Employee Appreciation Day is observed on the first Friday in March (this year, on March 2). And while this unofficial holiday is a good prompt, successful business owners find ways to show employees they’re appreciated all year round. That’s not only because they’re nice guys or gals, but also because it pays off: Four in five employees say they’re motivated to work harder when the boss shows appreciation for their work, according to a national survey by Glassdoor. And 75% of employees who received regular (at least monthly) recognition at work pronounce themselves happy in their jobs.


Check out these real-world ideas for inexpensive but powerful ways to show employee appreciation:


Business cards for all: “The best gift under $100 I ever gave was personalized business cards for hourly employees. This gift made them feel important, because in our society only important people have business cards.” —Larry Sternberg, Fellow, Talent Plus, Lincoln, Nebraska


Targeted comp time: “During the holiday season, allow each employee to take four or eight hours of free time. You could also award ‘Blow Off Friday’ comp time, letting people choose two Friday afternoons during the summer months to start their weekends early.” —Ken Wentworth, Wentworth Financial Partners, Columbus, Ohio


Recognition outside the box: “We have a weekly creativity challenge. Winners burn their name into a huge block of wood we have in the office.” —Fred Schebesta, CEO, Finder.com, New York, New York


The right slice: “Bring in pizzas and make sure you have their favorite pizza toppings.” —Sarah McVanel, Chief Recognition Officer, Greatness Magnified, Ontario, Canada


Mentor motivation: “Find out what an employee’s specific goals are and find a mentor for him or her. The goal does not have to correlate 100% with the job.” —Andreas Deptolla, Co-founder and CFO, Wishlist Rewards, Denver, Colorado


Buying power: “You can’t go wrong with Starbucks and Amazon gift cards. People get very excited about them.” —Stefanie Rosenfield, Co-founder, Cleveland Marketing King, Cleveland, Ohio


Personalized tokens: “I don’t have that many employees at my clinic, but they are the life of the business. This year I gave them each a notebook with their names on it and something I personally had custom-made for each of them.” —Alex Roher, M.D., San Diego Medical Spa, San Diego, California



Print this article