Employee Recognition Ideas

Looking for effective ways to recognize people on your team? Check out this guide.

There’s a plethora of ways that a boss can recognize an employee’s accomplishments at work. As a boss, showing that you sincerely appreciate your employees contributions is a great way to improve productivity, happiness, and morale. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of employee recognition ideas below:

Make it Frequent

The most important thing you can do is make recognition a frequent occurance. Set a calendar reminder to say thank you to employees at least once per week. If you don't commit to saying "thank you" frequently, it will seem contrived and caked on vs. it being natural.

Employee of the Month

Once per month, vote among your team for an employee of the month. If you’re using Friday Feedback, you can take the people with the highest count of kudos to make it easy. When the employee has been chosen, make sure to make it public. Post it on the bulletin board and in other high-traffic locations.

Pass on Praise

If you’re a manager, think of yourself like a conduit for praise. If you hear one of your employees has been doing a great job according to someone else inside the company, make sure to tell the employee...quickly. It’s a great way to signal that the work they are doing is appreciated.

Collect Feedback and Suggestions

Employees can be extraordinary change agents for your company, but you need to make sure you’re listening to them. Ask them if there’s anything they would change about specific processes through a pulse survey. It can be a great way to uncover meaningful ways to move the business forward.

Remember key events

Do you know when someone’s birthday is or do you need to rely on Facebook to tell you? Also, how long has someone been working inside your organization? When is there work anniversary? The simple act of remembering key employee dates can show that you really care about them.

Have 1-1s

One on ones are a great way to give employees the floor and make them feel valued. Remember, successful one and one meetings are run by the employee, not the boss. As a manager, treat this as an opportunity to learn about their passions, what they enjoy outside of work, and more. Take notes, so you can make future recognition more targeted.

Quick tip: Use Friday Feedback and complement your 1-1 meetings with more data and employee insights.Try it free.

Post on the company social media page

Social media can be a powerful tool to drive employee recognition. For example, let’s say you announce the employee of the month - consider posting a photo of them with the award on social media (if appropriate). We’ve seen customers will also congratulate employees on their well-deserved recognition.

Say Thank You (Personally)

Here’s a low-cost way to show your appreciation – say thank you. If you see an employee going above and beyond the call of duty, take a few minutes, pull them into your office, and thank them (sincerely). Be specific about what you appreciate, and cite examples.

Remember, people leave bad bosses primarily, not companies. Take the time to say thank you, it may prevent a star employee from leaving in a few months.

Recognize Publicly

Next time you have a team meeting, recognize the accomplishments of a specific employee (if appropriate). Some people thrive on appreciation in public, while others would prefer recognition in private. Use your best judgement to determine the difference.

Team Lunch

If you team crushed a milestone, a simple token of appreciation is to take them out for lunch. It also doubles as a great team-building experience, and it doesn’t cost very much. During your time, make sure to express appreciation for a job well done.

Increase Responsibility

Certain employees thrive when given more responsibility. If an employee has expressed interest through a pulse survey and wants additional responsibility, try to find a way to make it happen.

A high cause of employee turnover is a lack of upward mobility and employee growth. Don’t ignore the fact that certain employees are driven & destined to move up the ladder. Instead of stunting this growth, encourage it by offering projects that you know the employee is interested in doing.

Not sure what projects they want to take on? Use Friday Feedback and ask them.

Invite them to an important meeting

At a previous job, I was invited to an executive team meeting. I wasn’t supposed to be included (as I wasn’t on the exec team), but it was one of the most memorable experiences I had. It was a fantastic learning experience, and it meant a lot.

If possible, you should do the same thing. It provides immense amounts of context about the direction the company is heading in. It actually builds empathy too, as the employee sees what you have to deal with.

Half-day Fridays

Managers underestimate the joy that a little extra time off can bring. The most valuable thing someone has is their time, so why not give them a little more of it?

It’s common for Friday afternoon’s to be full of wasted time, so why not encourage employees on a Wednesday or Thursday to put in more effort, in exchange for leaving early? Reward hard work with some time off.

Hand-written note

This tactic has lost popularity thanks our technology obsessed culture, but a handwritten note is a way to say thank you in a special way. Unlike a quick email, a note signals that you took more time and effort.

Offer Learning Opportunities

Another reason employees leave is due to a lack of learning and development opportunities. If there’s a conference or event that a high-performing employee would like to attend, send them. If there’s online training available for a certain work task, pay for it.

Don’t skimp in this regard. The investment you make in an employee will yield high returns in a more productive workforce.

Pro-tip: to make sure employees are actually learning at events, ask them to write a blog post or a few paragraphs on what they learned while attending.

Personal Accomplishments

Another high-impact way to show appreciation is to recognize something outside of work. For example, if an employee is running a marathon or pursuing a personal interest, if relevant, show up for the event! Encourage their personal achievements too – it shows that you care about them as a person, not just an employee.

Listen to your Employees

If an employee offers realistic feedback on how the company can improve, try to test/implement it. That speaks volumes about what you think of their competence as a employee. You don’t need to try every idea they have, but show that you listen when they have suggestions. It makes you a better boss. You don’t hold all the answers.

What about Perks?

In the grand scheme of things, employee perks don’t actually matter that much. A special nap room means nothing if employees have a sense of distrust with their manager. Cultivate trust. The veneer of a nap-room quickly fades behind more important organizational issues like transparency as a team, rewarding high-performers, etc.

In Conclusion

The key to recognition is an understand of each person's personal motivations. Take the time to understand and learn more about your employess and then tailor recognition towards their interests.

Want to become a better leader? Try Friday Feedback - we make collecting employee feedback and recognition easy (and fun).

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