10 Super Inexpensive Ways to Recognize Your Team

Here are ten fun, creative, and inexpensive staff appreciation and employee recognition ideas that you can put in place with minimal up front cost or effort.

1. Reward the Whole Team

Studies show that rewarding an entire team builds everyone’s performance. So even if you have a top performer, make sure your staff appreciation is tied to the team’s goals. Send a nice card with a box of brownies or a Starbucks card to everyone on the team for no reason other than to say you appreciate them.

2. Make it About More Than Work

Publicly acknowledge others’ personal accomplishments. Did Amy’s organic garden get a bumper year? Did Charlie have a personal best in the half-marathon? Or did Ed win a dance contest? Even if it’s just pointing them out in a social media post, your team will appreciate your recognition of their personal accomplishments.

Bonus Idea: Make it a team sport and create a (virtual or real) Bulletin Board. Employees may want to connect outside work, too. They should have a place to recruit for their ultimate Frisbee team, advertise their dog sitting service, or let people know they have a room for rent. Setting up a place for them to connect outside work shows that you care about more than just their on-the-job selves.

3. Thank You Calls

Ask supervisors or upline to bring employees into their office for a thank you. Most employees hear from their supervisors when something’s wrong or for periodic encouragement. They will be especially pleased to receive honest, positive feedback for no reason.

4. Suggestion Box on Steroids

That good old’ suggestion box? It’s a great start – but you can take it further with company-wide surveys. Everyone wants to have impact. So, show them that their opinions and ideas are taken seriously – and you’ll see a boost in engagement.

5. Invest in Professional Development

Even if you can’t pay for classes – you can still support your team’s professional development. Free online courses, mentorship from executives, and giving them the chance to lead a project all encourage their growth.

6. Celebration Calendar

Posted on the wall or sent out online, it pays to mark important dates. Celebrate team members’ birthdays and sign up anniversaries.

7. Build Connections Between Staff and Upper Management

With or without day-to-day interaction, team members like to feel that they know upper management. Think about using a new member lunch or online hangout with the CEO or upline to build connections across your organization’s hierarchy.

8. Use Thoughtful Praise

For recognition – the thought often counts more than the money. If someone loves hiking, for example, maybe you’ll write your thanks on a guide to local trails. Or you can Photoshop a million-dollar bill with the employee’s face on it, as a way of saying, “Thanks a Million.”

9. Write a Letter

Here’s a simple, free, influential method for recognizing your team members: personal letters. Write a letter explaining in detail why a particular team member deserves praise. Deliver a copy to the employee and their manager(s).

10. Don’t Just Recognize the Exception

Often, people get recognized for that one time they go above and beyond. But what about the folks who consistently do their job well? Encourage consistency by recognizing team members for the day-to-day challenge of doing their job well—after all, it’s not easy to find good team members.

Effective recognition doesn’t have to be expensive. Use these tips to make staff appreciation a regular part of your work life.

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