25 Employee Appreciation Ideas for Frontline Workforce

Learn 25 creative employee appreciation ideas to boost morale, show you care, and improve productivity. From nature outings to escape rooms, find the perfect way to say thank you to your frontline team.

Did you get the memo on pizza parties? Apparently, this go-to employee appreciation idea is over – and not just because some people have gone dairy- or gluten-free.

Why is employee appreciation important?

Employee appreciation lets workers know that they matter and have worth. This is a fundamental human need and one that has to be met in the workplace. When we have it, we become happier and more connected, satisfied, motivated, and productive. But this has to be meaningful and sincere. Generic pizza parties might not cut it anymore, but here are 25 employee appreciation ideas that do.

25 exciting employee appreciation ideas

1. Get them outside

Let nature soothe and restore hard working team members. The great outdoors calms us, lowers anxiety, and helps us bond. It alleviates mental fatigue and elevates our creativity, focus, and problem-solving abilities. A nature-based Employee Appreciation Day could be anything from geocaching to forest bathing or even wilderness trail expeditions.

2. Send Handwritten Notes

Add a personal touch to employee appreciation with handwritten thank-you notes. It’s a timeless gesture conveying sincerity and thoughtfulness. Handwritten notes are appropriate for all occasions and can be used alongside other staff appreciation ideas.

3. Bring in the Food Trucks

Skip the pizza party and rent a food truck! Food trucks let you explore the local food scene and switch up the usual menu, without having to worry about on-site catering arrangements or post-party cleanup.

4. Team Escape Room Challenge

Ever participated in an escape room? It’s more than just a good time. Winning requires great collaboration, creativity, and critical thinking. If you want to see how well your workforce performs when out of their element, put this employee appreciation idea on the calendar.

5. Throw a Social Impact Event

From deskless workers to pencil pushers, we all want to find meaning and purpose at work. You can align with their values with an Employee Appreciation Day where workers contribute to a specific cause – by raising awareness, fundraising, or using their skills.

6. Virtual Murder Mystery

Our next idea’s to appreciate employees working at home with a virtual murder mystery! Hosted video conferencing parties are easy ways to shake things up and help remote teammates connect and let loose.

These could be spontaneous morale-boosting sessions or a full-fledged series in an employee appreciation week.

7. Extra Time Off

Sometimes the best way to appreciate employees is by giving them a break. Time off is ideal after clearing through a heavy workload, when employees do exceptional work, or if it’s just been a while since the last holiday.

8. Sunny Day Off

You could also consider giving an impromptu day (or afternoon) off during a spot of good weather.

It’s the perfect employee appreciation idea for when the weather is finally turning warm after winter or if it’ll be sunny after a stretch of cold, rainy, or otherwise inclement weather.

9. Host a Talk or Mini-Conference

Create your own version of Talks at Google or TED Talks and invite interesting people to speak to your employees.

Industry leaders, career professionals, or inspirational speakers are prime candidates for a value-packed staff appreciation day.

10. New Employee Welcome Parties

Don’t wait too long to show employees appreciation. A new hire’s initial experience impacts their retention, engagement, and overall performance levels. And they need to know they belong, fit in, and are valued at their new workplace.

A new employee day with scheduled socializing will help them integrate.

11. Best New Hire

Consider offering a Newbie of the Month, Quarter, or Year award.

This is an effective way to help them meet onboarding objectives, keep momentum up, and reward high-performing hires.

12. Virtual Coworker Compliment Circle

Humanity has a deep-seated need for social acceptance, approval, and acknowledgment. One which even crosses into our working lives.

Give them more peer-based recognition, and you’ll see higher satisfaction, engagement, trust, happiness, and wellness levels.

13. Wellbeing Perks

Nurture and appreciate employees with fitness, wellness, and mental health perks. Wellbeing benefits are in demand and lead to better attendance, retention, productivity, motivation, satisfaction, and profitability rates.

With additional well-being benefits up for grabs, your next Employee Appreciation Day is sure to be a hit.

14. Spa Gift Certificate

Spa gift certificates are a classic employee appreciation idea. It’s easy, low maintenance, and sure to delight each lucky recipient.

Smaller certificates can be used as tokens of appreciation, such as on a work anniversary, while bigger packaged certificates are perfect for a solo employee day.

15. On-Site Massages

If the whole team deserves a good relaxation session, hire a massage therapist to come on-site for massages or reflexology treatments. Everyone will love this, whether they’re on the frontline or stuck at desks all day.

16. Guided Stretch Class

Another wellness-related employee appreciation idea is a guided stretch or relaxation session.

Bring a fitness instructor on-premises for gentle midday activity or make virtual sessions available to remote workers.

17. Break Room Goodies Poll

Is the break room or cafeteria stocked with your employees’ favorite snacks, drinks, and meal options? If it isn’t, or you aren’t sure, check in with them.

From health nuts to comfort eaters, having preferred foods at hand strongly drives satisfaction and culture.

18. Upgrade their space

Another long-lasting employee appreciation initiative is elevating their daily work experience with upgraded equipment, added tech, more ergonomic office chairs, etc.

This does double-duty as an engagement driver, since access to good resources and equipment is a basic requirement.

19. Event Tickets

Every now and then, dole out tickets for a comedy show, big upcoming game, backstage concert access, artsy immersive theater, or some premium movie seats. Give these to outstanding individuals, best-performing teams, or tenured employees.

20. Reserved Parking Spaces

If the workplace has reserved parking, see if an owner is willing to give their spot up – temporarily, of course. Temporary reserved parking is the perfect staff appreciation idea for team members who don’t get executive privileges, like frontline employees.

21. Gamification

Tie the most covetable employee appreciation rewards (like a spa day or event tickets) to points and let employees work for them. Performance metrics like work quality, efficiency, and absenteeism are good places to start.

22. Celebrate Individual Strengths

Everyone brings different personal strengths and talents to the workplace. And you can put a personal touch on employee appreciation by taking time to acknowledge and celebrate these. Look into their soft skills, behavioral traits, and habits.

E.g., one worker might be the most reliable in a crisis while another is reliable on a daily basis.

23. Team Retreat

Reward a team or unit with a retreat. This could be for leadership development, tailored towards their job function, or purely for fun. A guided wilderness excursion, meditation center retreat, wine tasting, art class, or horseback riding are a few options to consider.

24. Lunch with the boss

Feeling connected and heard is important in the workplace, especially between workers and their management or leaders. To foster stronger vertical ties and give employees a sense of being heard, let them share a meal with the boss.

This idea’s best for ambitious, high-potential employees.

25. Celebrate Work Anniversaries

Most of us celebrate anniversaries when in relationships we value. You can do the same in the workplace by sending hiring anniversary gifts.

A note or small gift card is appropriate for a shorter tenure but consider a higher-end gesture for a valuable, long-term employee.

Looking for the most impactful ways to take care of your frontline team?

Bring everyone together with an employee communication app. It’s the best way to stay connected so you can show you care, receive their input, and say “thank you” – whether or not it’s Employee Appreciation Day.

To explore your options for reaching an entire workforce, just schedule a demo with us.