30 Fun Gratitude Games, Activities & Ideas for Employees

Home » Resources » Gratitude ActivitiesUpdated: May 04, 2022

Here is our list of the best gratitude activities for employees.

Gratitude activities for employees are ideas you can use to foster a culture of appreciation in your workforce. Examples include the gratitude hot seat, gratitude wall, and milestone celebrations. The purpose of these activities is to boost employee performance and boost engagement. Employee gratitude activities also promote stronger connections among workers.

These exercises are examples of employee engagement activities and can serve as Thanksgiving team building ideas. These ideas can also contribute to employee recognition programs and community-building efforts and can be ways to build trust within teams.

This list includes:

  • gratitude in the workplace challenges
  • employee gratitude games
  • gratitude work event ideas
  • gratitude at work ideas

Let’s get to it!

List of gratitude activities for employees

Appreciating your workforce will increase workers’ engagement and retain top talent. From gratitude wall to secret recognition Santa and thank you notes, here are our best gratitude activities for employees.

1. Gratitude wall

A gratitude wall is a dedicated space at work where employees write down what they are grateful for. Gratitude walls are one of the most effective gratitude at work ideas since they are visual activities.

For this activity, you will set up a gratitude wall in a common area at work. You can use wall space, whiteboard, chalkboard, or a corkboard. Encourage employees to write what they are grateful for at work and hang the notes on the board. You can schedule a day to read out the notes to the team. If you have a large workforce, you can have a gratitude wall for each department.

Here are more office bulletin board ideas.

2. Gratitude hot seat

A gratitude hot seat is among the best employee gratitude games for retreats and team outings. For the gratitude hot seat, each employee will sit on the hot seat. Every team player will tell the employee in the chair one reason why they appreciate them. If you want to try a different gratitude hot-seat variation, then have the employee in the chair state five reasons they are grateful for the company or the workers.

3. Thank you notes

Thank you notes may seem insignificant gratitude activities for employees. Yet, writing a thoughtful thank you note to your team is a great way to show gratitude. To make a thank you note more significant, send a company-wide email thanking an employee for an act or offer hand-written notes.

Be sure to highlight why you are grateful for the employee. You can list attitudes, behaviors, or actions for which you are thankful.

Examples:

  • Your service and commitment towards the ‘project name’ is exceptional. The project would be incomplete without your innovative ways and excellent customer service. Thank you, and keep up with the good work.
  • You have earned admiration, trust, and respect from your team with your honesty, commitment, and sincerity towards your roles at work. We see you, and we appreciate you.
  • Your leadership qualities is a daily motivation to all workers in your department. Thank you for always guiding and motivating your team to accomplish their goals.

You can also encourage other team players to send thank you notes to the worker you are recognizing.

For more inspiration, here is a collection of employee appreciation messages.

4. Gratitude flower

A gratitude flower is an appreciation gesture that uses petals to create a complete flower. For this activity, provide your team with different colored paper. In the center, teams will write what they are most grateful for in the company or department. Let workers create flower petals with other colored paper and use glue to stick the petals to the center of the flower. Workers will write things they are grateful for in the company or department on the petals. Once done, you can hang the gratitude flower in an open place in the office.

5. Surprise breakfast

Throwing a surprise breakfast is one of the best gratitude work event ideas. For the surprise gratitude breakfast, ensure that the management is in attendance. You could also include a presentation by the CEO that expresses gratitude for the team’s specific achievements. During the event, teammates can also express gratitude for each other. Before the breakfast, teammates can share reasons why they are glad to have their coworkers and aspects they appreciate about the workplace, and you can compile these messages into a slideshow to display during the meal.

6. Gratitude stones

Tangible gratitude in the workplace challenges like gratitude stones are effective in reminding workers to be grateful. For this activity, look for brightly colored, smooth, and light stones measuring at least three inches across. Then, give each team player their gratitude stone and a permanent marker.

Participants will write what they are grateful for each day. You can create a gratitude stone station where workers place their stones at the end of the week. Teams can also place their gratitude stones on their desks and pick them up when they need a reminder of their good fortune.

7. Daily reflections

Negative thoughts about work contribute to job dissatisfaction and stress, while daily reflections on positivity can offset work stress. For this activity, you can include a brief period of reflection at the end of the workday for each team. For instance, give workers eight minutes and let teams list three things that they are grateful for from the day.

You can also give workers free journals where each team player will jot down their reflections. At the end of the week, let each employee highlight areas that they feel need improvement. Teams can also mention one major action they are grateful for that happened during the week.

8. Charity donations

If you have an employee who supports a particular charity, then supporting the cause is a great show of gratitude. You can make a sizable donation and even request other employees to support the charity. Supporting a charity not only appreciates an employee but also raises the company’s social responsibility profile. You will also elevate your company’s reputation as an ethical employer. Giving back to the wider community is also a way for employees to appreciate what they have.

Here is a list of charity team building ideas and online fundraising activities.

9. Milestone celebrations

Celebrating personal and work milestones in your workforce is among the most effective gratitude activities for employees. For milestone celebrations, be sure to fill your calendar with the event’s reminders so that neither you nor your team misses any worker’s special day. For effective milestone celebrations, you can have a celebration at work where the entire workforce is in attendance.

Examples of milestone celebrations:

  • Birthdays
  • Engagements
  • Work anniversaries
  • Graduations
  • New parents
  • Employee farewell

Be sure to encourage other workers to send a thoughtful message to celebrate team players’ milestones and even offer a thoughtful gift. For instance, workers can share parenting tips with the new father in the company or offer gifts for the baby. Team members should also share personal messages expressing reasons they appreciate the honored employee.

Here is a list of employee milestone award ideas.

10. Pass the trophy

For this activity, start by coming up with fun award titles that workers will treasure and work harder not to lose the trophy. When a worker accomplishes something incredible, pass the trophy to them, alongside a few words of gratitude.

Examples:

  • Coaching champion award
  • Exceptional master award
  • Team player award
  • Customer service award
  • Fashionista award
  • Social butterfly award
  • Hidden talent award
  • Early bird award

Fun awards titles will make your workplace gratitude awards more inclusive. When creating the fun award titles, focus on the core values of the organization and offer the award to the employee who demonstrates the values. You can also let employees brainstorm and suggest fun awards.

11. Lunch treat

Food is one of the simplest yet effective gratitude work event ideas. You can offer workers meal coupons to their restaurant of choice, offer free lunch for one week, or surprise the team with a box of snacks that they can share with their loved ones at home. A lunch treat is a great time to let a senior manager or the CEO accompany the team and give them a gratitude speech. You can also let each team player mention one employee they are grateful for and why. For instance, an employee may be grateful for a colleague who helped them complete a project. Sharing a meal together is a great way to express thanks to each other and appreciate being part of a team.

12. Social media shoutout

Social media shoutouts will let your social media followers and customers know about the great work done by your team. You can post a picture of the employee alongside a thoughtful message. Also, encourage other workers to leave an appreciation message for their colleagues.

When recognizing workers on social media channels, be sure to highlight:

  • The role of the employee in the company
  • What the employee has have done to deserve recognition
  • How the act has impacted the company.

Be sure to also recognize workers on social media channels for accomplishing a personal goal.

You can also use your social media channels to share posts about why employees are grateful to be a part of the company or team.

13. Paid time off

Paid time off may be a simple gratitude idea. However, paid days are effective gratitude at work ideas. Often, your employees are struggling to balance work, family, and play. Employees can use the time off to run errands, go for a movie, or hang out with family and friends. There’s nothing sweeter than a ‘take the day off tomorrow’ email when the team has been working overtime to complete a project. The simple act of steping away from the office can help employes recharge and feel more grateful and positive when back at work.

14. Company swag

Unique company swag is one of the best gift ideas that can motivate your workers. Rather than offering plain company swag, design items that have a thoughtful gratitude message. You can even engrave workers’ title awards on the items.

For instance, instead of offering a plain branded company mug, offer one that has a ‘best team leader’ title. Personalized swag can have a big impact on building a positive workplace culture while also appreciating workers for a good job done. To make this gesture more interactive and inclusive, you can poll your workforce for ideas for the text to print on the swag. Knowing that coworkers came up with the descriptor will make the recipient treasure the item that much more.

Here is a list of company swag gift ideas for staff.

15. Gift cards

Gift cards are among the best gratitude at work ideas if you are unsure of what to offer your workforce. Gift cards give your workers the ability to choose rewards that they want. For instance, instead of purchasing groceries for an employee, offering gift cards that workers can redeem at grocery stores ensures that workers get what they want.

While employers and managers typically award gift cards, you can cultivate a culture of appreciation in your office by empowering employees to gift each other. Each quarter, you can set a stipend to allow for gift card exchanges. Employees can either make requests to reward a coworker or you can give each employee ten dollars to giveaway during the quarter. Thankful teammates can pass along digital or physical gift cards to peers who have gone above and beyond.

Here is a list of employee engagement platforms that can facilitate these swaps.

16. Secret recognition Santa

While it is typical for workers to receive recognition from the management team, your team should also receive appreciation from their peers. A peer-to-peer recognition program will foster team bonding and engagement. For the secret recognition Santa activity, let teams offer words of gratitude or gifts to their peers.

You will start by sticking every team player’s name in a hat. Each participant will pick one name and write words of gratitude to the team player. You can also let participants buy the employee a token of appreciation. The secret recognition Santa is an excellent idea that you can use to onboard new employees.

This activity can happen year-round, not just at Christmastime.

Here is a guide to doing Secret Santa virtually.

17. Office equipment upgrade

Upgrading work or non-work equipment is a good gesture of gratitude for employees. You can start by researching items that inconvenience your workers. Then, surprise the employee, team, or the entire workforce with a remarkable upgrade.

For instance, if your company does not have an office coffee machine, then go ahead and install one when the team goes home. Workers will be pleasantly surprised in the morning, and the entire team will thank you back.

You can get the entire team involved in the gesture by recruiting team members to decorate the honored teammate’s space. This tactic will help coworkers feel more appreciative of each other and is a more hands-on approach to a typical thank-you present.

18. Career-based rewards

Offering career-based rewards not only benefits an employee but also your company.

Examples:

  • Online courses
  • Leadership training
  • Work seminars
  • Short course scholarships
  • Time off to attend classes

You can let workers choose the courses that they want to take so that the reward does not feel too restrictive. And as a worker increases their educational qualifications, be sure to promote them. Career-based rewards is a show that the company is investing in the teams’ professional journeys.

These classes also present an opportunity for employees to reflect and be grateful for all that they have learned in their careers so far and appreciate having the chance to keep learning.

Here is a list of professional development ideas.

19. Employee Appreciation Day

You do not have to wait for the official Employee Appreciation Day to recognize your workforce. You can schedule a monthly Employee Appreciation Day where you will celebrate all workers.

Workers can show appreciation for each other by:

  • Gifting each other
  • Crafting a gratitude card for the team
  • Giving each other work-based feedback
  • Mentoring each other

After the employee appreciation event, you can either give the entire workforce a day off or let workers participate in team building activities such as bowling, a grill session, or a happy hour session.

Here are instructions for planning an Employee Appreciation Day.

20. Surprise gift deliveries

Surprise gifts deliveries will enchant your workers. You can work with a courier company that will deliver gifts to a team player’s home when employees are at work. For instance, you can curate gifts such as grocery shopping, a thank-you cake, or a bottle of wine alongside a thank you card. Thoughtful surprises will show workers that you care about them and make them feel appreciated and valued. Coworkers can also coordinate these surprises as a way to share gratitude for each other.

21. Remote workdays

If you have an in-office work setup, then your team will love to work from home every so often and avoid the commute. A simple surprise with a remote workday may increase productivity, employee retention, and worker engagement. Employees will also save the commute time and bond with their families.

During the remote workdays, you can have daily gratitude activities for the entire team. For instance, employees can have lunch as they state why they are grateful for each other or send appreciation emojis and e-greetings to each other.

Check out more virtual employee appreciation ideas.

22. Tribute gratitude video

A short and heartfelt tribute video from managers and colleagues is a great way to appreciate workers. For this activity, you will record managers and coworkers as they offer messages of gratitude to teammates. Then, compile the videos in one piece and include a sentimental song. A tribute gratitude video is a tangible and unforgettable idea that workers will never forget. You can go ahead and share the video with all workers via email as gratitude memorabilia.

23. Wall of fame

A wall of fame is a dedicated area in the workspace where you will display pictures of well-performing workers. You can make the wall of fame more interesting by posting random shots of workers as they go on their busy workdays.

For instance, you can post pictures of workers as they make presentations or talk to customers on the phone. You can also encourage other workers to post gratitude notes around the employee’s picture. A wall of fame will make the entire workforce realize the importance of hard work. This activity also helps team members be appreciative of average everyday moments instead of merely celebrating outstanding achievements.

For similar ideas, check out employee of the month tips.

24. Pet workdays

If you have workers who have pets, then let them bring their pets to work. Pet workdays are one of the best appreciation ideas that workers can share with their colleagues and customers. Your workforce may learn a thing or two about animals. Others might fall in love with the furry friend and even adopt one. Interacting with animals on the job is sure to make workers feel lucky to be a part of the company and is an effective mood and morale booster.

For the pet workdays ideas, be sure to set strict rules in place. For instance, let workers be responsible for their pets throughout the day.

25. Boss for a day

Rewarding your staff with the opportunity to be boss for the day is among the best gratitude in the workplace challenges. For this activity, you can start by identifying deserving workers in each department. You can set a day where the employees will lead the department with close supervision of the manager where necessary. You can let the workers sit in meetings, use a prime parking spot, or enjoy perks that only managers have access to.

The boss for a day activity will give your workforce an idea of what it is like to lead a team. The activity will also motivate your workforce to work harder for promotions and see the challenges that managers experience in running the department. Plus, the temporary boss can praise and acknowledge employees who may not ordinarily receive recognition from management, yet deserve the shout-out.

26. Team happy hour

A team happy hour session is a fun way to let workers break from their daily routine and mingle with other employees and managers. Teams can have positive interactions in a more relaxed atmosphere amid drinks of choice and snacks. You can let each worker mention something they are grateful for within the company during the happy hour session. To ensure every worker attends the event, be sure to plan the activity during a workday. Team happy hours can create a healthy work culture and reduce workers’ stress levels, which can help them feel more satisfied during on-the-clock hours.

27. Gratitude t-shirts

Offering gratitude t-shirts is a simple gratitude work activity. For this idea, you will create different t-shirt designs for varying awards. Let workers who win the award wear the t-shirts on Friday. Team players can sign the t-shirt with thank you messages before handing the t-shirt to the deserving worker. You can also order white t-shirts and allow

28. Gratitude reflection

A gratitude reflection is a practice that will cultivate a sense of awareness and enhance wellness among your workforce.

  1. Start by looking for an outdoor zen space. Let participants settle in a relaxed posture.
  2. Lead your team to take a few deep and calming breaths to relax. The team’s awareness will move to the immediate environment.
  3. Let workers state their gratitude for the things they can hear, see, touch, taste or smell.
  4. Lead participants into thinking about team members who they are close to at the moment and offering a gratitude message.

You can also lead participants into stating things they are grateful about the workspace.

29. Gratitude scavenger hunt

An gratitude scavenger hunt is a simple activity that you can use to stimulate gratitude among your workforce.

Prompts:

  • Find someone wearing your favorite color
  • Find the first thing you use once they get in the office
  • Find something that makes a beautiful sound
  • Find someone you are grateful for
  • Find a place that you love in the company
  • Find something to give a team member to make them smile
  • Find an item you can use to make a gift for someone

You can engage workers in gratitude scavenger hunts at the start or end of the week.

30. Field trip

Organizing a field trip out of work will not only appreciate workers’ efforts but also foster team bonding.

Field trip ideas:

  • Local museum
  • Winery tour
  • Coffee brewing tour
  • Botanical garden

You can use the field trip to create new memories among your team. And depending on the field trip chosen, workers can learn something new.

Conclusion

Employee gratitude activities will create a positive company culture and strengthen employee-leader relations. However, effective employee’s gratitude gestures are not occasional acts. Rather, you should aim at regular gestures that let workers know that you appreciate their efforts at work. By pointing out great performances and areas that workers need to improve, you will have a happy team that strives to grow professionally and act in the company’s best interests.

FAQ: Gratitude activities for employees

Here are answers to questions about gratitude activities for employees

What are employee gratitude activities?

Gratitude activities for employees are ideas you can use to foster a culture of appreciation in your workforce.

What are some good gratitude activities for the office?

Some good gratitude activities for the office include gratitude reflections, field trips, and gratitude t-shirts.

Why is it important to encourage gratitude in the workplace?

Consistent, sincere, and thoughtful gratitude activities will increase levels of employee productivity, satisfaction, engagement, and enthusiasm for work.

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