Mary Kay Ash, founder of Mary Kary Inc. (the world's sixth-largest network marketing company, valued at more than $3.5 billion) hit the nail on the head when she proclaimed, "There are two things people want more than sex and money -- recognition and praise." Mary Kay Inc. has built a team of dedicated, motivated sellers by lavishing praise on and gifting top performers. Mary Kay's ultimate carrot is a shiny pink Cadillac.
You need not
The more you get to know your employees, their personalities, and what they like to do outside of work, the more effectively you can tailor recognition gifts. And, you need
Tickets to a local sports game. If your company is located within a reasonable distance of a major or minor league sports team, and your award-worthy employee is a sports fan, you cannot go wrong with game tickets! Whether you gift your employee a pair of tickets; a box; or tickets, parking pass, and refreshment voucher, you can be certain it will be a big thumbs up!
Tickets to a show or concert of their choice at a local venue. Similarly, if your employee is into jazz, heavy metal, country music, off-Broadway musicals or any other performance art, you can't go wrong with tickets. When you announce the gift to your employee, present them with an events calendar so they can choose a date and time that works with their schedule.
Massage or manicure/pedicure, and the afternoon off to enjoy it. Men and women. Young or old. Everyone loves to be pampered and every employee has a particular pampering preference. That's why self-care gifts for employees always go over well. Shoulder or foot massage, deep-tissue stress-releasing massage, manicure, pedicure … you can be certain that at least one of those options will appeal to your employees -- especially if you encourage them to leave work a couple of hours early to indulge.
A gift cards to a local restaurant. Everyone's got to eat. Sometimes, the most reliable and diligent employees skip lunch because they're so engaged in their work. That's great. That's just one reason why they're worthy of an employee recognition gift! Encourage them to take a break, nourish their bodies, and recharge their mental batteries by gifting them with lunch to a restaurant near the office.
Social media shout-out. We all know them: Those people who seem to have it all and who need or want nothing tangible. Sometimes, the most appreciated gifts for employees are gifts that money cannot buy. Heartfelt public recognition for a job well done is literally priceless. If your company has a Facebook page and/or Twitter or Instagram account, gift your valued employee with a customized tribute publicizing why they are so valuable to your company. Make sure to include a flattering photo, and encourage your entire team to like and share!
Cash. This needs no explanation. A cash gift is a gift that will always go over well.
Charitable donation. Giving money is great. Giving money in an employee's name to a cause near and dear to their heart is, arguably, more appreciated than cash.
Food. Everyone needs to eat. Most people love to eat. You can't go wrong with food gifts for employees. Pretty much anyone would welcome a gift basket stuffed with assorted sweet and savory snacks. Lucky employees can keep their snack stash in their office to stave off the munchies, deliver a quick caffeine or sugar hit, or share with their coworkers.
An extra vacation day. "All work and no play makes Jack a very dull boy." If your employee deserves an employee gift, they obviously
Airline ticket. Some of the best experiences are those that we jet-set to. Do your employees regularly travel for work but usually don't get to stay and enjoy the sights and scenery of their various destinations? Why not allocate some of your company's accrued airline miles as future gifts for employees? Your team will love exploring another city, state, or country.
Hotel-room stay. Just as your company accrues airline miles, it accrues hotel loyalty points. Gift your VIP employee some of these points. You can pair hotel points with airline miles for an extra-special gift. Or, you can gift hotel loyalty points so your employee can have a special staycation in your city.
Trophy. That's right. An old-school trophy, plaque, framed certificate, or engraved paperweight is something tangible your employee can place in a prominent spot and reflect on. Trophies are timeless gifts for employees because they serve as physical reminders to employees that they are valued tremendously.
Lunch or dinner (or a round of golf) with … you. What could be more rewarding for an up-and-coming employee than spending quality time with their mentor? Even the most productive, motivated employees may feel anxious around "the boss." Gifting your own valuable time to spend one-on-one time with an employee is a gift that will be appreciated -- and that will probably benefit you as much as it does your employee.
Office swag. Often, the most dedicated employees spend the most time in their office or cubicle. One's workspace is literally like a home away from home. Ergonomic office items such as sit-stand desks, office chairs, keyboards with wrist support, etc. are great gifts for employees. They make the workplace more comfortable and more productive.
Greenery. Studies have repeatedly shown that being surrounded by natural touches lowers stress and increases productivity and creativity. As long as you're careful to choose a non-pollen-bearing variety, what employee would not welcome
Mini office mascot. Living, breathing plants make awesome gifts for employees. Living, breathing creatures with eyes kicks up the appeal factor a notch. Why not consider small fish tanks or frog terrariums as gifts for employees? They deliver instant stress relief and serve as a great conversation starter for clients and coworkers visiting the office.
Being tasked with identifying great gifts for employees is a double-edged sword. On one hand, giving is fun and rewarding in and of itself. On the other hand, all of the many options from which to choose can be daunting. Use this list as inspiration. Spend some time getting to know your employees (you can even send out a "getting to know you" questionnaire).
Above all, don't lose sight of the fact that months or years down the road, your employees may not remember the gift that you gave them. Once the novelty of receiving an employee gift wears off, one thing will withstand the test of time. Your employees will remember that you saw something special and worthy
They'll remember what you said when you approached them with the honor of being named Employee of the Month or Top Seller of the Month. Whatever you choose as gifts for employees, how you present the gifts and explain why they were selected to for recognition is much more important in the long run. You can't go wrong with the gifts for employees listed here. Just keep in mind that presentation and playing up the honor