Show your employees how much you appreciate them with these great ideas.

"As humans we like to know that what we are doing matters and is appreciated," says Dr Robyn Johns, a senior academic at the University of Technology Sydney. "Without a sense of being valued by managers/supervisors, staff start to feel like a commodity or that they are being used."

And that's not how anyone wants to feel, let alone in the workplace.

Sometimes you need to show and not tell, and employee appreciation is one of those times. Having them understand that you really value them can lead to higher job satisfaction, retention and productivity.

Toward the end of the year, it's that where we all scramble to find the best way to show our staff how much we appreciate them. It can be tough if you're not the most creative person, but don't worry - we're here to help!

Here's our list of ways you can show employee appreciation that will make your staff members feel more than just part of a team.

Our favourite ways to show employee appreciation

1. Make it an event and celebrate Employee Appreciation Day

Take everyone out of the office, away from their desks, and the stresses of work to show that you appreciate them.

When? You ask. On 3 March, 2023, of course! (The first Friday in March.) It's officially Employee Appreciation Day and at EatFirst we get quite a few requests for catering specifically for the day.

Sure we have Christmas parties and end-of-financial-year parties, but hosting a day that's literally to show your employee appreciation as a company, on company time, really can go a long way.

It can be anything such as food and a tab at a local pub, or to take your company culture to the next level, invite your team members to a full-scale party on a boat or at a nice venue.

2. Start an employee recognition program

This can be as simple as rewarding an "Employee of the Month", or offering monthly awards for great work.

It is important for company culture that achievement is recognised, so show employee recognition to those who have went above and beyond and use it as an excuse to celebrate. Set up an employee of the month program and let staff nominate who they think should win and why!

Or... Why not celebrate a whole team?

You could even go beyond just individual rewards and encourage entire teams, whether as part of an organisational structure or project based.

You can send them on a team lunch at their favourite restaurant, or get the group together for a fun Friday afternoon outing. This is a great way to show your staff you care about their wellbeing and want to thank them for their hard work.

3. Have a pizza party!

An employee recognition classic for a good reason. Sometimes, nothing says a casual 'thank you' like a slice of pizza. Pair it with a selection of beers and soft drinks and you've instantly got a fun afternoon with everyone's mind off of work.

But of course, a weekly pizza party isn't necessarily the best way to show the team you care.

Dr Johns says "a diet low in nutrient-rich foods can affect employee's levels of concentration, mood, and performance." So offering treats like pizza may only be good in moderation. She says "the availability of healthy vs unhealthy food in or near the workplace, the availability of facilities where food can be prepared, the cost of eating healthy and the social factors all have a role to play."

Luckily, EatFirst works with dozens of pizza restaurants and other eateries offering healthier options to office around the country, including Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth or Canberra.

4. Say it with flowers

Flowers have a wonderful way of cheering people up. A beautiful arrangement or even a small plant for their desk is a colourful way to share your appreciation and boost employee morale.

A small plant that lives on can be a great way for them to remember you're thinking about them for weeks - or even months - to come and is a lovely way to brighten up a corporate work station.

Desk with a laptop and flowers that could be a good gift for Employee Appreciation Day.

5. Say thank you to your staff with food

Offering breakfast, lunch and snacks can do a lot more than just fill the bellies of your teams.

It brings your staff together and gives them fuel for the busy day ahead. Offering a balanced and healthy working lunch or breakfast can promote a healthy food environment, too.

Why not make lunch time a way to let people slow down on busy days and really connect with the people they work with?

Join your crew and encourage employees to enjoy a coffee in the kitchen or have an afternoon snack together.

6. Make it an event and host a regular Employee Appreciation Day

Take everyone out of the office, away from their desks, and the stresses of work to show that you appreciate them.

Sure we have Christmas parties and end-of-financial-year parties, but host an equally fun event that's focused around employee appreciation to show your team members how much they're really valued in the workplace.

It can be anything from food and a tab at a local pub to a full-scale party on a boat or at a nice venue.

7. Celebrate with sweet treats like cakes or cupcakes

There's just something about a birthday cake that makes you feel special, isn't there? When employees achieve milestones, whether professionally or personally, cakes and cupcakes are the perfect way to celebrate.

For example, the a baby shower before someone goes on maternity leave, a well-deserved promotion, a new product launch, work anniversary or employee birthdays.

It's a fun way to gather the entire organisation together on special occasions.

8. Keep a well-stocked office kitchen

Beyond catered events or regular lunches, consider making the break room or kitchen one that can really boost the employee experience; somewhere they can really feel like they're stepping away from their desks.

Sweet and savoury snacks, quality coffee makers and tea bags, even a beer or two on a tough day or Friday afternoon can make a big difference.

There are plenty of pantry options we offer from local suppliers to ensure your break room is well-stocked with snacks and high quality items. We supply fresh fruit, milk, soft drinks and even a cheeky wine.

Workers clinking glasses of wine and cocktails

9. Host regular Friday arvo snacks and drinks

After a long week, many of us head to the pub or bar to let off some steam. Why not start this a bit early and show some employee appreciation before the week is even done!

Turn the last hour or two of the workday on a Friday into happy hour. On occasion, bring in some exciting cocktail catering, such as Excuse My French, or a finger food catering spread to go along with it.

10. Provide little pick-me-up snacks like lollies, biscuits and fresh fruit

Treat the team to some sweet treats like chocolates, gummy worms, biscuits or fresh fruit.

With plenty of options from guilty snacks to healthy and organic treats, you can show a little employee appreciation with with a little something sweet.

If your team is still mostly working from home, you can make remote work that much less isolated. Consider sending care packages as a little surprise treat and really show your love for the awesome work your team does in a gift box.

11. Send a personalised note with a gift

They don't need to be large, expensive gifts for it to mean something. Even the small touches make a big difference.

Whether from a direct manager, department head or company owner, show some employee recognition from someone who will make each team member feel special.

At the end of the day, it’s the thought that counts, and most will feel honoured just to know someone is thinking about them. It could be a box of chocolates, a bottle of wine, or a gift card for a small purchase at their favourite shop.

Dr Johns recommends avoiding getting the same thing for all employees though. "The generic approach many programs use–when everyone gets the same certificate or gift card–makes it feel impersonal."

Bonus points will surely be given if you take the time to hand write the note to go along with the gift, too.

A small gift box with a note

12. Get the grill going with a corporate BBQ

A corporate BBQ a the perfect excuse to get out and enjoy the fresh air and sunshine. It also gives the entire organisation the opportunity to spend time away from their desks.

Perfect in the summertime, when everybody is edging closer towards holidays and craving more time outdoors, a BBQ can also be a budget-friendly way to show employee appreciation.

If you want all the tips and more, check out our article on making the best BBQ catering event with our tips from organising to cleanup.

13. Be spontaneous with treats

If it's been a particularly busy week, or if a long and difficult project has just finished, surprise the hard-working team with something they'll appreciate.

Whether it’s surprise donuts, or chilled drinks on a hot day, think thoughtfully about what will make your staff happy. Get to know them and what their tastes are, their favourite local snack shop or cafe for coffee.

14. Treat them to great coffee all day, every day

There's nothing more drab in the office than supermarket-brand instant coffee made with water heated in an electric kettle.

Organising a quality corporate coffee solution for the office is a perfect way to make sure everyone feels appreciated, every day. It's also a great conversation starter amongst team members, giving employees a way to take a break, regroup and just relax while making and drinking a coffee.

Plus, we all know how much buying a barista-made coffee can be these days. (Since when was $4 or more a cup the new norm?)

Three hands, two with hot coffees and one with cold brew

15. Offer flexible hours or remote working options

It's 2022 and we know just how much flexibility really means to an employee.

Whether there’s a work from home option, or hours, giving your employees space to live life outside of work gives them the space to perform great things at work.

A New York Times article notes that many employees "are happier, more efficient and want to hang onto the benefits when the pandemic ends." It notes some of the added benefits are also spending less time commuting, saving money on transportation and things like daycare, fewer employees getting sick and more time for personal fitness.

Some of Australia's best workplaces, according to Great Place to Work, are offering flexible and hybrid work.

16. And, lastly... Just say it!

Be vocal about your appreciation and provide positive feedback - and not just when it's asked for.

Not only will this increase motivation, it’s a simple way to make sure your workplace maintains its positive environment. In turn that can boost productivity and encourage the team to bring new, innovative ideas if they know they'll be appreciated.

It also sets a great example for new employees to immediately place them in positive atmosphere.

All in all, it's more time to spend on your personal life rather than your work life.

Women working and laughing in an office meeting room

Why is it so important to show employee appreciation?

Making employees feel appreciated goes a long way. It shows staff they mean so much more than just their employee number.

They're valued and seen. Their contributions mean something.

And this is something that the best places to work in Australia are doing.

"The best employers are focusing on wellness beyond the physical – providing benefits that support their employees' total well-being – mental, emotional and physiological," Roland Wee, managing director of Great Place to Work Australia, told Yahoo! Finance

"We are seeing a concerted effort to take care of the mental health of people, supporting leaders and normalising mental health conversations.”

When you make a team member feel valued, it can have a positive impact on their morale but also their team members, and gives people an idea they on the right track.

And it's not just the employees that this can benefit, but the entire organisation.

Dr Johns notes "creating a workplace culture where appreciation is authentic can result in positive interactions, less conflict and improved results towards an organisation’s goals.

But there are other things you need to remember, too, when showing employee appreciation and making staff feel valued.

Make coming back to the office fun and memorable

With how much things have changed over the last few years, if you're encouraging staff to return to the office, make it worth it. Consider bringing in new foods, quality coffee and ensure it's a welcoming and collaborative environment.

Make all your team feel their hard work worth it by making coming to work an awesome experience.

Fun office kitchen/break room space

Don't forget to continue catering for those with different needs

Many offices have changed drastically over the last few years, and that includes the way we share food and space at work.

Keep in mind that hotdesking may not be accessible to all and cut backs in kitchen supplies to minimal items could mean someone can't have breakfast or a warm beverage in the morning anymore.

Consider all physical needs and dietary requirements when managing your office space. Show that you know your employees and care about them by making sure their diverse needs are still being catered for.

People work better when they feel better

When people feel happy in an environment that lets them take care of themselves and really connect with their team, many studies has shown how a positive work environment greatly boosts employee engagement.

"When staff do not feel valued, it can result in absenteeism, tardiness, becoming demotivated and the quality of their work declines," says Dr Johns. "They can also become emotionally detached and are likely to complain more about their work to colleagues, supervisors, and even customers. As a result staff who feel unappreciated may start to search for other employment opportunities."

Ensure your team is staying motivated

An unmotivated team tends to produce lower quality results, so keeping the team motivated is beneficial to your business too. However, you'll need to do it right. Dr Johns notes "ninety per cent of all recognition programs primarily recognize tenure of service, which does little to motivate staff."

Make sure your appreciation is authentic by regularly communicating it, doing so through a language that the recipient appreciates most and that it's personalised.

Get your employees involved in the ideas for the next things

Encourage the entire organisation to get into the spirit of thinking about the next event. Why not start a suggestion box so people can give feed back but more importantly contribute their own ideas for the next fun event.

Don't be afraid to get creative

It’s the small things that make a big difference, so don’t be afraid to try out one or all of these ideas and mix it up. You’ll find that your employees will appreciate it and so will your company’s bottom line.

Woman working on a couch in a funky office space

By caring your workers become your best representatives

When employees feel valued it boosts your employer brand as they become your biggest advocates. One of the best things you can do by recognising employees and taking on employee feedback.

You improve employee engagement as they feel they have a voice and means to contribute to the conversation.

Make remote work feel less remote

With the nature of work with hybrid and remote employees, it's more important than even for recognising employees achievement and make them feel appreciated. It's time we look at how work fits in the employees lives.

With means of sending individual care package or delicious desserts or cakes, why not surprise your staff members and show how much you care today. Check out food, drinks, desserts & more at EatFirst!

Help your employees grow

Provide platforms for other employees to share their learnings in a space to help each other grow. Don't be afraid of employee feedback as it's a great way to get a real sense of your team members and how they are feeling about how things are going.

Let us help you out

If you need help or inspiration to show your staff you appreciate them, give us a call on 1300 851 900 and one of our catering consultants will be more than happy to help.


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Written by:

SEO & Content Marketing Specialist

Spending much of the last decade juggling eating her way around the world and working within the travel and lifestyle content marketing space, Alex joined the EatFirst team in 2022. With 15 years of experience under her belt, she specialises in content strategy, SEO, writing and editing. Some of her favourite eats include Japanese, Thai and Italian, and she’s a firm believer that pineapple has no place on a pizza.

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