Low or No Cost Ways to Recognize Employees

Ongoing, meaningful rewards and recognition provide an effective, low cost way of raising morale and encouraging higher levels of performance. Appreciation that is sincere, timely and personal does not need to be financially costly.  To help you with creative options, listed here are ideas that cost little or no money to help you embed employee recognition into your everyday work. The intent of the list is to assist you in thinking of and using creative expressions of appreciation that acknowledge employees at every level for their contributions and efforts.

Be sure to check policy BFB-G-41 to see which funds can and can't be used for recognition.

No Cost Informal Recognition

Written Acknowledgements
  1. Write a thank you email to an employee
  2. Write a thank you card
  3. Post a personal note of appreciation on employee’s office door

In-person Acknowledgements
  1. Thank an employee in public or in private
  2. Share success stories and recognize staff in department meetings
  3. Share employee’s accomplishments in staff meetings
  4. Acknowledge and celebrate birthdays and work anniversaries
Online and Posted Acknowledgements
  1. Recognize staff in monthly department newsletter
  2. Recognize staff on department website
  3. Create a brag board for employees
  4. Create and post an “Employee Honor Roll” or "Hall of Fame" in department reception area
  5. Create a celebration calendar
  6. Submit staff accomplishments to UCI publications recognition and highlights
 Responsibilities-oriented Acknowledgements
  1. Provide project or task lead opportunities
  2. Provide choice of a growth or stretch assignment
  3. Recommend participation on different project or campus committees
  4. Offer a mentor position
  5. Arrange for a team to present the results of its efforts to upper management
Awards-based Acknowledgements
  1. "Blue ribbon" or other award symbol for achievement
How to Send a Free eCard
(*This link may be browser sensitive. You may need to enter the code "112680" under "guest access")
  • Select the "eCards" icon from the selection bar below the image
  • Select an eCard and follow instructions to send to recipient
  • There are a variety of categories from which to choose.

Low Cost Informal Recognition*

*See "Non-Cash Awards/Gifts" for policy
Social or Team-oriented Acknowledgements
  1. Invite employee(s) to lunch
  2. Provide break snacks such as bagels, donuts, and other snacks or food for employees
  3. End of year, quarter, or project celebrations
Personalized Employee Acknowledgements
  1. Send flowers
  2. Bake a gift for an outstanding employee
  3. Give an office gift
  4. Give a gift card
  5. Decorate the office
  6. Personalize coffee mugs
  7. Offer favorite snack
  8. Find out what the person's hobby is and provide a hobby-related gift
  9. Provide a "stress support kit" (e.g. chocolate bars, kush balls, etc.)
  10. Give tickets to a sporting or other event
  11. Send birthday and work anniversary emails or cards
Work-oriented Acknowledgement
  1. Membership/subscription to a journal that relates to their work
  2. Provide individual or team development opportunities
  3. Provide training funds for development
  4. Schools/Divisions/Departments create years of service recognition events