Employee Appreciation Day is on March 3rd, 2023. That’s in two days!
But don’t let Employee Appreciation Day be the only time you show your employees that you value their hard work and dedication. Instead, take the occasion as a reminder that appreciation is essential all year round.
There are countless ways to show your employees you appreciate them. You can offer:
- A monetary bonus
- Time off
- Career advancement opportunities
- Appreciation gifts
But what about when those types of gestures are off the table? Is there something you can give your employees that’s completely free?
Yes! Verbal appreciation. Simply telling your employees that you appreciate them is enough to make an impact. Just make sure your words are specific and sincere.
Read on for more employee appreciation ideas, as well as what not to do.
Table of Contents
- Why employee appreciation is important
- Popular ways to reward employees
- 150 examples of verbal employee appreciation
- What not to do when appreciating employees
- 14 meaningful employee appreciation quotes & sayings
Why employee appreciation is important
Employee appreciation is a place where practical and ethical concerns overlap:
Want to improve your business? Practice employee appreciation.
Want to have a positive effect on the people around you? Practice employee appreciation.
On the practical side, the main concern is retention. Keeping your current employees is cheaper than hiring new ones—and your current employees are more likely to stick around if they feel appreciated.
Then there’s the question of productivity. Studies have consistently linked employee satisfaction to increased output, with the Harvard Business Review finding that having happy or satisfied employees increases productivity by an average of 31%. Those are serious gains—and you can achieve them in part through simple demonstrations of employee appreciation.
Read “16 Inspiring Employee Retention Quotes”
On the ethical side, appreciating your employees is an integral part of professional courtesy. You expect your colleagues to treat you with respect and appreciation—and you should extend these same courtesies to your employees. By doing so, you’ll help give them the confidence they need to excel in their careers and create a positive work environment in the process.
Popular ways to reward employees
One of the best ways to show your employees you appreciate them is by giving them rewards. These tangible demonstrations of appreciation help build a culture of teamwork and employee satisfaction.
Employee appreciation gifts can take all sorts of forms. Maybe you’ll go for an extravagant display with wrapped presents and a party. Perhaps a check tucked inside an employee appreciation letter will do. Ultimately, the way you show employee appreciation will depend on the workplace culture—and, of course, those pesky budget restraints.
The key is to understand the full range of possibilities before choosing your own method of employee appreciation.
Nothing says “We appreciate you” like a fat stack of cash. Your employees have all sorts of different things going on in their lives. Some might care for small children or aging parents. Others could have ongoing medical expenses. A monetary reward will help ease their burdens, whatever those burdens may be.
There are multiple ways to give employees a monetary reward. One is the spot bonus, where you give an employee an unexpected reward in recognition for something they’ve done. Other options include holiday bonuses, bonuses matched to performance metrics, and good-old-fashioned pay raises.
You know what employees love even more than recognition? Recognition that comes with a chance at career advancement. When you show employees that you’re invested in their careers, they’re more likely to remain with the company. As always, loyalty is a two-way street.
Career advancement as a reward can take several forms. One option is to simply offer someone a shot at a higher position after they’ve performed strongly. Another possibility is to provide training and development opportunities so that your employees know they can upskill on the job.
Whichever route you take, what matters is that employees sense you’re helping them meet their full potential.
Even when employees love their jobs, they appreciate the chance to take a break. Paid time off (PTO) lets workers travel, connect with their families, or simply take some time to relax—without making a dent in their paychecks. Giving your employees this luxury shows them that you know they’re human beings—not mere workers.
Of course, PTO is only helpful if employees feel they can actually use it. This is where leadership and culture come in. By creating an environment where taking time off is expected and normal—and modeling that behavior yourself—you can give workers “permission” to use the PTO at their disposal.
DIY employee appreciation gifts
They say “it’s the thought that counts”—and while that phrase is often used for gifts between friends or relatives, it can apply to employee appreciation gifts, too. Sometimes, the budget for monetary rewards simply isn’t there. That can be frustrating, but it doesn’t mean you can’t find inexpensive ways to show your appreciation.
What DIY gifts lack in monetary value, they make up for with genuine thoughtfulness. You don’t have to be a crafting wizard to create meaningful gifts. You just have to do enough to show you really care.
DIY employee gift ideas include:
- Travel kits with hand sanitizer, headphones, and other supplies
- Self-care kits with lotions and creams
- Employee appreciation cards with personal messages
- Assorted candy in a jar, coffee mug, or other reusable container
- Desk organizers stocked with pens, sharpies, and other office essentials
Pro tip: Decide what you’ll need for your DIY gifts, then buy in bulk. This will save you some serious money—which is especially important if you’re buying these gifts on your own dime.
Ah, food. Is there any more classic way to show appreciation?
There are countless methods for incorporating food into your employee rewards program. You can surprise workers with a delicious “dessert bar” at the end of a long day. You can buy them gift cards so they can enjoy special meals with their friends and families. You can even pair a catered meal with a talk from an industry insider or an expert in the trade—combining your employees’ love of food with their desire for professional development opportunities.
Other types of rewards
The best leaders get creative when it comes to showing employee appreciation. You could combine the previously mentioned strategies in all sorts of interesting ways—or you could come up with something new altogether.
All that matters is that you’re giving your employees the recognition they deserve.
150 examples of verbal employee appreciation
Relationships aren’t built with grand gestures. They’re built day-to-day. When you make recognition a habit, you remind your employees constantly that you’re noticing them—and that you value the hard worth they do.
Being a leader is often about saying the right things at the right moments. Here are 150 examples of verbal recognition for:
- General appreciation
- Recognizing employees who support the team
- Appreciating coworkers
- Praising people with a special niche
“Thank you” isn’t the only way to show gratitude—although it’s certainly a good start.
Here are some other phrases to consider:
- “Great job! Keep it up.”
- “You’re doing an amazing job.”
- “I’m impressed by the work you’re doing.”
- “Keep up the fantastic work!”
- “You have a fantastic work ethic!”
- “I see your hard work and it’s paying off for you and our team.”
- “Thank you for your hard work.”
- “I really appreciate your dedication to this project.”
- “Your contributions have not gone unnoticed.”
- “I value your input and ideas.”
- “Your efforts have made a significant impact.”
- “You have consistently exceeded my expectations.”
- “Your attention to detail is impressive.”
- “I appreciate your willingness to go above and beyond.”
- “You have a strong work ethic and it shows in your performance.”
- “I’m grateful for your commitment to excellence.”
- “Your positive attitude is contagious.”
- “I appreciate your flexibility and adaptability.”
- “You’re a valuable member of this team.”
- “Your contributions are greatly appreciated.”
- “I’m grateful for your reliable and consistent work.”
- “Your attention to customer service is outstanding.”
- “I appreciate how you consistently get your work done ahead of schedule.”
- “Your problem-solving skills are impressive.”
- “I value your creativity and innovation.”
- “Your teamwork and collaboration are crucial to our success.”
- “I appreciate your professionalism and dependability.”
- “Your enthusiasm for your work improves our entire workplace.”
- “You inspire all of us with your can-do spirit.”
- “You have consistently demonstrated a strong work ethic.”
- “Your attention to detail is impeccable.”
- “I appreciate your courage and willingness to take on new challenges.”
- “Your contributions to this company are invaluable.”
- “I’m grateful for your commitment to the team.”
- “Your customer service skills are top-notch.”
- “I value your input and appreciate your proactive approach to work.”
As part of the team
Praising individual success is important, but it’s just as vital to highlight when employees act as team players. Almost all workplaces involve collaboration—which means balanced relationships are key.
You can use these phrases to praise employees who contribute to a collaborative working environment:
- “Your hard work and dedication make you an asset to the team.”
- “Your contributions have significantly impacted the success of our team.”
- “Your positive attitude and enthusiasm are contagious and inspire the team.”
- “Your expertise and knowledge have been invaluable to the team.”
- “Your ability to problem-solve and think critically has helped us overcome challenges.”
- “Your attention to detail and accuracy are essential to the team’s success.”
- “Your creativity and innovation bring fresh ideas to the table.”
- “Your teamwork and collaboration skills have helped us work effectively as a team.”
- “Your willingness to take on new tasks and challenges has helped the team grow and improve.”
- “Your strong work ethic and reliability make you an asset to the team.”
- “Your positive attitude and can-do spirit inspire the team to give their best effort.”
- “Your ability to adapt and be flexible has helped the team navigate change.”
- “Your customer service skills have helped us maintain strong relationships with our clients.”
- “Your commitment to excellence sets a high standard for the team.”
- “Your leadership and guidance have helped the team stay on track and reach our goals.”
- “Your ability to communicate effectively has helped us work cohesively as a team.”
- “Your dependability and reliability make you an invaluable member of the team.”
- “Your professionalism and dedication to the team’s success are greatly appreciated.”
- “Your ability to take on multiple tasks and prioritize effectively has been a valuable asset to the team.”
- “Your positive and approachable demeanor has helped create a positive team culture.”
- “Your technical skills and expertise have helped the team navigate complex tasks.”
- “Your attention to detail and thoroughness have helped us produce high-quality work.”
- “Your ability to work efficiently and meet deadlines has been crucial to the team’s success.”
- “Your teamwork and collaboration skills have helped us achieve our goals.”
- “Your proactive approach to work and willingness to take initiative have been valuable assets to the team.”
- “Your strong communication skills have helped us maintain open lines of communication and stay on the same page.”
- “Your positive attitude and helpful nature have made you an integral part of the team.”
- “Your ability to build relationships and work well with others has been crucial to the team’s success.”
- “Your attention to customer service and satisfaction has helped us maintain strong relationships with our clients.”
- “Your dedication to continuous improvement and learning has helped the team stay at the forefront of our industry.”
- “Your passion for your work and the team’s mission is contagious and inspires others.”
- “Your ability to stay organized and manage your time effectively has been a valuable asset to the team.”
- “Your leadership and guidance have helped the team navigate complex projects and challenges.”
- “Your ability to think outside the box and come up with creative solutions has been a valuable asset to the team.”
- “Your dedication to the team’s success and willingness to go above and beyond make you an invaluable member.”
- “Your enthusiasm and energy bring a positive energy to the team.”
- “Your expertise and knowledge in your field have been crucial to the team’s success.”
- “Your professionalism and attention to detail have helped the team produce high-quality work.”
As a coworker
Appreciation shouldn’t only flow downward from managers/supervisors to employees. Colleagues and teammates can also recognize the hard work they do for each other.
Along with “thank you,” here are some phrases worth using:
- “It’s a pleasure to work with you.”
- “I really enjoy working with you.”
- “I appreciate your positive attitude and enthusiasm.”
- “I enjoy your sense of humor because it makes work more enjoyable.”
- “I appreciate your willingness to help out and collaborate.”
- “Your professionalism and dedication to your work inspire me.”
- “I appreciate your honesty and transparency as a coworker.”
- “I enjoy your positive and approachable demeanor.”
- “Your knowledge and expertise are valuable assets to the team.”
- “I appreciate your ability to think critically and problem-solve.”
- “Your sense of humor and positivity make work more enjoyable.”
- “I appreciate your honesty and direct communication style.”
- “I enjoy your willingness to take on new challenges and tasks.”
- “Your attention to detail and thoroughness inspire me.”
- “I appreciate your commitment to excellence and continuous improvement.”
- “I enjoy your teamwork and collaboration skills.”
- “I appreciate that you’re a true team player.”
- “I appreciate your ability to work efficiently and meet deadlines.”
- “Your professionalism and dependability inspire me.”
- “I enjoy your creativity and innovative ideas.”
- “I appreciate your strong communication skills and ability to effectively convey ideas.”
- “Your positive attitude and can-do spirit inspire me.”
- “I appreciate your flexibility and adaptability as a coworker.”
- “I enjoy your sense of humor and ability to lighten the mood.”
- “I appreciate your willingness to lend a helping hand and support the team.”
- “Your enthusiasm and energy make work more enjoyable.”
- “I appreciate your dedication to customer service and satisfaction.”
- “I enjoy your leadership and guidance as a coworker.”
- “I appreciate your reliability and consistency in your work.”
- “Your helpful nature makes work less stressful and more enjoyable.”
- “I appreciate your technical skills and expertise.”
- “I enjoy your approachable and friendly demeanor.”
- “I appreciate your ability to work well under pressure and handle multiple tasks.”
- “Your dedication to continuous learning and improvement inspires me.”
- “I enjoy your passion for your work and the team’s mission.”
- “I appreciate your ability to stay organized and manage your time effectively.”
- “Your creativity and innovative ideas make work more enjoyable.”
- “I appreciate your willingness to take initiative and lead projects.”
- “I appreciate your ability to lift the people around you.”
- “I appreciate your strong work ethic and dedication to the team’s success.”
Read “27 Best Employee Break Room Ideas”
Appreciation for someone’s niche skills
Every one of your employees is talented in their own way. As a leader, it’s your job to recognize what makes them unique—then praise them accordingly.
Using these phrases can show employees that you appreciate what makes them special:
- “Your specialized skills and expertise are invaluable to the team.”
- “I appreciate your in-depth knowledge and understanding of your niche.”
- “Your niche skills have made a significant impact on our projects and success.”
- “I’m grateful for your ability to bring fresh and innovative perspectives to the table.”
- “Your specialized skills have helped us navigate complex tasks and challenges.”
- “I appreciate your commitment to staying up-to-date and continuously learning in your niche.”
- “Your niche skills have helped us produce high-quality work.”
- “I’m grateful for your ability to think critically and problem-solve in your area of expertise.”
- “Your specialized skills have helped us stand out in our industry.”
- “I appreciate your willingness to share your knowledge and expertise with the team.”
- “Your niche skills have made you a true difference-maker for our team.”
- “I’m grateful for your ability to bring unique and valuable perspectives to the table.”
- “Your specialized skills have helped us stay at the forefront of our industry.”
- “I appreciate your dedication to staying up to date with the latest techniques and best practices in your niche.”
- “Your niche skills have helped us achieve our goals and succeed as a team.”
- “I’m grateful for your ability to think outside the box and come up with creative solutions in your area of expertise.”
- “Your specialized skills make you an important piece of the puzzle for your business.”
- “I appreciate how your perspective helps identify potential problems.”
- “Your niche skills have helped us produce high-quality and innovative work.”
- “I’m grateful for your ability to apply your specialized skills to a variety of tasks and projects.”
- “Your niche skills have helped us stand out in a competitive market.”
- “I appreciate how you take the time to explain your expertise.”
- “Your unique perspective has helped us solve problems that would have otherwise been left unsolved.”
- “I’m grateful for your willingness to take the lead on issues related to your niche.”
- “Your niche skills have helped us navigate complex challenges and tasks.”
- “I appreciate your dedication to continuous learning and improvement in your area of expertise.”
- “Your specialized skills help everyone around you be better.”
- “I’m grateful for your willingness to exchange knowledge with your teammates.”
- “Your niche skills have helped us stay ahead of the curve.”
- “I appreciate your willingness to sometimes work outside your niche.”
- “Your specialized skills have been a true X-factor for us.”
- “I’m grateful for your ability to bring expert ideas to the table.”
- “Your niche skills have given our work a unique twist.”
- “I appreciate the time and energy you’ve put into mastering your skills.”
- “Your specialized skills have been an essential ingredient in our success.”
- “I appreciate that you’re constantly improving, even in areas where you already excel.”
What not to do when appreciating your employees
Not all displays of appreciation were created equal. In fact, you can seriously damage your relationship with employees if you fail to show your appreciation correctly.
Here are some common mistakes to avoid:
- Failing to recognize grit, determination, and effort. Don’t focus only on achievement!
- Keeping appreciation private. This prevents employees from getting the peer recognition they deserve.
- Not asking for feedback on your recognition program. This means bad practices are repeated.
- Using only vague generalizations. Employees will doubt your sincerity.
14 meaningful employee appreciation quotes & sayings
As a leader, you should constantly reflect on your strategies for maintaining engagement and employee satisfaction.
Here are some sayings to inspire you in your work:
- “Always treat your employees exactly as you want them to treat your best customers.”
- “Brains, like hearts, go where they are appreciated.”
- “To win in the marketplace you must first win in the workplace.”
- “An employee’s motivation is a direct result of the sum of interactions with his or her manager.”
- “People work for money but go the extra mile for recognition, praise, and rewards.”
- “Recognition is not a scarce resource. You can’t use it up or run out of it.”
- “If you don’t create a great, rewarding place for people to work, they won’t do great work”
- “Treat your employees like an investment, not a cost.”
- “When people are financially invested, they want a return. When people are emotionally invested, they want to contribute.”
- “The way your employees feel is the way your customers feel. And if your employees don’t feel valued, neither will your customers.”
- “Clients do not come first. Employees come first. If you take care of the employees, they’ll take care of the clients.”
- “It’s very inexpensive to give a compliment.”
- “Keep your eyes open and try to catch people in your company doing something right, then praise them for it.”
- “Research indicates that employees have three prime needs: Interesting work, recognition for doing a good job, and being let in on things that are going on in the company.”
Morale is an essential factor in any team-based environment. From the warehouse to the football field, from the restaurant floor to the office, the success of a team depends on how people are feeling.
High morale doesn’t create itself. It’s on you as a leader to build it—one show of appreciation at a time.
About the Author: Ben Clabault is a freelance writer from Sandwich, Massachusetts. He has spent much of his adult life traveling through Latin America. He currently lives with his fiance in Santiago Atitlan, Guatemala. His areas of expertise include travel, marketing, SaaS, and global cultures. You can find his work on Copyfolio and reach out to him on LinkedIn.