How Do You Show Appreciation For Your Coworkers — Experts Weigh In

Happy Valentine’s Day! This holiday is all about sharing the love and we want to know how you show appreciation for your coworkers. Do you do something as simple as leaving a thank you note on their desk, sending a fun email full of GIFs, or is it more of a company-wide effort? We asked 34 business owners to share their ideas with us!

1. “Making time to forge strong relationships with coworkers is very important, especially in fully distributed companies. Some of the ways we do that is to form chat rooms where people can share and bond over topics like movies and TV or sports. I also schedule catch-up coffee calls where we get to socialize and taking the time to do this helps people know that you appreciate them as a human being and co-worker.” — Natalie Athanasiadis, Head of Digital, Digital Visibility Group Melbourne

2. “I am one of those people who believe in working hard while also believing that work doesn’t have to be stifling. It’s the little jokes and fun parts of the day that makes a team work well together. I can’t afford to take everyone out to lunch or anything, but I do try to make sure they know how much I appreciate them and love working with them. My team uses Slack, and more often than not that I send my manager a Parks and Recreation GIF to describe how my day or a project is going. There’s seriously a Parks and Rec GIF for every possible feeling or scenario. He always sends one back and then we take our conversation in person to laugh more. I do a daily standup with my team in front of a whiteboard with everyone’s responsibilities and projects laid out. Slowly, I’ve been adding avatars for each person’s queue of projects. I find a superhero or meme that most accurately describes that person (always positively, never negatively) and I sneakily add the picture to the board. I also bought a bag of ridiculous little toys on Amazon for about $10. It’s a low cost to me and I was going around making people choose which one they wanted. Word spread about the toys so quickly that the next day other people from other teams were asking for a little toy as well.” — RaShea Drake, B2B Analyst, Verizon Business

3. “One of the best Valentine’s Day ideas was to share love notes from our customers with our employees. We put a kind thing a customer has said about the company on each of the employees desk. Nothing makes you love your company more than knowing your customers love it.” — Kaitlyn Trabucco, Founder,

4. “We have less than 20 people onsite (closer to 50-60 staff altogether all over the country), and companywide, we mail $5 gift cards and birthday cards to offsite employees, plus host employee gatherings. We have a compliments email address to recognize a colleague, which we read aloud at All Staff meetings (video calls) and post on our intranet too. We do a jar of good wishes when an employee moves on to another opportunity. We also give out handwritten thank you/appreciation notes. Personally, we give small things to each other — gifts, gift cards, Starbucks cards. I bring in bags of candy and homemade treats and fruit snacks, plus boxes of cookies, nuts, fruit, etc. I make sure I have something for everyone, depending on their restrictive dietary needs, allergies, and favorite treats. Sometimes it’s kind, thoughtful acts. One of my coworkers makes sure we have vanilla coffee on hand for me; she even hides a box so we always have a spare. It’s also important to ask people how they are doing, about their family, etc. and remember to check in.” — Amanda Ponzar, Chief Marketing Officer, Community Health Charities

5. “As the owner of a painting company, I listen. I really try to get to know my staff and understand what’s important to them. This way, it’s easy to think of a reward when one is due. For example, I saw my office manager out to dinner with her family at her favorite sushi restaurant, so when it was time for a special gift, I got her at gift card to that very restaurant. It’s important to get to know their families and ask about them by name. As a way to jog my memory, I keep a note in their phone contact with any information I know or acquire, so I can refer back to it when I need to.” — Paige NeJame, Owner, CertaPro Painters of the South Shore and Boston

6. “Appreciation in our workplace is extremely important to us. We recently implemented Kudos employee recognition software in our company where coworkers are able to thank and appreciate each other for a job well done. Everyone wants to be appreciated and we take this as a daily part of our culture to make sure everyone knows their worth and feels the love.” — Candice Simons, President & CEO, Brooklyn Outdoors

7. “One of my favorite co-workers and I exchange GIFs of Shiba Inu as tokens of appreciation when we help each other out. If I help her with a bit of copy on the website she’ll send over an adorable Shiba Inu GIF, and when she gives me a hand with troubleshooting I’ll shoot one her way too. Since Slack’s giphy function is random and instant, this is a quick and delightful addition to the workday — and since we both love Shiba Inu, it’s our way of spreading the love.” — Geoffrey Scott, Payments Consultant, Motile LLC

8. “Looking after my team is my top priority, so I started catering lunch for the entire office. This started when I noticed a trend of my team burning out throughout the day. People would frequently skip lunch or avoid taking breaks to finish their tasks. Not only did catering lunch encourage a friendly and sociable atmosphere, but it allowed my team to take a well-deserved break and get to know people across other departments.” — Fred Schebesta, CEO & Co-Founder,

9. “I created an original peer recognition program for Parmalat Canada that allows employees to give hand written notes to one another, while also entering to receive prizes for participation. The notes were actually referred to as Valentines by one of the employees, because they are cheerful and paper based to accommodate both office and factory workers. The program is structured so that you benefit by both receiving AND giving these love notes called Milk Drops.” — Ambra Sultzbaugh, Workplace Culture Consultant, Juice Strategy

10. “When you want someone to appreciate the gesture of getting you something for Valentine’s Day, the trick is to be as simple as possible. In my case, around the office to show our employees that we appreciate them, we each send them a personalized letter. We express our deepest thanks for those letters and it makes all the difference in the world to them. If you are able to express your appreciation towards your coworkers by doing something small like treating them to lunch, giving them a small gift, or something heartwarming, people will thank you for that and it will make their day.” — Jason Perkins, Founder & CEO, San Diego SEO and Online Marketing Inc.

11. “Something I’ve done from time to time to show coworkers appreciation is to give them a recommendation on LinkedIn. It’s a nice gesture especially if you put thought and specifics into it.” —Dayne Shuda, Founder, Ghost Blog Writers

12. “The best way I’ve found to show my appreciation to my co-workers is to simply ask them for input. Every two weeks, I send an email out to my team welcoming any feedback, comments, suggestions for how we can improve. Nothing makes someone feel more appreciated than knowing that their opinions are valued.” — Jerry Haffey Jr., President of Business Development, Ambrosia Treatment Center

13. “Showing appreciation for coworkers is all about respecting all the small, social niceties many people ignore nowadays. Acknowledging emails, saying thank you, or wishing people to have a good weekend and meaning it. Nowadays too many people learn their business ‘skills’ from shows like Dragon’s Den and The Apprentice, and seem to think there’s something positive about being brusque, rude and standoffish. These shows are not reality, and happy companies don’t work like that!” — Ben Taylor, Founder,

14. “My family is in the jewelry industry and this year we are getting all the women that work for us heart pendants for Valentine’s Day. Most of our jewelry involves gemstones so we are giving some of them Garnet (red gemstone) and others Amethyst (purple, but the February birthstone). We think they will get a kick out of it. We haven’t quite figured out something for men, though last year we gave them all watches. Going to have to put our thinking caps on for this one!” — Jeff Moriarty, Marketing Manager, Moriarty’s Gem Art

15. “I find that small, unexpected shows of gratitude are the best way to show your team how much you appreciate them. One member of my team loves iced coffees, so every once in a while, I will text her before she arrives at work to let her know that there is one in the fridge for when she arrives. Showing appreciation needn’t cost a lot of money, nor should it be limited to special occasions or only to when a large amount of work has just been completed.” — James Nuttall, Content and Outreach Specialist, It Works Media

16. “After a successful campaign or a long week, treating the team to a free lunch is a great way to show appreciation. Leave it to the team to decide where they want to eat/what they want to order in and set a day for having lunch together; this makes for an inclusive and appreciative team bonding experience.” — Steve Pritchard, Search Content Manager, giffgaff

17. “Nothing conveys appreciation and gratitude like personalized and tailored gifts and messages, especially within the corporate world when you may be gifting your professional network whom you may not know entirely well on a personal level. A thank you card mentioning a particular incident that the coworker really helped you out, a teacup for a coworker who’s known for their love for tea, or a cat accessory for a coworker who loves cats are great examples of personalized and tailored gifts.” — Jessica Koong, Career Blogger, Cubicle Chic

18. “Showing employees appreciation is easy – showing them respect is a little more difficult. That respect is in giving them the information and context they need to understand their role, rather than hoarding knowledge and playing the politics. It’s the respect to cover for them when they’re having a bad day or taking the extra assignment when you know their kids are at home ill. It’s in the everyday respect of treating them like you’d want to be treated. Of course, though, funny memes, grabbing them lunch, or a few cookies never go amiss either!” — Rob Mead, Head of Marketing, Gnatta

19. “Acknowledging Valentine’s Day can be a great and creative way to boost morale around the workplace. Business managers and coworkers should make their colleagues feel like they’re part of a special team rather than trying to make each individual feel special. Instead of handing out individualized gifts or cards by Valentine’s Day, try and decorate the office, encourage group events, and bring in treats. That way, your coworkers will feel good about being a part of your life, even if they don’t partake.” — Nate Masterson, Marketing Manager, Maple Holistics

20. “Make Valentine’s Day every day. No need to do big things. Surprise your colleagues by a simple smile when things are not going so well. The biggest gift you can give to your colleagues is taking responsibility for your own actions.” — Karen Hartmann, Marketing Director,

21. “In the office, I show my employees I appreciate them by leaving them each a small note and a small gift they can use around their home or on their children. Since most of my employees are mothers, It makes sense to each gives them something they can use. The trick here is to personalize each gift so that they don’t feel like you are giving everyone the same small note. It’s better to be personal with your employees. Since I have a small company, employee trust and bonding matters to me. When there are teamwork and comfort in the office, it helps people become more productive. They also learn how to work together, so that the workload does not seem too big for them.” — Joanna Douglas, Owner, Clean Affinity Cleaning Service

22. “In my own business as a marketing consultant, one of my favorite ways to show appreciation has been an informal Friday afternoon show-and-tell via video chat. I call all my colleagues together on a Friday afternoon for a video hangout, and they are encouraged to bring a refreshment of their choice depending on their time zone and how much client work they have to get done before the weekend. Then we take turns sharing updates on our passion projects. This is great because most freelancers have other creative endeavors going on. My team includes touring musicians, aspiring novelists and filmmakers. Everyone takes turns sharing links to their latest YouTube videos, book jacket designs and blog posts. Since freelancing can be lonely, they all enjoy getting to know one another better, and they appreciate getting a chance to promote something other than their client work. I also immediately follow this up by scheduling a lot of social media shares of the links that circulated in the show-and-tell.” — Robert McGuire, Publisher, Nation1099

23. “People who don’t feel engaged and appreciated usually don’t stick around for long. For my employees and interns, I focus on the types of appreciation and encouragement that EACH person wants based on their individual, unique personalities. For instance, based on someone’s drive for social interaction, he/she might prefer public recognition in front of their peers and colleagues OR private recognition alone with a manager or direct report. Knowing this can inform the type of engagement you give that person, and make it feel more personal. For my public people, we throw parties, send company-wide emails, and otherwise make that person feel like a rockstar. For private people, I’ve done everything from a secret bonus envelope to a set of cupcakes with employee milestones written in icing (AKA, happy 90 days!). Gifts and engagement should always be tailored to the individual for maximum impact.” — Tracy Timm, Quarter-Life Career Coach & Human Capital Advisor, Tracy Timm, LLC

24. “Whenever possible, I prefer to give verbal recognition to my coworkers. That might be an in-person compliment, thank you, or an open acknowledgement during a team or staff wide meeting. During a specific holiday, I might give co-workers an appropriate card in which I write my thanks and compliments.” — Robin Schwartz, PHR, MFG Jobs

25. “We use Skype to communicate with one another whether for sharing fun or work-related content. Every time we find out through Skype that a coworker has done something great, I always send some funny GIF or animated emoji to congratulate them. It lightens the office mood and makes my coworkers laugh.” — Holly Zink, Digital Marketing Associate, The Powerline Group

26. “The most important part is to actually appreciate your coworkers. You can’t show them you appreciate them if you don’t. We like to show appreciation in several ways. We love to congratulate each other for a job well done. We even have a celebratory bell in the office. We also have regular team lunches and parties. We’ll take any excuse for a celebration!” — Alexandra Isenegger, CEO, Linkilaw

27. “For Valentine’s Day, our employees have the opportunity to purchase Valentine Candy Grams (also in honor of Random Acts of Kindness Week). This involves filling in a short form to share thanks, appreciation or other congratulatory notes for colleagues, managers, staff members, etc., along with $5 for each Candy Gram, and the Social Committee will deliver these kinds notes and treats on Valentine’s Day.” — Jasmin Zamora, Bilingual Communication Specialist, Combined Insurance

28. “When it comes to appreciating your employees, it’s important to be as simple as you could be. In my opinion, simple things mean more. In the office, when an employee works hard and does a good job, I like to show my appreciation by leaving them with a small note on their desk and a cup of coffee from Starbucks. It instantly brightens their day, plus they are more productive that way. It means that you are taking time to notice how hard they work every day.” — Brad Shaw, President & CEO, Dallas Web Design Inc.

29. “Little things like Bagel Tuesday, pizza, or a BBQ are always nice. We have done apparel, gift cards, and bonuses which everyone loves. I think the best way to show appreciation (and my favorite) is by taking an interest in everyone and showing them I genuinely care. I know what’s going on with them and their families outside of work and make myself available to talk if needed.” — Mike Wolf, Director of Operations, Delgado Stone Distributors

30. “Grab a little squishy frog, plush frog, or print out a picture of a FROG and say ‘I have to FROG you.’ Wait for their surprised reaction! Tell them that FROG stands for ‘Forever Recognize Others’ Greatness.’ It’s surprising, authentic and hits the top two top ways 90% or more want to be recognized: a verbal thank you and personalized specific words of praise.” — Sarah McVanel, Chief Recognition Officer, Greatness Magnified

31. “We have a Wall of Awesome with fun and casual headshots of every person at the company. Anonymous feedback can write on slips of paper provided to call out something that team member helped achieve. At the end of each quarter, HR removes all of the feedback and gives them to the team member to keep, if they want to!” — Mollie Delp, HR Specialist, Workshop Digital

32. “When you truly appreciate your team, appreciation is diverse, spontaneous and natural. We have paid government fines for team members, bought little bits of hardware to make their lives easier, a few meals and drinks, and the occasional office treats.” — Kyle White, Chief Executive, VeryConnect Membership Software

33. “Send them a shout-out on social media. Use your business social media accounts to give your employees a shout out, letting others know how much they are valued! Be sure to mention how they have contributed to business success as potential customers or clients may see the social media mentions as well. Do you have a blog? You can also profile employees there who have gone above and beyond expectations. You can also send a gift card personalized to each employee. The coffee lover gets a card for the coffee shop, the sweet tooth will love a card to a candy, chocolate, or cupcake store, and the employee who can’t get enough of the next-door sandwich shop would go gaga over a card that will cover some of their lunches.” — Justin Lavelle, Chief Communications Officer, BeenVerified

34. “It is so much fun to recognize our team members for sharing their passion and their genius so sometimes we gather into a gratitude circle to celebrate success and to acknowledge them for their passion. We have given gift certificates, bought lunch, and shared gifts.” — Lee Richter, CEO, Montclair Veterinary Hospital

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