It’s the time of year when business is booming and holiday celebrations abound. During this busy season, employees at many small businesses work harder than ever. Whatever your industry—retail, service or B2B—the year-end rush is real.



Are you also remembering to celebrate your employees’ hard work?


Employee recognition is more than just a “nice thing to do.” Over two-thirds of HR professionals in an SHRM/Globoforce survey say employee recognition has a positive impact on employee retention. For small businesses in today’s competitive hiring landscape, that can make a big difference.


Here are 27 ideas for celebrating your staff’s hard work—at any time of the year.


Celebrate the individual.


Did one employee go above and beyond the call of duty? Treat them like a star.


    1. Give them their birthday off with pay.
    2. Buy them a comfy new ergonomic office chair or that standing desk they’ve been wanting.
    3. Give them a small budget to redecorate their office or workspace.
    4. Take them out to lunch.
    5. Buy them a tech tool that’s useful for work but also for fun, like noise-canceling headphones so they can focus (or listen to music).
    6. Say it with food. Give them a gift certificate to a favorite restaurant, pay for personal chef services for a night, or have a basket of their favorite dessert delivered to the office.
    7. Pay for a month’s worth of housecleaning or car detailing services.
    8. Give them the best parking space at work for a month. Put up a sign with their name on it in the space.
    9. Give them an all-expenses-paid weekend away with their significant other.
    10. Give them a gift card for a spa day or stress-relieving massage.
    11. Buy them tickets to an event they’ll enjoy, whether that’s a baseball game or the ballet.
    12. Pay for cooking lessons, golf lessons, dance lessons or whatever they want to learn.
    13. Write them a glowing LinkedIn recommendation.
    14. Give them a year’s subscription to a “something-of-the-month club.” You can find subscriptions for everything from food or cosmetics to neckties or coffee. 
    15. Buy them a membership to a local museum you know they’ll enjoy.


Celebrate the team.


Want to celebrate the achievements of a particular team, department or even the whole company? Make it a group gift or activity. (If your staff is mostly millennials, keep in mind they tend to prefer experiences to things.)


    1. Cater breakfast, lunch or dessert.
    2. Take the team out to lunch or dinner.
    3. Give everyone a comp day to take whenever they want.
    4. Knock off early and take the team to the movies. Buy everyone candy, popcorn and soda.
    5. Take the group to a sporting event.
    6. Go bowling.
    7. Play miniature golf.
    8. Have a paintball battle.
    9. Rent an ice skating or roller skating rink for the afternoon.
    10. Throw a party.
    11. If you think your team will like it, try something extreme. Take them zip lining, go bungee jumping or go for a ride in a hot-air balloon.
    12. Give everyone a bonus.


Rules for success


No matter what approach you take to celebrating your employees’ efforts, follow these three rules:


    1. Do it often. Don’t wait until the end of the year or annual review time to acknowledge hard work.
    2. Let employees have a voice in what kind of celebrations they want. Get ideas from your team to come up with a list of possibilities. Offer the employees you’re honoring a choice among different options.
    3. Be willing to invest. Put some money into employee recognition. According to an SHRM study, devoting at least 1 percent of payroll to an employee recognition program makes it more likely to be effective.



Read next:




About Rieva Lesonsky


Rieva Lesonsky Headshot.png

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and Co-founder of GrowBiz Media, a custom content and media company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship, and the blog A nationally known speaker and authority on entrepreneurship, Rieva has been covering America’s entrepreneurs for more than 30 years. Before co-founding GrowBiz Media, Lesonsky was the long-time Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine. Lesonsky has appeared on hundreds of radio shows and numerous local and national television programs, including the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN, The Martha Stewart Show and Oprah.


Lesonsky regularly writes about small business for numerous websites and for corporations targeting entrepreneurs. Many organizations have recognized Lesonsky for her tireless devotion to helping entrepreneurs. She served on the Small Business Administration’s National Advisory Council for six years, was honored by the SBA as a Small Business Media Advocate and a Woman in Business Advocate, and received the prestigious Lou Campanelli award from SCORE. She is a long-time member of the Business Journalists Hall of Fame.


Web: or Twitter: @Rieva

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here


Bank of America, N.A. engages with Rieva Lesonsky to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Rieva Lesonsky is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Rieva Lesonsky. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.


Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2018 Bank of America Corporation

Similar Content