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24 Low Cost But Still Awesome Employee Appreciation Ideas

24 Low Cost But Still Awesome Employee Appreciation Ideas
We really do appreciate our employees. Honestly, every business owner and manager does. We couldn't do what we do without them. We wouldn't be able to service our customers or grow our businesses  without them.  But as small business owners, there is just a lot of stuff to do. Sometimes, showing appreciation to our staff isn't something we can squeeze in a jam packed day consistently.
 But weaving in small acts of gratitude can make a huge difference to your employees. Everyone likes a pat on the back- just a simple acknowledgment that they are appreciated and not taken for granted. And given what a moral boost that employees get when they feel appreciated, it is worth the time investment to plan some special activities throughout the year.
Budget can also be a factor that makes us shy away from employee appreciation activities. We often think that we have to give someone a huge bonus to show appreciation. Totally not true. Even small acts of kindness go a long way. And we'll let you in a little secret. Most employees aren't expecting grand acts. Anything with a little thought will work just fine.
 To prove that point, We've put together a list of 24 inexpensive yet awesome options to express appreciation to your employees. Of course the actual amount spent will depend on the number of employees you have. The cost estimates provided are for a team of 10-15 employees. So adjust these estimates based on your business size. But regardless of how many employees that you have, this is a great place to start with ideas for your team.

If you have $0.....

Yep, even if you have no budget, you can still do some pretty cool things to express gratitude and appreciate to your employees. Free however does not mean effortless. All of these options require some work on your part, but your employees will certainly appreciate and value the gesture. Some of the choices assume that you have access to basic office equipment and supplies that will not cause you to incur a major expense.  Let's roll up our sleeves and get into these free options.
1. Wash your employee's cars. You read that right. If you have supervisors, they can get in on the action too. This is pretty simple to set up. Just set a date. Send out an email or make flyer with the details. Then bust some suds. Your employees will love this idea. They will appreciate having a clean car without breaking a sweat. (Really though, who wouldn't like this?)

2.  Say "Thank you" + why you appreciate them.  This costs nothing but air. However, to make it valuable and meaningful, move beyond the generic "Thanks for doing a good job." Booo and two thumbs down on that. No. Give it some thought. Put some heart into it. What does this employee do that makes your business better or delights your customers? How are they exceptional? Sincerely think about that then tell them. Verbal and genuine praise will go a long way. 

3. Give them a handwritten note or letter. Handwritten notes and letters have made a comeback. It means a lot when someone sits down, puts pen to paper and writes you a letter. What should you write about? Tell them how they contribute your business or specifically how they do an amazing job. Just be sincere and real. 

​4. Give them a day off. This is technically "free" because you don't have an new expense. But give an employee a day off with pay to rest, spend time with family or just do whatever they want. This is always a winner. 

5. Special parking for a designated employee.  This can be for the employee of the month or whatever you would like to call it. The selected employee can have a premium parking spot for the week, month, year, or however long you decide.

6. Send holiday greeting cards. Getting a card for the holidays always brings a smile.

If you have $10-$20.....


 7.  Bring donuts or bagels. Who doesn't love to find some breakfast goodies in the office break room? We can't think of any.

8.  Treat them to coffee. Buy a few outstanding employees a gift card to a local coffee shop. Caffeine is an exceptional way to show appreciation. Bold Bean, Vagabond and Civilized Coffee are our absolute favorite local coffee spots. Your employees who love coffee will be thrilled to enjoy a cup of coffee on the boss. And you can also do double good while supporting another local business.

​9.  Have a movie day at the office. A streaming service like Netflix or Amazon Video  and some microwave popcorn are all you need to completely goof off one afternoon and watch a movie with your team. They will enjoy the down time and some laughs.

10. Celebrate birthdays. Pick up a cake or cupcakes from your employees on their birthday and have a little celebration at the office. Instead of a cake for every individual birthday, consider celebrating all the birthdays of the month at the same time.

11. Send your employees a card + gift card or small gift.  on their service anniversary. If someone gives years of their life growing your business, a great way to thank them is on their service anniversary. 

If you have $30- $50.....


12. Lunch on you! Order some pizza and chow down with your team.

13. Entertain them.  Buy a few movie passes and gift certificates to a local movie theater and give to a deserving employee. Everyone loves going to the movies, especially for free.

14. Take your team bowling. Bowling is fun, inexpensive and makes for a great employee outing. 

15. Candy bar + soda give away. Pick up some of your team's favorite candy bars. Snickers and Twix bars have been fan favorites. Pair that with some cans of soda. Type up a cleaver notes to attach. Then personally deliver to each member of your team for a surprise treat. 

If you have $75-$100..... 

16. Pay for a magazine subscription to a publication in your industry. This shows that you care about their development.

17. Send them to a professional development conference/workshop. This is great networking and  allows them to develop their skills.

18. Buy them a book. Personally select a professional development book the employee could benefit from and include a personal note in the inside cover.

19. Take them to a sporting event. Jacksonville has lots of options for sporting events. Whether your team would like football, basketball or other sport, treating an employee to a live game is a great reward. You can choose to attend with them or give them two tickets so they take the guest of their choice.

20. Make a donation on their behalf to a charitable organization. If your employee are into community service, let the employee choose an organization for your company to support with a donation.

21. Dinner with the boss. Take a deserving employee out to dinner. 

22. Give them a plaque. Your employee will have instant bragging rights. Employees love showing off awards like this to friends and family. Plaques are great for employee of the year awards and service awards. 

23. Give them a cash bonus. No one is going to complain if you put a crisp $100 bill in their hand. 

24. Have a company picnic/potluck.  You can take care of the major things and let your employees sign up to bring side dishes. Potlucks are usually big hits with work groups and taking the festivities outside on a nice day makes it even better. You could also fire up the grill with some hamburgers and hotdogs for a fun cook out.
These are just 24 ideas to get you started with consistently showing appreciation to your employees. There are tons of ways to show appreciation. But like anything the best option is the one that you will do consistently. We'd love to know how you show appreciation to your employees. Drop  a comment and tell us all about it.

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