It pays to be really good at employee recognition.
Companies with a solid strategy to recognize team members enjoy stronger engagement, increased employee morale, better customer service, and lower turnover.Acknowledging achievement can have serious ROI - to the tune of 50% higher productivity and as much as 20% increase in business outcomes. Click To Tweet
Sounds like a no-brainer, right?
Well, it’s not as easy as it seems. You need to find the right ways to recognize employees at your company. To do that, it first helps to get a better understanding of employee recognition and the benefits of employee recognition.
Establishing and maintaining a successful team recognition initiative takes work. The ideas in this list are designed to help you build staff recognition into your culture and ensure that this investment produces positive results.
If you don’t know where to start, these hand-picked tools can help any manager or team leader promote daily recognition:
||🎖 Connect employees to your company with flexible rewards||Visit Motivosity|
|Bonusly||💯 Send redeemable points with social recognition||Visit Bonusly|
|Awardco||🎁 Award them an eGift||Visit Awardco|
|Bucketlist||👏 Equip busy managers to meaningfully recognize and engage their teams||Visit Bucketlist|
|Nectar||😃 Peer-to-peer recognition, Amazon integration, boost your engagement and retention||Visit Nectar|
|👉 Compare more HR-vetted and approved options here|
What Is Employee Recognition?
Employee recognition is the act of acknowledging the hard work and accomplishments of the individuals and teams within your organization. It’s really about creating an emotional connection with your employees and your company, all while supporting the work your employees do and staying authentic to your company’s values.
It’s as much art as science, and the best recognition tactics do something no tchotchke or gift card ever can – they make employees feel valued, respected, and even loved.
The creative employee recognition ideas below come from real companies that know a thing or two about making their employees feel cherished.
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Creative Employee Recognition Ideas To Show Staff Appreciation
Employee recognition ideas are all the big and small ways companies say “thank you” to their hard-working employees. The most meaningful ideas will be personal, memorable, and often reflective of an aspect of company culture or the type of work they do. Delivered with care and thoughtful employee engagement ideas, meaningful recognition can boost employee retention and morale.
1 Invest In Their Wellness
Wellness programs have always been among the most in-demand employee perks, and after the unthinkable stress of the COVID-19 pandemic, focusing on multiple facets of employee wellbeing is more important than ever.
Employees serve as the foundation of any business. One of the best ways to recognize your team members is to invest in their health and wellbeing. From wellness goals and team challenges, to health incentives and office perks, a successful corporate wellness program can be an effective part of your recognition strategy.
Don’t just take our word for it! According to a workplace wellness survey conducted by the Employee Benefit Research Institute, about 70% of employees feel they need employers’ help to stay healthy.
Bonus! Here are a few trusted corporate wellness tools and services to better provide wellbeing benefits to your employees:
|Terryberry||🏃♀️ Create wellness challenges to promote team goal-setting||Visit Terryberry|
|Deel||📊 Leverage data to develop wellness initiatives||Visit Deel|
|WorkTango||❤️ Claimable awards to incentivize health behaviors||Visit WorkTango|
|Motivosity||💰 Provide a nutrition and healthy living budget||Visit Motivosity|
|Mo||⭐️ Celebrate wins of the week||Visit Mo|
|👉 Compare more HR-vetted and approved options here|
2 Send A Spot Bonus
When someone meets a goal, does something admirable, or goes above and beyond, show your appreciation immediately with words of praise and a spot bonus through your recognition platform like Bonusly.
Pro-Tip: Here’s a quick breakdown highlighting the benefits of spot bonuses:
Spot bonuses can be a great way to encourage collaboration and teamwork on a daily basis — especially between employees who work on distributed teams. Setting up an employee recognition platform that is cost-effective and handles spot bonuses through a proprietary app like this is one of our favorite ways to recognize employees.
3 Support What They Want To Support
Ad agency Drake Cooper recognizes employees through philanthropic side projects. They have a Dream Big program where they let the staff select a nonprofit for the agency to work with for free. Letting staff have the time to work on a passion project and do good is a great way to offer recognition for employees.
4 Reward Them With Some Fresh Air
Few things can compete with the joyous rush of an outdoor adventure. Experiences transcend the day-to-day. Many happen just once in a lifetime. It’s practically impossible not to make powerful permanent memories as you’re rafting down a wild river, soaring through the air on a paraglider, or learning to surf.
Reward employees with experiences like these and they’ll see work as a ticket to more adventure instead of a barrier to it. Setting up a program where employees are rewarded with real-life experiences and adventures can be more impactful than a small raise or gift card.
5 Applaud A Work Anniversary
Recognize employees not only for specific events and achievements but for the overall glorious achievement of reaching work milestones and work anniversaries. This includes doing everything from making thoughtful new employee announcements to conveying your happy work anniversary wishes, even if you do it with some carefully selected anniversary memes.
Publicly recognize anniversaries and pair your thoughtful rewards all in one place using an automated gifting solution like Caroo. With an employee milestone program, you can input all your employee birthdays and anniversaries, and ship gifts out all in one easy (and free!) to use platform.
6 Improve Collaboration and Culture with Slack Plugins
What if you could extend the functionality of your Slack plugins to enhance both culture and collaboration in your business? Turns out you can!
If you and your team members are currently using Slack, then you should be connecting your employee recognition app to Slack to make it easier to reward your peers. Simply install the software in as little as 30 minutes, sync it to your HR apps, and you’re good to go! You will never need to sign in and out of multiple systems again when you use Slack plugins.
The engagement app, Deel, comes packed with several modules that you can use to engage and retain your top-performing employees. Think automated workflows for onboarding new hires, prepping and running of high-value 1-on-1s, pulse surveys, and a lot more!
7 Show Them A Good Time
The simple act of having fun speaks volumes. It sends the message that you value fun, you want them to have it, and that you feel they deserve to take a break.
Cultivating fun doesn’t have to be complicated. You can do something as simple as working in pre-meeting icebreakers to your workplace routine, as complicated as an epic office party, or as perfectly doable as recurring fun office activities.
8 Buy Them Lunch
“Thank you” lunches are the new “thank you” cards. All you have to do is get together virtually or in-person to share a meal, say a few words of praise, and enjoy the timeless art of communal eating.
If you have employees working from home or in multiple locations, you can easily coordinate a group remote lunch with a virtual credit card sent directly to your team. Each one of your colleagues will receive a lunch card configured to your lunchtimes and preferences to get everyone on the same ordering page.
9 Start A Friendly GIF War
Use your favorite social employee recognition or communication platform to hold GIF challenges that are really just epic compliment volleys. For example, you could challenge everyone to find a GIF that captures how they feel about the epic team presentation or your designer’s work on the new company logo.
Try using Nectar’s social recognition as the digital battleground for all your GIF challenges.
10 Do A Company-Wide Shoutout
Polish up your best employee appreciation speech whether it’s Tweet-length or page-long. A shout out to everyone in your own heartfelt words is a free, easy, and super effective way to recognize employees, one that some of the best-known business leaders recognize and leverage to the greatest effect. Charles Schwab, the founder of the Charles Schwab Corporation, once said:If I like anything, I am hearty in my appreciation and lavish in my praise. Click To Tweet
Rather than sending your shout out via email where it might get buried under mounds of junk mail, consider delivering your wishes using a social recognition tool. These platforms are easy-to-use and can encourage other employees to hop in and congratulate others. Here are some top-rated tools you can explore for your org:
No Credit Card Required
Bonusly is a recognition and rewards program that allows employees to send small, public bonuses to each other to recognize everyday wins and successes. Users can easily redeem bonus points for a wide variety of gift cards, donations, and other personalized prizes!
Motivosity is a leading rewards program that makes it easy for enterprises of all sizes to recognize their employees at scale with unique and personalized rewards, incentives, and experiences (in-home and out-in-the-world).
Nectar is a global program that consolidates employee rewards and recognition processes into one easy-to-use solution. With Nectar, employees can recognize each other, redeem rewards, access exclusive corporate discounts, and measure success.
11 Get Them Something For Their Workspace
Both practical and fun, workspace gifts make low-fuss tokens of appreciation. A useful recognition gift for a desk or office makes your recognition go a long way; After they spruce up their spaces, the items provide a daily reminder of how much you appreciate them.
Find customizable workspace gifts to boost the overall sentimental factor of your offering.
Pro-Tip: For more ideas, explore SnackNation’s guide to 115 Unique Gifts For Employees That Will Boost Morale & Show Appreciation!
12 Celebrate A Victory
Your team just did something amazing. This is the moment. Seize it! Celebrate victories big and small to remind yourself and your employees that progress is something to be acknowledged and applauded.
Pro-Tip: Check out this list of team-building companies for inspiration for strengthening your team and celebrating team victories.
13 Send Them An Employee Care Package
Reward employees with a care package filled with an assortment of items that show you care, including hand-written notes, gift certificates, wholesome snacks, and even toys and games. All these items, carefully selected and lovingly packaged together deliver an impact greater than just one single gift.
There are employee care companies that take on the logistics of sending out care packages to multiple locations and allow you to customize the gifts to your companies’ needs. This makes it a lot easier to worry less about details and more about the impact of recognizing your employees.
Pro-Tip: Send our care packages to your entire team with Caroo! Their catalog of rewards helps you select, order, and ship the gifts that your employees will love.
14 Test Recognition Ideas By Surveying Your Employees
The power of an employee survey can be a powerful thing. It is no wonder that “surveying your employees to see how they like to be recognized” scored number one in our SnackNation poll: What’s Your Favorite Employee Recognition & Appreciation Idea?
Every employee is different and will appreciate praise for their success and hard work in unique ways. The goal is to give yourself multiple options and ideas that you can utilize when the time is right to recognize your coworker. Soliciting some honest feedback from your employees via a survey can set you up for success and give you more insight into the kinds of people you work with. You can build a quick survey using employee survey software or set one up using this tool here.
15 Host a Friday “Crush-It” Call
The “Crush-It” Call is SnackNation’s time-honored tradition. Each Friday afternoon, the entire SnackNation team huddles together and we go around the room stating 2 things:
- “Crush” someone on the team whose work they want to recognize and why
- Something you are grateful for
It’s a great chance for people to not only recognize each other and take advantage of positive thinking but also bring that person’s hard work to the attention of the entire team. As our team has grown, this gives everyone a chance to see the awesome work of the people who they don’t work with very often.
Check it this video of one of our recent Crush It Calls:
16 Give Them Nicknames
Nicknames boost camaraderie in the workplace, and they can be a great source of humor. When assigned strategically, nicknames can also be a subtle, long-term way to provide employee recognition.
Instead of calling people by some abridged version of their last names or finding a standout physical or personality feature to highlight, what if you gave teammates nicknames symbolic of their strengths and talents? Imagine calling your second-in-command “Hemingway” to compliment his concise writing style. Talent- or skill-based nicknames obviously make employees feel recognized and appreciated, but they could also help employees live up to, and even surpass, their reputations. Over time, words—including names—can shape perceptions and behaviors enough to ultimately influence outcomes.
17 Give Creative Feedback
Thoughtful positive feedback is the original form of employee recognition. It may also be the most simple and effective way to motivate employees. Despite these truths, the essential art of feedback remains too often neglected or muddied by rewards and gifts with no clear connection to performance.
18 Create A Company Store
How about creating a company store where employees can effortlessly redeem for branded company swag? Cooleaf goes the extra mile by helping you set up a store in no time and dealing with the order, fulfillment, and shipping process end-to-end.
There’s no need to constantly update email addresses, meet minimum order requirements, or worry about holding inventory.
All your employee needs to do is select their preferred reward and redeem it. And the swag will be on its way to their doorstep.
Could it get any easier?
19 Create a “Go The Extra Mile” Program
The transport staff at the Staten Island University Hospital Radiology Lab has the tough and tiring job of wheeling patients around for testing. When they were falling short of their goal number of moves per hour, the recognition experts at Michael C. Fina came up with an employee appreciation idea that got the hospital results: the Go the Extra Mile or GEM program.
When an employee witnessed another going the extra mile, they would nominate them for a GEM certificate. The program was simple, but gave the staffers recognition they could hold in their hands, which went far towards making them feel truly appreciated.
Modern Ways To Recognize Employees
Modern ways to recognize employees are the resources and technological mechanisms through which you can complete the long-term ongoing steps necessary to achieve your employee recognition goals. These platforms enable companies, teams, and even individuals to conduct and scale staff recognition activities.
Pro-Tip: Check out SnackNation’s comprehensive list of the best employee recognition programs with more detailed and in-depth recommendations for your company!
An all-time favorite employee recognition idea, Bonusly is an online hub for enabling, encouraging, and sharing recognition. You can use it to reward someone for meeting a goal with a charitable donation, to publicly recognize someone using the Slack integration, or to celebrate someone’s birthday or anniversary.
- Social capabilities make recognition moments sharable
- Metrics and reporting highlight performance trends
- Monthly allowance feature encourages company-wide adoption
Why we love this way to recognize employees: Bonusly provides an experience as fun and easy to use as social media. Encouraging employees to start and continue using it will be an absolute breeze.
Notable companies using Bonusly:
Pricing starts at $2.70 per user per month. Start a free trial.
WorkTango helps companies marry employee recognition efforts to performance management to build a happy workplace. Using one simple platform, you can dole out rewards, post incentives, track goals, and even provide feedback. Employees can connect their accomplishments to recognition with more satisfying clarity than ever.
- Integrated goals and OKRs help employees track their progress
- Automated rewards catalog setup saves time and stress
- Insights help managers make data-driven decisions
Why we love this way to recognize employees: It helps turn rewards, appreciation, and performance into a continuous loop of rewards, appreciation, and good vibes.
Notable companies using WorkTango:
- Habitat for Humanity
- Kaiser Permanente
Pricing starts at $4.25 per employee per month. Learn more by booking a demo with the WorkTango team.
Nectar enables and inspires meaningful, value-rooted recognition at all levels. It supports authentic peer-to-peer recognition as well as top-to-bottom incentive programs. Social-media-style feeds and public promotions turn recognition into a never-ending feel-good cycle.
- Integrations with popular tools enable seamless employee adoption
- Challenge features motivate employees to pursue stretch goals
- Create custom swag to distribute as meaningful rewards
Why we love this way to recognize employees: It combines all the best aspects of simply saying “thank you” with a gifting infrastructure that reinforces your appreciation.
Notable companies using Nectar:
Pricing starts at $2.50 per user per month. Nectar also offers a Plus option with even more features. Learn more here.
Evergreen is the only peer-to-peer recognition app that lets teams recognize a job well done, while planting trees for the planet. For the ultimate positive, feel-good team culture. Integrates with Slack & Microsoft Teams.
- Track company values
- Plant real trees 🌳
- Extensive reporting for admins
Why we love this way to recognize employees: Evergreen helps teams to recognize their peers in their daily communication platform, while uniting the team around great environmental purpose. And that’s why it works.
Notable companies using Evergreen:
- Octopus Energy
- Harvard University Employees Credit Union
- Coverwallet, an Aon company
- Earnest Ice Cream
Pricing $3.99 per active user per month, with a 14 day free trial (no credit card needed!). Zero set up costs.
Caroo is a corporate gifting platform whose thoughtful curated options make meaningful, memorable awards. Connect with your team by treating them to care packages filled with gift items and feel-good snacks. You can even work with the expert team to create one-of-a-kind care packages.
- A centralized platform that organizes mailing addresses
- Customization options that add extra sentimental value
- Feeding America donations that are covered with each box
Why we love this way to recognize employees: It provides a means through which companies can provide meaningful moments of care to teams whether they’re onsite or remote.
Notable companies using Caroo:
Pricing starts at $24.95 per package. Take the 60-second quiz to get personalized recommendations for your team.
Empuls isn’t just a usual reward and recognition platform; it delivers a comprehensive infrastructure for your rewards program. It features a technologically scalable suite of tools and resources for rewards and incentives that come ready to configure and integrate into existing enterprise systems. Leverage advanced listening tools to pinpoint problems and opportunities related to your company culture, offer a jaw-dropping catalog of perks and rewards, and use AI to increase engagement and participation with nudges and reminders.
- AI bots automate participation reminders
- Customizable interface allows for a fully branded experience
- Admin controls centralized management of budgets and reward schedules
Why we love this way to recognize employees: It provides a powerful foundation that companies can use to create a fully customized reward experience catered to their every cultural priority.
Notable companies using Empuls:
- Evolent Health
Pricing is available on request. Learn more here.
Hoppier is your one-stop shop for gift cards that are more than just gift cards. Their credit cards empower you to add engaging real-world elements to virtual team building events and also day-to-day virtual work. Send cards to make unified ordering for your virtual lunch easy or simply to offer rewards employees actually want.
- Have remaining balances credited to your account
- Easily pick and choose vendor options
- Select usage time frames to ensure everyone orders together
Why we love this way to recognize employees: It provides more flexibility than other group ordering options, but it remains equally easy for companies to offer and for employees to redeem.
Notable companies using Hoppier:
Pricing is available on request.
Fond allows you to deliver recognition your way. Allow employees to choose from a huge catalog of rewards and experiences or create your customized rewards to optimize impact. Employees can access the platform at any time from any device, see what’s going on, and feel perfectly connected to the company and their coworkers.
- View, like, and comment features make interactions authentic and casual
- Perk negotiation feature cuts time spent interfacing with vendors
- Detailed analytics offer managers deep behavioral insights
Why we love this way to recognize employees: The immersive platform brings employees across all locations together, enhancing your in-person or remote work culture and your level of employee engagement.
Notable companies using Fond:
- WW International
- Hard Rock
Pricing is available on request.
Use Blueboard to make “experience” the name of your recognition game. Select experiences to delight your employees and let the expert Blueboard team handle all the planning so you can simply enjoy the joy of giving. In their extensive catalog, you’ll find the perfect experiential demonstration of appreciation for anniversary awards, employee referrals, spot recognition, sales incentives, and so much more.
- An Anniversary Engine automates the delivery of anniversary awards
- Sharing features make each employee experience into a story
- Experience menus let employees choose their awards
Why we love this way to recognize employees: Novel experiences are memorable. By connecting recognition to novel experiences, Blueboard makes your recognition efforts unforgettable.
Notable companies using Blueboard:
Pricing is available on request.
Assembly is the employee recognition platform and engagement software for companies who want to create custom culture-boosting rewards. Employers can design their own rewards based on their cultural priorities and core values. Ultimately, the rewards inspire good feelings and also a deep connection with company values.
- A top core values sidebar applauds specific qualities
- Badges recognize employees for their unique skills
- Public feeds make special events, like birthdays and anniversaries, visible
Why we love this way to recognize employees: It works by embodying one of our favorite employee recognition quotes:
“In behavioral economic terms, when we offer recognition we are acknowledging that the recipients have met a social ideal. They are behaving in a certain manner because they believe is the right thing to do. If we then recognize that behavior with praise or appreciation, we offer a confirmation that their behavior is desirable, and do so in a manner that recipients find meaningful.” – Cindy Ventrice, author of Make Their Day! Employee Recognition that Works
Notable companies using Assembly:
- Quest Nutrition
Pricing starts at $2.50 per member per month. Free basic plan is available.
Employee Recognition From Companies That Do Appreciation Right
Employee recognition examples are spotlights and mini case studies from real-world companies. They put the benefits and best practices of employee recognition into context. Learning what has worked for real companies provides plenty of swipeable recognition ideas and quality inspiration.
Free bonus: Download our entire Employee Award Templates Library. Includes award templates for Employee of The Month, Work Anniversary, MVP, Rookie of The Year, Spirit, and Going The Extra Mile. Easily customize each award for your company and recipient!
ADP offers payroll and HR services to help companies streamline essential work processes. When they wanted to show their own remote workforce some meaningful appreciation, they turned to Caroo because, as one of their office managers said, they love the “simplicity of the process, the presentation of the curations, and the support.” Here is more of the review from their office manager, Deysi:
SalesForce, probably the best-known name in customer relationship management, found themselves struggling to manage their employee perks and rewards. They offered plenty of perks but helping employees find and redeem them presented a logistical challenge.
They chose Fond to help them manage this logistical challenge. They knew the streamlined platform would make it easy and even fun for employees to find their perks.
Chobani leadership learned from company surveys that while employees loved working there, they craved more recognition. The company’s HR team was running manual recognition efforts, but everyone saw the benefit in leveraging technology to create a comprehensive and efficient recognition system that ensured no one would be left out.
Their search for the perfect technology led them to Bonusly. They knew the tool could make their recognition efficient, meaningful, and scalable.
Here’s how Andrew Schrader, HR Manager at Chobani, describes his company’s experience with Bonusly:
“It doesn’t matter how many coworkers people have, they just want to be told they’re doing a good job.
Instead of being driven from the top down, our success with Bonusly grew organically. Our employees wanted frequent recognition, and the program empowers them to recognize each other. Having the ability to recognize someone immediately is the most valuable part of Bonusly.”
33 Precision Biosciences
Precision Biosciences realized that the up-and-coming biotech talent they wanted to recruit would likely be able to work anywhere they wanted to. They decided to differentiate themselves and boost retention by offering a stand-out anniversary rewards program.
They chose to work with Blueboard, knowing they offered a peerless selection of experiences. They also enhanced the benefits of the experience with a platform for building buzz.
Sales teams turn to XANT for expert help managing their sales engagements. XANT turned to Nectar for expert help managing and optimizing their rewards and recognition efforts. The collaboration didn’t just reinforce XANT’s commitment to recognition, but it also inspired a cultural shift. According to their Vice President of Revenue Operations:
“Nectar is helping us to create a culture of sharing, collaboration, and recognition. I’m seeing proof that it’s not the size of the reward that matters, but that recognition is simply happening.“ – Rob, VP of Revenue Operations at XANT
HelloTech offers ubiquitous tech support to their global customers. They wanted to set up a recognition system that was constantly available and easy to use as their own services. They found the perfect fit in Assembly.
“We were looking for a way to recognize employees that was fun, easy to use, and fit our budget. There’s always a lot happening. We wanted a program that employees could access on the fly and in the moment, and could be tied to tangible rewards.” – Mallory Yohannan – Head of People at HelloTech
“Find out what forms of recognition resonate most with staff members. Often times, we equate a streamlined process with effectiveness– with recognition, this couldn’t be further from the truth. If we’re taking only one approach to recognition and thereby missing the mark in how we recognize others, it can be equivalent to not recognizing them at all. Encourage managers to ask employees how they most like to be recognized— you might be surprised at the answers that surface!”
37 St. Louis Children’s Hospital
The St. Louis Children’s hospital leveraged social media to extend employee recognition reach during their staff recognition gala. Employees nominated for awards of honor were profiled on Facebook and they even made the effort to Skype employees into the gala for special recognition if they couldn’t make it. Dedicated employees working late shifts were still justly recognized. Supplement any employee recognition idea with social media.
You can also recognize employees by using them in your profile pictures across networks. A picture of your best employees in a Facebook cover photo, for example, is a great shoutout to those who go the extra mile.
MINDBODY offers online business management software. Their goal is to “leverage technology to improve the wellness of the world.” This goal informs how they treat clients and their staff appreciation ideas. Jeff Harper, Senior Vice President of People and Culture at MINDBODY, says:
Recognize employees in a way that aligns with your values Click To Tweet
“Employee recognition can have an amazing impact on culture of a company and employee behavior when done well. With all the various ways to approach employee recognition, one of the most important things to remember to develope a personalized approach: be true to who you are. At MINDBODY our culture is core to everything we do, so we created our employee recognition program to align with our company values. This approach helps connect employees’ behaviors to what we believe, while strengthening our brand.
For example, we are a purpose-driven organization focused on improving the wellness of the world. It’s an integral part of our own Core Values and Culture, and one that we offer to other companies through our Connect Workplace Program. This program provides employers with the opportunity to reward their employees and keep them engaged by promoting healthy behavior via the services of the nation’s largest network of wellness practitioners!”
39 Reward Gateway
Sometimes, Content Manager Chloe Deiulis says, a simple “thank you” is all it takes. Reward Gateway, an employee engagement platform, delivers digital thank yous through peer-to-peer recognition, where tailored eCards help bring company values front and center. She says,
“I openly try and recognize my colleagues across the globe through a variety of channels, in private and out in the open, too. One of my favorite ways to do this is through peer-to-peer recognition eCards.
They’re non-monetary, simple to send and are a great way to say thank you. There is an infinite number of eCards that employees can send for new employee motivation ideas. Plus, since they’re social the whole company can view and add reactions.”
40 Deschutes Brewery
You probably imagine working for a brewery is fun. In the case of Deschutes Brewery, you’re absolutely right. Pat Gerhart, HR Director for the brewery, favors amazingly fun activities that celebrate every single person at the company.
“At Deschutes Brewery, recognizing employees is not specifically designed to highlight one individual or small group, but to create support for our work environment as a whole, for everyone. For example, we often do what could be called ‘random acts of fun’.
Is there snow? Let’s do a snow shoe hike with a keg of beer and burritos at the shelter bon fire. It’s a nice summer evening? Let’s sponsor co-owners for a local run/walk and have fun together with a beer and sharing stories after the event. Are a bunch of crazed cyclists in town? Let’s send out our cyclocross team to join the fun & competition and have the biggest party Bend sees each year to celebrate!
We like to live our core values—and this would reflect ‘Celebrate the culture of craft beer’.”
“I’d say shout-outs at the all-company meeting. High performers don’t only work for recognition, of course. But to have your name mentioned in front of the whole company—followed by cheers from the crowd—that’s a reward bigger than a gift card, bigger than a thank-you lunch. It’s true appreciation, and that’s powerful.
We have monthly all-hands meetings at Namely. We bring everyone together at a fun spot, like a rooftop restaurant or fun theater space, and present on the big projects everyone is working on. Employee recognition plays a big part.”
Bonus Intrepid Travel
Intrepid Travel offers unique adventure travel itineraries to their customers. They prefer taking a unique approach to employee recognition as well. Their Marketing Director for North America, Leigh Barnes told us how to recognize employees:
“Make recognition fun and personable. Go out of your way to find out what their interests are and recognize with a personalized message.
A note, a craft beer….know your staff personally and you will know the little things that truly will motivate them.”
Bonus Awesome Office
Drip Club keeps it old school. In an interview with the Awesome Office show, CEO Mike Zhang described why his team prefers the suggestion box for their staff recognition.
“We have an old-school ‘comments box’ where you can drop a card if you happen to see a colleague, co-worker, a manager – whoever – embodying or living the values. At the next all-hands meeting, we recognize all the folks that got these post cards with a gift card or other token of appreciation.”
We like this method of acknowledging achievement not only because it’s simple, but because the anonymity lends itself to authenticity – you know that the recognizer doesn’t want anything out of the act of recognition. The suggestion box can also be an excellent way to showcase employee appreciation by allowing everyone to offer up fun team activities and wellness workplace ideas to improve the office.
TINYpulse has tons of ideas for showing employee appreciation, including a “thank you” t-shirt signed by co-workers. When we asked them for their employee appreciation idea, they advised being timely and specific. Laura Troyani, Director of Marketing at Tinypulse says:
“I was floored by the findings in our recent Employee Appreciation & Recognition Report that showed how feeling valued in the workplace actually significantly impacts employee retention.
For managers that really care about recognition, and they really should, I always recommend being timely and being specific. When you see something great happening, show your appreciation immediately, and say why you think it was a great job. It makes sure you don’t forget to do it later and it helps to reinforce the types of behaviors you want to keep seeing.”
Bonus The Frontier Project
A consulting firm called The Frontier Project offers amazing fitness perks to its employees. More importantly, the leadership is passionate about good employee recognition. Lead facilitator Stevie Toepke says:
Employee recognition tip: dole it out daily Click To Tweet
“Face it: we all spend way too much time at work to feel like the work we do doesn’t matter. Good managers make their employees feel appreciated. Great managers make their employees feel valued.
Yes, there is a difference. That difference boils down to recognition – not just if you give it, but how you give it. Employee appreciation programs have been around for a while and often take the form of praising or spotlighting an employee for tenure or general awesomeness (think: Employee of the Month).
The best leaders don’t make their employees wait until the end of the month (or year) to let them know they are doing great work. Instead, they recognize good performance by giving informal and frequent positive feedback about specific behaviors – in conversation, in email, or even in a short, hand-written note.
The best part about this recognition tool? It costs nothing. And, you can dole it out daily – even multiple times a day. Oh, and in addition to helping your employee actually feel valued, they are more likely to understand (and do) more of what will make them and the company successful.”
Co-founder of Engagedly, an employee engagement platform, Srikant Chellappa shared his employee recognition best practices:
“The one thing employers can do to recognize their employee is to provide social praise and communicate clearly the positive impact the employee had and acknowledge where employee went above and beyond their jobs description. Monetary incentives while good, have a limited impact and mostly short term. Employees need to feel their work is appreciated and that they need feel invested in the overall goal of the organization they are part of.”
People Also Ask These Questions About Employee Recognition Ideas
Q: How to recognize employees in 2023?
A: Here are some suggestions for how to recognize employees:
- Give specific praise – Recognize team accomplishments and explain exactly what they did well. Be sincere and authentic.
- Public recognition – Give shoutouts in meetings, newsletters, email blasts, etc. Make sure everyone knows about their great work.
- Spot bonuses – Give a small, unexpected bonus as a reward for exceeding expectations. Even a small amount can show appreciation.
- Handwritten notes – A handwritten card or note goes a long way in making employees feel valued. Make it personal.
- Small gifts – Give a gift card for coffee or lunch, office supplies, etc. Gifts don’t have to be expensive to show you care.
- Flexible time off – Reward extra effort by providing a few hours or a day off. Time is often more valuable than material gifts.
- One-on-one time – Schedule a lunch or coffee break together. Employees appreciate personal attention from leadership.
- Celebrate success – Throw a party, order lunch, bring in treats when goals are achieved. Make success fun and social.
- Peer recognition – Encourage coworkers to recognize each other’s accomplishments and strengths. This promotes teamwork.
- Growth opportunities – Professional development shows you’re invested in their future. Offer training, new projects, etc.
The key is to make your recognition timely, specific, sincere, and personalized. Get to know what truly motivates each employee. Consistent appreciation boosts morale and engagement which drives ROI for your company.
Q: What are the benefits of employee recognition?
A: The benefits of employee recognition compound over time. Employees who feel appreciated are more productive, provide better customer service, and are less likely to leave their jobs. They are also empowered to identify and proactively solve problems that they see in the business when engagement levels are high. Making employee recognition a consistent priority through methods like praise, rewards, and celebrations will ensure your team reaps these tangible benefits.
Q: What is a good employee recognition idea in 2023?
A: A good employee recognition idea in 2023 is all about personalization. Using this moment of appreciation to show your co-workers that you actually know them and acknowledge their good work in a meaningful way will contribute to stronger company culture. Some of our favorite employee recognition ideas include:
- Public recognition in the next company all-hands or team meeting
- Custom action figures with a unique super power/backstory
- Personal caricatures based on their LinkedIn profile picture
Q: What is employee recognition?
A: Employee recognition is based upon the premise that acknowledging positive work behaviors and activities results in better overall employee performance. By recognizing your team members for their successes, this creates benefits that positively impact business results. We’ve interviewed the top companies that emphasize employee appreciation to bring the best ways to recognize employees here.
Q: Why is an employee recognition initiative important in 2023?
A: There are a ton of benefits to developing an employee recognition strategy in 2023. Companies attribute improved employee morale, better customer service, lower turnover, and increased productivity. This all points to the fact that employee recognition can drive serious ROI.
Q: How do you give employee appreciation?
A: Employee appreciation can be administered in many fun and creative ways. With everything from peer-to-peer recognition platforms, office-wide games, celebration events, and personalized rewards. Check out our list of the top recognition and appreciation ideas to start building a culture of recognition in the office.
Q: Where do these creative employee recognition examples come from?
A: These creative employee recognition ideas have been collected from real companies that have prioritized making employees feel valued and respected while at work. Our research and interviews with business professionals have been compiled so that you can see just how well these appreciation ideas can work in your office.
Q: What are some types of employee recognition awards?
A: We recommend choosing awards that suit both the employee and the culture of your company. Our list of recognition ideas can help you find the right program for your team whether that involves: gamification, office celebrations, social media shout outs, or other creative ideas.
Q: When should I recognize employees?
A: Many of the recognition experts that we spoke to recommend acknowledging employees in a timely fashion with a personal gift, reward, or shout out. Showcasing success and celebrating your team’s victories daily can create a work environment where people feel appreciated and valued as contributors to the whole.
Q: How can I appreciate my staff?
A: Whether you want to go all out or ball on a budget, get things started with the right employee appreciation idea. We have 39 options here to choose from, but don’t forget to be creative! And as always, be sure to measure the effects of your employee recognition strategy so you can optimize and improve it over time.
Q: What is the best way to show recognition to employees?
A: The best way to show recognition to employees is by finding what works for your team and company culture. Some companies like to go all out with lavish gifts and parties while others prefer more personal and intimate gestures such as handwritten notes or one-on-one time with the boss. Whatever you choose, be sure that it is something that will be meaningful to your employees and that it aligns with your values.