Great employees are the cornerstone of great companies. Making your employees feel appreciated will help you to retain employees and increase productivity among staff. Below, we're sharing ten ideas for recognizing the hard work and dedicated of your employees.

1. Recognize Them Out Loud

Thanking someone in an email is a nice gesture, but expressing gratitude out loud can be even better. If you're already having weekly meetings, take some time at the end to call out great employees. Singling out a few employees at each meeting, in front of the whole team, is a great way to boost confidence.

2. Choose Better Gifts

Generic recognition gifts might get your point across, but they'll also most likely get thrown in a drawer and forgotten about. Instead, look for a unique gift like personalized desk accessories, award plaques with creative titles, or themed gifts from the city your office is located in.

3. Say Thank You with Food

Free food can be appreciated by almost anyone. Encourage employees to take note of coworkers who are doing a great job. Provide slips of paper with a space to write their own name, a coworker's name, and what action they're recognizing. At the end of the week, draw two names and offer lunch out on the company's dime. 

4. And Even More Food

A quick email to let employees know you brought donuts to the office kitchen is enough to make the morning better. If you want to take it further, have a local food truck stop outside and pay for everyone's lunch. You can easily thank the entire staff for their hard work and dedication in the email. 

5. Make a Day of It

If the company has a particularly successful month, celebrate with a day of fun to recognize the hard work that went into it. Go off-site for a day of eating, socializing, team building, and thanking your employees.

6. Make it Personal

Every employee is different, and if you really want to make each person feel appreciated, you might want to consider personalizing your employee recognition plan. Some will prefer award plaques that can be hung in their office while others will be more excited about a new coffee mug. 

7. Streamline It

If you're in charge of employee recognition in a large company with hundreds of employees to keep track of, personalizing the process might not be feasible. YouEarnedIt is an app that allows co-workers to give each other points for a job well done. The points can be traded in for prizes of the employee's choice over time.

8. Customize Sticky Notes

Even a quick thank you on a Post-It can show that you care. Have your printing company make a customized set of the sticky notes with a prompt like "Thank you for being..." Stick one to an employee's desk when you see them shining.

9. Give Back

Let employees know that you care about causes they're passionate about. Choose an employee each month and ask them to pick a nonprofit they'd like to support. Arrange for a group of employees to volunteer, if possible, and make a donation from the company in the employee's name.

10. Have Your Own Awards Show

Is there one time of the year when you like to recognize great employees? Make it an event that everyone looks forward to. Create award plaques for those who have made a big impact on the success of the company. Ask employees to nominate coworkers for an appreciation award and create award plaques for one or two of those individuals as well.