Taylor Tobin

One of the most positive aspects of life as a manager involves building an excellent team and helping to guide their growth and their subsequent successes. 

If your employees have been really killing the game lately, you may feel inclined to show your appreciation in a more concrete way than a mere “Great job!” at a staff meeting or in an email chain. 

These tokens of esteem can help to boost team morale and encourage your employees to continue performing at a high level, and we’ve got 18 suggestions for gifts that will really make clear how much you value these awesome members of your team.

1. Extra PTO (if possible)

Image via Pexels

Price: Cost to company dependent on pay structure

If it’s within your powers as a manager to offer an extra day of PTO to your employees, that’s an ideal way to show your appreciation for their hard work and your respect for their need to have a solid work-life balance. Here’s the truth: there’s no item you can purchase for your employees that will matter to them more than some bonus paid-time-off to spend as they please.

2. A one-time bonus

Image via Pexels

Price: Cost to company dependent on pay structure

While there are plenty of reasons to enjoy your job that aren’t related to compensation, the old “money talks” adage remains pretty relevant in today’s work world. Therefore, offering your employees a one-time bonus to reward them for completing a particularly difficult assignment clearly indicates their importance to you and to the company as a whole.

3. Institute “Summer Fridays”

Image via Pexels

Price: Cost to company dependent on pay structure

An increasingly-popular workplace perk, “Summer Fridays” allow employees to work half-day Fridays from Memorial Day through Labor Day, while still being compensated for a full day of work. If your office culture and workload allows it, this relatively-small move can bolster employee enthusiasm and satisfaction. 

4. Allow your whole team to work off-site for a day

Image via Pexels

Price: $0

Employees value flexibility and autonomy, which is why allowing a “work-from-home” day every now and then (if it makes sense for your particular workplace and industry, of course) proves to your subordinates that you trust them to complete their assignments, even when you’re not physically there to peer over their shoulders. 

5. If possible, schedule a bring-your-pet(/child/spouse)-to-work day

Image via Pexels

This suggestion depends heavily on the preferences of your particular team; some people vastly prefer to keep their work lives and personal lives separate and would balk at the suggestion of bringing a loved one or a pet to the office with them. But if your employees indicate that they’d welcome the opportunity to come to work with Fido in tow or to show their school-aged child what her parent does at the office all day, consider scheduling a bring-your-loved-one-to-work day. 

6. A gift certificate to a favorite restaurant

Image via Pexels

Price: Flexible, depending on budget

While scheduling a dinner outing for your team is a kind gesture that can reinforce office unity, some perfectly-solid employees prefer to avoid work-related events when they’re off the clock. For that reason, offering a gift certificate to a local spot that you know your employee enjoys is a no-strings-attached alternative that the vast majority of workers will appreciate. 

7. Provide a gas card or a transit pass

Image via Pexels

Price: Flexible, depending on budget

Gifts designed to make employees’ lives easier typically receive highly-positive responses, and as the vast majority of American workers must contend with some type of commute between their homes and their workplaces, providing your employees with a gas card or a pre-paid transit pass can help to offset those expenses.

8. Send your employee to a conference to help build their skill set

Image via Pexels

Price: Flexible, depending on conference admission costs and travel expenses

Depending on the size of your team, it may not be feasible to send everyone to an educational conference. However, if you have only a few subordinates and believe that they’d benefit from career-specific seminars, shouldering the expenses associated with such a trip shows your investment in your employees and their continued professional growth. 

9. A spread of homemade treats

Image via Pexels

Price: Varies depending on recipe and quantity

We'd like to preface this by saying that there's absolutely nothing wrong with heading to your favorite bakery and picking up some professionally-made treats for your team. But if you know your way around an oven, the gesture of bringing in some delicious baked goods that you made yourself adds a personal touch to the already-kind gesture and will likely read to your employees as a considerate way of showing your appreciation for their hard work.

10. A S’well water bottle 

Image via S'well

Price: $25-45

If you’d like to give your employees a physical item as an appreciation gift, practical choices that can be used on a daily basis within the office environment often prove the most satisfying. A prime example can be found in an excellent water bottle (like the version created by S’well), which helps employees stay hydrated, refreshed, and healthy throughout the work day.

11. A SodaStream

Image via SodaStream

Price: $89.99-179.99

A great water bottle will encourage office-wide hydration, but if your employees get tired of the same old Poland Spring H2O from the water cooler, setting up a SodaStream in the communal kitchen will let them bring some variety into their water-drinking habits, courtesy of carbonation and optional flavor additions. 

12. An upgraded coffeemaker for the office

Image via Ninja

Price: $179.99

Water is a definite necessity for a productive work environment, but many office workers would argue that the true lifeblood of any professional space is a fresh pot of coffee. If your office coffeemaker has seen better days, treat your employees to an upgrade, like the Ninja Tea & Coffee Maker (which makes both hot and cold-brewed java). 

13. Headphones

Image via Urbanears

Price: $49.99-99.99

If you work in an open-plan office environment, you may have heard complaints from your colleagues about the constant noise generated within a workspace without walls, doors, or other sound-blocking barriers. Offering your employees the ability to muffle extraneous sounds with the use of headphones can improve focus, especially if they have access to a high-quality headset like the ones designed by Urbanears

14. A comfortable seat cushion

Image via Purple Cushion

Price: $79

When it comes to office-life gripes, the uncomfortable nature of desk chairs arises on a frequent basis across all industries. If your employees must make do with less-than-ideal desk chair ergonomics, a top-rated seat cushion like the Purple Cushion can keep your team comfortable and productive throughout the day. 

15. A convertible desk fan/space heater

Image via Lasko

Price: $22.99

Office temperatures notoriously fluctuate, requiring employees to keep spare cardigans, blankets, and cooling fans handy. However, if you give each of your team members a Lasko space heater/fan, they’ll be prepared for every possible reading of the thermostat. 

16. A potted plant

Image via Pexels

Price: Varies depending on the plant

Providing your employees with potted plants to keep at their desks is a thoughtful move in several respects; plants have air-purifying properties, and their aesthetic value can prove both soothing and energizing. Even if your employees aren’t gifted with green thumbs, plants like cacti or succulents require little upkeep, thus relieving that potential stressor.

17. A Kindle Paperwhite

Image via Kindle

Price: $129.99

A fast-paced professional life often leaves little time for leisure reading, so a gift from a boss that encourages employees to unplug from “work mode” and get lost in a new book indicates that supervisor’s commitment to helping her subordinates maintain a strong work-life equilibrium. The Kindle Paperwhite is a bit pricey, making it a great reward for a single employee’s above-and-beyond performance, and its customer reviews indicate that it’s the best e-reader out there. 

18. Ask employees for their input on how they’d like to be recognized for exceptional work

Image via Pexels

Price: $0

If you’re not sure how best to reward your employees for strong work performance, just go ahead and ask them! Scheduling one-on-one or small-group meetings with team members to get feedback on the types of recognition that make a difference to them will help you avoid showering your team with gifts that have little impact on their overall happiness. Instead, you’ll have useful information about what motivates your team and can channel this insight in an active manner, which will help you retain your superstar workers and attract more of their ilk in the future. 

19. A bento lunch box from BentoHeaven

Image via BentoHeaven

Price: $24.95

If you want to reward an employee who regularly brings homemade lunches to the office, an attractive and easy-to-carry bento box could help her streamline her meal transport. This version from BentoHeaven is leak-proof, features separate compartments for utensils, and fits neatly into a shared office fridge.

20. An anti-glare filter for computer monitors

Image via 3M

Price: $42.59

If your employees regularly spend hours working on computers, the glare from those monitors can cause headaches, exhaustion, and dry eyes. A monitor filter can decrease those issues and make the work environment more comfortable for your team, which will in turn show them how seriously you take their satisfaction and happiness.

21. A team happy hour

Image via Pexels

Price: Varies, depending on team size and food/drink offerings

While "team-building events" that take place outside of office hours can feel like a burden to some employees (especially if spouses and family members aren't invited), a small happy-hour gathering right after work (or, if possible, at the tail end of the scheduled work day) with beverages, light snacks, and a convivial atmosphere can be a fun way to bring your team together and show your appreciation for their project successes.

Don’t miss out on articles like these. Sign up!