Create a culture that means business™
Every business wants to attract, engage, and retain the best talent. But with employees having more choice in where and when they work than ever before, simply offering a competitive salary won’t make your organization stand out from its competitors. If you want to develop an employer brand that’s hard for job seekers to resist, start with making employee recognition a cornerstone of your company’s organizational culture.
Employee recognition gifts go beyond simple gestures of appreciation. They convey the value your business places on employees’ contributions, reinforcing team members’ sense of worth and purpose within the company. When done right, employee recognition leads to increased engagement and a deeper emotional connection to your organization.
Whether you’re simply choosing a one-off reward or building a comprehensive employee recognition program, you need to provide team members with gifts they actually want. Let’s take a look at how to make choosing the right gift simple before reviewing 15 gift ideas sure to resonate with all types of workers.
How to choose the right employee recognition gift
Thoughtful, well-chosen gifts have the power to strengthen employee engagement, boost morale, and foster a positive work culture. Conversely, poorly chosen, generic gifts only result in, at best, an indifferent shrug, wasted organizational funds, and another item gathering dust on an employee’s shelf. Thankfully, consistently delighting employees with your organization’s gifts doesn’t require tedious administration or staying up to date on every single employee’s evolving preferences and needs. Follow these straightforward tips, and quality gifts your employees appreciate are sure to follow.
Understand your people to personalize employee recognition
Personalization adds a special touch to employee appreciation gifts and shows that you value each employee as an individual. But it also requires a real understanding of what employees want. Keep your finger on the pulse of changing employee sentiment with the help of an employee engagement platform. These systems offer easy-to-use, intelligent feedback tools, like surveys and AI-driven chatbots, to deliver real time insights on employees’ preferences to management and HR. In addition to improving the quality of employee recognition, employee engagement platforms can reveal opportunities for improving other key aspects of the employee experience, like culture, belonging, and development.
Empower employees with choice
Even if you run a small shop with long-term employees you know to a tee, there will be times when you don’t have the time or ability to get the perfect gift. In many cases, it simply makes more sense to let team members choose a gift themselves. Your company can give every employee this ability with a recognition platform built on a foundation of point-based rewards.
Each employee receives a certain number of points, usually monthly, that they can then give to other employees along with messages of recognition. The recipients watch their balances grow and redeem their points for a huge array of reward options available from a global marketplace — in the case of the best solutions. This ensures that all team members can reward themselves in ways they find meaningful while keeping your recognition program easy to administer and fun to use.
Consider the occasion carefully
Take into account the purpose and occasion for giving the gift. Is it a general gesture of appreciation, a celebration of a specific achievement, or recognition for reaching a major anniversary or other milestone? Sending a modest sum of reward points might be an appropriate gift for when an employee identifies a way to improve a clunky workflow, but the same gift would fall very flat when given in recognition of 10 entire years of service.
Choose high-quality gifts
Opting for a high-quality, unique gift is a great way to make a lasting impression. Consider engraved plaques, custom-made artwork, personalized stationery, and other items that include or reflect the recipient’s name, achievements, and specific interests. This doesn’t always mean additional expense, either — a bespoke pen from a master woodcrafter may be significantly cheaper than the newest gadget or yet another celebratory trip to a local restaurant. A well-made gift conveys a sense of value and worth, demonstrating that you’ve taken time to carefully consider how to properly show appreciation to the recipient.
Stay within budget
While it might be tempting to set your organization’s budgetary limitations aside to reward truly exceptional effort by an employee, in most cases, this is a mistake. Beyond any strain on your company’s finances, other team members will likely want commensurate rewards for their own efforts, leading to expectations your organization can’t meet. Instead of opting for a bigger, one-time reward, look for more traditional ways to show appreciation, like promotions, additional benefits, or a simple bonus. A personalized gift is always a great component of recognition, but remember, it’s the thought and intention behind it that matters most, not the price tag.
15 ideas for employee recognition gifts
While the strategies above will equip your organization to practice effective recognition at scale, a few gift ideas to get the wheels of your brain turning never hurt. Here are 15 great employee recognition gifts suitable for any occasion.
1. Experiential gifts
Experiential gifts provide employees with memorable experiences and opportunities to unwind and recharge. These include everything from tickets to a favorite band’s concert, to a week in Europe, to a trip to a much-loved eatery. The most adventurous can even try experiences like hot air balloon rides, ziplining, or rock climbing. There’s not much that can compare to the enjoyment and memorability of a wonderful experience, and experiential gifts are also a great way to support a healthy work-life balance.
2. Professional development opportunities
Investing in employees’ professional growth is an excellent way to show appreciation. Covering the cost of professional conferences, workshops, and online courses allows employees to enhance their skills and broaden their knowledge, benefiting the employee and your organization. You can even adopt a learning management system (LMS) to provide personalized talent development capabilities while minimizing administrative overhead.
3. Tech gadgets and electronics
There are few employees who won’t appreciate the latest electronics. Tablets, smartphones, noise-canceling headphones, and smartwatches are just a few of the gadgets you can provide. These practical gifts appeal to tech-savvy employees and serve as practical and desirable rewards. You can even give customized tech accessories like laptop sleeves, phone cases, or wireless chargers to add a personalized touch.
4. Gift cards
Just like reward points, gift cards are a versatile and customizable option that allow employees to choose items or experiences that align with their personal preferences. Whether it’s a gift card for a favorite restaurant, a home decor store, an online shopping site, or a subscription service, gift cards offer flexibility and a sense of autonomy.
5. Personalized artwork
If the employee has a creative side, consider commissioning a piece of personalized artwork for them related to something they’re passionate about. This could be a film, athlete or sport, book, or other interest. Aiming for a sketch or digital illustration is more likely to be an appropriate and financially realistic option than opting for a painting or sculpture. And only consider this type of gift for employees you truly know well, as it can result in an awkward misfire more easily than most other suggestions here.
6. Wellness packages
Employee wellness should be a priority for every organization. Providing team members with a variety of wellness gifts helps them recharge and keeps them productive and happy over the long term. Curate wellness packages that include items like essential oils, stress balls, mindfulness journals, spa vouchers, and healthy snacks.
7. Time off or extra vacation days
Many workers fail to use all the paid time off available to them, contributing to burnout and turnover. Send a clear signal that your company wants employees to take the time they need to rest and rejuvenate by giving them the gift of additional time off. They’ll return to the office refreshed and ready to contribute.
8. Engraved plaques and trophies
Timeless and elegant, engraved plaques and trophies are perfect for recognizing significant achievements or milestones. Customize them with the employee’s name, accomplishment, and even a personal message. Combining this gift with another type of reward, especially an experience the employee has always wanted, is a great idea, as they’ll think of the amazing time they had whenever they look at the award they received.
9. Subscription services
Provide employees with subscription services like streaming platforms, fitness apps, or meal delivery kits. This gift allows them to enjoy new entertainment, maintain a healthy lifestyle, or explore new culinary experiences for weeks, months, or years. There are even plant subscription services that deliver indoor plants to employees’ homes or offices, encouraging a green and vibrant workspace. This type of gift, like the personalized artwork suggested above, is most effective when you know the recipient and their preferences especially well.
10. Creative DIY craft kits
Another gift for the creatives at your firm, DIY craft kits allow employees to explore hobbies they might otherwise never get to try, like candle making, pottery, or painting. This is a fun way to combine experiential gifts with more traditional rewards. It can lead to everything from an afternoon of fun and learning to a lifelong passion.
11. A good book
A good book, whether paperback, hardbound, or digital, is a gift like few others. If you don’t know an employee’s precise taste, select a collection of inspiring or well-regarded books and allow employees to choose one that particularly interests them.
12. Team-building activities
If the employee is an extrovert or enjoys group fun — or if you’re looking for a gift your entire team can enjoy — you can organize team-building activities like escape rooms, online games, or book clubs. These experiences promote camaraderie and help develop a sense of belonging at your company. No one enjoys being forced to participate in an activity they’d rather skip, though, so keep it strictly voluntary, and ensure you have other gift ideas ready and available for those who opt out.
13. Charitable donations or volunteering
You can make a meaningful contribution to charitable causes employees care about in many ways. Look for an employee recognition platform that lets team members donate their reward points to a variety of great charitable organizations. You can also make a charitable donation in the employee’s name to a cause they choose in their name. And time off for team members to volunteer is another option — you can even volunteer as a group if everyone is willing and passionate about the same organization or cause.
14. Personalized thank you notes
Sometimes, the simplest ways to show recognition are still the best. A well-worded, genuine message of appreciation can have a profound impact, whether delivered digitally or in the form of a handwritten thank you note. Personalize the message with specific reference to the behavior and contributions you want to recognize, and call out the positive effects their actions have had.
15. Personal development allowance
Employees truly appreciate organizations that want to help them develop as people, not just as workers. Try setting aside a budget for each employee to spend on personal development activities of their choice, from learning a new language, to rock climbing, to cooking classes. Team members will never forget the manager or organization that encouraged them to pursue their interests outside work.
Streamline and improve employee recognition gifts at your company
Employee recognition gifts are powerful tools for cultivating a positive work environment, enhancing employee engagement, and boosting productivity. By acknowledging employees’ contributions and achievements through thoughtful gifts, organizations foster a culture of appreciation and inspire employees to reach new heights. Whether it’s personalized items, experiential gifts, professional development opportunities, tech gadgets, or gift cards, the key is to choose rewards that match employees’ preferences and values.
Your organization can ensure every employee recognition gift has the potential to be a home run with the Achievers Employee Experience Platform. It combines the mobile-friendly points-based rewards marketplace and social recognition features of Achievers Recognize with the science-backed surveying, feedback, and reporting capabilities of Achievers Listen. Your people leaders will never again lack the ability to give employees something they find exceptional or dive into the data to discover how to elevate their daily work experience.
See how easy and impactful employee appreciation can be by trying a free demo of the Achievers Employee Experience Platform today.
Discover the direct connection between employee recognition and employee retentionGet The 2023 Recognition Report
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