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Your Guide To Employee Recognition In The Workplace – The Who, What, When, Where, and Why

By May 27, 2022 May 16th, 2024


Employee recognition in the workplace comes in many forms, from many sources, and can be organized and automated by a number of virtual platforms. But one thing has become crystal clear in recent years… workplace recognition is necessary.

During “The Great Resignation” of 2021, 25% of American workers voluntarily left their jobs – more than 4 million in August alone. Just to put that into perspective, essentially the entire population of Los Angeles quit their jobs in just one month!

The number one reason given by the mass exodites for leaving? Lack of recognition at work.

Imagine that!

The importance and benefits of employee recognition in the workplace can actually be measured in employee satisfaction surveys and most obviously by your company’s retention rate. One survey shows that 81% of employees feel more motivated in their jobs when they feel appreciated for their efforts. It’s a big deal! And appreciated employees are invaluable assets to your organization.

These employees are empowered, engaged, and more committed to their jobs and essentially, to their company.

maya angelouThe late, great Maya Angelou once said “They may not remember what you said. They may not remember what you did. But they will never forget how you made them feel.”

Be sure that each member of your team feels seen and appreciated by understanding the significance and many benefits of effective employee recognition in the workplace.

What Is Recognition In The Workplace?

workplace recognition

Recognizing employees goes far beyond annual birthday cakes with a card signed by the senior leaders or even the entire company. Or gathering around a box of donuts once a month to hear the business leaders give a bulk mention of the work anniversaries. Signing up for an employee recognition platform isn’t enough either.

Only commemorating the milestone achievements has now been magnified by also recognizing and rewarding employees’ efforts. After all, it’s the employees’ hard work that leads to those monumental achievements, right?

Why Recognition In The Workplace Is Important

Workplace recognition has a deep, psychological impact on people. Employees who receive recognition and positive feedback at work have increased self-esteem and confidence in their roles and a deeper commitment to their employers and to their jobs.

They’re happy. Not facing imposter syndrome at work. Their mental health is balanced and in a positive state. They’re not dreading Monday mornings. They’re far more likely to excel and less likely to leave.

Workplace Recognition Best Practices

  1   Do It Often


Frequent employee recognition makes a huge impact. Although it isn’t just a top-down process, simply telling your top performers they’ve done a great job holds more power than you can imagine. Allowing peer-to-peer recognition empowers employees to show their appreciation to one another as well, so the kudos can come from anyone, at any time.

Why this matters: New habits are created by consistent repetition, so consistently showing employees how much they’re appreciated, creates a culture of recognition.


  2   Be Specific


Define the recognition. Tell them what they did well and why their contributions matter. Highlight an employee who went the extra mile to lock in a new client. Or shout out the team who outperformed all the others in Q1. Just be specific so it’s clear how they’re making a difference. With so many types of employee recognition available to you, it is vastly important to be specific whenever possible.

Why this matters: Letting employees know exactly what they did well is an added incentive that fuels motivation, improves morale, and leads to increased productivity.


  3   Be Sincere

alex on Twitter: "If you don't cry at that part of The Office when no one goes to Pam's art show and then Michael shows up and buys her painting of the

Some employee recognition programs can feel like a lot of fluff. Generic forms of “thanks,” handed out like Tic Tacs have an adversely negative effect on your workforce. You’re missing out on tapping into your employees’ full potential by not being sincere when giving them their props.

Why this matters: Being sincerely recognized at work can make employees feel valued, boost their sense of self-worth, and motivate employees to continue striving for success.


  4   Make It Personal


Not everyone basks in the glory of public praise. Some revel in the spotlight, while others prefer to stay in the background. Whether you choose a one-on-one lunch, a handwritten note, a mention in the company newsletter, or a ticker-tape parade with a full drumline, making employee recognition personal to each individual ensures the message is clearly received and they feel valued.

Why this matters: Knowing your employees and showing appreciation in the ways that speak to them as individuals makes a big difference in how they continue to perform.


  5   Keep It FUN


Most of us don’t get much of a thrill from an auto-generated email with a canned message of thanks. Being adults doesn’t mean we’ve lost the ability to appreciate something fun, especially at work. Effective recognition should be friendly and uplifting, even random and celebratory.

Why this matters: Making employees feel appreciated while showing a little of your fun side is both personally beneficial to your staff, and feeds a culture of appreciation.


Recognition In The Workplace Examples

1) Lendio


Lendio makes small business owners’ dreams come true by offering loans when the traditional banks turn their backs. They’ve facilitated over 300,000 loans worth over $12 billion and are on a mission to help boost the American economy by way of substantial success in the small business market.

How Lendio shows recognition in the workplace:

  1. All-Inclusive Employee Recognition: The old way of incentivizing didn’t allow for all the employees to participate so it didn’t actually benefit everyone in the company. Introducing peer-to-peer recognition was a game-changer and gave everyone a voice.
  1. “Shout Outs”: Utilizing some of our best practices above, Ledio gives shout-outs at their monthly meetings, where the executives read peer-to-peer appreciation messages for all to hear. This has helped foster a positive company culture as well as encourage higher levels of performance.
  1. Bigger Bang: Small, monetary compensation incentives tucked into employees’ regular paychecks were seen more as part of their salaries, rather than a nugget of employee appreciation. Lendio enlisted the help and now has a robust and successful employee recognition program that motivates employees in much more impactful ways.

“Recognition is critical to fostering a culture where people feel like they are contributing to something great.” ~ Brock Blake, CEO


2) LogicMonitor


Expanding IT infrastructure, data collection, and monitoring capabilities are LogicMonitor’s bread and butter. Their platform provides AI-monitored technology, full automation of company analytics, and a multitude of ways to help you work smarter, not harder. This employee recognition example showcases the tremendous impact that a structured program can have on your entire organization.

How LogicMonitor shows recognition in the workplace:

  1. Award Nominations: Beefing up the nominations portion of their employee recognition program was a BIG win. Their nominations have increased by 30% each year and 75% of their employees are actively engaged on the platform.
  1. Points Gifting: Employees can gift points to their colleagues as part of their recognition and rewards. The points can be regifted to other coworkers or redeemed for a variety of tangible merchandise of their choosing.
  1. Behavior Bonus: These were custom-created to specifically reward hybrid and remote employees for a variety of activities related to Covid restrictions. Acts of kindness, hitting the treadmill, and completion of various trainings are a few of the behaviors that were rewarded over 1900 times in just 90 days.

“From Behavior Bonuses to running analytics to receiving or sending points and redeeming rewards for the user, the platform is useful, intuitive, and rewarding.” ~ Gillian Calley, Learning & Development Business Partner


3) Cleartrip

Cleartrip Logo

The clear source for everything travel-related in the Middle East, Cleartrip breaks down all the options for lodging and transportation to help streamline your travel plans. They’re a market leader in the travel aggregate industry and provide the best deals and alternatives for hotels, resorts, and all things travel, from Delhi to the Maldives.

How Cleartrip shows recognition in the workplace:

  1. Gamification: Virtual events and games have replaced in-house celebrations to ensure their remote employees aren’t left out. Inclusion is key to employee engagement so expanding to a platform that allows participation across the globe keeps its employees involved.
  1. Ideathons: Gathering thoughts and ideas for new projects and products collectively allows employees the opportunity to flex their creativity and offer better service to their customers. Basically brainstorming sessions on steroids.
  1. Spot Rewards: Delayed recognition is underwhelming, to say the least. By offering spot rewards, they’re able to quickly and effectively reward employees for their valuable input and hard work, rather than waiting for the manual wheels to turn.


4) ZipRecruiter

ziprecruiter logo

Rated the #1 hiring site for job-seekers, ZipRecruiter provides valuable tools, training, and connections, and has helped over 110 million people searching for jobs. Likewise, they’ve supported almost three million companies to pair qualified candidates with open positions.

How ZipRecruiter shows recognition in the workplace:

  1. 360° Recognition: Peer-to-peer recognition instead of a top-down approach allows employees to gush over anyone and everyone’s efforts. Encouraging this sense of inclusion and belonging creates tighter interpersonal bonds and improves collaboration.
  1. Fostering the Culture: By partnering with a strong recognition platform, they’ve been able to dramatically improve the company culture and encourage a more appreciation-rich work environment. Promoting a consistent cycle of recognition keeps employee engagement levels high and the momentum strong.
  1. Rewards, Rewards, Rewards: Offering a variety of ways to reward employees gives people options and we loooove options. Options for ways to give recognition as well as options for ways to spend recognition points.

“The rollout went really well — people started using it right away.” ~ Maria Alparaz, HR Assistant


5) Teachable

Teachable Logo

From blacksmithing to beat-making, Teachable gives every expert a roadmap for creating and distributing how-to courses. They’ve grown to a half-a-billion dollar company with 150 employees, whose deeply rooted core values, key goals, and commitment to creativity have made them a pioneer in online course creation.

How Teachable shows recognition in the workplace:

  1. Full Transparency: No fluff for their employees. They share the struggles just as clearly as the triumphs because they’re all in it together.
  1. Promoting Collaboration: Fostering strong relationships and keeping the team tight is a top priority. Cultural events and other planned team-building activities keep the communication open, the ideas flowing, and the company growing.
  1. Being Integral: Moving and speaking with integrity in their day-to-day interactions with creators and customers is just as vital as being integral to their internal teams. Creating a work environment based on honesty, empathy, and genuine care builds trust in relationships, both internally and externally, and supports the company values.

“Transparency is one of the four core internal values at Teachable. We believe in making every single aspect of our business transparent internally.” ~ Ankur Nagpal, Founder

Workplace Recognition Tools

1) Bonusly

Bonusly strives to make your employee recognition program fun and engaging for colleagues near and far. Their 360° approach ensures full inclusion and gives everyone in your organization the power to show public or private recognition.

What this tool adds to your workplace recognition program: Bonusly’s platform for positive reinforcement and social recognition with peers strengthens interpersonal bonds, improves collaboration, and can empower employees with a sense of inclusion.


2) Nectar

Recognition rooted in your core company values is Nectar’s sweet spot. This platform puts recognition at your employees’ fingertips so they can show each other on a regular just how valued their efforts really are.

What this tool adds to your workplace recognition program: Nectar offers a ridiculous variety of milestone celebrations, employee challenges, perks, and rewards that build relationships and reduce turnover.


3) Awardco


Travel, merchandise, experiences… incentivizing has never been so much fun. Awardco’s partnerships give your teams millions of options to choose from when it comes to spending their employee rewards points.

What this tool adds to your workplace recognition program: Awardco fever spreads quickly, encouraging a cycle of recognition and forging the ideal company culture.


4) WorkTango


Trusted by over 600 companies, WorkTango’s focus is on ensuring you retain the best people for your organization. Setting your employees up for success with rewards and recognition programs that meet their wants and needs is what they do best.

What this tool adds to your workplace recognition program: Providing a positive employee experience with WorkTango boosts employee morale and improves employee retention rates.


5) Empuls


Empuls stacks all your hr tools in one user-friendly platform. Their elevated and holistic approach to employee appreciation focuses on six core elements to provide you with the most effective rewards system for your employees.

What this tool adds to your workplace recognition program: Partnering with Empuls keeps your workforce connected, reduces employee turnover, and improves the employee experience.

‍”Prior to Empuls, our R&R programs were weak, sparse, and not digitized. Empuls decentralized our programs and enabled transparency. Within a year of implementing Empuls we gained 10 points on our GPTW scores.” ~ Ajay Sreedhara, Deputy General Manager – HR

People Also Ask These Questions About Recognition In The Workplace

Q: How do you show recognition in the workplace?

  • A: You can show recognition in the workplace using a variety of strategies. From spot bonuses to personalized thank you notes to company-wide messages, there are an endless number of ideas to recognize your colleagues.

Q: How do I recognize my employees at work?

  • A: You can recognize your employees at work by offering spot rewards, public shout-outs, game prizes, or experiential rewards. The key is to pick something that will connect with the employee and show them that their contribution is important to the success of your current project, goal, or company challenge.

Q: What are the types of recognition at work?

  • A: Some types of recognition at work include awards nominations, tangible gifts, behavior bonuses, and exclusive perks.

Q: What is effective employee recognition in the workplace?

  • A: Effective employee recognition in the workplace makes a genuine impact on the workforce. It promotes engagement, fun, and provides the right tools, and supports a healthy work environment and a recognition-rich company culture. It also shows employees that feeling valued at work IS possible.

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