People Management
10 min.

24 Ideas for Showing Recognition at Work

Véronique Forest
Last updated on 21 Dec. 2023
Published on 17 Nov. 2021
Femme souriante sous une lumière diffuse avec des confettis flottants

It has been proven by now that recognition at work is a powerful driver of employee engagement.

Table of contents

A corporate culture rooted in recognition of employees’ work has a multitude of benefits, from greater engagement and less conflict to better employee relationships and much more.

For recognition to have a tangible long-term impact, however, it must be genuine, specific and personalized. So feel free to tailor the 24 ideas in this post to your own situation!

Individual Recognition

Did you know that individual recognition is more powerful than collective recognition, especially when it’s an integral part of management practices?

Individual recognition should be a common practice in all companies.

1. Praise employees in public

What could be better than to publicly congratulate an employee for a success? Their contribution to the company will be on display for all to see and they will feel privileged to receive recognition in this way.

You can even congratulate your employees on their personal achievements!

In one of my previous jobs, the company manager took the time to congratulate an employee on his recent participation in a triathlon. He did it in front of the entire company because he knew how much determination this feat had required.

Not only was it flattering to the employee, but it showed how well the manager knew his team members.

2. Celebrating birthdays

Celebrating a team member’s birthday is a very simple gesture. You can send an email, write a note on a bulletin board, or even give the employee a birthday card with a personalized note.

This is a small gesture that shows you are there for your employees.

To make sure you never miss a team member’s birthday, keep track of birthdays directly in your calendar.

Also, don’t forget professional anniversaries. If someone has been working for you for 2, 7 or even 10 years, this is a milestone worth highlighting.

3. Say thank you

Many workers feel that their employer doesn’t give them enough recognition for their work. Yet recognizing employees’ work can be as simple as saying thank you.

Showing gratitude is a good idea when you notice that an employee has gone the extra mile when they didn’t have to. You can do this in person, in a team meeting or even in an email.

4. Have a one-on-one lunch with an employee

Having lunch with an employee in private will allow you to get to know them better and build a bond. This is a privileged moment where you can discuss all kinds of subjects, both personal and professional.

You can even make it a tradition to go out to lunch with each member of your team at least once a year!

5. Take the time to say hello

All too often we rush to our work without taking the time to greet our coworkers. This is a small gesture that can really make your team happy.

The manager of a large company I worked for as a student used to go around the store every morning to greet the employees. Everyone appreciated this consideration. We felt closer to him, even though we rarely worked alongside him.

6. Give relevant feedback

Providing relevant feedback is a great way to show your employees that you care about them. Whether your feedback is positive or constructive, it will help your employees better understand what is expected of them.

To thrive in a work environment, employees need to know that their manager is there to help them grow.

7. Provide opportunities for advancement

In today’s competitive job market, employers need to demonstrate to their employees that they can grow within the company.

As a result, it’s important to be proactive and talk about opportunities for advancement as soon as a person shows some potential. This way, they will know that you are recognizing their good work.

When I was working at a big box store, the assistant manager took the time to ask me if I had ever considered a career with the company. He offered to help me if it was something I was interested in. I really appreciated his recognition, even though I knew I didn’t really want to work in that field for the rest of my life.

8. Recognize seniority with a gift

When an employee racks up several years of seniority at an organization, it’s always a great idea to thank them with a personalized gift. In addition to being very flattering to the employee, the gesture also shows others that loyalty is recognized at your company.

Of course, make sure the gift is relevant and attractive, i.e., tickets to a show, gift certificate to a gourmet restaurant, electronic device, etc.

9. Designate an employee of the month

While having an employee of the month may seem outdated to some people, it can be very much worthwhile when done properly.

For example, suggest that the employee be selected from among nominations submitted by other employees. Offer attractive benefits for the recipient, such as a day off, spa pass, gift certificate, etc.

10. Hold individual meetings

What better way to demonstrate that your employees’ opinions are important than to meet with employees regularly to discuss them?

One-on-one meetings are the perfect time to speak with your employees and demonstrate that their work and how they’re doing matters to you.

11. Involve employees in decisions

In my opinion, the ultimate way to recognize your employees’ work is to include them in decision-making. After all, they are often in a very good position to point out what could be improved at the company or to suggest potential solutions.

Take the time to listen to them, take their opinion into consideration, and most importantly, trust them.

Collective Recognition

Collective recognition creates an attractive and stimulating work environment, in turn directly contributing to employee retention.

12. Have a recognition box

Peer recognition is just as important as recognition from managers. To encourage your employees to recognize their coworkers’ achievements, provide them with a recognition box.

They can use the box to submit words of thanks or gratitude, which can then be read out loud at a meeting or posted on a bulletin board.

Kudos have become a tradition at Agendrix. We have an email address specifically designated for receiving positive feedback. The feedback is read in front of all company employees during our quarterly meeting.

13. Modernize your work environment

A modern and comfortable work environment is a great way to show that you care about your employees’ well-being. Make sure they have appropriate spaces to rest and that their work environment is stimulating.

You can add plants to common areas, repaint the staff room, update work tools, etc.

14. Be flexible with work hours

One of the most prized forms of recognition on the job market is without a doubt a flexible work schedule.

By enabling your employees to adopt a better work-life balance, you are showing caring and understanding. Use scheduling software to optimize schedules. By the same token, you can also make it easier for employees to trade shifts if you so wish.

For ideas on how to be more flexible, check out our post on how to create the best possible schedule. As you will see, this can be done at any company.

15. Offer snacks

Who doesn’t like having snacks on hand? Offer healthy snacks in the cafeteria at all times. In addition to being appreciated by employees, this encourages healthy lifestyle habits.

During busy times or when you especially want to reward their good work, you can bring in treats such as candy, cookies, muffins, etc.

16. Put on a hackathon

Hackathons are events where employees can develop projects or ideas outside their normal work environment. They then have the opportunity to present their work to the rest of the team. These events are very well known in the software development industry, but can be organized in any field.

The goal is simply to set aside a time when everyone is encouraged to tap into their creativity and innovate. In addition to strengthening the bonds between employees, an event like this generates oodles of new ideas for the company.

17. Plan events that bring people together

Whether it’s an end-of-year party, summer festivities or simply a spring happy hour, evenings with coworkers are always welcome. They allow everyone to have a good time outside of their work environment, which can sometimes be a little more rigid.

They are also a great way to thank employees for their work throughout the year.

18. Pick up the tab for a meal

For special events and company milestones, offer your team a meal.

Employees are always grateful not to have to pack a lunch.

19. Give a gift

Spoil your employees by offering them original gifts to reward their good work or the achievement of specific goals.

Some employers also offer all their employees a year-end gift. However, this practice has been falling out of favor since the gifts are often not personalized enough and therefore end up not being really appreciated by the employees.

You can also offer items bearing the company’s image, such as clothes, water bottle, caps, etc. This also helps build strong corporate culture.

20. Organize team-building activities

Team-building activities strongly contribute to motivation and team cohesion. They can be very simple and inexpensive to organize.

Allowing your employees to have a good time with their coworkers is also a way to reward them for their work.

21. Enhance benefits

Offering corporate benefits is one of the most common ways to show appreciation. Having the right conditions in place demonstrates that a company is willing to invest whatever it takes to improve the lives of its employees.

Here are some examples of interesting benefits to offer:

  • Reimbursement of fees for sports activities;
  • Additional leave (vacation, sick leave, wellness days, etc.);
  • Reimbursement of daycare expenses;
  • Employee assistance program;
  • Contribution to a pension plan;
  • Reduced summer schedule; and
  • Scholarships.

Monetary Recognition

22. Give bonuses

Giving bonuses is an interesting way to enhance your employees’ compensation and encourage them to take on less attractive shifts (nights, evenings, weekends).

They signal that you are aware of the compromises your employees make to keep the business running smoothly. Bonuses can also be beneficial in attracting new people to your team.

23. Motivate with bonuses

Bonuses in companies have long been used to stimulate productivity and goal attainment.

They can be announced to employees in advance to motivate them to give their best effort, or they can be awarded following an unexpectedly outstanding performance.

However, bonuses should never be employees’ only source of motivation. They should always be complementary to a strong recognition program. Money alone is not a strong enough motivator to contribute to employee retention.

24. Raise salaries

At the very least, salary increases should always keep pace with inflation, unless an employee’s performance is very disappointing.

They should also be used to congratulate employees who have exceeded expectations. However, to make sure they are fair, they should always be determined in accordance with a clear pay scale or pay policy.

More Person-Centred Workplaces

No matter what idea you decide to implement at your company, the mere fact that you are looking for ideas to enhance your recognition program is a very good sign.

Continue to recognize your team members’ work and you are sure to see many positive benefits across your organization.

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