Employee Recognition and Reward Ideas

No Cost or Low Cost Ideas for Management and/or Supervisors

  • Reward an employee with outstanding performance by requesting Administrative Leave with Pay, in accordance with applicable university rules and standard administrative procedures. See information about Administrative Leave with Pay.
  • Have a potluck staff meeting to celebrate employee achievements, birthdays, etc.
  • Find ways to reward department-specific performance.
  • Have a recognition event created by a peer group that decides what they will give and why they will give it.Acknowledge and celebrate birthdays.
  • Praise immediately and specifically.  Tell how you felt and what it did for the organization.
  • Ask someone else to pass on the thank you:  “Your name” asked me to tell you thank you for ______.  Good job!”
  • Place notice of award and awardee on a message board, online or on a screen in the parking lot.
  • Ask employees to find fun ways to recognize staff, such as the “Energizer Bunny,”  “Roadrunner,” and “Life saver.”
  • Write a letter that goes into personal file.
  • Monthly, display photo of award winner with comments from co-workers about why this person is a good colleague.
  • Suggest great staff member when management asks for representation on a committee or task force.
  • Send a letter of praise to significant other or family member.
  • Whenever something positive happens, place in “smile box.”  Draw regularly for prizes
  • Place gold stars on computer with a thank you note.
  • Send online greeting cards.
  • Designate a trophy or even a cup with goodies to travel to person’s workplace as an award
  • Acknowledge employee in department's newsletter, intranet site or staff meeting.
  • At a monthly staff meeting, award an Employee of the Month and invite co-workers at the meeting to say why that person is deserving of the award.
  • Call an employee to your office to thank them (don't discuss any other issue).
  • Encourage and recognize staff who pursue continuing education.
  • Encourage employees to identify specific areas of interest in job-related skills. Then arrange for them to spend a day with an in-house "expert" to learn more about the topic.
  • Establish a "Behind the Scenes" award specifically for those whose actions are not usually in the limelight.
  • Establish a place to display memos, posters, photos and so on, recognizing progress towards goals and thanking individual employees for their help.
  • Nominate the employee for a University formal award program such as the President's Meritorious Service Awards.
  • Plan a surprise achievement celebration for an employee or group of employees.
  • Pop in at the first meeting of a special project team and express your appreciation for their involvement.
  • Post a thank you note on an employee's office door or cubicle.
  • Present "State of the Department" reports periodically to your employees acknowledging the work and contributions of individuals and teams.
  • Send a letter to all team members at the conclusion of a project, thanking them for their participation.
  • Send a thank you letter or email to an employee.
  • When you hear a positive remark about someone, repeat it to that person as soon as possible in person or electronically.
  • Widely publicize suggestions used and their positive impact on your department.
  • Write a letter of praise recognizing specific contributions and accomplishments and send to the employee electronically or in person.

Moderate to High Cost Ideas*

  • Allow an employee to attend a work related conference.
  • Bake/bring a gift (cookies, bread, cake, etc.)
  • Create a Hall of Fame wall with photos of outstanding employees.
  • Design a "Stress Support Kit" that includes a music CD, funny book that will make an employee laugh, a stress ball, etc. – or design your own.
  • Give a deserving employee a mug filled with treats.
  • Give a framed certificate of appreciation.
  • Give a membership or subscription to a journal that relates to employee work.
  • Give an award plaque.
  • Give flowers to an employee at their office or home as a thank you.
  • Have weekly breakfasts with groups of employees.
  • Hold informal retreats to foster communication and set goals.
  • Make a photo collage about a successful project that shows the people that worked on it, its stage of development and its completion and presentation.
  • Make and deliver a fruit basket.
  • Once a year, have a "Staff Appreciation Day" where the managers supply, cook and serve food.
  • Provide a business-related gift (example: pen set, office clock, leather portfolio).
  • Provide a lunch for project teams once they have made interim findings. Express your appreciation.
  • Reward an employee with outstanding performance by requesting a One-time Merit Payment, in accordance with applicable university rules and standard administrative procedures. See information about One-time Merit Payments.
  • Provide a token of appreciation to employee such as a Texas A&M logo pen, mug, paperweight, lapel pin, watch, etc.
  • Provide tickets to a special event (sporting event, OPAS performance).
  • Schedule random fun events such as watching a movie or having an ice cream break
  • Serve ice cream sundaes to all of your employees at the end of a project.
  • Serve popcorn and treats on Friday (especially after a particularly hard week).
  • Start an employee recognition program. Give points for consistency/dependability, punctuality, teamwork, etc. Provide gift certificates, mementos, etc. to employees who reach certain point goals.
  • Treat employees to lunch.

*Please review applicable university rules and standard administrative procedures before purchasing awards. See information about Purchasing Guidelines and Procedures. Please note: cash and gift certificates are considered income and are taxable. Please refer to Standard Administrative Procedure 31.01.99.M0.01 Taxation of Special Payments and Awards to Employees for more information on this procedure.

If you have any questions, contact Human Resource at (979) 845-7995 or emplrecognition@tamu.edu.

Resources used to develop this document