At the heart of a successful company are its happy, engaged, and hardworking employees. Without a healthy workplace environment filled with positive energy and encouragement, employees can become unmotivated, hindering their productivity, as well as that of those around them. An important key factor to creating this environment is achieved simply by appreciating your employees and uplifting them and their accomplishments. 

When employees complete a project or accomplish a goal of theirs, it is rewarding in itself to have achieved something, but that feeling is amplified by others who recognize their hard work as well. On the other hand, when employees pour their efforts into a project and their hard work goes unnoticed, they can feel neglected, as if they could have put in less effort and it wouldn’t even make a difference. Eventually, not only the productivity and the quality of their work will be decreased, but those employees are also more likely to leave your company for another. 

Because of this, employee recognition is absolutely crucial in your company’s workplace environment. Recognition makes employees feel more engaged, drives excellence, creates an uplifting work environment, and increases the likelihood that they will stay with your organization. 

In this article, we will be discussing exactly what employee recognition is, different types of recognition, when recognition should be given, and some employee recognition ideas that you can start implementing at your organization.

What is Employee Recognition?

Employee recognition, sometimes called social recognition, is an act of publicly expressing appreciation or acknowledgment of an employee’s hard work and contributions to the company. With an effective system set in place for recognition, employees can recognize and celebrate each other’s achievements which builds morale, emotional connections, a stronger team culture, and a drive for employees to continue to do their best. When done across all levels of an organization, employees feel very included in the whole of the company’s culture and environment and allow them to feel more connected to their work. 

Employee recognition can take many forms and when done correctly, can be more meaningful than any gift. It can be a shout-out during an important meeting, a personal letter expressing congrats on a job well done, or even a bonus for achieving a monthly goal. Whatever form it takes, it makes people feel valued, acknowledged, and truly part of a team. Whether it is done by a superior, a peer, or even an online display of gratitude, employee recognition is a crucial part of creating a nurturing company culture for employees.

Organizations are constantly creating and rethinking new and adaptive ways to effectively recognize their employees. Next, we’ll be talking about a few different forms of employee recognition. 

Types of Employee Recognition

Recognition From Superiors

Recognition is often given in a top-down system, where superiors, supervisors, or managers who overlook your progress and contributions can best recognize the hard work that you’ve put in. Employee recognition from these people is great for many reasons; because they have more leadership and potentially decision-making power, their recognition can lead to bonuses, a promotion, or can help down your career path. However, as higher management has more responsibilities and a broader scope of employees to oversee, they cannot witness and recognize every notable accomplishment or contribution every employee makes. For more regular recognition throughout your organization, you should rely on and encourage peer-to-peer recognition instead.

Recognition From Peers

In an effective peer-to-peer recognition strategy, all employees and managers should be motivated and encouraged to appreciate and recognize the contributions of their peers. These are the people working alongside each other every day, so creating an environment where they can empower each other and drive each other to do their best is crucial. These coworkers are working most closely with each other so they are able to quickly and easily recognize all of the accomplishments that others make. These regular acts of recognition by peers, no matter how minimal, can have a large effect on an employee’s motivation, productivity, and drive towards excellence. It also helps reinforce a healthy culture of collaboration and support and in turn, fosters meaningful relationships between team members.

Types of Employee Recognition

When Should Recognition be Given?

You might be asking, when is a good time to give recognition? The simple answer is all the time! There is never a bad time to acknowledge somebody’s efforts or praise them for their great work. Encouraging regular recognition by peers and management is important and should ideally be a staple in your day-to-day workplace culture. However, there are certainly more important events that definitely call for recognition. Here are just a few special events or days where employees deserve recognition.

Employee’s First Day 

One major event that deserves employee recognition may be an employee’s first day of work. This first day on the job can be very overwhelming to a new employee, so acknowledging them and making them feel welcome is especially important. After a potentially stressful interviewing and hiring process, these employees are well deserving of some recognition. 

Completion of a Major Project

Another major accomplishment is the completion of a big project. After all of an employee’s hard work and dedication to the project, it’s a perfect time to recognize all of the efforts that they put in. Doing this will make them feel like their work is valued and encourage them to put in that same effort or more in the next project. If their accomplishment goes unnoticed, they can feel as if their work is insignificant and their effort will reflect that on their next project. Also, make sure that you are recognizing these employees in a timely manner after the completion of their project; they shouldn’t even have the chance to feel neglected or underappreciated.

Employee Birthdays

Birthdays are a special day for most people and if they’re working from 9-5 at your office, the majority of that special day will most likely be in your office. So, it’s a good opportunity to make them feel valued and special on this day and just remind them how much of an asset they are to your company. You can gift them with something special like a signed card or a gift and although it may be small, it will go a long way in making employees feel like they are part of the family. 

Work Anniversary

A work anniversary should be a meaningful day for both employees and your organization. It signifies another year of accomplishments and hard work and certainly calls for praise and recognition. It’s a good chance to thank the employee for the contributions they’ve made over the course of that year and recognize some of their most notable accomplishments. Be specific in explaining the impact they’ve made and how crucial they are to the team; they will surely feel like their hard work was appreciated and will motivate them to work even harder the next year.

Examples of Employee Recognition 

Have an Employee Wall of Fame

Dedicating a space on your office’s wall to your employees is a fun way to acknowledge them and highlight some of their accomplishments. Take their portrait or a picture of them hard at work and post it on the wall. You can encourage other employees to write nice messages and words of gratitude or thanks surrounding their photo too. Not only is this wall going to liven up your office space and provide something interesting to look at, but it makes your employees feel valued and allows others a place to recognize their accomplishments as well. Additionally, you can include any other photos that deserve recognition such as team photos after the completion of a major project, or photos of an employee during their birthday. Get creative with this wall, the possibilities are endless! 

Rotating Trophy for Employee of the Month

Another great way to recognize an individual’s contributions to the team is by awarding one employee the title of “Employee of the Month.” Have employees and management nominate and vote for an employee of the month and a quick note on why. The employee with the most votes will get to display a special trophy on their desk for that month and then it will be passed on to the next employee the following month. When awarding this employee, management can publicly deliver the trophy during a team meeting and explain why the person earned the trophy and title for that month. Employees will appreciate that their hard work is not going unnoticed and the award can even motivate others who may want to experience that trophy on their desk too. 

Rotating Trophy for Employee of the Month

Reward Teams

In addition to celebrating individuals and their contributions, you can also celebrate teams who have accomplished a goal or have worked well together. It can be in the form of a shoutout during an all-hands meeting, a picture dedicated to them on the wall, or even a paid dinner that they can enjoy together after work. This will encourage teams to work well together and also give them recognition for when they do.

Celebrate Employee Appreciation Day

Dedicating a day to appreciating your employees is also a great way to show your employees you care about them and their contributions to the organization. When organizing a day like this, consider gathering a list of notable accomplishments from employees and recognizing them during the event. You can fill this day with team-building activities, wellness activities, games with prizes, raffles, or anything you can think of to treat your employees to something special. Provide food and drinks and just make it a fun time! There is a National Employee Appreciation Day which is celebrated on the first Friday of March every year, so going all out on that day is a perfect plan. 

A Recognition Drawing Hat

One way to encourage recognition between peers is to host a raffle every month or even every week. The way that employees get their name into the drawing hat is by recognizing a fellow employee; each time they do so, they will get another name in the hat, increasing their chance to win the raffle. This is a fun way to encourage and normalize frequent peer-to-peer recognition within your organization. The prize for the raffle can be anything your company wants to provide, whether it is a nice meal paid for by the company, a cute gift basket, or even tickets to an event.

Giving Personal and Verbal Recognition

A very personal and rewarding form of recognition for employees is top-down recognition; specifically, an employee being thanked for their hard work and contributions in a one-on-one conversation with management. Call employees into your office and have a short, but direct conversation with them acknowledging their accomplishments and thanking them for their efforts. This may seem outdated or useless but is one of the most rewarding ways of employee recognition as it allows employees to feel truly appreciated and valued, motivating them to work harder as they know their work is being noticed and valued by their superiors. 

Keep a Celebration Calendar

As mentioned previously, celebrating employment anniversaries and employee birthdays is a great way to make your employees feel like they are a part of the team and valued as individuals. Make sure you have all these important dates noted on a calendar and followed throughout the year. When a special day comes, even doing something simple for the employee such as giving them a cake, a card signed by team members, or a shopping voucher will go a long way to make them feel special.  

Keep a Celebration Calendar

Social Media Recognition

Sharing your employees’ accomplishments and contributions on your company’s social media platforms is a great way to make them feel appreciated and show them how proud you are to have them as a part of your team. When recognizing these employees, you can mention a little bit about who they are as a person, their role, what they did to receive this recognition, and how it affected the company as a whole. In doing so, not only are you able to boost your employees’ morale, but you are also building your employer brand on social media, sharing your employee culture and values with the world. Additionally, remember to make sure your employees are comfortable being posted on social media beforehand, not everybody prefers to be broadcasted online. 

What Employee Recognition Strategies Will You Be Adopting?

While many ideas and examples were listed above, it is up to your organization to understand what will work best for your employees and what will not. The possibilities of ways to recognize your employees are endless and absolutely not limited to the list above.

Get creative and think about what your employees want, and how you can appreciate their hard work and achievements.

The bottom line is that your employees should never feel like their contributions are going unnoticed. There’s nothing more fulfilling than having your hard work be recognized and celebrated; and nothing demoralizing than pouring your heart and soul into a project just to be neglected as if nothing had been accomplished at all. There is no downside in creating an environment where employees can recognize each other’s hard work and a culture where coworkers can support each other.

There are so many factors that can drive your company’s success, but it all begins with creating a supportive and nurturing company culture of employee recognition.