You know what they say: You can’t buy loyalty.

You can buy an employee’s time, physical presence, and limited obedience, but you have to earn loyalty as well as motivation.

How do you earn loyalty and motivation? By treating employees well and giving them the tools they need to succeed. Above all, it’s about showing appreciation.

So if you want your employees to feel valuable, pick your favorites from this list of budget-friendly employee appreciation ideas.

Start an Employee of the Month Program

Recognize a stellar employee each month and highlight their achievements by sending out a company-wide email or making a quick presentation at the start of the workday. In my last company, we created the Milton employee of the month red stapler award. Every month a lucky recipient would get the award based on how well they lived out our company values. It was up to them to award it to the employee that deserved it for the following month. It was a simple and cost-effective way to let our team members know they mattered and were making a difference.



Give Employees the Day Off After a Particularly Demanding Project

Have you had an especially stressful month? Maybe your staff has been putting in extra hours and energy for a really difficult client and now that the project’s ended successfully, the entire team’s exhausted. Consider giving the team the day off as appreciation for their hard work. Let go of the fact that they won’t be at the office doing work that day and focus more on the long-term benefits of having a happy and engaged employee.

Give Spontaneous Shout Outs to Great Employees

At the end of the week (or even the day) point out an employee who surpassed their targets, read a great client testimonial out loud, or recognize an employee who went above and beyond while completing a certain task. It’s crazy, but here in Hatchbuckland, we have customers reaching out to us daily to let us know that someone on our team made a difference:


“Erin was over the top helpful and went out of her way to be accommodating and to ensure that I fully understood and got everything set up the way that we needed to. Her patience with me and her knowledge was amazing!”


We have a standing company meeting every week, and we always start off the meeting highlighting a team member and sharing customer quotes with the team. It’s a great reminder to our employees that they are appreciated and that what they do everyday matters.

Recognize Birthdays and Work Anniversaries

Keep a calendar of employee birthdays or when they started working for the company and give them a shout out on their special day. At Hatchbuck, we started the tradition of having monthly team lunches where we celebrate employee birthdays for the month and acknowledge those team members who have an anniversary. It is a great team bonding event and a simple way to recognize employee milestones.


employee appreciation


Offer Work Hour Flexibility for Employees

Workplace flexibility plays a huge part in employee retention and satisfaction. In fact, studies show that 75% of employees ranked workplace flexibility as their top benefit. Look for simple ways to accommodate your team. Perhaps a large percentage of your team is made up of working parents, and they’d rather come in early and leave early. Moving from “9 to 5” to  “7 to 3” may not even impact your business, but it can mean the world to your employees who appreciate the flexibility and are motivated to demonstrate how much value they provide regardless of strict schedules.

Or maybe employees are allowed to scoot out early to a kid’s soccer game or a doctor’s appointment. By giving your team flexibility in their day, they will feel less pressure outside of the office, be more loyal and truly believe you don’t just see them as another cog in the wheel.

Include Employees in Important Decisions

A great way to show employees you appreciate them without spending a dime is to ask for their advice, solicit their feedback, and include them in important decision-making processes.

At Hatchbuck, we launched an all-new version of our sales and marketing platform last year. Throughout the process we met with employees to get their opinions and feedback. After all, they are in the trenches with our customers every day. The result? Our employees see elements of their hard work and experience reflected throughout the software and truly buy into how we are helping business succeed.

By simply including employees in the decision-making process, it boosts morale, keeps employees on top of their game, and shows them you value what they bring to the table.

Use Handwritten Thank You Notes

Researchers studying motivation found that when it came to motivating employees, compliments beat out cash bonuses. (Pizza beat out everything, but we’re talking about not spending a dime here.) When someone does a great job, leave a handwritten note thanking them for their valuable contribution to the team. The personal touch shows employees that you care, and they will appreciate that you took time out of your busy day to make them feel special.

Ask Employees Which Perks are Most Useful For Them

Eventually, you’ll get to the point where you can afford to invest in employee appreciation. Instead of choosing things that look good but don’t make a big impact (your employees may not want an Employee Appreciation Day, as nice as that sounds), ask your employees what they’d like.

They may ask for extended vacation days, funding for professional development, a cabinet full of snacks (a Hatchbuck favorite), or something as simple as a free gym membership.

Be Nice, Respectful, and Transparent

Treating your employees with respect and compassion (as opposed to treating them like numbers on a spreadsheet) goes a long way towards creating an environment of loyalty. It’s as simple as saying good morning, offering a channel for feedback, or even ensuring their work environment is comfortable whether it’s about the office layout or temperature.

In the end, you don’t buy loyalty. You earn it. That means that it’s not necessarily about your budget, but about your effort, so choose your favorites from this list and get started cultivating a mutually beneficial professional relationship with your team.