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8 Creative Ideas for Startups to Recognize Employees

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8 Creative Ideas for Startups to Recognize Employees

Today, startups are attractive for young professionals, primarily due to the learning and growth opportunities and exposure to new technologies and business models. However, working in a startup can be stressful, too, with its dynamic goals, unclear roles, and overall chaos. Hence, we have created eight creative ideas for startups to recognize their employees.

Many startups often do not invest in employee recognition programs citing lack of resources and low budgets.

These ideas are easy to implement, inexpensive, personalized, and work well even in a virtual work environment.


This can help startups to create a positive work culture where they recognize employees for their achievements.

The recognition, in turn, motivates them to perform at higher levels despite all the challenges. Here goes:

8 Creative Ideas for Startups to Recognize Employees

1. Video Message from the Top Boss

Video Message from CEO

A personal video call or message from the CEO or one of the Co-Founders appreciating an achievement or performance can work wonders for motivating any startup employee.

Coming from the top boss himself or herself can be a huge confidence booster for the employee.

It can also create a personal connection between the top management and the high performers.

2. Favorite Meal Home-delivered


Another idea to recognize employees’ achievements would be to get their favorite meals delivered to their homes.

It could be anything from a great breakfast pack, pizza, mouth-watering desserts, healthy snacks, or even a game-night meal combo.

The organizer needs to know the employee’s food preferences, either directly or through the supervisor or coworkers.

3. Team Shout-out Video

Team Shoutout Video

Nothing works better than a team video that captures different team members appreciating a coworker on camera for a specific achievement.

Video clips of individual team members can be compiled using video editing software such as Spark or Openshot; possibly with some background music and special effects.

The video can be shared via email or WhatsApp or played during a team meeting via web conferencing.

This form of recognition certainly has a lot of social value.

4. Gift Hamper Home-Delivered

Gift Hamper

Another effective way to recognize employees is by sending gift hampers to their homes.

These hampers could include snacks, health foods, beauty products, or grooming products, depending on the employees’ preferences and the budget available.

Once again, it’s essential to personalize the entire experience rather than following a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach.

 5. Donation to a Cause on behalf of the Employee


Donating to a cause that the employee supports or believes in, on his or her behalf is a great way to recognize them.

There are so many causes to which contributions can be made online. This form of recognition has a significant feel-good factor for most employees.

6. Paid Leave/ Time Off from Work


As employees of startups often experience overwork and stress, some break in the tight work schedule might be welcome.

The startup can spice it up by giving the employee a gift voucher for shopping or other activities.

This can make the entire experience even more satisfying for the employee.

7. Sponsored Virtual Party


This idea is a variant of the first one but involves other team members.

This could be in the form of a pizza party or a movie/game night, where employees can celebrate together from their own homes via web conferencing.

The food can be reached through home delivery while team members interact socially over web conferencing. Virtual party games can add more zing to it.

8. Beauty Treatment/ Grooming at Home

Home Spa

Another great form of recognition could be organizing a beauty treatment or a grooming session for the employee at his or her home.

This would be an excellent experience for the employee right from the comfort and safety of his or her home.

Needless to say, the choice of experience needs to consider the employee’s personal preferences.  


These creative ideas for startups to recognize their employees should help them energize and drive them to even higher levels of performance despite the challenging, unstructured, and often chaotic work environments.

Sagar Chaudhuri

Lead author: Sagar Chaudhuri, the Co-Founder and CEO of HiFives. He is an HR Tech Evangelist with over 25 years of corporate and entrepreneurship experience. In the past, Sagar has worked in leadership roles with companies such as Genpact, Infosys, and ICICI Bank. He has an engineering degree from IIT Kharagpur and an MBA from IIM Lucknow. Connect on LinkedIn

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HiFives is a global employee rewards, recognition and engagement SaaS platform that enables organizations to digitize, automate and transform their employee experience. It is used by 100+ large enterprises, small businesses and startups in manufacturing, retail, technology, financial services and media, across 25+ countries.