31 Ways to Recognize Employees

employee recognitionEmployee recognition is a critical component of employee engagement. Effective recognition doesn’t have to be grandiose, complex, or expensive. It’s about time and value: taking time to stop and acknowledge someone’s contribution, and expressing what they did that was of value to you. While it doesn’t have to be complicated it DOES have to be genuine and authentic. Need some ideas? Here are 31 ways to recognize employees:

Individuals gestures– something from me to you- are often the most powerful. Try these:

  • A handwritten card
    ~For a reason (birthday, anniversary, etc.) or just because. Be creative! *Arbor Day: “Your work has planted strong roots for our success!” *St. Patrick’s Day: “We’re lucky to have you!”
  • Thank you emails
  • E-cards
  • Leave a post-it note
  • Give out rocks
    ~Label them “You Rock!” and attach a note. A great desktop conversation piece!
  • When working long or extra hours, send a thank you note home to the family.
  • Stop to say “hello” and ask “How’s it going?”
  • Dismiss early/come in late
    ~Be sure to place in context as a reward for a specific accomplishment or effort.
  • Highlight in annual performance evaluation
  • Invite to train others
  • Additional responsibility at work
    ~“This project/team/person/committee will really benefit from your involvement”
  • Compose a letter for employment file
  • Gift idea: Book with an inscribed note
  • Stay on top of advancement/promotion/pay raise opportunities

Public acknowledgment– finding ways to highlight someone’s contributions in front of others- can be an impactful recognition strategy as well!

  • Highlight specific employee performance to senior executives (email, in a meeting, etc.)
    ~Be sure to alert them to opportunities to send personal notes as well, if they are interested!
  • Create a wall of fame in your office or department
  • Acknowledge performance in a newsletter, email update, announcements, etc.
    ~This doesn’t have to be “major” stuff either! “Did you ever notice that Jane always helps our elderly clients put their coats on before they leave?”
  • Provide customers opportunities to share their positive experiences. Display accordingly.
  • Invite employee to present at a staff meeting.
  • Invite to present to senior executives.

Schedule a recognition event, large or small, to make sure you fit it into your hectic schedule. Plus some of these “fun” things can go a long way to impacting the morale and spirit of your team.

  • Host a surprise “Employee Recognition Day”
    ~Take this to whatever level interests you! Schedule fun stuff disguised as meetings, provide lunch, make speeches, etc.
  • Surprise coffee break
  • Go out for ice cream
  • Provide a meal – cooked or bought
  • Invite a senior executive to a staff meeting to highlight employee accomplishments
  • Create and distribute “alternative paystubs” summarizing contributions
    ~”Mary checked in 345 new patients last month: 345 smiles, hellos, thank yous. 345 times was a helper, friendly face, warm welcome.” Calculate total minutes spent helping others, etc.)
  • Any kind of surprise (or planned) celebration
    ~Just put it in context as a reward for something specific, and be sure to personalize it to the employee(s).

Create systems to allow for Peer-to-Peer recognition so that you don’t have to do it all yourself!

  • Have staff share “Kudos” at meetings
    ~You can collect them and periodically draw from the pot for a prize.
  • Create an office “refrigerator” – post staff accomplishments
  • Give out “Lifesavers” candies. Staff notify supervisor when someone was a “lifesaver.”
  • Create an office trophy or mascot
    ~Can be awarded to anyone, from anyone, always publicly displayed. Be creative! Ex. A Giraffe for “sticking your neck out.”

Try setting aside 15 minutes a week in your calendar to think about and plan employee recognition efforts. You can do it!

Now it’s your turn! What do you do to recognize your staff? Share your ideas in the comments section below!


4 thoughts on “31 Ways to Recognize Employees

  1. Pingback: You’ve Got Employee Recognition All Wrong | Inch by Inch: A Blog for Leaders

  2. A simple birthday card or a card saying “thanks for all you do” goes a far way! I always go by this wonderful quote: “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou

  3. Pingback: You've Got Employee Recognition All Wrong - Joe Mull

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