Creative Ways to Reward Employees

To read the full list by August Noble, click here. Below is a curated list by Susan Schilke.

Words of Affirmation:

  • Hand written note: It’s old school, but effective. Write your employee a note sharing your appreciation for them and their work. It can be in a simple card, or on the first page of a journal you give them.
  • Plaques: Get as creative with these awards as you want. People love showing off their achievements.
  • Thank you video: This can be one of the most thoughtful rewards/gifts you can give someone. There is an amazing company called Tribute, that makes the process of recording and organizing videos simple. Try them out and reward your employees with a video showing your appreciation.
  • Wall of fame: Make a wall of fame and reward your employees with a spot for their picture to live indefinitely.
  • Employee of the Month: The employee of the month. Another old school idea that’s still super effective. You can even feature them on your website for some extra incentive.

Quality Time:

  • Sporting event tickets (if you go with them!): Who doesn’t like a good game? Bonus points if their team is from out of town, and you get them tickets to the game when they play the local team.
  • Company offsite: A company wide offsite is a great way to reward hitting team goals. It can be anything from a local bowling alley, to an extravagant weekend ski trip in the mountains. An offsite is a great reward that also promotes team building and help strengthen your company culture.
  • Monday Night Football: Hold a Monday Night Football viewing party for the team/company. Order a few pizzas, get some beverages, and celebrate their hard work.
  • Team happy hour: Let the team go out for a drink and some appetizers and have the company pick up the bill. Not only is it a great reward, it also allows your employees to get to know each other outside of the office.
  • One-on-one mentoring: One of the most valuable things for an employee who wants to improve. They are looking to learn from people with experience. Reward them with a few mentoring sessions with one of the executives.

Acts of Service:

  • Donate to a charity of their choice: If your employee is passionate about helping people, reward them by helping a cause that’s important to them.
  • Paid Paid Vacation: Nope, that’s not a typo. HR Software company BambooHR offers employee’s a certain amount of money to put towards vacation once a year. Paid PTO allows for many benefits including better engagement and loyalty, improved well-being, an advantage in recruiting and work-life balance for employees.
  • Cooking lessons: Most people try to cook, and most people fail. Incentivize your employee, or small team, with cooking lessons one day after work. They’ll learn a lot and get to eat some outstanding food.
  • Casual dress day: If there is “dress code” at your office, incentivize the company with a day/week when people can dress casually.
  • Birthday PTO: It’s totally acceptable to celebrate birthdays as a kid, yet for some reason, as soon as we hit adulthood we tend to skip the celebrations and treat our birthdays like any other day. BambooHR gives their employees birthday PTO with zero obligations. They find that giving employees a little “me” time helps their employees relax a bit and come back more focused and engaged.


  • Blue Apron membership/Dinner on the boss: If your employee likes to cook, or wants to learn, reward them with a Blue Apron membership. Blue Apron delivers fresh ingredients, with a recipe, to their doorstep 2-4 times per week. Or take your employees out for dinner on the house. Everybody loves food, and getting a meal on the boss is much more rewarding than cooking one yourself.
  • Their favorite liquor: Age restriction (21+) for this reward. Depends on the person, but if they have a favorite brand of whiskey, beer or wine, reward them with a bottle of the good stuff.
  • Surprise birthday gifts for employees: Recruitment software company, RecruiterBox, rewards their staff by surprising them on their birthday, with a gift sent to their home address.
  • Spa day: Give the reward of relaxation. They need it after all their hard work.
  • Prize wheel: You hit a goal, and you spin the wheel. What’s on the wheel? Anything you want. You’re reading a list of ideas right now.