15 Affordable Employee Appreciation Ideas for Your Remote Team

employee appreciation day

Remember that time you felt your brain catching on fire with so many tasks to do, but then Bob sent you that funny meme on Slack, and you instantly felt better? Or the time you were stuck in solving a problem, and Jack helped you and saved the day? So many reasons to be thankful to your employees. They are the ones that keep your business going day and night, and the good news is that today is the perfect day to show how much you care for them. For those who had no idea, today, the 5th of March is Employee Appreciation Day!

As most businesses have shifted towards the remote work model, showing appreciation virtually can be a challenge. A simple thanks can brighten someone’s day but this festive date is the perfect excuse to go a bit more over the top and make your employees realize how grateful you are for the cat memes.  

Here are some great virtual staff appreciation ideas that are affordable for any budget and that will make everyone on the team feel they have the best boss ever.  

Best Employee Appreciation Day Ideas

The challenging thing about managing a virtual team is that it can get messy whenever you want to give them presents. You need to think about whether to get them all the same gift and see how to deliver it in their respective countries or provide them with something more personalized. 

However, it’s worth keeping in mind that employees always appreciate expensive gifts but what they value the most is your effort in celebrating the small wins and rewarding them when they do a good job.

Employee Appreciation Day is the perfect moment to prove that you care for them and that you are grateful for the hard work they do daily. Here are 15 budget-friendly ideas for rewarding remote employees on this special day.

1. Let Them Eat Chocolate!

Chocolate is the key to people’s hearts. Most people love chocolates, so if you run out of ideas to show your team how grateful you are for their hard work, chocolate is the answer.

You can choose a popular chocolate brand that most people like and send the same one to everyone on the team. Or, if you want to make this gift a bit more personalized, you can ask each member of the team what their favorite chocolate brand is. 

2. Gaming Night

How do you show appreciation virtually? This is a tricky question because, as a leader, you want your team to feel appreciated and connected despite the thousands of miles in distance between each one of you. But there are affordable and fun ways to connect with everyone and have fun on this special day. 

For example, if your team is into video games or board games, there are thousands of great activities you can play online with your team. At DistantJob, we even create a zoom call to laugh and talk while playing a game.

3. Personalized Video

This is a 100% low-budget present but an amazing and thoughtful idea. Imagine your employees’ faces when they start their working day with a video of their boss saying how much they appreciate their work.

If you have a small team, let’s say 5-10 people, you could easily take the time of your day to create 1–2-minute videos sharing an anecdote of a time they helped you out or did something you appreciated. Or sharing the qualities that make them great people. 

4. A Cool Company T-shirt!

Most of us love t-shirts! They are like the best of both worlds; you can wear them with your PJ’s, but also make them the perfect work-from-home outfit.

You can even personalize the company t-shirt by adding the names of each member of the team. 

5. A Virtual Award Ceremony

Teams are made up of different personalities. There’s the bossy team member who always gives orders to everyone; there’s the kind employee who is always helping everyone, or the funny employee with the best memes and videos to make everyone laugh. And Employee Appreciation Day is also about celebrating those differences that make each team member unique.

This is one of the best virtual rewards and recognition ideas; you can set up a zoom call and make everyone dress up as if they were going to the golden globes. You are the host, so you are the one who will be announcing the winners of the night, which in this case, is every employee with their distinctive characteristic. 

6. Virtual Lunch

This idea might be affordable or not, depending on how large your team is. If your team is small, buying lunch is not such a big expense. 

You can synchronize your schedule and set up a time that suits everyone (even if that means that some might be eating dinner while others lunch) and eat together as if you were in the same place.

7. A Mug

Let’s admit it; everyone loves mugs! And when it comes to remote workers and coffee, they are the perfect match, like peanut butter and jelly.

Of course, some don’t like coffee but might like tea, and a mug is the perfect personalized, affordable gift that makes everyone feel special.

8. An Online Cooking Class

There are thousands of easy and delicious recipes online that you don’t even need to hire a chef for the class. You just need to pick an easy tutorial with your team, set up a zoom call, and start cooking!

Location: Each of your team member’s kitchens!

The best-looking dish wins! 

9. Invest in Their Growth

Another great gift for your remote employees is a course to help them move forward with their careers. Try to remember if some of them mentioned a particular interest in learning something new or improving in certain areas. You could gift them a course on that subject or in another area that you think will truly benefit them.

Plus, most online courses are very affordable and contain great resources for them to use. 

10. Meditation App Subscription

Meditation has proven to be an excellent method to reduce stress and increase awareness. And remote workers are well known to overwork. This means that some days they even work more than 8 hours.

With a meditation app subscription, you encourage them to take time from their day to breathe and be more conscious. This will help them to be more relaxed and overall to have a better work-life balance.

11. An e-book

This depends on whether your team loves to read or not. 

If they enjoy good books, you could buy them your favorite book of all time, that book that changed your life, and then you could even organize a virtual book club session to discuss it.

Or you can simply ask them which book they would like to read. 

12. A Virtual Happy Hour

Happy hours are pretty common in on-site offices. After work, you go to the bar in front of the office and have a good time with your team.

But who says you can’t do this with your virtual team? Time zones can be a challenge, but you can still make it work. You can organize a virtual happy hour by zoom, make your favorite cocktail, and have fun time with your remote team

13. A Long Weekend!

Staff appreciation day is also about giving them time to relax and recharge. So, a great gift for them will be to give them the day off, even better, a long weekend (letting them take Friday off) for them to enjoy with their family and friends.

14. Treat Their Pets

One of the best things about working remotely is getting to meet your team member’s other coworkers: their pets. It’s normal to see cats wondering on the keyboard while having a video call. Or hearing the dog bark.

So, a nice and different gesture of appreciation is to buy something for their four-legged best friends. It could be anything, from gourmet food to a nice toy. 

15. A Thank You Card!

Last but not least, you can go with the old reliable: A “Thank You” card.

No-one says you need to go over the top with gifts! What matters the most to all employees is to feel their boss cares for them. And a thank you note can be a nice way to make them feel appreciated.   

Making Your Remote Team, A Better Team

Giving your virtual team a small gesture of appreciation can make them feel valued and more engaged in your company. These types of celebrations are the perfect excuses to remind your employees how much their work means to you.

Working remotely has not been easy for anyone, not even for companies like ours that have been in the remote work game for more than a decade. However, one thing is for sure: having the right team is a lifesaver when times get tough. 

If you’re looking to scale your remote team, contact us! We’re a remote recruitment agency with one goal: to help every company hire the best remote tech talent.

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Gabriela Molina

Gabriela Molina

Gabriela Molina is the writer and executive editor of the DistantJob blog. As a former freelance journalist, she has covered a wide range of topics throughout her career. She was featured in Datasciencentral, Simpleprogrammer, to name a few. She is currently specializing in the areas of technology, leadership, and remote work.