Fun employee recognition ideas

Last updated:
July 22, 2021
November 28, 2022
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Employee recognition is the formal or informal acknowledgment of a person or team's effort or behavior that supports your organization's values. It's a way to thank those who've gone above and beyond what is expected of them.

At any workplace on any level, praising others for good work is vital. Whether you're a fast-food restaurant or you sell CTI software, your team will appreciate the recognition. Employees respond to this praise and, knowing that hard work leads to recognition, will hopefully continue on that trajectory.

Productivity and job satisfaction go hand in hand, so it's essential that an organization regularly monitors and rewards those who've put in the hard yards. Not only that, it'll also inspire those who've missed out to work harder. That way, they can ensure that next time their output and collaboration improves, so it's their name on everyone's lips.

Recognition needn't be expensive or exuberant, either. You needn't add a banner to your website to advertise an employee's achievements, for instance. You can tailor rewards to a specific time or event, giving small bread crumbs along the way towards a massive payoff in the end.

Relevant: 10 ways to write thank you notes to employees

With that being said, here are a few of our favorite employee recognition ideas that have the added bonus of bringing a little fun to the workplace.

Let everyone know

The fastest and indeed simplest way to show genuine appreciation is to share examples of an individual's hard work with the entire organization. Publicizing your recognition to everyone is a great way to spotlight an individual. It may introduce them and their work to people in other departments who otherwise may not know who they are or how they contribute. Now they do!

Plan a team-building day

You can show appreciation to your entire company with an annual team retreat, whether that’s a trip aboard, a luxury hotel in your city, or a weekend bush getaway. A regular team-building retreat can make everyone feel like a valued part of your system.

The pandemic has stopped all of that at present, but that doesn’t mean you can’t do some virtual team building. Whether that’s an online quiz, a virtual scavenger hunt, happy hour (socially distanced) drinks on a Friday, or even a team chat dedicated to everything but work. There are plenty of virtual team building activities to hold us over until we get back to normal!

Additional reading: 11 team building activities to try with your team

Indulge your team with food

Whether that's Taco Tuesdays, Wings Wednesday, or Friday...fudge day? You think of the names; this is just the idea! The way to an employee's heart is through their belly. So, whether it's a weekly or monthly thing or picking up the tab on a social night - food is an easy way to let people know you care.

Let them take a day off

When an employee is first onboarded, they're told in their contract how much time off they're allocated. This is down to your discretion; if you feel a person or team has gone the extra mile, then reward them with a day off. No one in the world turns down some more relaxation time, so ensure you've got time saved in the bank to hand out to those you think deserve it.

Source: Proofhub

Host an awards evening

This can be done during your Christmas party or more casually, but it's nice to put together an event to hand out awards. The awards themselves don't need to be overly formal but should include some KPI-based recognition.

That said, you could also award the person who dresses the best, brings in the tastiest food, sends the best customer emails, brings the most laughs, and is most likely to run for president. Even silly recognition is still recognition.

Let them learn on your dime

Give those who deserve it to improve their skills, learn something new, and pick up the bill. Whether that's a conference, an online learning course, or help with paying back university debt - these are all great ways to show your appreciation while at the same time upskilling your workforce.

Make birthdays a big thing

We've all had to sign the card passed around the office, but you can take it one step further. Bring in a cake, make sure everyone gathers round to sing, and ensure you get them a present. Better yet, make birthdays a day off in your office. Not only is it a great perk, but it's also an excellent way to attract new talent.

Source: Yfish

Create a wall of fame

A wall of fame is a fun and interactive way to show off the accomplishments of both individuals and teams. It’s also a great way to show off your culture to any visitors or people coming for an interview. Snap photos of your employees or take candid shots of them working hard. Encourage others to add post-it notes next to the pictures to share their own experiences.

Want to make it more enjoyable? Ask employees to bring in baby photos, and add those to the walls instead.

Award parking spaces

If parking at your office is tight, create a monthly parking scheme that rewards the five best performers with their own spot. You can even add their name and decorate the bay! Alternatively, hold monthly lucky dips for parking spots or pay for achieving employees' public transportation costs if needs be.

Pay them more money

If you feel someone is doing exceptional work, perhaps the best way to show your appreciation is with a revised salary package. It doesn't necessarily need to be a promotion, nor does it need to be an exuberant raise. Call them into your office, thank them for all the hard work, and present them with a new contract and salary conditions. Fair compensation is perhaps the best way to show your recognition to someone who's put in the hard yards.


While a few of these ideas may seem small and inconsequential, it's consistent recognition, big or small, that keeps employees engaged.

Try different tactics each month, and pay attention to what works and what doesn't. That way, you can turn recognition into a critical part of your everyday employee engagement strategy.

Relevant: 20 employee engagement survey questions to ask

Even the small things make a significant difference, and the importance of feeling like you're seen cannot be overstated. Recognized employees are happy employees, and happy employees mean better retention and a healthier bottom line.

John Allen, Director, Global SEO at RingCentral, a global UCaaS, teleconference services, and contact center software provider.

Ready for the next step? Check out our article on how to create an employee recognition program

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