Employee Recognition: What, When, Why and How
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When you put your everything into a project or a presentation and when it gets executed the way exactly you want, the feeling of accomplishment is out of the world.

Even though that feeling of attainment is uplifted, it is much more fulfilling when everyone else at your workplace takes notice. The mere act of acknowledging efforts and achievement goes a long way to boost employee morale and performance.

Employee recognition is critical in motivating employees to work even harder the next time.

What is Employee Recognition?

Employee recognition is a way to acknowledge employees’ efforts and achievements. It aims to reinforce certain kinds of behaviors or activities that’ll lead to better performance and positive business results.

Appreciation can take any form, a basic high-five or a special shout-out in a meeting; it’s one of the most significant areas an organization could focus on.

Employees are not always running behind good pay and benefits; they wish to be treated with respect and to make a significant contribution to the organization.

If organizations regularly give out authentic and deserving recognition to their employees, it moves closer to unlocking their maximum potential.

Authentic recognition for employees’ hard work and achievements serves the following purposes –

  • Motivate Effort

Recognition not only boosts productivity but also enables the employees to develop strong emotional connections with the workplace. Also, it further fuels their future performance.

  • Reinforce Values

When certain actions and achievements are recognized more frequently, it enables the employees to know what truly matters to the managers and organizations. Positive reactions to their actions reinforce the values an organization wants in its culture.

  • Showcase Goal Achievement

No one wants their hard work and achievements to go unnoticed. When employees reach their goal, they feel a rush of adrenaline in them, and that feeling intensifies only when others appreciate and acknowledge the accomplishment.

There are no such rigid rules that there can be only top-down recognition. Everyone in an organization should be able to give each other recognition, even for their smallest achievements. 

Effective employee recognition programs inculcate a culture where managers and employees celebrate each other’s achievements and encourage each other to accomplish even higher milestones.

Employee recognition is one of the most efficient ways to get employees to work harder and stick with the company that appreciates their contributions and treats them well.


Types of Employee Recognition

Every employee is different when it comes to embracing recognition. While some may get a boost from public praise, others may prefer a private or a subtle gesture.

Most employees would like to be recognized more often; however, it can put them off and even decrease engagement when an employee is recognized in the wrong way.

Once you know your employees’ personality type, you can encourage them the way they prefer, and it would mean the world to them.

  • Peer vs. Superior

When employees receive feedback from their manager or even someone from higher up in the hierarchy, excellent performance is validated. Marking your impression on a senior increases job security and the chances of a salary increase or a promotion.

However, it feels just as good when employees are recognized by their co-workers or even by someone who is lower on the hierarchy.

Regardless of where it comes from, recognition gives a feeling of satisfaction.

  • Social vs. Private

While a few employees would crave the spotlight, others would love to avoid it and prefer a subtle and quieter gesture.

  • Attributed vs. Anonymous

Usually, employees know where recognition is coming from, and there’s no such reason to separate recognition from the giver.

However, sometimes, an anonymous thank you card or shout-out can have just as much strength.

With anonymous recognition, it lets the employee know that recognition is not doling out just to seem like a team player rather than authentically displaying gratitude.

  • Behavior vs. Achievement

Recognition is usually linked to some sort of achievement, like hitting a sales goal or staying with an organization for a long time.

Appreciation can also be lauded for going the extra mile or working extra hours, or organizing an amazing company event.

Benefits of Employee Recognition

We are way past those days when everyone used to believe that recognition is no motivation for employees to work hard. They should be driven to work hard to keep their jobs and increase their salary.

The best way an employee can earn respect is by being acknowledged for being amazing at their work. Boosting self-esteem is one of the biggest motivators for employees to give their best every day.

While recognition is mostly related to monetary bonuses or extravagant awards, appreciation doesn’t have to be glamorous or expensive.

Employee bonuses can be as informal as a genuine compliment or even a pat on the back. It can be as plain as a ‘thank you’ email or a warm greeting at work.

Appreciating employees for their hard work transforms a satisfied employee into an employee who’s ready to go an extra mile for their organization.

  • Stabilizes the Workplace

Reports suggest that many employees leave their jobs due to a lack of recognition at the workplace. Employee appreciation, being a top driver for employees, decreases employee turnover, and it also brings the top talent to your organization.

  • Increases Productivity

As stated earlier, employee recognition boosts employee morale. It motivates them to work harder and even more efficiently when they’re being recognized for their hard work consistently.

Celebrating employees’ accomplishments encourages them to chase that praise continually.

  • Drives Excellence

Employee recognition is the strong foundation to create a culture of excellence – it fosters appreciation and empowers individuals. Not only does it strengthen relationships, but also it provides a clear purpose for employees aligned with achievable goals.

A culture of excellence allows leaders to drive towards key goals like employee retention, employee happiness, and culture by connecting people and culture to a shared purpose.

  • Lowers Employee Stress and Absenteeism

When employees are recognized for their efforts regularly, they don’t have to worry about whether they’re putting in their best work.

Recognition affirms that employees’ efforts are not going unnoticed and are helping the organization. This further increases employee engagement and even leads to lesser sick days, leaves, and lateness.

  • Improves Customer Experience

Employee recognition has proven to improve employee engagement. Organizations that motivate their employees consistently tend to have a higher number of engaged employees.

When employees are happy and satisfied at their workplace, they tend to treat the customers better. Thus, engaged employees = satisfied customers.

  • Improves Relationships

Frequent employee recognition improves relationships and enhances communication between employers and employees.

Managers are usually required to provide consistent feedback and appreciate employees for putting in the hard work. It helps the entire team to succeed and reach their goals.


How to Recognize Employees

It’s not always about what you do, rather how you do it.

Now you know employee recognition is important, but how to do it in a more personal way is the question at hand.

You know everything about employee recognition that there’s to know, here are the most effective ways to recognize your employees –

  • Employee Appreciation Days/Events

Employees work to the best of their abilities when they have appreciative managers or employers. To ensure that it becomes a regular occurrence, the organizations could have an ‘Employee(s) of the Week/Month/Quarter/Year’ for the organization’s best performers.

The recognition program shouldn’t have to be an extravaganza event every time. Even a basic thank you would suffice for a job well done.

Also, employers must make this a regular practice to celebrate their employees’ birthdays, work anniversaries, and other note-worthy life occasions.

  • Bonus/Treats

There are plenty of ways to treat your employees for doing an excellent job or going above and beyond. You may appreciate your employees with following ideas –

  • Free lunch for all of your team members once a week.
  • Give away company-branded goodies, such as tees, sweatshirts, pens, bags, etc., to employees who are doing a great job.
  • Monetary bonuses show the employees that they are valued, and the organization appreciates their efforts.
  • Employee Recognition Wall

The creative way to recognize your employees is the Recognition Wall. The managers/employers may set up a board in their office and let everyone fill it with thankful and congratulatory messages to exemplary employees.

Not only does it inspire everyone to do their best, but also it challenges those employees whose names did not appear on the recognition wall.

Recognition events must be all-inclusive, and everyone in the organization should be eligible for these awards.

Excluding a specific employee or a group of employees has a negative impact on employees’ performance.

Best Employee Recognition Ideas

Now that you are through with the know-how of employee recognition, here are a few unique ideas to appreciate the hard work of your employees –

  • Store Gift Cards

Cash incentives may come with the fair share of its own difficulties, owning to clauses in employment contracts or complications with tax.

Hence, it is easier and cheaper to hand out store gift cards to recognize employees’ hard work.

  • Award Certificates

To recognize a special achievement or accomplishment, employers may hand out certificates to the employees.

However, you may want to refrain from handing out certificates for every little achievement – it will lose its meaning and value. When given out in moderation, certificates are a great way of recognizing employees’ efforts.

Certificates are a nice gesture, and they can be easily framed and placed on display if the employee chooses to do so.

  • Tactical Time-Outs

One of the best ways to appreciate employees’ hard work is to extend their ‘off-time’ so that they can take a breather and take time to spend time with their families.

  • Give Free Gym Time

Giving your employees time off to visit the gym is one of the best ways to let them know that you value their well-being.

Spending time at the gym helps employees improve their physical and mental health; hence, increasing their productivity.

  • Power Naps

At least once during office hours, you feel your brain starting to shut down, and we struggle to keep our even eyes open.

Rather than forcing employees to fight through their tiredness, you might want to tell them to take a power nap for 10-20 minutes.

  • Random Surprises

Employers can show recognition to their team by surprising them with treats or even day-outs.

You can either leave little baskets of treats for everyone or plan a day away with their employees.

  • Add Each Employee to ‘About Us’ Page

There is no clear-cut rule that only senior directors or company founders should have a picture and a bio on the company website.

Giving each employee a bit of public real estate on the company website shows your appreciation for employees’ contributions.

It is a relatively low-cost initiative to spread waves of recognition across your entire workforce.

  • Personalized Gifts and Rewards

Nothing says we value you more than personalized gifts. It shouldn’t be as basic as slapping their name on a mug.

Rather, it should be something your employees could relate to, be it tickets to their next favorite show or a poster of their favorite musician, everything works.

  • Provide Training Opportunities

To help employees be even better at their jobs, provide them with training courses that’ll help them to improve in areas they are passionate about.

Not only will it enhance their resume but also they’ll admire that the organization is thinking about them.

  • Give an Off-Day on their Birthday

When you give your employees a paid day off on their birthday, it is a great way to recognize the hard work they put into your organization.

This way, your employees can end up doing something they love on their birthday instead of throwing a shift at work.


Don’t wait up for the ‘right’ time to congratulate employees for their job well done. Thank them and congratulate them NOW. Please feel free to add some value in this piece of content, by comment below.

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Varnika Bajaj

Varnika Bajaj

Content Writer

Varnika is the one who collate the words to form a sentence. A sentence which can engage you, entertain you and some time educate you.


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