A person handing a gift to another person

How Do You Motivate Employees with Gifts?

January 17, 2024

Employee appreciation is a powerful tool that can significantly impact your team's motivation, productivity, and overall success.

When employees feel valued and recognized, they are more likely to be engaged and committed to their work. In fact, research by Deloitte indicates that recognizing employees increases employee engagement, productivity, and performance by 14%.

One of the most effective ways to motivate and show appreciation to your employees is by giving them a meaningful gift. When carefully chosen, a thoughtful present, small or big, sends employees a message that they are appreciated and valued by their organization. This simple gesture can go a long way in boosting employee engagement, motivation, and morale at your company.

In this post, we uncover the top 35 motivational employee gifts, each generation's expectations for incentives, and four ways gifts can motivate your team and contribute to a positive workplace culture.

35 Motivational Employee Appreciation Gift Ideas

A motivational gift is instrumental in uplifting your staff's spirit. Here are 35 motivational gift ideas:

Company Swag

  • Hats: Hats are a stylish and practical gift that employees will love.
  • T-Shirts: Everyone loves a company-branded T-shirt! These are great for employees' wardrobes inside and outside of the office.
  • Sweatshirts: Keep your employees cozy and motivated with branded sweatshirts.
  • Vests: Vests are a fashionable and functional choice for cool weather.
  • Pullover: Pullovers are suitable for both work and casual occasions.
  • Polo Shirt: Provide your employees with a new professional shirt.

High-Quality Employee Appreciation Gifts

  • Nice Headphones: Headphones are a key resource employees use to stay productive and motivated in the office. A nice pair of headphones not only supports their performance at work but is also practical for day-to-day use outside of the office.
  • Care Package: A self-care package is a great option for encouraging wellbeing. It acknowledges their hard work while providing them with products to support their wellbeing and health.
  • Speaker: A nice speaker is the perfect gift for both work and leisure activities.
  • Subscription Box: Keep the motivation going year-round with subscription boxes tailored to their interests, such as wine, coffee, or candle subscriptions.
  • Digital Notepad: Allow your employees to capture ideas and notes in one central location, making their work more efficient and eco-friendly.

Work-Related Employee Appreciation Gifts

  • Personalized Notebook: A personalized notebook is a great choice for a multi-generational workforce. It adds a personal touch to their everyday work items.
  • Branded Desk Accessories: Personalized desk accessories, such as pens and mousepads, add a touch of individuality to an employee’s workspace. These gifts are equally practical and motivational, making them a great choice for a company-wide gift.
  • Ergonomic Footrest: Support your in-office employee's wellbeing with a nice ergonomic footrest.
  • Lap Desk: Have hybrid employees? Enable flexible work arrangements with lap desks that make remote work more convenient.
  • Desk Riser: Support your employee's wellness by gifting them a desk riser, allowing them to alternate between standing and sitting.
  • Portable Monitor: A portable monitor is a versatile and practical employee appreciation gift, providing them with the flexibility to work or enjoy entertainment on the go.

Practical Employee Appreciation Gifts

  • Popular Retail Gift Card: A gift card from a trusted and well-known retail brand allows employees to use it as they see fit. This ensures that employees can get something they will truly enjoy.
  • Gift of Choice: Send a special recognition program like Connects Celebrates, which allows employees to select a reward from an online gift catalog – aligned to your budget. 
  • Nice Water Bottle: If there is one item that anyone will enjoy, it’s a high-quality water bottle. It’s a practical gift that employees need in and out of the office. Plus, 
  • Coffee or Tea Pack: Help employees stay energized and focused with a nice coffee or tea set.
  • Sweet Treat: Satisfy employees’ sweet tooth with a delicious treat such as cookies, macaroons, and chocolates. 
  • Grocery Gift Card: Support employees' daily needs with grocery gift cards. This is a great option for supporting their financial wellbeing, especially with the current economic outlook.
  • Personalized Luggage Tags: A personalized luggage tag is a thoughtful and unique gift option for employees.

Small Employee Appreciation Gifts

  • Book: Encourage personal growth with a book focused on self-improvement and growth.
  • Mouse Pad: A simple yet effective gift. A mouse pad shows your employees that you care about their workspace.
  • Work Essentials Kit: Pass out a work essentials kit with employee’s must-have work accessories. This could include pens, sticky notes, a notepad, paper clips, and a sweet treat.
  • Mug & Chocolates: Give your employees a simple yet thoughtful gift with personalized mugs filled with chocolates.
  • Fidget Toys: Enhance employees' focus with fidget toys. These are fun gifts that relieve stress and help productivity.
  • Crew Socks: Who doesn’t love a pair of fun crew socks? Customize a pair of socks with your logo and brand colors and pass them out to your employees.

Unique Employee Appreciation Gift Ideas

  • Extra PTO: While this isn’t a tangible gift, it certainly can motivate employees. Sometimes, there is nothing better than the gift of time – to relax, recharge, and have fun outside of work.
  • Home Office Improvement Fund: Are your employees remote or hybrid? A home office improvement fund may be a great gift choice. It empowers employees to enhance their workspace, making them feel valued and supported in their remote work efforts.
  • Employee Wellness Fund: Gift your employees an employee wellness fund to encourage self-care and a healthy lifestyle outside of work.
  • Corporate Wellness Benefits: Help take the stress off your busy employees with a corporate wellness benefit provider like Circles, supporting their wellbeing and improving the employee experience.
  • Food Trucks: Bring in a food truck or two for lunch on a random Friday as a simple yet effective way to say “thank you.”

What Gifts Motivate Employees?

Giving employees a gift is no easy task, especially if your goal is to motivate your staff. With each generation having vastly different experiences and being in a different stage of life, giving a gift that’s equally valued by all employees can be challenging.

Fortunately, we have access to data that can help us understand employees' expectations. In a recent study, the Incentive Research Foundation (IRF) uncovered the latest expectations of employee incentives for each generation. For this study, IRF surveyed a group of employees, classifying them into three separate age categories - early career, mid career, and late career - to understand each generation's preferences.

Here are a few takeaways from the study:

  • Gift cards ranked among the top three choices for most respondents.
  • Early career employees are more drawn to merchandise & experiences.
  • Travel rewards are a top preference, even above time off & flexible work.
  • Paid time off as a reward is far more important to early career workers.
  • Late career workers prefer drivable domestic reward travel locations over those requiring flights.

This research indicates that gift cards, cash, time off, and travel are highly valued by employees across all generations and serve as great motivators for employees. Next time you provide your staff with a gift, consider giving them one of these items for the most impact.

Although pre-selected gifts are nice, sometimes there is nothing better than having the opportunity to select your own gift! A digital recognition and rewards platform like Inspirus Connects empowers employees to select a gift that’s meaningful to them from an online catalog (aligned to your budget!). These tools can help simplify the employee gift-giving process, removing the administrative burden of searching for the perfect gift and distributing it to your staff.

Other Ways to Motivate Employees

If you are looking for a way to motivate your employees without breaking the bank, consider creating an exclusive yearly or monthly award. These exclusive awards are a great way to encourage behavior aligned with the company’s core values and motivate them to perform their best. For example, Inspirus has the “Spirit of Inspirus” annual award, a nomination-based award that employees vote for at the end of each year. 

Additionally, consider creating fun monthly challenges around wellness activities and completing necessary work-related tasks. These challenges can be a great way to motivate and encourage employees to live a healthy lifestyle or complete mandatory paperwork. Plus, if you have a points-based recognition system like Connects Plus, you can award one winner each month to incentivize them.

Lastly, flexible work arrangements continue to be a powerful incentive for the workforce. The IRF’s research reveals that a majority (two-thirds) of employees prefer to work remotely a few days a week. Consider rewarding employees with a few work-from-home days.

The Impact of Employee Appreciation Gifts

Employee appreciation gifts have become an integral part of modern workplace culture, fostering a sense of recognition and gratitude among employees. These tokens of appreciation go beyond being just a kind act - they can have a profound impact on morale, motivation, and engagement.

Below, we’ve broken down the four major ways gifts impact employees:

#1. Boost Morale

Boosting employee morale is one of the most immediate and evident benefits of appreciation. When employees receive a special gift and praise for their hard work and contributions, it uplifts their spirits and fosters a positive attitude. High morale can lead to increased energy levels, a more optimistic outlook, and a greater sense of satisfaction in their roles.

#2 Cultivate Employees' Purpose and Belonging

When employees feel appreciated and valued by their company, they develop a stronger sense of purpose and belonging within the organization. Knowing that their work is recognized and valued makes them feel like an integral part of the team and the company’s mission. This sense of purpose can drive employees to go the extra mile, take ownership of their roles, and actively contribute to the organization’s growth and success.

#3 Encourage Productivity

Appreciated employees are often more motivated to excel in their roles. The recognition of their efforts serves as positive reinforcement, encouraging them to continue performing at their best. Increased motivation and a desire to maintain their high standards can lead to improved productivity levels.

And research backs this up: 92% of employees are likely to repeat a specific action if given recognition for it. Likewise, employees have reported that receiving recognition from their superiors is the best way to boost their engagement.

When employees are motivated, they are more focused, efficient, and dedicated to achieving their goals.

#4 Improve Job Satisfaction

Employee appreciation plays a pivotal role in enhancing job satisfaction. When employees feel valued and appreciated, they are more likely to be content with their jobs and the organization as a whole. 

Consequently, satisfied employees are less likely to seek employment elsewhere, reducing turnover rates and saving the company time and resources in recruitment and training. In fact, Zippia reports that recognized employees are nearly 6x more likely to stay at their jobs. 


Giving staff appreciation gifts is a simple yet powerful strategy to motivate your workforce and create a thriving workplace culture. By recognizing and appreciating your employees with a meaningful gift, you can boost motivation, improve engagement and enhance performance within your organization, among other benefits.

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