well, check the resumes you have on file; it might indicate a few hobbies. If you don't know the interests of your team members, now's the time to reach out.

8. Treat Your Employees to lunch

Whether it's the entire team, or a one-on-one lunch, treating your team members to lunch may be one of the best ways to build better relationships. A group lunch will solidify your team around a non-work activity. Individual lunches create an informal space for a meaningful connection. Don't be surprised if you receive game-changing ideas during these outings.

employee lunch

9. Listen to Your Team Members and Act on What They Say

Your employees are the ones in the trenches getting their hands dirty. Listening to their ideas will show them that you recognize their skill and contribution. Consider keeping a suggestion box that management takes seriously. If an employee puts something in the box, make sure it gets noticed and act on it quickly. Talk to the employee about his or her ideas.

10. Build a Wall of Fun Photos and Update It Regularly

Every time you have a staff event or a pizza party celebration, take photos. Make sure you get a photo of everyone. Later, put the photos on a bulletin board in the break room. Repeat this process a few times a year.

11. Snacks!

It's easy to stop at Starbucks, the bagel shop or the donut shop on your way into the office. You don't have to do this every day but make a habit of treating your employees with snacks.

One study tested the effects of promising pizza at the end of the week versus cash if a team achieved its goals. Team pizza out-performed the cash team by a long-shot! Never underestimate the power of pizza when it comes to motivating your team.

12.  Make t-shirts 

Design a t-shirt that showcases the best of your team. Hire a professional and invest in quality materials so your team will want to wear them. Maybe there's an inside joke or a phrase that everyone uses at work. A t-shirt built around a theme like this will go over well with your group.

13. Invest in the careers of your team members

Gift your employees with additional training - through an online course or a seminar they attend, even if it involves travel. This is a gift that keeps on giving. Your team members will be grateful to learn valuable skills. They'll feel appreciated because you're (1) investing in them and (2) showing that you want them to stay at the company. Finally, your better-trained workforce will be more productive on the job.

14. Celebrate hiring anniversaries

Having an employee stay for a full year, in this day and age, is a cause for celebration. A Forbes article points out that 91 percent of employees don't expect to remain with their current employers for more than three years, and millennials are three times more likely to switch jobs within a year. Celebrate work anniversaries and make it a public event. If your team is small enough, treat everyone to lunch. This builds a culture that celebrates and appreciates the team members who stay with your company.

15. Trading places: Let Someone Else Sit in the Big Chair for a Day

Hold a contest where the winner gets to be the boss (for a day)! The winner gets your parking spot, follows you around to important meetings and even sits at your desk for the day. You'll trade places and sit at the winning team members desk. This won't work for all teams, but if it works for you - and you have a lot of trust with your employees - it's a fun way to show that you don't take yourself that seriously.

corner office

Happy Employee Appreciation Day From 2020 On-site

When Employee Appreciation Day comes around each year, 2020 On-site receives a lot of calls from companies wanting to do something special for their team members. We dispatch our mobile vision center to their offices, perform eye exams and offer a selection of over 300+ frames from which to choose. They're in and out in under 30 minutes. Best of all, with their sharpened vision from 2020 On-site, your team will read with greater clarity all of the thank-you notes you're about to write them!

If you'd like to surprise your employees with on-site eye care and eyewear this Employee Appreciation Day, contact 2020 On-site now.

















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