9 Employee Recognition Ideas That Will Actually Resonate

October 14, 2022

By Workspace Resource

The prestigious Boston Consulting Group polled 20,000 American employees. Workers cited feeling valued as the top reason they felt happy to show up for work day to day. We're hardwired to seek affirmation for the efforts we put forth. A simple "thank you" from a manager or coworker can do wonders for employee morale, performance, and output.

Rewarding and recognizing employees may take different forms. No matter what method you choose, employee recognition is one of the most important areas an organization can devote resources to.

It may take some time to find the employee recognition ideas that are best for your company and employees, but once you've settled on something that resonates with your team, you can be confident that you're providing your business with a key ingredient for success. 

Indeed, what business doesn't want higher employee engagement, productivity, and loyalty? It's no wonder that businesses of all sizes are coming up with novel ways to express their appreciation for their staff. The real challenge is maintaining these practices over a sustained period of time, and building them into your organization’s ethos. 

But First, Cash

Money always talks. It's not the most emotive recognition idea for employees, but it's a fail-proof way to recognize employees. 

When you reward an employee monetarily for their hard work, it tells them that you appreciate them and reminds the rest of the team that they, too, can be rewarded for their achievements if they put in the time and effort. Simply put, this encourages employees to perform to their highest potential at all times. 

A monetary incentive is more likely to motivate workers if it is proportional to their efforts. It would be insensitive to reward an employee who led a project that brought in hundreds of thousands of sales in extra income for the firm with a $10 note. Perhaps it will even discourage others from trying. Motivating and acknowledging employees' contributions should be a top priority; therefore, establish guidelines for monetary awards.

Why Words Of Affirmation Is A Love Language

Saying good words about someone is a great way to express that you value their work. It's not enough to say "good work;” be precise about what you're praising.

You may tell them something like, "The new lead generation tools you introduced were fantastic. Because of these, we can reach more potential clients in less time. The time and effort you put into compiling this information are much appreciated. We are expecting a six-figure revenue because of your lead generation efforts. Please accept our appreciation and keep up your amazing effort."

You don't need a novel, but it should be clear and precise. It need not even be spoken. In fact, in the modern workplace, public recognition is best done through instant messaging or email to all employees. Any worker's mood and sense of accomplishment might improve significantly by receiving such positive reinforcement.

A Gift That Keeps On Giving

Sure, gift cards, company swag, a wall of fame, and the occasional visiting food truck are good rewards and recognition ideas. 

But if you're looking to raise morale, productivity, and inspiration among your staff, redesigning the break room has been shown to minimize employee tension and exhaustion, according to recent research.

Upgrading the kitchen to state-of-the-art standards and couches in the breakroom to more elegant sofas is a better, if not one, of the best rewards and recognition ideas. Staff can appreciate that you have thought of them and their space, that you have put time and resources into their comfort and enjoyment. 

Celebrate Employee Milestones

How would you think an employee will feel if they've been with a company for five years and their company hasn't taken the time to acknowledge this milestone? 

Create a lasting positive impact in the workplace by recognizing and honoring colleagues for significant milestones and achievements. Implementing an employee milestone program is an awesome way to guarantee you commemorate these achievements. Workers are more likely to be invested in their job if they have a strong sense of belonging and respect from their superiors. Successful businesses understand the critical role that employee involvement plays in building a positive company culture.

Employee milestone programs provide several benefits, including improving morale and productivity, reducing attrition, and attracting and retaining the best and brightest employees. Notably, a good and productive work atmosphere may be the direct outcome of an employee milestone program.

An employee milestone program is an organizational effort to honor employees for their significant contributions and achievements with perks, presents, and formal employee recognition. Launching and completing projects, promotions, birthdays, and work anniversaries are some of the many reasons employees deserve to be honored.

Even the sincerest "great job" isn't enough for a triumphant employee milestone program. It's a well-planned strategy that lets you publicly commend workers and give them tangible tokens of appreciation whenever they reach important career milestones.

You should implement a comprehensive milestone program to show your employees how much you value them and their contributions to the company.

Let Them Recharge

All team members should share the spoils of victory when the group reaches a big goal.

You may find that your team is worn out after completing a large assignment. Let them unwind and enjoy some much-needed downtime. An extended weekend might help them recharge their batteries.

Not every business can pull this off, even after a successful project. However, demonstrating your people management abilities by paying for staff to take a break after an awe-inspiring group effort is a terrific idea. Clarify for the team why they are receiving this break.

Staff like being given time off from time-to-time. Sure, they get paid time off already, but it's always nice to get a little more or have a say when that time off is used.

The number of paid holidays employees receive from their employer varies widely from one business to the next, but giving them a few extra days off is always a good idea to show appreciation for their hard work.

Since some time off may not be possible for every business, allow them to log off for the day as a surprise instead. They will recognize your motives and value this effort. You must, however, release them at a reasonable hour. 

When everything else fails, let the staff work from home one day. In the spirit of lightening the mood around the workplace, this is one of those creative employee recognition ideas. Not everyone enjoys sitting at a desk all day, so this is ideal for those who would benefit from a more active routine.

Remember that not all workers will qualify for such an award. If you want to thank the person who mans the reception desk at your firm, it won't make sense to whisk them away on vacation.

For The Remote Worker

Don't leave remote employees behind. Home office setups are the standard for many businesses nowadays. You may focus on ensuring your remote workers are happy now that you don't have to pay for an office space.

A computer monitor or ergonomic chair is the perfect present for the goal-oriented worker who does most of their work from home. A desk may also be a thoughtful present.

Considering there is no longer a need for a coffee maker in the break room, it would be kind of you to send them some gourmet brew. These kinds of actions are the cornerstone of an appreciative work environment. Your remote workers will appreciate these special presents.


When given opportunities to grow inside the company, employees are less likely to quit after a short stint. Therefore, it is essential for employee appreciation and engagement to provide sufficient mentoring for your staff.

Assigning mentors to workers and having supervisors take their responsibilities seriously can help facilitate the mentoring process. It's a good chance for growth and development on the part of both management and staff. 

Mentoring programs are an investment that pays dividends if they are supported, promoted, and valued by a company's top brass.

Having a mentor in the office helps accelerate an employee's learning curve. Both the employee experience and the company's bottom line improve.

Pros in their early careers benefit significantly from one-on-one mentoring relationships. It's not enough to merely have the technical know-how necessary for the work; one must also have the social and cultural awareness to succeed.

Successful CEOs recognize the need to formalize their mentorship programs. One meaningful recognition example is having a mentor to help a new hire get up to speed. However, those who already have some expertise under their belts should be assigned a mentor who can assist them advance in their field.

Company Getaways

There will be moments when everyone on staff is slammed with too much to do. Inevitably, there will be times in the life of every business when a lot is expected of the team. Employers may show their employees they care during these times by providing perks like paid vacations.

How to reward employees? When workers go the extra mile for their employers, they should be rewarded with time off so they may recharge their batteries and continue contributing effectively. Therefore, a trip is a fantastic incentive to leave people feeling both appreciated and refreshed.

A holiday with the team might be more memorable than an office lunch or happy hour. Taking your team on a trip is a terrific way to show your thanks, especially if the prize is usually reserved for a more considerable group effort. Some examples include a weekend staycation, a cruise, or a spa day.

Depending on your group size, this concept may call for a more substantial investment. If the team's efforts was essential in boosting the company's income, reinvesting part of the anticipated funds in the team is a great way to express your appreciation for their hard work. 

Promote Them

To be promoted to a higher position is often the pinnacle of professional recognition for employees.

Employees will want something more long-lasting than other gratitude suggestions, which may work for specific projects and daily operations.

Unfortunately, this comes with a cost: disengaged workers who aren't allowed to improve their careers at opportune times may start looking elsewhere for work.

As a result, you should see this less as a concept and more as something you will have to execute in the future.

Every worker is interested in rising through the ranks in hopes of being promoted. While the timing may vary, the yearning is universal. 

Of course, not every employee receives the promotion they hoped for. However, more and more companies are using promotions to publicly acknowledge their employees' efforts and contributions since many perceive it as a significant career milestone.

While the idea of promotion is universal, its implementation may seem different from one sector to the next. It is your responsibility as an employer to figure out how best to show your staff appreciation based on your business's unique circumstances.

...Or You Can Ask Them

It's surprising how often employers ignore this simple yet effective method of showing appreciation to their staff members.

Every company wants to implement the most effective employee recognition program, but how can you achieve that if you don't know what your employees value most in terms of staff recognition?

To achieve this successfully, sit down, formulate a strategy, gather information, and implement it correctly in light of their preferences.

Try sitting down with all the employees and have a quick talk for five minutes, or  administer a short survey to find out their preferences.

After talking to workers, you'll probably realize that some relish being honored in front of everyone, while others prefer something more low-key. Some workers may choose a more lighthearted approach, such as valet parking; others would be content with sticky notes or a simple handwritten note.

Some employees may embrace these new ideas as it helps them remain motivated and devoted to their job, while others may feel uneasy getting such praise and recognition regularly as they think it should be reserved for "larger" accomplishments.

Your responsibility is to learn more about the rewards and recognition your workers want to receive. Having open and engaging conversations with your staff will not only help you establish a rewarding system for employees, but it will also strengthen relationships with them.

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