121 Creative Ways to Reward Employees – The Ultimate List

Rewards are a powerful tool used for employee engagement. Recognizing and rewarding your employees effectively is crucial for retaining top talent and keeping employees happy.

The key to successful employee rewards is being creative and thoughtful. Many companies have even begun to use rewards for recruiting as they’ve become a part of their company culture (see #26).

Inspired by our list of 121 employee wellness ideas, we sought out to find all the ways companies can reward their employees.

Below is a list of 121 ways to reward employees that you can easily implement at your office. No matter what your company’s culture looks like, there is something here for any business.

But first…

Here are the most popular employee rewards, as voted on by our readers.

Vote on your favorite employee reward below (and see how others voted):


Free bonus: Download this entire list as a PDF. Easily save it on your computer for quick reference or print it out for the other managers on the team. Includes 10 bonus ideas not found in this post.

1. 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.

hand written notes employee motivation

2. Office massages

Bring a professional masseuse into the office and reward your employees with relaxation.

3. 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.

4. Healthy snacks

Keeping the break room stocked with healthy office snacks will keep your employees feeling cared for and productive throughout the long workday.

 

5. Sporting event tickets

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.

6. Secret slow clap

Pack as many people as you can into a room and have the employee being rewarded walk in unknowingly. Proceed to start a slow clap that runs into a standing ovation. It’s sounds funny, but I’ve never met anyone who doesn’t appreciate a good slow clap.

7. 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.

paid-pto

8. Play with puppies

Hire a service, or work with a shelter near you, to bring puppies to the office for your employees to play with. Not only is it awesome, but it’s proven to relieve stress.

Puppy with snacks

9. Standing desk

Standing desks are becoming more prevalent in offices and for good reason. It has been said that sitting is the new smoking. Sitting for hours at a time can have serious negative side effects on your health. Oristand recently came out with a standing desk add-on for only $35 dollars.

10. Dunk tank day

Let your employees get that revenge they’ve always wanted. Pick a nice summer day and rent a dunk tank. Everyone can take turns trying to dunk his or her manager. Combine it with some food and drinks, and it’s guaranteed to be a fun event.

11. Blue Apron membership

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.

12. Dinner on the boss

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.

13. End of year party with awards

Our friends over at TINYpulse have some big awards they give out at the end of every year including rookie of year, going the extra mile, MVP, and other gifts for employees. They are peer nominated and quote “we go all out”, including video nominations and a huge party.

15. 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.

16. Plaques

Get as creative with these awards as you want. People love showing off their achievements.

Employee rewards ideas

Here’s one of our very own awards for our Director of Communications, Jeff Murphy

17. The throne they deserve

Chances are your employees are sitting most of the day. Well now they’ll be sitting on a modernly designed, memory foam chair that is temperature regulated and gives massages.

18. Car wash

Give them a gift card to the local car wash, or, go the extra mile and wash it for them while they’re at the office.

19. Scratch offs

The reward that keeps on giving. $20 of scratch offs is more fun than a gift card and has the potential to pay off big.

20. 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.

21. Give them a getaway

Spend as much or as little as you want. Whether it’s sending them to a local spa for the day, or to Napa Valley for some wine tasting, help your employees get away and relax.

22. Custom coffee cup

Create a design and fancy up a coffee cup that lets them show off their reward every morning while getting caffeinated.  You can create the design on Canva for free.

23. 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 helps strengthen your company culture.

Employee offsite

24. Health club membership

Spinning class, yoga, crossfit, or a free month at the gym. Everyone appreciates the gift of good health.

25. 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.

26. Self-portrait oil painting

Originally made famous by Scopely, it’s funny and awesome at the same time. Who wouldn’t want a beautiful oil painting of themselves to put above their fireplace?  Hear about Scopely’s other crazy awards (including 11k wrapped in bacon) in their interview on the Awesome Office Show.

27. 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.

28. Movie Tickets

Movie ticket coupons will help your employees get out of the house for a night. Throw in some popcorn too because it’s crazy expensive.

29. Edible arrangement

Chocolate dipped fruits in the shape of flowers are a great reward for anyone.  You can go to Edible Arrangements and get them delivered right to the office.

30. Five Minute Journal

The Five Minute Journal is one of the more thoughtful rewards you can give someone. Like the name says, it’s a journal that takes just five minutes a day to help practice mindfulness.

Skydiver in action

31. Send them skydiving

It depends on the employee, but if they’re a thrill seeker, skydiving is generally easier to sign up for than you would think. Send them and a plus one for the ride of a lifetime. Our friends over at employee rewards company BlueBoard curate experiences like skydiving, kayaking, and others, that your employees will actually love.

32. Breakfast of champions

Cater or bring breakfast for the team. Show your appreciation for their hard work while getting them fed for the day ahead.  Here are some healthy office breakfast ideas to get you started.

33. Wall of fame

Make a wall of fame and reward your employees with a spot for their picture to live indefinitely.

34. Custom phone cases

Get a picture of their team, company logo, or anything else, and personalize their most used item.

35. Netflix subscription

Simple reward that’s almost guaranteed to be used. Load up 50 dollars on a Netflix gift card and feed their binge watching habit for a few months.

36. Karaoke day

Take the second half of the day to set up a karaoke machine and let your employees sing their hearts out. You might want to have some earplugs ready.

37. Lift tickets

If you’re located around a mountain or some ski slopes, reward your employees with a few lift tickets. It will get them out of the house and active during the winter months.

38. Uber/Lyft credit

Everyone needs a ride occasionally. Get your employees an Uber/Lyft gift card for their next night out. This could also be a team-wide reward by setting up a promo code for them to use over a weekend.

39. On-site fitness classes

Glassdoor, who was recently named a top place to work, rewards their staff with on-site fitness classes and catered lunches.snacknation yoga

40. Headphones

Probably the most under appreciated object in the office, and often misplaced.  These simple gifts for employees sometimes mean the most.

41. 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.

42. Football helmet / stickers

If you want to take it to the next level you can copy the Ohio State Buckeyes Football Team with helmet stickers. Get mini-helmets for everyone and reward them with a sticker every time they do something great.

43. Bring your dog day

Reward the office with a Bring Your Dog to the Office day. It will lighten the mood and is proven to relieve stress.

44. Oversized trophy

Employee incentives come in all shapes and sizes.  However, there’s something about an oversized trophy that will make their accomplishment just a little bit sweeter.

employee incentives trophy

45. Fathead

Reward your employee with a life sized sticker of them self. The funnier the picture the better.  You can create your own custom sticker on their website.

46. Spa day

Give the reward of relaxation. They need it after all of their hard work.

47. Cooking lessons

Most people try to cook, and most people fail. Reward your employee, or small team, with cooking lessons one day after work. They’ll learn a lot and get to eat some outstanding food.

48. Airbnb credit

Get them a gift card / promo code for Airbnb. It’s the next best thing to sending them on vacation. Let them decide where they want to go, and cover their accommodations while they are there.

49. 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.

50. Swap jobs for a day

Maybe not for all responsibilities, but enough to make it fun. They’ll have a good time and get some perspective on what other people in the company do everyday.

51. Life-size cutout in the lobby

Let your employee greet everyone in the lobby for a day. Have a life size cut out of them made and leave it at your entrance for everyone to see.

Employee Incentive Poster Cut Out

Image belongs to Aaron from Flickr Creative Commons.

52. Casual dress day

If there is a “dress code” at your office, reward the company with a day/week when people can dress casually.

53. Kindles

“Reading is to the mind, what exercise is to the body.” – Joseph Addison. Kindles are relatively cheap and make for a great reward. They will motivate your employees to keep reading and expanding their education.

54. Volunteer at a charity of their choice

Your only real commodity is time. Give some of it to those who need it most.

55. 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.

birthday-pto

56. Baby on Board

Menlo Innovations rewards their employees by letting them bring their baby/dog to work for a day. It helps their employees relax and have a fun day with their loved ones. Plus, who doesn’t love babies and puppies?

57. FitBits

Tracking your movements is a great way to stay motivated on your health goals. You can even give them to the whole team and set up competitions with prizes.

 

58. Invest in their continued education

This is a big reward for your transformational employees. Help them get to the next level in their education. Investing in their education will not only reward them, but reward the company in return.

59. CEO for a day

Reward your employee by letting them use the bosses office for a day. It’ll be fun and they’ll get a taste of what it’s like at the top.

60. Tool for anything

If your employee enjoys the outdoors, reward them with an all in one tool. They’ll appreciate it the next time they head out into the woods.

61. Nap time

No more sneaking in naps at the desk. Set up a nap area in your office where employees can hide away and catch a few Z’s.

employee rewards and incentives

62. Dance Lessons

Help your employees get rid of their two left feet. You can offer dance lessons at the office, or set them up with a local studio for a great team night out. It’s a fun way to stay in shape and keep the brain healthy.

63. Day Pass

Let them take a day off any time, no notice, no questions asked. Hopefully it’s not a big meeting day.

64. Do their laundry

The last thing you want to do after a long day of work is laundry. Set them up with a laundry service that will pick up/drop off their laundry at the office. Washio is one of many services you could use.

65. Ping-pong

Buy a ping-pong table for the office. It’s fun and will keep your employees up and moving. Also, most can fold up and be easily stashed away when they’re not being used.

Employee ping pong incentive

66. Menlo Innovations

Our friends over at Menlo have one of the coolest company cultures around. Along with letting employees bring their puppies to work, they also reward them with team activities like whirley ball. To learn more about Menlo’s amazing culture, check out the Awesome Office interview with their CEO, Richard Sheridan.

67. Group golf lessons / Mini Putt

Buy the team a group golf lesson or take them to play Mini Putt. They’re both great for any level of golfer and a fun way to get outside in the sunshine. Just make sure you work on your putting drills before hand.

68. Fix their watches

Have your employees bring in all their watches that are broken or need new batteries and get them fixed. It’s something that is simple to do, but never makes it on the to-do list.

No more excuses for being late to those Monday morning meetings.

69. Half day Fridays

Most companies see a dip in productivity during the summer months. Half day Fridays during these months will keep employees happy and have even shown to increase productivity.

70. Food Truck Lunch

Get a food truck to come to the office for lunch.

71. Ice Coffee Keg

Or growlers of iced coffee. Either way, it’s a nice change of pace from the traditional pot of coffee in the break room.

coffee keg rewards

72. Transportation reimbursement

If your office is in a busy city, chances are a lot of your employees use alternative transportation methods. Reward them by reimbursing their expenses for a week.

73. Wine tasting

Depends on your location, but if there are vineyards near by send the team to a day of wine tasting.

74. Work from Home day

Let your employees have a day to work from their couch. It will be a nice change of pace from the office.

75. Pajama day

Go one step beyond casual and let your employees wear their pajamas to work for a day.

76. Nalgene water bottles

Water is crucial for health and wellness. Get your team some Nalgene water bottles to help them stay hydrated. Check out these 9 hacks to staying healthy at work, one includes your water bottle.

9 Simple Hacks to Stay Healthy at Work

77. Employee of the Month

The employee of the month. Another old school idea that’s still super effective. You can even feature them on the your website for some extra incentive.

78. Psychic in the office

Bring a psychic to the office for a few hours and let your employees have some fun while learning whether or not they’ll get that promotion they’ve been working for.

79. Hot air balloon

Reward your employees with a hot air balloon ride. It might help them cross something off their bucket list while having a great time in the process.

80. Dry-cleaning

Take care of one of those tedious tasks your employees have to do outside of work. Have them bring their clothes in and get them dry-cleaned for them.

81. Hair cuts

Whether it’s on site for a day, or coupons for later. Reward them with a fresh cut for the weekend.

82. Sticker Face

Create a sticker of the employee’s face and pass them out at the next team meeting. Your team can have some fun with them and recognize the employee’s accomplishment. Stickermule has a super simple and affordable service for custom stickers.

83. Shoe polishing

Bring a shoe polisher into the office for a day to freshen up your employees dress shoes.

84. LinkedIn Recommendations

Reward your employees by having their managers write them LinkedIn recommendations. They are a great way for the company to express their gratitude while helping the employee’s career.

linkedin recommendation for employee rewards

85. House cleaning

Hire a cleaning service to go to your employee’s house and clean while they are at work. They’ll return to a clean house and be able to relax.

86. Tailoring

Bring a tailor into the office to get employee’s measurements and tailor their favorite suit/dress shirts.

87. Company clothes

Design some new company gear and give it away as rewards. Shirts, hats, socks, anything you can put a logo on.

88. Concert tickets

Get tickets to a local concert and reward your employees with a night out and some good music.

89. Art shows

For those who appreciate art, reward them with a few tickets to a local art show/gallery.  You can throw a dinner for two in with them.

90. Reserve unique office space for the team

Reserve a space for your team to work outside of the office for a day. Whether it’s a park, or a café, it will be a nice change of pace from the office.

 

91. New office equipment

Get some new equipment around the office. Upgrade to standing desks, new monitors, even comfort-designed keyboards, and mouse pads. All make great rewards and show your employees you care.

92. Let employees reward each other

The good people over at ZipRecruiter use bonus.ly to allow employees to send micro-bonuses to their co-workers. They also reward their top performers with a trip to Costa Rica.

93. Crossfit membership

Start them with a month membership at a local crossfit gym. They’ll get to try something new, challenge themselves, and stay healthy.

94. Meal delivery for week

Take away the burden of cooking for a week. Set your employee up with a delivery service that will bring them their favorite meals for lunch or dinner.

95. Brewery tour

Take the team to a local brewery for a tour. They can drink some good beer, and learn about the processes behind it.

Employee rewards ideas

96. Development conferences

Everyone is trying to master their craft. Helping your employees improve personally, and professionally, not only rewards them, but your company in return.

97. Cool Socks

You show me a person that says they don’t like cool socks and I’ll show you a liar. Check out YoSox and reward your employees with stylish feet.

98. Prize wheel

You hit goal, and you spin the wheel. What’s on the wheel? Anything you want. You’re reading a list of 121 ideas right now.

Employee Incentive Wheel

99. Dream car rental

While you probably can’t afford to give them the raise to buy that sports car they’ve always wanted, you can rent them one for a week.  Enterprise has an exotic car rental service that is a great place to start.

100. Phone bill

Call, text, data, streaming, any thing they can think of on the company for a month.

101. Birch box

Reward your employees with a few months of Birch Box. They’ll get to sample different products and find some that they love.

102. Audible account

Start your employees off with a month of Audible. Audio books are a great way to tear through your reading list.

103. WWE Belt

Reward your top performers by letting them be the world champion of the office. That is until the next title fight…

snacknation championship belt

104. New and improved job title

Reward their hard work with a new job title. This reward costs nothing and will mean a lot.

105. Super Soaker 9000

Reward your team with a water gun fight during a hot summer day. It is a great way to cool off and act like a kid again.

106. Paint ball outing

Depends on the personalities at the office, but if your team is up for it, paint balling can be a great reward. There are a lot of places that take large reservations and have group deals.

107. Money for a personal growth experience

Our good friends over at 15Five reward their employee’s with $500 dollars to spend on a personal growth experience.  The only catch is they have to share what they learned with the team… oh, and skydiving counts as a personal growth experience.

108. Home brew kit

Beer brewing is a great hobby that rewards you with beer, which is awesome. Give your employee’s the reward that keeps rewarding.

109. Start a competition

Whether it’s a step off, or most sales for the month, set up a competition where employees can compete for the top spot.  Nudge Rewards is a great option to let employees compete through an app and collect rewards!

110. Hit the track

Take your team go carting for a half day, or after work. Remember, if you ain’t first, you’re last.

111. Company wide email

While hand written notes are great, there’s something about an open message that means a lot. Send a company wide email thanking the employee and celebrating their accomplishments.

112. Company stock

Give them stock in the company they love. Not only is it rewarding for them, but it keeps them invested in the company and shows that you value them.

113. Custom briefcase/bag

Set them up with a custom bag to carry their stuff.  Embroider a company logo and their initials on it to show your appreciation. Topo Designs is a great place to find some high quality briefcases/backpacks.

114. Give employees credits to redeem rewards and experiences

One of the leaders in employee rewards, YouEarnedIt, uses a program that gives their employees the option to redeem credits for rewards and experiences. Below are a few examples of fun ones.

Employee rewards and incentives

115. Student loan contributions/Educational Pursuits

Many employees dream of completing or furthering their education. Retain your best employees by helping them pay off their student loans, or pay for a portion of their educational expenses. It means more than simply giving them cash, and can ease their minds of that lingering payment.

116. Magazine subscription

Buy them a year subscription of their favorite magazine.

117. Hire them a personal assistant

This employee incentive is a fun way to help them relieve some stress. Everyone could use a personal assistant to take care of the tasks they can’t get to. Reward your employee by hiring a personal assistant for them for a day, week, or month.  FancyHands is a online option that is easy to use.

118. Portable chargers

Great reward with a wide price range. Smaller sizes you can keep in your pocket, to larger, more powerful models for camping. Ideal for employees who like to travel or camp.

119. Guitar/Music lessons

Help your employees learn the new skill they’ve been wanting to. Bring a teacher into the office and let the team rotate for 30 minutes sessions, or do a group lesson.

120. Painting with wine

Take the team out to Wine and Canvas, or a similar chain, to enjoy some painting and beverages. You might discover the next Picasso.

121. Personal chef

Hire a personal chef to go to the employees house for a night and cook them dinner. It will take the stress out of preparing and go a step beyond taking them to dinner.

 

Conclusion

Employee rewards are a way to set your company apart from the rest.  They let your team know that their hard work is being recognized and can even become a part of your company culture.

So, what ideas are you using to reward and appreciate your employees? If we’ve missed any cool ideas let us know in the comments below.

Free bonus: Download this entire list as a PDF. Easily save it on your computer for quick reference or print it out for the other managers on the team. Includes 10 bonus ideas not found in this post.

August Noble is a Content Marketer at SnackNation. His goal is to help workplace leaders build better cultures by creating healthier and more productive offices.