Employee Appreciation Gift Ideas to Ease the Transition Back to the Office

Updated by Jaime Netzer


There's no reason to beat around the bush: the pandemic has meant one tough year for workers, whether they were essential or remote, full-time or freelance. Disproportionate numbers of people battled anxiety and depression throughout COVID-19, whether or not they actually contracted the virus.

In fact, according to the Household Pulse Survey from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as of mid-May, almost a third of Americans (30.7%) were experiencing symptoms of anxiety or depression. The peak was even higher than that—a full 42% of us experienced anxiety or depression as of November 2020. This is a stark contrast to the pre-pandemic rates among adults, which were, for example, around 19% in 2019. That’s a 121% increase!

For employers, that means if you have had a loyal employee stay with you throughout either a stressful, in-person pandemic season or an isolating, technologically challenging remote work season, that employee could use some employee recognition (and no, we don't just mean a tumbler, tote bag, or a motivational poster for their office). As we all come back to the office—or stay in new, hybrid situations—now is the perfect time to recognize team members. It doesn't have to be an official employee appreciation day to warrant the recognition, either: hard work deserves a reward anytime!

For Team Members Coming Back to the Office

Sure, you could gift team members coming back to the office a gift card to the neighborhood coffeeshop or a one-time care package. But by selecting a unique employee appreciation gift via a subscription gift box, you can remind your employee each month that you appreciate their hard work! And if your whole team is coming back, you'll want ways to show them that you appreciate their time and effort as you also nurture a trusting, positive company culture—so a team bonding gift subscription box might be in order. That's right: Your team can share gift sets to help everyone feel recognized.

If you know someone had a particularly tough time, you can also focus your employee appreciation day efforts on gifts around wellness. How? Fight burnout before it flames brightly by giving your best employees care packages and employee recognition gifts focused explicitly on their time away from the office.

Browse our self-care subscription boxes to find inspiration! Whether through motivational personal growth or can't-miss self-care like bath and spa products , reminding your employee that you see them as a whole person with an identity that has nothing to do with their job description will make your gifting more magical. Encourage your employees to enjoy true "me time" with our top picks to unwind , which will mean more than any employee of the month recognition or typical gift basket.

For Workers You Hired Remotely... Or Employees Who Moved During the Pandemic

We've established that employee appreciation ideas matter more than ever—and that's because employees are moving more than ever. Millions of workers have quit in the wake of the pandemic, searching for more flexibility and more happiness. If you are the lucky employer on the receiving end of such a new employee, or have held on to one who had to move, count yourself lucky! Then think about ways to engage remote employees to help them feel like they are a part of a company culture and community.

This might take a little bit more research and work than with someone who you see every day. Whether your company has decided to stay remote or shift to hybrid work, the trick will be to start with the employee themselves! One of the precious losses of in-person work is "watercooler" time, so your first step is to make sure that you know your employees, so that you can show appreciation with staff appreciation gifts to suit their unique personalities.

For example, maybe you want to take a look at top trending gift ideas for the women who work for you—whether she's the book club type or the kind to keep the office beautiful with healthy, oxygen-boosting plants like succulents. Maybe the best unique gift for the man you just hired is a way to indulge his inner foodie or outdoorsman .

Whether you're all together or spread across time zones, don't forget to take time for team building. Consider investing in team building gifts , which allow your team to engage in the same activities across the distance. Employee recognition gifts matter now more than ever if you want to keep your team intact post-pandemic. And while company swag, a ceramic mug, or a keychain might be fun , high-quality and unique—dare we say, perfect gifts—will do much more toward fulfilling your retention goals.

Whether you have a new employee you want to support early on or you're looking into innovative employee perks beyond the typical holiday gifts and lapel pins, staff members will remember thank-you gifts that have their best interests at heart. A thoughtful gift can lead to a loyal employee—no matter what the year brings!

Find more great gift ideas for employees and more at the Gift Shop !