employee appreciation
Oct 22'

‘Tis the Season to Give Thanks: 10 Festive Ways to Appreciate Your Employees

How often does your company reward employees for their hard work and the impact they’ve achieved? If you’re among the 80% of organizations that reported having an employee recognition program, according to a recent survey by SHRM, you’re already familiar with the many benefits of rewarding and appreciating employees. 

Now that we’re in the season of Thanksgiving, you may be thinking of additional ways to show your employees your appreciation. After all, this is the month to give thanks—what better way to do that than showing your employees you care and appreciate them?

What are the different types of employee reward and recognition programs?

Social vs. monetary rewards

When thinking about new ways to reward your employees, monetary rewards may be the first type of reward that comes to mind. While monetary incentives might motivate employees, social rewards can also effectively show appreciation. Social rewards like team socials, peer-to-peer recognition, and employee awards can also make employees feel good about their work.

What is the best employee reward and recognition programs? 

While it’s hard to pick the best employee reward and recognition program, below are 10 innovative ideas to show your appreciation to your employees this Thanksgiving season. 

10 meaningful employee reward and recognition programs 

Gift exchange with a social impact spin

employee reward and recognition programs

Have you ever participated in a gift exchange, only to realize you’ll never use the random gift you received? Why not put a spin on the traditional gift exchange? Instead of buying a gift for each other, you can organize a company-wide or team-wide gift exchange where employees donate to a specific non-profit. You can also encourage employees to share why they chose that non-profit and why it’s meaningful to them.

Designate the month as a “month of gratitude”

How often do you take the time to share with each other what you’re thankful for, as a team? It’s easy to get caught up in the rush of day-to-day tasks and projects to carve out time to think about what you’re thankful for. You could organize the month of gratitude virtually via a Slack or Microsoft Teams channel, or even in person. For example, you could get employees to share one thing they’re grateful for each day, and why. This can help employees get to know one another better as well.

Give back to the community

During the Thanksgiving season, it’s important not to forget about those who need help. Your company could allocate some budget to giving back to the community through meal distribution, volunteering at a children’s hospital, and more. Find out the local non-profits near your office and pick one that aligns with your company’s values. If you have a distributed team, you could encourage employees to choose a non-profit and volunteer their time there. 

Holiday cooking competition

employee reward and recognition programs

A Thanksgiving-themed holiday cooking competition can be a fun and delicious time. This is where you find out the hidden talents of your employees! By setting aside some budget for a holiday cooking competition among your team, you can make a day activity out of it, or have a dinner party based on the dishes from the competition. What a great way to reward your employees with a fun time and good food.

Encourage employees to show appreciation to each other 

Your organization can do this in many ways. For example, you could have a Slack or Microsoft Teams channel dedicated to giving each other kudos. The messages can be short and simple, like “Just want to give Laura from our Growth Marketing team a big shoutout for being such a huge help during a recent marketing campaign. Not only did she give us valuable advice, but she also provided us with a framework to conduct more successful campaigns in the future.” Or, you could have an in-person employee appreciation board where employees write meaningful notes to one another to show each other their thanks.

Thanksgiving employee awards

Think of the Oscars, but for your organization! The event can be as grand or as simple as you want it to be. It could also be either a virtual or in-person event. First, figure out what award categories you want to have. These categories should align with your company values. Then, decide how and who will be on the panel of judges to determine who will be awarded. You can encourage employees to nominate their peers, so they recognize each other’s hard work. Your organization can decide if it wants to offer monetary awards in addition to social recognition. Although monetary rewards are not a must-have, they can be a pleasant surprise and a great incentive for employees to do their best work.

Give employees options for how they want to be rewarded 

Remember that not everyone may be solely motivated by monetary rewards. Also, if your company has a smaller budget for employee reward and recognition programs, you can lean on more creative and non-monetary ways to reward your employees. Better yet, you can create a survey to get employees to share their preferred ways to get rewarded.

For example, some employees may value having extra time off to spend on their hobbies. Other employees may appreciate being able to develop their professional skills further, so perhaps rewarding them with an extra education allowance would be a great idea. 

employee reward and recognition programs

Personalized, meaningful gifts 

Team leaders in your company could also make the effort to give employees meaningful gifts specific to their interests and life situations. For example, this Thanksgiving season, you could give all the outdoor enthusiasts in your team a gift card to a well-known outdoor store. Or, you could give the foodies a gift card to a gastronomy convention that’s coming to town.

Extra holiday time off

Who wouldn’t welcome some extra time off during the holidays to spend with their loved ones? This Thanksgiving, consider giving your employees additional time off. This can signal to employees how much you appreciate their hard work and impact in the last year. 

Host a pie-making class

employee reward and recognition programs

Pumpkin pie isn’t the only type of pie you can make during Thanksgiving—think blueberry, lemon meringue, and the list goes on. You may just discover the next great pastry chef in your team! While this may be an easier activity to conduct in person, you could also work with a local bakery to send employees all the necessary ingredients beforehand. Or, you could give employees a list of ingredients to join the class virtually and make the pies from the comfort of their own kitchen.

Employee reward and recognition programs don’t have to be complicated or expensive

No matter the size of your company or team, there’s bound to be an interesting way to reward your employees for their hard work. While it can be challenging to decide on the best way to reward your employees this Thanksgiving season, remember that the thought and effort that goes into planning an employee reward and recognition program makes all the difference. Thoughtful, personalized gifts can also make employees feel appreciated.

Looking to further leverage employee appreciation in your workplace? Contact Bucketlist or request a free demo to learn more about how you can implement a recognition platform to increase employee engagement and build better connections within your team!

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