What is an employee appreciation letter?
An employee appreciation letter, sometimes called a recognition or thank you letter, is a formal, semi-formal or casual letter an employer gives to an employee to express gratitude for their hard work. Write an appreciation letter when an employee performs beyond your expectations.
For example, appreciation letters can recognize and thank employees for completing well-executed projects, going above and beyond their job responsibilities or achieving a specific performance goal.
Why are appreciation letters for employees important?
Sending your honest appreciation to an employee is important because it lets them know that you value their work. Employees who feel noticed and respected are often happier and more motivated to work hard to achieve company goals. Showing employee appreciation also creates a stronger team bond and a healthy company culture, which helps reduce turnover rates. In fact, according to an Indeed survey, 30% of people who left a job within the first six months said being recognized more for their unique contributions could have helped them stay longer.*
Additionally, by encouraging good behaviors and qualities in appreciation letters, you show employees what you would like to see more of in the workplace.
*Indeed survey, n=438
How to write an appreciation letter
Here are the steps to write an employee appreciation letter:
1. Format your letter
Your letter format will depend on the reason you are thanking an employee. If the “thank you” is for a more casual occurrence like a quick favor, an email may suffice. For example, if an employee came in early to help you set up for an event, an appreciation email can be effective. Include the words “thank you” or a similar phrase in the subject line so that your employee has an idea of what the email is for.
However, if you’re recognizing an employee for a more significant contribution, such as an employee finishing a tough project that led to the signing of a large account or taking over the organization for a last-minute event, a typed or handwritten letter is more appropriate.
2. Include what, why and how details
The purpose of an appreciation letter is to let an employee know they performed exceptionally on a specific task and to encourage them to keep up the good work. Referring to specific events helps employees understand exactly what behaviors to model going forward.
Begin your letter by letting the employee know what you’re recognizing them for and explaining in detail what they did to earn praise. For example, they might have offered to help a coworker complete a project by its deadline or volunteered to represent the company at a weekend job fair.
Once you’ve identified what they did to earn praise, explain why their actions impressed you. For instance, helping another person finish their work on time shows their willingness to assist others even when it is not part of their job, and volunteering for extra work demonstrates their dedication to the company.
Additionally, explain the significance of their actions and how they contributed toward the improvement of your team or company on a greater scale. If you clearly explain how their actions positively influenced others and benefited the company, they will be more likely to continue making decisions that improve your workplace culture.
The what, why and how can be three separate paragraphs and will vary in length based on the amount of detail you choose to add.
Related: How to Motivate Your Employees
3. Mention their unique qualities
When explaining the details of your employee’s impressive behavior, mention how their skills and positive traits directly impacted their success. This acknowledgment makes them feel good about themselves, and helps them identify the strengths they should continue to build.
4. Be enthusiastic about their future
In addition to emphasizing your employee’s achievements, add a sentence or two conveying your excitement for the employee’s future accomplishments and success. When an employee receives encouragement, they’re more likely to challenge themselves and feel more connected to the company.
5. Be personal and naturally sincere
Addressing the employee by name and hand signing the letter are two ways to add a personal touch. End your letter with “thank you,” “thanks again” or a similar phrase, and sign your name.
Employee appreciation letter templates
The level of formality will depend on the circumstances, company culture and your relationship with the employee. For example, if your company has a laid back, informal company culture, a more casual appreciation letter makes the most sense. If your company has a more formal, corporate culture, then a formal letter of appreciation is probably what you’d want to go for.
Refer to these three letter of appreciation templates to help you write your own in the appropriate format:
Formal appreciation letter template
Dear [employee’s name],
I would like to formally and sincerely express my gratitude for the amazing work you accomplished [insert what the employee did that deserves recognition].
Your [insert the employee’s admirable qualities that directly contributed to their achievement] are impressive and show exceptional discipline and dedication to this company.
Your actions directly impacted the company by [insert how the employee’s actions benefited the team or company on a greater level]. I want you to know that I value the amount of effort you have put into your work. You are significantly appreciated as a part of this team.
Once again, thank you for your hard work. I look forward to seeing your future achievements and successes!
[Your first and last name]
[Your job position title]
[Your company’s name]
Semi-formal appreciation letter template
Dear [employee’s name],
I want to thank you for the amazing work you did with [insert what the employee did that deserves recognition].
Your [insert the employee’s admirable qualities that directly contributed to their achievement] shows just how disciplined you are and how much you care about this team.
Your work led to [insert how the employee’s actions benefited the team or company on a greater level]. I want you to know you are valued on this team. We are so lucky to have you!
Thanks again for all your hard work. I can’t wait to see your future achievements and successes!
[Your first and last name]
Casual letter of appreciation template
Hi [employee’s name],
I just wanted to say thanks for your help with [insert what the employee did that deserves recognition].
Your [insert the employee’s admirable qualities that directly contributed to their achievement] clearly showed!
The time and effort you put in [insert how the employee’s actions benefited the team or company on a greater level]. We truly couldn’t have done it without you!
[Your first name]
Employee appreciation letter examples
Use these samples of appreciation letters to help guide your writing:
Formal appreciation letter samples
I would like to formally and sincerely express my gratitude for the amazing work you accomplished with the new product release last week.
Your overtime work editing all of the copy in the manuals, brochure and website shows your expertise, exceptional work ethic and commitment to our company’s success.
Without your willingness to put your other work on hold and take on such a great responsibility and workload, we would have missed our due date. The entire team and company are incredibly thankful for you.
Once again, thank you sincerely for your drive and hard work. I look forward to your future success with our company!
Product Team Leader
I would like to formally and sincerely express my gratitude for the amazing work you accomplished this week after taking over as the team lead for the social media marketing project. This was a new level of responsibility and leadership for you, and you performed exceptionally well organizing the team, delegating tasks and overseeing the entire project to successful completion.
Your ability to work through unforeseen challenges and collaborate so well with the rest of the team is impressive and shows exceptional critical thinking skills and a true dedication to this company.
Your production of a well-executed social media campaign has directly impacted our metrics by growing our online presence by 20% in the last month. I want you to know that I value the amount of effort you have put into your work and see great potential in you.
Once again, thank you for working so diligently and helping lead your team to success! I look forward to seeing your future achievements at our company.
Social Experiment, Inc.
Semi-formal appreciation letter example
I want to thank you for the amazing work you did with the Smith-Michael proposal yesterday.
Even though the proposal didn’t have a set deadline, your ability to collaborate with other departments to get the data you needed ahead of time and the extra effort you put into this project shows me your incredible teamwork and leadership skills.
You helped present the company as professional and efficient, which our prospective customers value just as much as we do! I’ve already received an email that they are reviewing our proposal.
Thanks again for all your help and for motivating everyone to get the job done. We’ve all learned from your success!
Casual letter of appreciation sample
I just wanted to thank you for escorting our guest speakers during the event last weekend. I saw you getting people beverages and their presentation materials.
Your thoughtfulness and attention to detail clearly showed!
Your help allowed me to focus on setting up the AV equipment and running sound checks. A number of speakers personally let me know how helpful you were. The event went so well. We couldn’t have done it without you!