Please contact us if you have an event date. Normal production time is 10 - 12 working day but some items are available with shorter production.

9 Ways To Ritualize Recognition Programs With Branded Merchandise

Published: 1/22/2022 Author: Lisa Horn

In May through September 2021, more than 20 million Americans quit their jobs, according to this BLS data . While there are numerous reasons for the Great Resignation, a lack of proper employee recognition is certainly a factor. 

When employees feel appreciated, they’re more engaged with their jobs—up to 2.7x more likely to be highly engaged according to research from Quantum Workplace. Furthermore, the findings suggest that “organizations with formal recognition programs have 31% less voluntary turnover than organizations that don’t have any program at all. And they’re 12x more likely to have strong business outcomes.” 

How recognition is bestowed matters. In this Culture Wise article, Candace Coleman says that rituals are seen as meaningful practices with a real sense of purpose. “When people participate in rituals, they’re engaged with the experience of the task rather than just completing it,” she says. “A ritual carries more weight because it feels relevant; it’s not just an action to cross off a list.” 

How can you build rituals around your recognition programs—and use branded merchandise to support the process? Check out these nine ideas:

1. Onboarding And Inboarding

How you welcome new hires to the team sets the stage for how your company culture is introduced. Giving a swag bag on day one helps them feel like they belong.  Additionally, when employees get promoted, use this opportunity to create inboarding swag bags that congratulate them on their new position. Apparel, desk items, mugs or water bottles, and backpacks are all useful whether employees work on site or remotely. 

2. Training/Education Initiatives

When rolling out new products or services, upgrading technology platforms or debuting new workflows, employees need to be trained. Oftentimes trainings are a drag, but they don’t have to be. 

Make these internal education initiatives more interactive and engaging by incorporating branded merch. Develop a theme. Create a mascot. Make the learning fun. Journals, writing instruments, stickers and buttons work with just about any educational program.

3. Service Anniversaries

When employees hit five years, 10 years, 25 years (yes, it still happens!) of service to your organization, you need a really special gift. Something luxurious. Leather jackets or duffels, and retail-branded watches, luggage or wireless speakers are a good place to start. 

While these items can still be branded with your logo, this is when less if more. Go for small, subtle decoration that doesn’t detract from the beauty of the item given.

4. Birthdays

Everyone wants to be recognized on their birthday, even if they don’t admit it. Beyond a department lunch or having a cake for the team to share, honor the birthday person with an individual gift just for them. Food gifts are great because of their universal appeal. All-in-one gift sets with themes around movie night or family pizza night make gift-giving easy and allows employees to enjoy treats with loved ones. 

Custom chocolate chip cookie canisters that are printed with your own birthday branding are also popular, and they can easily be drop shipped to remote workers. And don’t forget to have a selection of custom birthday cards on hand, so you’re always ready for the big day.

5. Team Building Events

Team building events are a natural for incorporating branded merchandise. T-shirts, water bottles and socks can commemorate the day, while branded bandanas, headbands, wristbands or caps in different colors can be used to identify various teams.

6. Employee Appreciation Celebrations

If you have an annual employee appreciation event, branded merchandise helps employees remember the feelings of goodwill throughout the rest of the year. Some ideas: 

Say thanks to your team with an annual BBQ and support it with branded aprons, custom labeled barbecue sauce or chef barbecue sets to commemorate the day. 

Tap into the charcuterie trend and host an elegant charcuterie party with beautiful bamboo cutting boards as the take-home gift. 

Host a spa day. Plush robes, candles and eye masks make perfect accompaniments. 

You could even treat employees to an afternoon of go-kart racing, complete with racing shirts and caps—and an extra-special prize for the overall race winner.

7. Traveling Trophy

Not all rituals have to be centered around annual events or milestone achievements. It’s actually good to celebrate little wins along with major accomplishments. 

Have fun here. Depending on staff size, create a “traveling trophy” that’s awarded weekly/monthly to someone who really goes above and beyond their traditional duties. 

Sure, it could be an actual trophy, but think a bit bigger and more amusing than that. Like a big wrestling medallion necklace (and perhaps a coordinating whimsically designed camp shirt). It’s big, and it’s silly. And that’s the point. The photos for social media look all the better for it.

8. Peer-To-Peer Thank You Gifts

While most recognition rituals are from the top down, don’t forget about creating opportunities for peers to thank each other. From helping out on special projects to staying late or working over the weekend, have small tokens of appreciation that can be shared. 

Custom cards, candy cubes, pens imprinted with “You Rock,” big buttons that say “I Appreciate You” or mini bottles of hot sauce that say “Thanks for bringing the fire to this project” are just a few ideas.

9. Community Outreach Programs

Whether you’re working with Habitat For Humanity or participating in a local park beautification project, corporate apparel and branded merchandise are beneficial on-site and post-event. 

Items such as logoed t-shirts, vests, gardening/work gloves and tools, hats, sunscreen and lip balm can combine to create useful accompaniments to reward employees for their participation. Assemble them into drawstring backpacks for easy distribution.

Takeaway: Ritualize To Create A Culture Of Recognition

Streamlining the recognition process allows you to build programs that are special, easy to implement and stay on budget. Incorporating the ideas above give you numerous robust opportunities to praise employees throughout the year, creating a true culture of recognition.   

If you’re ready to add more rituals to your recognition programs, let’s chat. Through our concierge service, we can help you select branded merchandise that your employees will value and appreciate. 

Contact us at or book an appointment at today. Choose from quick 10-minute chats, 20-minute new product calls and 30-minute brainstorming sessions to get started.