With National TC Week quickly approaching, everyone is wondering what they can do to recognize their employees. But why wait until NTCW to show appreciation? Recognition needs to be immediate and reinforcing. Basically, you need to have a culture of “Knock Your Socks Off” appreciation.

A Culture of Appreciation

A culture of appreciation begins with treating your employees with respect, and that begins with providing the equipment, resources and training they need to do their job. Employees should also be included in the agency’s decision-making process as often as possible in order to foster collaboration and a spirit of teamwork.

Many employers believe that the only thing needed to make employees more motivated and more productive is a raise. Yes, a raise is great but what good is it if you dread going to work every day because of a lack of appreciation or respect? In a published study, eighty-three percent of employees said that recognition for their contributions was more fulfilling than a raise or any rewards and gifts. As Mark Twain once said, “I can live for two months on a good compliment.”

With that in mind, what are some ways that you can recognize your employees without breaking the bank? Let’s look at some “knock your socks off” ideas for showing appreciation.

Some of the Best Gifts Are Free

Not all recognition costs money. There are numerous things you can do to show appreciation and recognize your employees for free.

  • Expressing thanks for a job well done or even a daily task will make an employee feel that their work is valued, and they are respected. You can use 3×5 cards to write thank you notes that can be reviewed by employees any time they are having a tough day to remind them why they do the job and that they are appreciated.
  • Recognize the milestones and challenges employees go through. Celebrate when an employee reaches a five-year milestone, or show you care when someone or their family member is in the hospital.
  • Create a PowerPoint introducing your employees and showing their fun side. Show it to your city council, county commissioners, or 9-1-1 board and include some pictures of things you’ve done for your employee recognition.
    • Example:
Telecommunications History Photo
  • Invite your boss to attend a staff meeting with your employees during which you thank individuals for their specific contributions or achievements, such as their earning industry specific certifications such as ENP, RPL, or CMCP.
  • When you hear a positive remark about someone, share it with everyone.
  • Sit in the seat. Give your employees a break by taking their place answering phones or working the radio. This keeps you up to date on your skills and it gives them a chance to go outside and breathe some fresh air.

Low-Cost Recognition

I’ll admit, not everyone is crafty, but you don’t have to be crafty to make gifts for your employees or co-workers. Here are some ideas to get you started:

Rachie's Sockcake

Make a sockcake for everyone. Individual cupcake boxes can be purchased at your local craft store or at a popular online store in a pack of 50 for less than $15. Roll up a pair of socks from the dollar store like a cupcake and include a cute tag on top. You can make some with regular socks and some with fuzzy slipper-socks. One link on a popular pinning site had a label, “Thanks for a ‘toe’tally’ amazing year!”

Candy Bouqet

Make a candy bouquet with boxes of candy glued together, candy bars glued to lollipop sticks, and the candy bar sticks stuck into the boxes of candy. Shopping at the bulk stores can make this very affordable.

Personalized Candy

Use jelly jars or treat bags to make treats with a cute label. One sample might be a jar of Starburst with a label that says, “BURSTing with appreciation for your STAR-studded effort!”


For your tea drinkers, give them a single serving size jar of honey with a bag of tea and a note letting them know how “tea-riffic” they are.

SIMPLY the BEST employee

Purchase individual treat bags large enough to hold a bottle of their favorite Simply Lemonade flavor and some Reese’s miniatures. Staple the bag with a label, “I haven’t told you ‘REESE’ently, but you are SIMPLY the BEST employee”.

Purchase a stress-relieving game for your employees to enjoy during the “Q-Word” time. Puzzles and Nerf toys are good to have around to relieve stress.

Start Your New Employees Off Right

You don’t have to wait until your employees have been there a year or two to recognize them. Start your recognition with an employee on their first day. Greet them by name and be available to them. Show them you are glad to have them as part of the team. Get your other employees involved and have them welcome the new employee. Play matchmaker and set them up with a mentor if possible.

It’s the Thought That Counts!

Remember that showing appreciation and respect to each other is the most important action you can take to keep morale high and turnover low. You may work for a department that doesn’t recognize communications’ contributions, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do what you can. So, show your appreciation every chance you get and have a happy workplace!