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39 Best Employee Recognition Ideas: Appreciation Programs at Work and Examples from Real Companies in 2021

By September 24, 2021 November 23rd, 2021 56 Comments

employee-recognition-header

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.

Sounds like a no-brainer, right?

Well, it’s not as easy as it seems. You need to find the right employee recognition program for your company. To do that, it first helps to get a better understanding of employee recognition and how it works.

Before we hop into it… Our favorite employee recognition programs to check out:

Quick Description 

Best
For

No Credit Card Required

Free Trial

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!

100 - 250
Employees

Blueboard is the world's top all-in-one experiential rewards program making 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).

251+
Employees

Assembly is a free employee recognition and engagement program that aims to build positive team cultures through peer recognition, anniversaries, birthdays, culture rewards, and badges.

3 - 50
Employees

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.

51 - 250
Employees

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!

So…

What Is Employee Recognition?

Employee recognition is all about 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 examples and employee appreciation ideas below come from real companies that know a thing or two about making their employees feel cherished.

 

Who Would You Like To Give Gifts To?

Clients & Customers Employees

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   Send A Spot Bonus 

bonusly

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. 

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. You can even set up an employee recognition platform that is cost-effective and handles spot bonuses through a proprietary app like this.

 

  2   Reward Them With Some Fresh Air 

outdoors-reward

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.

 

  3   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 any 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.

 

  4   Start A Friendly GIF War 

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.

 

  5   Do A Company-Wide Shoutout

employee-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

Deliver your shout-out via Assembly (free recognition tool) to make sure it reaches everyone and to bask in the reactions. 

 

  6   Buy Them Lunch 

lunch-treat

“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.

 

  7   Celebrate A Victory

celebration-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.

Celebrate with an epic team-building activity or simply share your victory with the rest of the company using a platform like Kazoo

Pro-Tip: Check out this list of team-building companies for inspiration for strengthening your team and celebrating team victories. 

 

  8   Applaud A Work Anniversary 

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 a platform like Fond

 

  9   Invest In Their Wellness 

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. They deserve to be rewarded with tools that help them create a solid foundation of wellness. And according to a recent workplace wellness survey, about 70% of employees feel they need employers’ help to stay healthy. 

 

  10   Give Creative Feedback 

positive-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.

Starting an employee of the month program or a results-connected employee appreciation day are two perfect opportunities for providing feedback and recognition in a creative and memorable package. 

 

  11   Show Them A Good Time 

office-party

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 absolutely 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

 

  12   Get Them Something For Their Workspace

office-gift

Both practical and fun, workspace gifts make low-fuss tokens of appreciation. A useful 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 from SwagUp to boost the overall sentimental factor of your offering. 

 

  13   Test Recognition Ideas By Surveying Your Employees

send a survey about your health fair

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 Google Forms or set one up using your employee recognition program here.

 

  14   Create a “Go The Extra Mile” Program

Employee recognition idea: 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.

 

  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:

      1. “Crush” someone on the team whose work they want to recognize and why
      2. 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   Support What They Want To Support

charity-community-program

Ad agency Drake Cooper recognizes employees through philanthropic side projects. They have a Dream Big program where they let 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.

 

  17   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 own 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.


Employee Recognition Programs

Employee recognition programs are the resources and technological mechanisms through which you can complete the long-term ongoing steps necessary to achieve your employee recognition goals. These programs enable companies, teams, and even individuals to conduct and scale recognition activities. 

  18   Bonusly 

bonuslygif

An all-time favorite employee recognition software, 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.

Standout features:

  • Social capabilities make recognition moments sharable 
  • Metrics and reporting highlight performance trends 
  • Monthly allowance feature encourages company-wide adoption 

Why this employee recognition program works: 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: 

  • Chobani
  • Headspace
  • ZipRecruiter
  • SurveyMonkey
  • Toast

Pricing starts at $2.70 per user per month. Start a free trial

 

  19   Blueboard 

blueboard

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. 

Standout features:

  • An Anniversary Engine automates the delivery of anniversary awards 
  • Sharing features make each employee experience into a story 
  • Experience menus let employees choose their own awards 

Why this employee recognition program works: Novel experiences are memorable. By connecting recognition to novel experiences, Blueboard makes your recognition efforts absolutely unforgettable. 

Notable companies using Blueboard: 

  • Glassdoor
  • Salesforce.org
  • GoPro
  • Boeing
  • Ubisoft

Pricing is available on request

 

  20   Nectar 

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. 

Standout features:

  • 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 this employee recognition program works: It combines all the best aspects of simply saying “thank you” with a gifting infrastructure that reinforces your appreciation. 

Notable companies using Nectar:

  • SHRM
  • MLB
  • Heineken
  • Teachable
  • Oracle

Pricing starts at $2.50 per user per month. A free basic plan is available. 

 

  21   Assembly 

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.

Standout features:

  • 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 this employee recognition program works: 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
  • FTD
  • Coca-Cola
  • Amazon
  • Casper

Pricing starts at $2.50 per member per month. Free basic plan is available. 

 

  22   Caroo

caroo-goodies

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. 

Standout features:

  • A centralized platform that organizes mailing addresses 
  • Customization options that add extra sentimental value 
  • Feeding America donations that are covered with each box 

Why this employee recognition program works: 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: 

  • Apple
  • Nike
  • ADP 
  • Microsoft 
  • Hulu

Pricing starts at $24.95 per package. Take the 60-second quiz to get personalized recommendations for your team. 

 

  23   Fond

The-Fond-Suite

Fond allows you to deliver recognition your way. Allow employees to choose from a huge catalog of rewards and experiences or create your own 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. 

Standout features:

  • 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 this employee recognition program works: 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: 

  • Visa
  • Salesforce
  • Lyft
  • WW International
  • Hard Rock

Pricing is available on request

 

  24   Hoppier 

hoppier

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. 

Standout features:

  • Have remaining balances credited to your account 
  • Easily pick and choose vendor options 
  • Select usage time frames to ensure everyone orders together 

Why this employee recognition program works: 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: 

  • Shopify 
  • Fluke 
  • Amazon 
  • LinkedIn
  • Philips

Pricing is available on request

 

  25   Kazoo

Kazoo SnackNation image

Kazoo 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.  

Standout features:

  • 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 this employee recognition program works: It helps turn rewards, appreciation, and performance into a continuous loop of rewards, appreciation, and good vibes. 

Notable companies using Kazoo: 

  • Habitat for Humanity
  • Hitachi
  • Kia
  • Kaiser Permanente
  • Meredith

Pricing starts at $4.25 per employee per month. Learn more by booking a demo with the Kazoo team. 

 

  26   Empuls

xoxoday

Empuls isn’t just one thing; it’s 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 run participation encouragement and reminders. 

Standout features:

  • AI bots automate participation reminders 
  • Customizable interface allows for a fully branded experience 
  • Admin controls centralized management of budgets and reward schedules 

Why this employee recognition program works: 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: 

  • SAG-Aftra
  • RealPage
  • Evolent Health
  • Innovacer
  • Cleartrip

Pricing is available on request. Learn more here

Pro-Tip: Check out SnackNation’s comprehensive list of the best employee recognition & rewards software programs with more detailed recommendations for your company.


Employee Recognition Examples 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. 

  27   ADP

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: 

Caroo - ADP

 

  28   SalesForce

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.

Fond - Sales Force

 

  29   Chobani

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:

andrew-chobani-transparent-bg “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.”

 

  30   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. 

Blueboard - Testimonial - Precision BioSciences

 

  31   XANT

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 recognition program, 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 

 

  32   HelloTech

HelloTech offers ubiquitous tech support to their global customers. They wanted a recognition program as 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 recognition 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

 

  33   Geocaching

The company behind the real-world treasure hunt app, Geocaching knows how to treat it’s employees like treasures too. HR Manager, Laura Hughes explains her appreciation ideas for employees:

laura-hughes“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!”

 

  34   St. Louis Children’s Hospital

recognizing employees on social media

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.

 

  35   MINDBODY

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:

Jeff-Harper“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 in developing a recognition program is: be true to who you are. At MINDBODY our culture is core to everything we do, so we build our employee recognition programs 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!”

Recognize employees in a way that aligns with your values Click To Tweet

 

  36   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 its peer-to-peer recognition program, where tailored eCards help bring company values front and center. She says,

Chloe-Deiulis“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.”

 

  37   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, our employee recognition program 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’.”

 

  38   Namely

Ashley Pelliccione, Director of People at Namely, an HR software company, believes in the goodwill that comes from group recognition. She says,

Ashley-Pelliccione“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.”

 

  39   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:

Leigh-Barnes“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.

 

  Bonus   TINYpulse

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:

Leigh-Barnes“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:

Stevie-Toepke“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.”

Employee recognition tip: dole it out daily Click To Tweet

 

  Bonus   Engagedly

Co-founder of Engagedly, an employee engagement platform, Srikant Chellappa shared his employee recognition best practices:

Srikant-Chellappa“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: What is a good employee recognition idea in 2021?

A: A good employee recognition idea in 2021 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
  • …more

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 create your own recognition program here.

Q: Why is an employee recognition program important in 2021?

A: There are a ton of benefits to developing an employee recognition strategy in 2021. 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 employee recognition examples come from?

A: These creative employee recognition examples 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 examples 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! 

56 Comments

  • Lauren says:

    Wow thanks for this, so many great ideas on recognizing employees. I mostly agree with making employees feel proud and enthusiastic about what they do.

  • Amazing article! Great to see all these ideas to boost employee recognition. I just would like to reinforce number 5! Celebrating daily victories is extremely important, specially if your company is growing. One of the common growth pains for companies is the decreasing morale and motivation when people are exclusively focused on work and forget to celebrate and recognize their peers for all efforts.

  • Towiona says:

    Amazing ideals, Thank You!

  • Great ideas that come from a place of authenticity. Employee Recognition is the natural outcome of a positive relationship with people at work. Thank you for sharing!

    • Emil Shour says:

      Thanks Jenny! Employee recognition is a huge part of the culture at our company. Like mentioned above, our Friday Crush It Call has been around since Day 1 and it’s a phenomenal way to recognize the hard work of others on the team.

  • Rubina Jamal says:

    Wow! Thanks a million. HBR printed an article on ‘Building a Helping Organization’ Employees send in names and examples of how someone went the extra mile to help them. The names which appear the most frequently get posted and rewarded

  • Shannon says:

    This post is so timely and relevant to a project I am working on — so glad to have found this article and these tips!

  • Laura Stevens says:

    Love Love Love! Great stuff here… I feel a snappy zing coming on for the next staff meeting!

  • joe says:

    is it irresponsible to think that if you (management) are overly friendly with the staff that it will be taking advantage of on say the production side of things ?

    • Emil Shour says:

      Hi Joe, I think there is a line you have to walk with being friendly while maintaining a certain level of professionalism. What that line looks like depends on your company’s culture. Some are more relaxed than others so they can be more friendly and not have to worry about lower performance (or being taken advantage of, as you put it).

  • Deepa says:

    This post is very helpful! Glad i found what i needed the most..IDEAS 🙂

  • Cat says:

    Some of the ideas are repetitive and they’re all spun around extroverts. Companies have a good number of introverts as well!

    • Emil Shour says:

      Hi Cat, I appreciate your concern for recognizing introverts as well. I think things like recognition tailored towards the individual (like mentioned in the post) are appreciated by both introverts and extroverts. Writing hand written notes to the person is also mentioned in this post and can be tailored to both groups.

    • Kolby says:

      Hey Cat,

      I have found that something Motivosity is good for introverts and extroverts alike. https://motivosity.com/. Recognitions can be done privately or publicly. But either way it is all online so it works well.

  • Faylinn says:

    I think that it is very important for bosses to award their employees. Doing that tells the workers that they are valued and appreciated for their hard work. Also, I think that such positive treatment could also result into higher productivity ratings. At the jobs that I have worked at, I had bosses who always treated us to random acts of fun. Those acts didn’t include kegs of beer, but they would randomly treat us to Brazilian food, bring us Ice Cream or let us set up a nerf gun war room when they had seen us work hard. That sense of appreciation made me want to work harder, because I knew that I was valued.

  • Ahesan Ali says:

    Thanks lot for your such a brilliant ideas, i will. be utilize them for the growth of my company

  • Kate says:

    These days everyone is so busy that they forget to take time and appreciate things around them. So I feel employee recognition should be there to motivate and encourage employees and help them perform better and feel appreciated.

  • Dana says:

    I’ve sent personalized notes to my employees families for supporting them while they take care of patients.
    I think it is less about the cost or creativity but sincerity. Folks know when you are truly sincere.

  • Tom says:

    Great employee recognition ideas , thanks for sharing

  • Brian says:

    Reaching out on social media is a great way to recognize your employees! It’s a newer strategy that employers are now using to create a more positive work environment. This is a great list of ideas! Thanks for putting this together!

  • marion duffield says:

    I use the app called xoical.com you get xo points for doing good at work, at home and in your community. i did a family challenge….so fun!!

  • Shubhangi Deshpande says:

    Loved it.. Very easy and unique ways to recognise team efforts or individual effort.
    Thanks for sharing.

  • Sunetra says:

    Great Article…I enjoyed reading it and could relate to how we created recognition awards…thanks for so many new innovative ways to appreciate and value employees.!!

  • EMcGoo says:

    I’d love to hear more about RoundPegg’s Action figures – I love that idea!

  • Karen says:

    Wow! These are great ideas. I recently left a company that encouraged all types of recognition and moving into a company that currently does not have many recognition programs. Your article will help me to introduce fresh ideas along with what I’ve experienced to a great team.

  • Kim says:

    Thanks for the great ideas to expand our Employee Recognition program. We have 3 ‘travelling’ plaques and each month the previous month’s recipients recognize somebody else publically with their own words and pass on the plaque at the Staff Meeting.

  • Feedback App says:

    Thanks for sharing ideas with us. Employees are the integral part of an organization and this will help in employee recognition.

  • Colin says:

    Peer to peer recognition is so important! It’s so difficult for managers to give all the recognition that their employees deserve, and peer to peer helps hedge that challenge. Bucketlistrewards.com does a great job at peer to peer recognition, especially since it integrates with Slack – it makes it so that employees actual recognize each other!

  • Hema Dass says:

    Great stuff mate..
    Loved reading the whole post that is going to be the major ideas of appreciation in the upcoming year…

    Am from HR Services background and this list would help me great in implementing the ideas..!!

  • Amar says:

    Employee recognition is a huge part of the culture at any company, I believe above mentioned Idea’s will work to provide a healthy environment. Thanks Snaknation! Well Done. 🙂

  • Lovepreet says:

    Great article. These ideas will lead towards healthy work environment and great team spirit.

  • Luzviminda Cometa says:

    Glad I found your article. I am in the process of setting up a recognition program for my team of 130 employees. My team is doing well and I would like them to feel that their work is very much appreciated.

  • Melanie says:

    I was just asked to create, design and help implement an employee recognition program for our non-profit that will include recognizing executive directors in other countries where we have a presence. This article was the perfect place to start! Thank you for all of the terrific ideas!

  • Darlene says:

    What are the 1st and 2nd most requested form of recognition by employees?

  • Thanks for sharing the useful post.

  • Luca says:

    Interesting ideas to keep the reward/recognition ideas at a different level. I will definitely take some of those in consideration for my team. Do you have any suggestion for a team made of people from very different cultures?
    I also believe that the frequency of recognition is so important, we get so much sucked into the day-to-day stuff that we often forget to celebrate victories!

  • Arun says:

    Very good ideas, and a nice article 🙂

  • Norhart says:

    Employees are one of a company’s greatest assets. Recognition and appreciation are known as one of the key motivational factors in the workplace. If organizations wait until employees hit a monumental year of service to show appreciation, then most contributions are going unrecognized. No occasion is necessary to appreciate coworkers, colleagues, and/or employees. In fact, small acts of kindness and small tokens of appreciation spread throughout the year will make people feel valued all year long. The opportunities are endless. Thanks for the suggestions!

  • Chirag Bhayani says:

    These has been a excellent post i have read till now. you shared amazing ideas if its implemented that would be help in company’s growth

  • Deep Das says:

    Your blog was really amazing to read I really enjoyed the ideas are really helpful

  • Nancy Rodriguez says:

    Great ideas! I love the simple ones that you can do today and often we forget to tell our staff just a simple “Thank you” it goes a long ways when people feel appreciated and recognized for their contribution to the organization. I love the ideas you have listed and can’t wait to implement some of these at my workplace. This was very useful.

    • Laura Nguyen says:

      Yes, that’s definitely true Nancy! Employees are often under appreciated and can’t wait to hear your success with these ideas!

  • Jeremy says:

    Hi there mates, pleasant paragraph and good arguments commented here, I
    am in fact enjoying by these.

  • quotepot says:

    Your blog is really amazing to read I enjoyed the ideas are really helpful

  • priyanka says:

    very nice ideas you have share. Employee Recognition & Appreciation Ideas . Amezing topic.
    thanks for sharing

  • Cody Yacoub says:

    I truly appreciate this post. I’ve been looking all over for this! Thank goodness I found it on Bing. You’ve made my day! Thx again

  • David says:

    I personally thank you for this post. Good topic regarding Employee Recognition & Appreciation.

  • Microrecognition is the perfect way to support organizational values on a regular basis and make employees feel valued without requiring a ton of time and resources.

  • Pawan Kumar says:

    Hey Ashley, recognition is a key ingredient to success. If you fail to show your employees that you notice their hard work, and how much you appreciate it, then they will never give you their best. You have included all the ideas I believe could help employers to create a stronger emotional relationship with employees while helping staff feel motivated, energetic, and appreciated. Thanks for sharing this great article 🙂

  • hiresmart says:

    Thanks for sharing this blog. Employee recognition is incredibly important, more so than many business owners ever realize.

  • Miska says:

    Amazingly written. thanks for sharing this interesting article.

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