15 Best Employee Appreciation Ideas to Boost Employee Engagement

March 5, 2021

Is Employee Appreciation Day coming up in the next couple of weeks? If you are in need of fresh ideas to really perk up this year’s round of employee gifting, look no further than this list for a great selection that is sure to boost employee engagement in your company.

Characteristics of Great Employee Engagement Ideas for Gifts

Employee gifts become worth the expense when they are able to motivate your staff and allow them to feel exactly how much you appreciate them, especially if they:

- Are useful in daily life. Your employee engagement program should as much as possible include all useful items for them to become an important part of anybody’s daily life.

- Are of high quality. They should be made of the best materials and are well-designed, even if they are small ticket items.

- Promote employee wellness. Not everyone wants to be reminded of work, so items that fit perfectly in one’s personal life like personal care products or products that encourage relaxation are great in restoring the delicate balance of professional and personal life.

Staff Engagement Ideas for Gifts: 15 Great Options to Try

Here are fifteen themed sets that you can consider gifting your employees with. Each one has been carefully curated to dispense a good amount of cheer and comfort to the hardworking people who work for your company:

1. Send a Relax and Rejuvenate Set

Relax and Rejuvenate Set

Hardworking employees truly deserve to be rewarded, and this selection will make them feel that their excellent performance is always appreciated at work. When it comes to easy employee engagement ideas, a pampering set is always a sure winner – especially if you have something for each of the senses. At the end of a productive work day, it’s always a good feeling to know that an at-home relaxing and rejuvenating me-time is always at the ready.

2. Do a Swag Drop

Swag Drop

One of the best employee appreciation ideas for large companies is a swag drop. Customized company swag is always a hit, and because you can do this on a number of useful, everyday items you know it will fit some form of need or function in the daily lives of your employees.

3. Virtual Team Workout

Virtual Team Workout

Working out and wellness has certainly been on a lot of people’s minds thanks to this pandemic, so it’s a good idea to send over a box of workout and wellness goodies to complement the next Employee Appreciation Day 2021. Actionable employee engagement ideas have become more important in these times, so organizing an activity like a virtual workout is a great way to stay in touch, foster stronger ties with your team, and help communicate your desire to keep them healthy and active – all in a remote setting.

4. Spend a Day Outside

'Go Outside' Set

If you are looking for fresh ideas to improve workplace efficiency, the answer is to gently nudge your employees towards nature with the right gift items. If your employee is on a work from home setup, this collection is a great example of virtual employee appreciation ideas. It’s got everything that one needs for a nice, outdoor hike and a picnic – two healthy practices that help soothe a frazzled worker’s mind after being cooped up at home for hours on end.

5. Host a Virtual Game Day or Night

Host a Virtual Game Day or Night

This selection makes for perfect employee appreciation gift baskets and complements a whole host of remote employee engagement activities. This is all about taking time off to have a good time with peers in the spirit of friendly competition, great sounds, and yummy drinks!

6. Make a Custom Puzzle

Custom Puzzle

Employee engagement activities can be effective even if engagement is just for a few minutes. If you are in need of employee appreciation gifts under $5, custom puzzles are great because they are very economical yet helpful as a ‘brain break’. Nothing beats the satisfaction of adding the last piece to complete a jigsaw puzzle, and completing it over a stretch of days or even weeks is a great way to take a five to ten minute break from work.

7. Send a Sweets Snack Box

Snack Box

If you need to produce employee appreciation gifts in bulk or have a budget for employee appreciation gifts under $10, a sweet snack collection is a great idea. It’s a thoughtful perk-me-up that your employees can share with friends and family (or fully enjoyed alone!) that shows you care – even at a budget.

8. Host a Dalgona Coffee Tutorial

Dalgona Coffee Set

There’s just something so thrilling about whipping up a glass of Dalgona coffee, so this set is nice to send out on the next Employee Appreciation Day. Here is a quarantine trend that has endured and has made fans even out of non-coffee drinkers. You can even send this out anytime throughout the year and host creative contests to go with it. For example, it makes for a great Halloween employee appreciation idea where you can encourage staff to participate in a Halloween-themed Dalgona coffee art contest!

9. Host a Matcha Tea Tutorial

Matcha Tea Set

Introduce the gift of Zen-in-a-cup with a delightful matcha kit, which is a great way to promote relaxation in a pinch. If you are looking for unique employee appreciation gifts, this matcha kit will certainly fit the bill – and is guaranteed to have lots of new fans.

10. Send a Book

Send a Book

A great book makes for a great gift – whether on its own or as part of employee appreciation gift baskets. If you’re stuck on the kind of book to accompany a greeting card with employee appreciation words, you can look at best-selling titles that are more or less aligned with what that employee does or is interested in.

11. Send a Savory Snack Box

Kitchen Essentials

In need of more employee appreciation ideas for large companies or mass distribution? A small set of kitchen pantry staples should do the trick. They’re nice to fix up for a quick snack or a fine appetizer before a fancy at-home dinner. Plus, it’s certainly more attractive (and therefore more leveled up) than a box of safe but boring grocery staples.

12. Send a Gift Card

Send a Gift Card

A gift card is perhaps the safest and most effective staff appreciation idea during COVID – because you can give your employee the freedom to choose what they want or need. Gift cards are well-appreciated by virtually everyone because they also don’t have expiry dates, so they can conveniently keep this on hand until they spot something they want or need to buy with it.

13. Virtual Team Lunch (Give $20 for DoorDash or UberEats)

A virtual team lunch is becoming a common practice these days, which is why a gift card to UberEats or DoorDash is an easy way to communicate your appreciation to your team. Organize a team lunch and have everyone’s delicious hot meal at their doorstep at the same time, and you can easily convey the feeling of togetherness even over a video chat.

14. Make a donation on their behalf

Doing good and passing the buck has never been more important than now, with so many people affected by the pandemic. If your company is blessed to still be thriving in these challenging times, a donation in the name of your individual employees is a good way to do good without them lifting a finger to get it done.

15. Send a Foot Massager

Foot Massager

The next best thing to sponsoring your employees’ monthly pampering session is to gift them with a foot massager that they can use to their heart’s content. The best employee appreciation ideas for gifts should always include items that will encourage self-care to promote a sound body and sound mind, and this foot massager is a good example of that.

These fifteen ideas are great to pick through over the course of the year. You can choose certain sets that you feel will be very much appreciated by a certain department or team, to make it more personalized!

Office Culture Ideas that Promote Employee Engagement

Team engagement activities should be implemented all year round to keep the team spirit and individual motivation at a consistent high. Here are some examples that you can take notes from:

1. Have a game night. There are different types of employee engagement activities, but one that is a big hit with most is game night. Friendly rounds of ping pong, a board game night competition – fun activities that aren’t hard to set up should do the trick and make for fun employee engagement activities!

2. Host a group yoga or Pilates class. When it comes to virtual employee engagement ideas, this is always tops  because everyone can join in even in the comforts of their own homes. A session or two should do the trick and equip your employees with enough stress-busting moves that they can do any time!

3. Do a group guided painting session. Employee engagement activities in companies can be artistic – even if some of your staff have never touched a paintbrush in their lives. Guided painting sessions are great for both beginners and hobbyists because you have an artist to walk everyone throughout each step. Plus, it’s fun to see how varied everyone’s finished work looks when the session comes to a close! 

4. Invite a professional motivational speaker. Innovative employee engagement ideas now include investing in unlocking their potential and allowing them to see outside the box – which is something a professional motivational speaker can do. This is a real treat for them, and the lessons they will glean from it will last them for a lifetime.

There are more free employee appreciation ideas out there, but these four are great starters. You can do one for every quarter of the year, and then think of minor activities in between.

Factoring Budget for Ideas to Improve Employee Engagement

The great thing about team member engagement ideas and gifts is that they can work across a variety of budgets and still make the right impact. In fact, it’s always good to have a mixture of high and low ticket items reserved for Employee Appreciation Day so you can have employees work their way up to higher tier items. The key is to keep items useful and beautiful no matter what your budget is!

Another thing to remember about employee appreciation gifts is that you should always include a personalized note with the gift item. Ideally, this note should:

- Be handwritten. Anything written by hand signifies time taken out to personally do this task. This effort will be felt by the employee/recipient.

- Be signed by the direct superior and noted by someone with a ranking higher than them. The direct superior signing the card is a good boost to the employee, because the former is a good judge of performance due to their direct working relations. Meanwhile, if the card is noted by a higher-ranking member of the company it will communicate to the employee that their performance is also recognized by the CEO, manager, or other people in top positions.

- Is specific to the performance or objective accomplished by the employee. If the note includes a line or two about why exactly your employee is receiving an appreciation gift, it will communicate the fact that their good actions are noted and are encouraged to be repeated. If they are being recognized for going beyond their sales objective by two hundred units, for example, their future performance can be consciously guided by the motivation to top their most recent progress.

Increasing Employee Engagement Ideas: Enlisting the Help of the Pros

Employee appreciation gifts will complement your team engagement activities if the material items are carefully selected – this part we cannot stress enough. If you want to make sure that each item is a good choice, you can ask for help from professional corporate gifting clients like Gemnote. Gemnote’s expertise and experience in choosing targeted and customized items for employee gifting assures clients that each gift is highly valued and delivers maximum impact. Gemnote’s selection of high quality, up-to-the-minute gift items from the best name brands means you will always be confident and feel good about the types of employee gifts that you give.

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