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7 Employee recognition ideas that’ll work like a charm!

Mathew Maniyamkott

Last Updated:  

14 May 2024

9 min read

In love as in work, if there is one thing in terms of expectations, it is the need to be recognized. You want your partner to acknowledge your efforts by a display of love and you expect your employer to recognize your contributions by some sort of reward. While money is usually considered as the usual motivating quotient, that is not always the case and there are a hundred other ways for you to keep your employees satisfied where their efforts for the betterment of your company are being rewarded.

Remember that there is not only a fierce competition to grab the attention of potential candidates, but there is a huge scramble to get good employees as well. The competition to keep the hardworking employees stay with your company itself requires intense planning, marathon efforts and time. While your employees work hard to be in your good books, businesses need to realize that they have to put in work to retain the employees as competitors will be waiting to win them over with better pay and attractive benefits. A Gallup research says that one of the top reasons why employees leave is because of being underappreciated.

While you might already have a program where you recognize your employees, Survey Sparrow shows you seven ways in which you can blow your employees away with your gratitude.

Traits of an effective employee recognition program

While it is good to get into action mode as soon as you see something effective that could be implemented, but it makes sense to pause and reflect to see how effective an employee recognition program you can create. When you want a world-class team to work for you, there is a need to employ top-class recognition programs. A good employee recognition program would be able to not only reign in the good performers, but it will also motivate the underperformers to work better and achieve their respective targets.

When you want a world-class team to work for you, there is a need to employ top class recognition programs.
Here is what constitutes an effective employee recognition program.

Build a team to formulate the program

It is imperative that you have a set of highly-intelligent employees who can help you with creating an effective employee recognition program. Before floating employee recognition ideas, the first step is to have a solid framework that makes it easy to reward high-performance employees. Here are tips on building the right team:

  • They should have interest in creating the program
  • Look for folks who work well with people
  • Have a working knowledge of such a program
  • Previous experience in handling such programs

Characteristics of an effective program

When you are planning to build something that will affect a lot of people directly, we need to ensure that it has a strict set of processes involved and a plethora of characteristics that make it as effective as possible. You cannot have an employee recognition program where you choose 1 among the 10,000 employees you have. No, that would only create disgruntled workers. If you have so many employees, it would be divided into departments and each of them should have winners and not just one. A program that happens once a year isn’t something that is sustainable. Don’t expect your employees to be motivated for four continuous quarters over a program that just rewards once a year.

Help your employees understand the exact criteria to get the reward, employ it at least once every financial quarter, keep reminding them about it via various portals, including social media and internal communication tools including reminders and informational on notice boards.

Define clear objectives

The business should be clear about the kind of actions or results that they expect from the program. You should know the behaviors of the employees that will be recognized as a part of the reward. The deliverables need to be listed down accurately so that there is no confusion about the outputs.

It is best if you can measure the results achieved as it brings a sense of objectivity to the entire exercise instead of a subjective reward program that will include the biases of the people involved in judging the results. Create a checklist of deliverables that are to be achieved to be eligible for a reward. Checklists can be extremely effective in such cases where you can easily assess without any confusion.

Should have different types of recognition

As we mentioned in the article earlier, many employers assume that money is the only motivating factor for an employee to produce results. But it has been time and again proven by research and real-world examples that it is not so. In fact, send across a survey where you ask your employees for different ideas on how they want to be rewarded. It will increase their personal investment in the process and will keep them highly excited as well. It could be a shout out on your social media handle, running of a press release, appreciation celebration, corporate gift certificate, new job title and more.

Launch it effectively

Properly communicating and marketing to your team about the employee recognition program, the purpose behind it, steps to take part in it and the rewards associated with it should be told to them in an effective manner. The management should ensure that there is active participation for the same by all the managers as well. After the launch, the excitement surrounding the program should not die down and there should be constant reinforcement about it and the many benefits that employees stand to gain by being a part of it.

Now that we know the constituents of an effective employee recognition program, let us see seven employee recognition ideas that can transform your entire business if implemented correctly.

Employee recognition idea #1

Personalized appreciation – Sure, no one likes to be just one more name mentioned in an email. Everyone wants to see their names displayed prominently at exclusive places. Create a culture of recognition where there are emails in which one employee alone is appreciated for the work done. This would create a sense of longing for everyone who would want to be applauded as well.

Create a culture of recognition where there are emails in which one employee alone is appreciated for the work done.

Write a hand-written note where you appreciate the employee for the results that they have produced for the company. This form of appreciation is something that will never go out of style since people love to feel valued. During the appreciation, highlight exactly what they have done to be deserving of this appreciation.

Also, this type of appreciation might be varied for different people. When you have personal meetings with the employees, ask them for a time in their previous jobs for an instance where they felt appreciated. Based on this information, you can implement different things in which you can make them feel appreciated. Some might like a meeting with the CEO while some might like to be appreciated in public. People are different. People matter.

Employee recognition idea #2

The Extra Mile program: This is to reward a certain behavior where your employees go beyond their call of duty and strive to make things happen for the company. It need not be anything extraordinary. Small acts of kindness or support for a team member during a crisis or a late-night work gig beyond their office hours can all be a part of this recognition. This could be doled out once a week where employees receive special recognition for going the extra mile.

The company could constitute a special kit for anyone who is recognized as the employee who went the extra mile. While the reward doesn’t have to be repetitive, having a clear cut incentive for it will increase the occurrences of such acts in the workplace more often than you expect and it will become a part of the company culture where employees are trained to think beyond just their job descriptions.

Employee recognition idea #3

Wall of fame: Another idea that you see implemented across the world in most companies is the ‘Wall of Fame’ where the company’s most valuable employee is recognized by having their photos displayed on a wall specially set up for this purpose. This could be a monthly or a weekly thing. The wall could be filled with sticky notes that mention the achievements of the said employee including messages from the co-workers.

Not only does this serve as an inspiration for all the other employees, but it also makes them take it as a challenge to have their names and photos displayed lavishly on the wall too. It is more of a psychology thing and it works, which is exactly why you see this implemented on most consumer-facing businesses around the world. This type of reward system works perfectly well in a corporate setting too.

Employee recognition idea #4

Peer-to-Peer recognition: Having this peer to peer recognition system is only achievable when there is an extraordinary culture of appreciation amongst the employees. While it is something that cannot be enforced, the onus is on the business to facilitate such attitude among employees. It not only creates a feeling of appreciation, but it also increases loyalty and helps in establishing better relationships among employees themselves. Recognition from peers gives a sense of belonging too which makes an employee more confident and assertive in their dealings.

Recognition from peers gives a sense of belonging too which makes an employee more confident and assertive in their dealings. 

Encourage your employees to buy something extra for their co-workers when they go out, it could be as simple as a cup of coffee. Write random notes of appreciation which are displayed publicly for everyone to see after which it can be stapled on the said employee’s desk. Create a culture where people from different departments work together on projects which will help them get an understanding of the kind of challenges different teams face, this will help in improving empathy.

Don’t make peer to peer recognition a mandatory thing, otherwise, it will look insincere. When people work together for a long time, they will know what the other person likes and the rewards will be personalized. All that the company needs to do is nudge the employees to be a little more giving and appreciative of each other.

Employee recognition idea #5

Let them show their creative side- All of them are born with talents, only some of them get to work on it and get good at it. While some of these people get a blue-collar job, they forget that they had innate talents that were a huge part of their identity once. Be the employer who gives them a chance to show their creative side. It could be through painting, strumming a guitar, singing or anything that your employees would love to do. Call it ‘The Experience day’ or any other name that works well on your employees. You can have it once a fortnight or a month, for a few hours a day, it will surely elicit an amazing response from your employees.

Something like this keeps the spirits of your employees high, even potential candidates would be attracted to something like this. This shows that the company values everything that is a part of the employee’s personality and it is also a fantastic bonding moment for your employees.

Employee recognition idea #6

Surprise Bonuses- Everyone loves surprises, especially if it comes in the form of money, coupon codes, vouchers, travel packages, etc. Be known as that employer who “rewards randomly to its employees”. There are fewer compliments better than that for an employer. You don’t have to tell about the decision until they are going to be gifted. Call them into the office, tell them how much you appreciate the work that they do and the kind of difference that they make for the organization.

Hand them over the surprise. It is extra special if you put it in an envelope and give it. People would like to hold things, even if it is a coupon whose code can be sent over an email, make sure you take a print-out of it and add a small note of hand-written appreciation and pass it to them. This will surely be a hit as the word will spread among the employees and everyone would want to be the next in line for such an honor.

Employee recognition idea #7

Build an employee retention program- While giving appropriate rewards for work done is a great idea and always effective when implemented well, creating an employee retention program will also create moments that people will look forward to. Do not make it an opportunity to make the employees stay, rather make it an act of celebration.

Do not make it an opportunity to make the employees stay, rather make it an act of celebration. 

If an employee stays with the company for so many years, employ a reward system where they are given a cash bonus, or a full expense paid vacation. You can also create a milestone-based reward system whose only aim is to keep the employees excited and looking forward to working together with the company for more time.


There are many employee recognition ideas that you can use to keep the morale of your employees and their hunger for success high. While all these employee recognition ideas that we have mentioned will be effective, its success is based on its proper implementation. Employee engagement software can help in the proper implementation of many of these ideas.

While all these measures would be highly appreciated by your employees, if there is one thing that your employees would feel grateful for, then it is this – to feel that you care. Be genuinely caring about their needs. If they have a family emergency, let them take an off day instead of fixating upon deadlines.

Also, most employees are often told that they are easily dispensable, while that would be true because someone else with a similar skill set might be available for hire, as an employer, make sure that the employee doesn’t feel that way at all. Change that damaging line of thought into creating your employees as indispensable ones who are valued for who they are and what they bring to the table.

Mathew Maniyamkott

Guest Blogger at SurveySparrow

Regular contributor to various magazines. Passionate about entrepreneurship, startups, marketing, and productivity.

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