(2022) 25 Employee Recognition Ideas to Thank Your Employees


Virtual employee appreciation has gained a lot of attention in the last 2 years due to recent global events. And that’s a good thing! According to a survey done in the US, 66% of employees said that they work harder when they feel appreciated in the office. So, the more a person is appreciated, the more likely they are to reciprocate how they feel by working harder. Win-win.

But in the last few years, showing this appreciation has been a bigger challenge as many workers now work remotely – reducing in-person contact. So trying to think of great staff appreciation ideas during COVID-19 has proved to be more of a challenge than usual to many companies.

Addressing the Virtual Miscommunication

Working from home has been a necessary, but not always easy, transition to make. And there is an increased chance for employees to feel like they aren’t being appreciated as they work virtually. There is potential for a large disconnect between employers and their staff when not communicating in person.

How can this be addressed in a time like this? Do you perhaps want to revert back to the annual once-off ‘end-of-the-year’ appreciation event? We hope not! To show your employees how valuable they are to the company, one should try to be consistent in showing one’s appreciation.

Tips for Creating a Team Recognition Program

An employee recognition program is an excellent way to build a culture of workers who enjoy what they do and strive towards success. When they know their hard work will be recognized, employees will be more eager to give 100%. With that being said, actually creating a team recognition program can be difficult. 

Let’s cover some of the best tips for creating a team recognition program that will stick, including how to improve virtual employee recognition ideas in the case of those who work from home. 

  1. Recognize employees on a consistent basis. In the fast-paced and often high-stress working world, it can be easy to push the deadlines and forget about rewards. However, it is important that your team knows they can expect recognition and thanks for their work. If the recognition happens sporadically, how can they clearly work towards it?
  2. Create a structured recognition system with clear guidelines. If you’ve ever assisted on a fundraiser, you know that there is often a clear goal in sight. Try implementing something similar for team recognition! When an employee makes a certain number of sales or brings in a certain number of clients, make it clear they can expect a reward. 
  3. Give recognition from manager to employee, but also from employee to employee. Many of the best team recognition programs leave room for compliments to come not only from the top but from those around you. An anonymous recognition form could be an excellent way to allow coworkers to give each other a shout-out for a job well done. This can also help with virtual employee appreciation. 

By creating a team recognition system that is consistent and with clear guidelines, you’ll create a culture where employees are excited to work as well as recognize others for their dedication. Your program can be adjusted for your workplace, such as including more guidelines for virtual employee recognition ideas. 

Different Types Of Employee Recognition Ideas

Most employee recognition will fall into the following categories. Use them for inspiration in your own approach to employee recognition and appreciation, both virtually and in person.

  • Virtual thank you ideas that you can immediately employ in your team recognition program.
  • Fun recognition gifts for employees that include perks and benefits that they can enjoy outside work.
  • Virtual staff appreciation ideas to implement in your remote working structure going forward.


  • Staff appreciation ideas during COVID-19 that will take the stress off from this ongoing pandemic.


  • Service awards that recognize employees who have been with the company and who do exceptional work.
  • Virtual and in-person recognition processes can help your team feel recognized and appreciated, whether in the office or at home.

Informal Virtual Thank You Ideas

1. Remote Informal Team Recognition

This type of informal team recognition idea in normal circumstances would come in the form of something like getting pizza for the whole office to celebrate an achievement. This way you could say thank you to a specific person or team for their effort and have everyone participate in celebrating the achievement.

At the moment, this type of informal celebration would not be possible as everyone is working remotely. But arrangements could be made that pizza or any other takeout favourites be delivered to everyone on a Friday afternoon and then let them have the afternoon off. Where there is a will, there is a way.

2. Recognizing Birthdays

Something small like remembering a person’s birthday is a great virtual thank you idea. It is the type of gesture that shows a person that you really do appreciate their effort in the year and the social interactions that you may have had with them.

One suggestion to show employees your appreciation for them would be to let them have the day off on their birthday to spend as they see fit. This can easily be arranged and will provide additional excitement for a person on their birthday. It could also be incorporated into a remote worker’s perks package.

3. Social Media Praise

If your company has a large social media presence, especially on a platform like LinkedIn, you could publicly thank an employee for the stellar job they did. If done on LinkedIn, you would be validating their hard work on a platform where peers from other industries can take note. 

And depending on the work done, it could be a huge boost to your employee’s professional prospects for the future. It would also show that you as a company are campaigning to showcase the talent in your company and how proud you are of them. It’s a small virtual thank you idea that goes a long way.

Fun Recognition Gifts For Employees

4. A Well-Deserved Spot Bonus

If someone has gone beyond what they were merely supposed to do and went the extra mile out of their own. Be sure to show your appreciation by recognizing the great work done by congratulating them and letting them know that you will reward them with a spot bonus accordingly.

This is definitely something that you could do for an employee who is working remotely. When others hear of it, they will also be incentivized to work harder and know that it will be well rewarded. It’s a fun recognition gift that your employees will actually value and want to work for.

5. A Small Gift for their Workspace

If you have been looking for meaningful virtual employee recognition ideas, nothing says thank you quite like a company fun recognition gift for employees. This will show the person that you took the time to arrange a personalized gift to show your appreciation. And what is great about this appreciation idea is that you can have it made and then sent to them with a delivery company.A Breath of Fresh Air

Virtual employee appreciation can extend more than just being a virtual affair. Why not arrange a reward system where employees who do well could get the chance to be rewarded with a paid excursion to a national park or other similar outdoor experience. This is a fun recognition gift for employees and helps ensure that they de-stress.

Keep in mind that the outdoor destination would preferably need to be accommodating of C-19 regulations in terms of how many people can join in. This reward idea would be best suited to things like a day hike for the employee with a friend or loved one. That will give them access to fresh air, a great experience and most of all – a safe time.

6. Snail Mail Time

You know what snail mail is, right? Do you maybe remember the feeling of getting an unexpected letter in the post? Well, it is also a great way to say thank you to an employee. It shows that you took the time to buy a card and write in it to say thank you. This is something small that people will remember as it is quite out of the ordinary.

7. Thoughtful Care Package

This is something that has been done by large companies like Unilever for new employees as a way of saying welcome to the team. The new employee would normally receive a goodie box full of useful everyday items.

This is a fantastic way to send your employees a practical but still fun recognition gift for employees to show them how much they mean to the company. The goods inside can be from a range of items like cookies, coffee, sweets and the list goes on.

8. A Mental Wellness Program

If you’re looking for virtual employee appreciation ideas, this is one that is hard to beat. The reason for that is the recent pandemic has brought up the issue of checking our mental well-being. A great way to show appreciation to your employees would be by arranging for a free mental health assessment by a professional via Zoom. This can be done in the safety of the employee’s home at a time that can suit them. This really might be the best virtual gift idea.

Service Award Ideas

9. Employee of the Month

If your company has a monthly newsletter that they send out to employees to keep them abreast of current events within the company, a great service award idea to a particular person would be to have a mention of them in the newsletter.

This is a great way to show others in the company how a person can be rewarded for doing a great job, even in a remote work situation.

10. Recurring Micro-Recognition

This might sound strange and a little underwhelming, but it is actually something that can be done quite easily by you as an employer. This service award idea is simply the act of showing small but regular acts of appreciation to employees.

It could be from a regular email thanking someone for the effort that they put into their project. It could even be a simple phone call to let the person know that they did really well. The idea behind micro-recognition is to do it often, but keep it genuine – this is very important.

11. Celebrating a Work Anniversary    

This is something that many companies don’t take note of. Some companies may remember birthdays (which is great, don’t get us wrong), but fewer still don’t acknowledge past events after celebrating it once.

Celebrating a work anniversary with an employee will definitely show them how much you care about and appreciate them. It’s all about going out of your way to show them your appreciation – even if it’s just a small bit out of your way.

12. Employee Bonuses Based On Service

As we all know, nothing manages to motivate employees quite like the possibility of earning a bonus! These bonuses do not need to be large; in fact, they can be smaller than you expect. The simple idea of a bonus based on service can be enough to motivate your team to work harder and stick around!

13. Company Swag or Merchandise 

It may not seem as exciting as other entries on this list, but company merchandise can be an excellent example of service awards ideas. What better way to reward excellent service than with customized products thanking your employees for their work? Tech supplies, clothing, and water bottles are things your employees will use everyday. 

14. Your Own Wall of Fame

We’ve covered the appeal of employee of the month, but consider creating your company’s very own wall of fame to continually recognize achievements. Top employees can be added to the wall of fame along with a description of their accomplishments. This service award idea can happen more than once a month, and stays up as long as you want!

Formal Virtual Staff Appreciation Ideas

15. Online Classes

Even if we can no longer go out like we used to, you can still show virtual employee appreciation by giving them access to free online classes. Exercise, cooking, and even field certification are good examples!

16. Free Subscriptions

Let’s face it - we are watching more television than ever before! To show virtual staff appreciation at this time, consider offering free subscriptions to streaming services as a reward for your staff.

17. Meal Deliveries 

You may not be able to take them out to lunch at the office, but meal deliveries or providing gift cards is a great virtual staff appreciation idea to let them treat themselves even outside of the office. 

18. A Surprise Break

Working from home can still be exhausting. If you’re looking to show your appreciation for the hard work of your staff, consider letting them take a half or full day break to relax!

19. Virtual Leaderboards 

Team recognition does not need to stall simply because things are virtual; leaderboards can be a great way to recognize hard-working staff and keep track of their progress. Perhaps the leaders on the board can even get prizes!

Staff Appreciation Ideas During COVID-19

20. Impromptu Appreciation Days

To make your staff feel appreciated even during Covid, try one of these virtual employee recognition ideas: random appreciation days! Without warning, turn a typical day into one for gifts and celebration to surprise and reward your staff. 

21. Share Positive Feedback

Who doesn’t love positive feedback and compliments? Consider compiling positive feedback from clients and team members to show your staff how much they are appreciated.

22. Send Care Packages

Care packages are a great socially-distanced way to appreciate your staff. Mail out care packages of food and other items for them to enjoy themselves at home.

23. Write Thank-You Notes

Virtual thank you ideas can be hard, but why not send a real thank-you note? Your employees can come home to a note thanking them and appreciating their hard work.

24. Send Out Gift Cards

Gift cards (especially ones for local business) are a great way to appreciate your staff in a Covid-safe way. They can be rewarded and spend the gift cards at their own leisure, whether that be for food, clothing, or more.

25. Stipends or Gifts for Their Home Office

Thanks to Covid, we are working from home more than ever. Show your staff that you appreciate them by giving them the ability to make their home office a little bit more comfortable with a stipend or office-warming gift.

Where To Go from Here?

If you are looking for help on how to manage a remote workforce and want to ensure that the people involved will be engaged and perform as they should. Have a look at NoHQ and you will see that there is a solution to almost any question that you could have on remote work. There you will find great advice on how to better run your company remotely – you don’t want to miss out on it.  





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