Employee recognition is a crucial component of employee engagement and should be part of your office culture all year round. But like most business owners, you’re probably on a strict budget. How do you show your employees how much they mean to you without breaking the bank? Here are some ideas:

1. Treat Them with Treats

Amy & Tammy’s Boxed Lunch Company Cookies

For something simple and effective, place a treat on each employee’s desk with a note. For Valentine’s Day, we gave every employee a cookie from our on-site kitchen and a simple message: It’s a great day at InfoMart because you are here! Pinterest has no shortage of these appreciation-themed treats. They’re simple, fun, and bring a smile to your employees’ faces.

2. Host a Lunch & Learn

InfoMart Drug Testing Lunch & Learn 

Investing in your team’s professional and personal growth is an excellent way to show them how much you care. At InfoMart, we understand the importance of learning and development, so we host multiple monthly lunch & learns to encourage corporate learning initiatives. There’s plenty of ways to achieve this:

  • Have managers do a deep-dive into their department’s processes to encourage interdepartmental training.
  • Allow your experts to shine by hosting educational seminars that spotlight some of your more obscure positions (we recently had our business analyst, graphic designer, and product manager each spend 15 minutes explaining the incredible value they each bring to our organization).
  • Host a vendor or supplier to educate on the relationship between them and your company.
  • Bring in an outside expert to discuss productivity or work/life balance (especially if you have professional contacts who wouldn’t mind giving a pro-bono lesson).

Survey your workforce to see what topics they’re most eager to learn about. Do they want to know more about your products or services? Do they want to improve workflow processes? Would they like to learn about saving for a house or investing for retirement? Helping your staff learn more about the topics that are important to them shows that you care.

3. Get Them Out of the Office

InfoMart Outside Picnic 

Everyone needs a break from their day-to-day routine every now and again. There are plenty of low-cost places for office outings. Most public parks have event spaces that can be rented or reserved; these are perfect for an office picnic. If you’d rather not worry about weather, there are other options. Local bowling alleys and skating rinks often offer discounted rates for larger groups. Offer a service day at a local volunteer opportunity. The important thing to remember is that it should be an enjoyable activity that gives your staff something to look forward to.

4. Thank Them the Old-Fashioned Way

Thank you notes seem to have fallen out of fashion recently, but personally, they’re still one of my favorite ways to recognize staff for their accomplishments. Some nice stationary, a hand-written note, and a gift card can go a long way. Employees like to see that their accomplishments are not only noticed but appreciated. Write your employees a short personal note, or, if you own a larger business, encourage your managers and supervisors to do so. This way each staff member is recognized by someone who regularly sees and interacts with their work.

5. Spice Up the Breakroom

InfoMart Breakroom

Your office breakroom is where employees go to decompress. Surprise your staff by adding a little something extra for a day: a popcorn machine, a dessert bar, board games, a bookshelf full of reading material, a new coffee bar, or a massage chair. Think about what might brighten your employees’ relaxation time and make their breaks a little bit more enjoyable. Make the breakroom a place where employees can truly have fun and relax during the day.

6. Throw a Party 

InfoMart Holiday Party

Who doesn’t love a party? There are plenty of budget-friendly ways to host an office celebration. Make it a potluck and encourage everyone to bring in their favorite dish. Hold contests and decorate your workplace. You can even choose a theme, like “Shooting for the Stars” or “Smells Like Team Spirit.” Recognize and reward employees who are celebrating company anniversaries with something special, like a bouquet of flowers or personalized gifts. If you want to spring for gifts for the whole staff, you can hold a raffle. This way everyone has a fair shot at getting something.

7. Say Thank You 

InfoMart Annual Awards Luncheon

The simplest way to show your employees you appreciate them is also the easiest: say thank you. Showing gratitude is something you can do every single day, and it doesn’t cost a dime. When an employee does well on a presentation or report, thank them for all the excellent work. If you notice a team member staying late to finish a task or help a customer, thank them for their dedication. Never take your staff for granted. In today’s labor market, your employees have options. Show your appreciation for their contributions, big or small, and you’ll create a tightly-knit team of industry professionals.