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Employee Recognition Ideas

9 June 2021

Employee Recognition Ideas for Proactive Managers

Employee recognition is regarded as a fundamental of good management. But it’s now seen as more than just a sound performance management technique. These days employee recognition is also a key factor in talent recruitment and retention. Attracting the best people can be difficult, especially when they are looking for evidence that prospective employers will recognise their efforts and contributions. Likewise, one of the most common reasons for leaving a job is because people don’t feel valued or recognized by their manager.

In ‘The Value of a Good Manager‘ we discussed research carried out by Gallup which revealed that employees leave managers, not companies. Gallup’s findings suggest that good management-staff relationships rest on four foundations. Employees would like:

  • Managers who show care, interest and concern for their staff.
  • To know what is expected of them.
  • A role which fits their abilities.
  • Positive feedback and recognition regularly for work well done.

So in order to recruit and retain the best employees, good managers create and sustain an employee recognition culture. A good working definition of employee recognition is the

‘timely, informal or formal acknowledgement of a person’s behavior, effort, or business result that supports the organization’s goals and values, and exceeds his superior’s normal expectations’

Or put more simply, ensuring that an employee’s efforts and contributions are recognised. The benefits of employee recognition goes beyond recruitment and retention. They also act as a key motivator for employees to remain with an organisation, encouraging both high performance and commitment.  

Creating an Employee Recognition Culture

Managing Performance and PotentialUnderstanding what employee recognition is, and why it’s important, are just the beginning. How do you create that all-important culture? Here we build on Great Place to Work’s 5 keys:

  1. Be specific, be relevant – recognition is most effective when linked to a particular achievement, especially one linked to specific organisation or team goals
  2. Be timely – whether the recognition is formal or informal, planned or impromptu, praising is amazing so make sure it’s as immediate as possible, and preferably made public. 
  3. Recognition comes in many shapes and sizes – it can be extrinsic, in the form of tangible awards, prizes, presents or pay bonuses. Or it may intrinsic, simply a sincere word of acknowledgement, or being entrusted with a new role or project.     
  4. Little things go a long way – For many people, it’s actually the little things that really make the difference, whether it’s just a kind word or thoughtful gesture. 
  5. Connect with the bigger picture – Make sure your people understand what their contribution means to the team, department or organisation as a whole. Recognising their contribution to the bigger picture can be a very powerful motivational tool.
Employee Recognition Ideas

Holiday rewards and bonuses

Festive holidays can be a financial struggle for many people, perhaps because they want to get their loved ones something special. Almost every employee would be grateful for a bonus around the holiday time. Holiday bonuses can be given for outstanding performance, recognition for yearly performance, or one-off cash bonuses.

Peer to Peer recognition

Some people don’t like direct acknowledgment from managers or offices because it makes them feel targeted or awkward. Encouraging peer-to-peer recognition can solve this dilemma. Peer-to-peer recognition will be from two equals in the company, so one should not be managing or reporting to the other. This helps to motivate employees and oftentimes feels like a much more authentic acknowledgment than from a senior employee.

Publicize recognition

People will feel most recognized when there is something they can show to peers and relatives. This includes making announcements on social media or a company forum. This way your employee will have documentation or evidence of their accomplishments. This is also a great way to raise awareness of how your employees are successful and moving up within the company.

Make all recognition personal

An employee will value your recognition more if you call them by their name and let them know they are heard and known. And don’t make vague acknowledgments, be specific. Compliment them on achieving a particular goal or contribution. It is also important that you let them know exactly how their contributions are making the company better.

Provide opportunities and hire from within

The best way to recognise an employee is to give them more opportunities to take responsibility, develop and achieve promotion. Words only go so far and real action needs to be taken to make people feel valued. Good employees should have expanded responsibilities and job advancement. Hiring from within also helps ensure that your employees stay with you, and achieve growth and success together.

Add more perks

Although bonuses and money can go a long way, sometimes other perks and incentives work better. Many employees state that they wish they could have better parking, more paid time off, or the ability to go to company events. Make special privileges like this obtainable for people who are performing well. If someone is being recognised, consider asking them what perk they would most benefit from.

Recognize events from outside of the company

Employees like to be recognised for work, but they want you to acknowledge that they have a life outside of work. Try recognising events that are happening outside of the professional world so that your employees don’t feel like just a member of the business machine. Acknowledge an employee who runs a charity, who just had a new baby, or who makes contributions to the community. This will show that you care about their passions and personal life, not just how they make your company better.

Key takeaway

Recognising your employees is part of being a proactive and engaged manager. Make sure you recruit the best talent by creating an employee recognition culture. Then retain them by using a range of techniques to letting them know they are really valued. 

Building well-being through better teams

Effective employee recognition is a fundamental of team building. If you want to build better teams, look at our teams  resources. Here you’ll find more information and a wealth of practical resources, in our colossal Team Building Bundle.

Containing 240 pages and 50 tools, these are the 8 key guides we recommend to help you do more than define teamwork, build it!

Why is Teamwork Important
Build a Better Team
The Problems with Teams
Team Health Check
Team Building Exercises
Leading with Style and Focus
What’s the Problem?
Making Better Decisions

Blog Content: Most blog pages on this site are from sponsored or guest contributors. Although we may receive payment for these, all posts are vetted to ensure they meet our editorial standards and offer value for our readers.

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