25 Fun Ways to Thank Your Team

10 min read
Jun 10, 2020

thank your employees

According to our employee engagement report, workers who receive recognition for their results rate their eagerness for reapplying to their job 32% higher than those who aren’t being thanked. 

But gratitude shouldn’t just be an occasional thing. While many employers only thank their workers during performance reviews or at the end of a sprint, people actually need daily recognition. 

For the best results, every single success should be celebrated. These wins serve as the perfect time to let your employees know how glad you are to have them on the team.

Struggling to figure out how exactly you can say thank-you to your employees? No problem, we’ve got you covered. Here are 25 ideas for employee recognition to show your employees how thankful you are.

1. Take your team out for lunch

Having everyone grab lunch together is a good opportunity to get your team to bond outside of the regular work environment. Schedule these events regularly — either as a surprise or by letting everyone choose a restaurant over the course of the year. 

You can also hire catering for the office. If you do, make sure the food is special and not something folks would have on a regular day.

2. Team-building activities

More than just a simple lunch, team-building activities help people get to know each other in different situations. While they are all fun activities, they actually help coworkers build trust, learn more about each other, and find more creative ways of collaborating. 

If you don’t know what kinds of activities make the most sense for your team, check out our comprehensive list of team-building activities for inspiration.

team building games

3. A “gratitude wall”

This is by far one of the easiest thank-you gestures you can do! 

Put up a bulletin board, cut up pieces of paper, grab some thumbtacks, and gather your finest pens and markers. Have your employees post notes about what they’re thankful for at work, and what they’re thankful about their colleagues in particular. 

This will allow team members to thank each other so everyone on the team can see what their colleagues love most about them and be motivated to give their best.

4. Hold a contest

If you prefer a stress-free day riddled with engaging activities, you might want to look into having a contest. Just make sure to get the entire company involved and not have separate contests for every department. 

You can also opt for simple ideas like cooking something together or handier ones such as redesigning the brand’s logo in the craziest way. The most outrageous version wins.


5. Tell your company’s story

Everyone loves a good story. You’d be surprised at how many of your employees don’t actually know how your company got started. 

Have some fun, dress up, and tell your company’s story in the funnest way you can. You can hold this story session as part of your organization’s anniversary day or just give everyone a day off from actual work so that everyone can get to know each other better.

6. Volunteer at a local organization

There’s never a wrong time to give back to those who need it most. Ask your employees which organizations and causes they’d like to volunteer for or contribute to. Schedule an outing every few months. You can even document the journey on social media to inspire others. 

And of course, buy your team a meal afterward.


7. Donate canned goods to those in need

Think volunteering might take too much time? Then you may want to look into donating, which is something anyone on your team can do. 

There are so many people out there who simply don’t have the resources needed to have a decent meal or even send their kids to school. Set up a donation box in the office and tell your team to bring non-perishable canned goods, old toys, clothes, and other handy items. Donate it to a charity at the end of the week to brighten up someone’s day and make a big impact on their lives.

8. Write personal thank-you notes

Short on money? Saying thank you is free! 

Sometimes it’s hip to be old-fashioned. Take a few minutes to write each of your employees a thoughtful thank-you note. Tell them why they’re integral to the team, mention how they’ve helped your organization, and praise their top values and traits.

thank you note

9. Sponsor a local event

Any parades in town? How about a high school football game? What about a Little League pancake breakfast?

Sponsor a charity event or even a fair you can bring your teams to. Not only will it help people have a good time, you’ll also increase brand awareness. It’s a true win-win situation — and good opportunity to give thanks to your team and the community. 

10. Share your favorite recipes

Instead of grabbing lunch, ask your team to bring in their favorite dish that they’re willing to share the recipe for. You can even turn this into a thematic contest. Either way, it’s safe to say your employees will learn how to cook at least one new dish.

team appreciation

11. Give them regular gifts

And not just the fun kind. Get them something they will truly need for their wellness, like a free yoga class pass or a new headset they’ve always dreamed of. 

Talk to your team often about non-work topics to see what their interests are. Otherwise, you can just ask around. There’s always someone in the team who knows what a colleague needs more than anything.

12. Upgrade the office

There’s no better way to thank your employees than ensuring their comfort. Change your chairs, workspace, and even move the desks around so your team won’t be blinded by the sun or disturbed by the noises in a nearby office. You can also switch up the lighting, add some plants and flowers, or even let your workers bring their pets to work.

office upgrade

13. Give them Friday off

Well, you could give them any day off. But Friday might be the best day because employees’ productivity levels are often lower anyway as the team begins to enter weekend mode. 

Let your workers spend more time with their families, go on an extended weekend trip, or just have more time for their hobbies. They’ll appreciate it.

14. Thank them in meetings

Something you can do on a daily basis is to say thank you during meetings. But don’t just thank the team in general, though. 

People need to hear their names and understand why they’re being recognized and what they’ve achieved. Receiving recognition when other colleagues are around will motivate everyone and make every individual feel valued.


15. Send them on a trip!

Remote companies in particular have regular getaways where they can work together while also learning more about one another. But teams that work in the same office can do this, too. 

After all, just because you’re in the same office doesn’t mean you actually know everyone you work with. Besides these larger workcations, you can send individuals or smaller groups to conferences, training sessions, or just fun events. Just make sure you cover all expenses and don’t leave out anyone.

16. The classic email

Many companies already send emails to all employees to thank them for their work and talk about the steps ahead of them. They’re making one big mistake, though: not customizing the emails for each person. 

Your employees want to hear why they themselves are valuable. So, send these emails one by one and make sure to change the message so it’s tailored to the person who receive get it.


17. Celebrating birthdays

A birthday is everyone’s most important day, so why not make the most of it? 

For one, you’ll show them that you remember their special day, which will make them feel appreciated. Check our list of 15 fun ways to delight your employees on their big day for some quick inspiration.

18. Movies and pizza

What can be better than movie night? Well, maybe a movie day. 

Choose a day every month to dedicate 3 or 4 hours to watching a movie your team suggests. Every month a different employee can pick which film to watch. To make the experience more meaningful, discuss the movie after over a slice of pizza.


19. Make them famous

There are certain types of people who love getting praised publicly. That’s why you’ll often see companies, and smaller teams in particular, post shout outs to their colleagues on social media and even their blog. As an added bonus, writing an article to thank your team members will also help you boost your employer branding efforts.

20. Make time to talk to them

Unfortunately, few employers take the time to talk to their workers as often as they should. For the most part, many of them simply do it in general meetings. 

A one-on-one meeting helps you understand every single person’s struggles and dreams for the future. That’s where you’ll find out that your developers want to be involved in the marketing process or someone’s been learning video editing on the side.


21. Custom videos

If you want to truly surprise a person or when your entire team is working remotely, a personalized video is the way to go. 

This is one of the most creative ways to say thank you to employees. You can either film this yourself or have everyone in the team say something fun and thank a colleague.

22. Listen closer

Employee recognition is not always obvious. One way to show gratitude is by simply learning to become a better listener. 

Are your employees complaining about working overtime? Make it a point to stop work at a set hour from now on. Does your team want to have more time for their health? Give them an extra hour at lunch so they can work out or go for a walk. The healthier your employees are, the more productive they’ll be.

active listening

23. Leaving earlier

Did your team finish a major project a day before the deadline? Let them take a day off. They deserve it. 

Having your employees do whatever they want for the day is surely more productive and beneficial than keeping them at work for no reason. You can also let them go home if they’re done with their tasks a few hours earlier or even just take a longer break until the next meeting.

24. Get your whole team on board

Many times, recognition is not just the employer’s duty. Everyone needs to be thankful and show their appreciation to everyone else. 

TINYpulse makes it easy for team members to send recognition in the forms of Cheers for Peers to one another as often as they’d like. The most active and influential employees usually receive more Cheers, keeping everyone motivated to be at the top.


25. Simply saying it sincerely!

To be honest, just having one of the events above each year won’t be enough. So why not go the extra mile to thank employees every single time they deserve it? 

A simple thank you might go unnoticed though. So put in a few more seconds to write why you’re thanking them and specifically outline the results they’ve helped your organization achieve.

Ready to say thank you?

Since you’re reading these words, you now have a good idea of the seemingly endless number of ways you can thank your team for their hard work. Just take a consistent approach and make sure you don’t leave out anyone when showing employee appreciation.

You might not be able to hold all of the events above in one short year, but you might want to at least choose one activity a month and make giving thanks a core competency of your organization.

It’s the small daily gratitude gestures that show employees that they’re appreciated while also improving your retention rates. Remember to stay honest and never thank them for something they haven’t done if you want to ensure your gratitude is authentic.

By pointing out great performances, along with the areas employees need to improve, you can ensure a happy, healthy team that strives to grow professionally and loves showing up to the office every day to do their best work. And that’s the key to a strong organization that’s able to delight its customers every day.

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