Engagement

12 Employee Recognition Examples to Keep Your Team Engaged All Year

21 December 2023

11 min read

Kelsey Breton
Kelsey Breton

Positive reinforcement has long been a best practice in managing employee engagement and productivity. 

In fact, a OnePoll survey on behalf of Bonusly found 46% of respondents have quit jobs where they felt unappreciated, and 65% claimed that recognition would incentivize them to work harder.

While one-off messages of appreciation are certainly a welcomed practice, developing a consistent and strategic employee recognition program helps managers to build and maintain strong relationships with their employees year-round.

What Are Employee Awards?

Awards, including rewards and recognition for employees, are accolades that you can give out to show appreciation for your employees. They’re a form of acknowledgement for employees’ contributions, achievements, tenure, and performance. Typically, Human Resource managers devise programs to ensure employees are being recognized for their contributions, and are remaining engaged within their organization.

Why Is Employee Recognition Important?

Employee Recognition Examples

Understanding the value of employee recognition can illustrate the ROI on building employee recognition programs. More than an obligation to your team, recognition fosters a strong sense of community and company culture, and helps employees to understand how their individual contributions support the larger organizational goals and objectives.

Morale

82% of employees are happier when they’re recognized at work. And when a business creates a culture of recognition, appreciation and celebration, that happiness will create higher morale and greater motivation for everyone—two things all businesses need to thrive.

Engagement

How do awards (like end-of-year awards for employees) increase engagement levels? This is a direct result of earned recognition, heightened morale, and pride in one’s work. Showing your appreciation for employee contributions further incentivizes them to continue contributing, helping boost engagement and drive productivity.

Goal alignment

Employee recognition helps further align your team members with your organization’s values and goals. When setting and tracking goals, you identify KPIs to measure the success of employee’s efforts towards those goals. In publicly recognizing and applauding efforts towards achieving organizational goals, you further increase the alignment of your employee’s efforts.

When you send appreciation messages, gifts, and end-of-year awards for employees, this encourages them to repeat those behaviors. Research supports this notion, 92% of workers are found to be more likely to repeat a specific action after receiving recognition for it

Retention

Recognition is a workplace benefit. 68% of surveyed HR professionals said their organization’s recognition program positively affects retention and 56% said such programs also help with recruitment. Employees want to go where they feel appreciated and recognized for their contributions, and when this is upheld, it fosters a supportive work environment that can beat out other competing organizations vying for top talent.

5 Pillars of Employee Recognition

Employee recognition examples

Not all recognition efforts are created equal. For truly impactful employee recognition, consider the following five central pillars.

Consistent

Establish a consistent and fair recognition process. Ensure that employees understand the criteria for recognition and that the program is consistently applied across the organization. Regular and fair acknowledgment helps build a positive work environment and reinforces your company’s values.

Authentic

Recognition should be genuine and sincere. It’s essential to acknowledge and appreciate specific behaviors or achievements that align with your company’s values. Avoid generic or insincere praise, as employees can often discern when recognition is not authentic.

Equitable

There should be clearly communicated standards, values, and expectations when it comes to your employee recognition program to prevent performance appraisal bias. This upholds an egalitarian approach to the implementation of your program and distribution of rewards.

Personalized

There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to employee recognition, meaning that you want to consider each employee’s preference. When you try the employee recognition examples we’ll list below, personalize them. Send out end-of-year awards for employees, but add a personal appreciation email to announce them. Everyone has unique motivations and ways they prefer to be acknowledged. Some may appreciate public recognition, while others may prefer private acknowledgment. Understanding these preferences allows for a more meaningful and personalized recognition experience.

Timely

Recognition is most effective when it is timely. Acknowledge and celebrate achievements as soon as possible after they occur. This immediate feedback reinforces the connection between the action and the recognition, making it more impactful.

12 Employee Recognition Examples to Try

You’re in a brainstorming session, and the only ideas you have in mind are employee-of-the-month awards and end-of-year awards for employees. Allow us to help with more employee recognition examples, which take the abstraction out of the equation and leave you with actionable steps to engage your teams.

Employee Rewards Program

Recognition Points Program

In this program, employees earn points for their exceptional efforts, achievements, or contributions. These points can be accumulated over time and redeemed for a variety of rewards. The key is to allow employees to choose rewards that are meaningful to them, promoting a sense of personalization. Rewards could include gift cards, extra days off, company merchandise, professional development opportunities, or even special experiences like a spa day or a weekend getaway. This approach not only recognizes and rewards employees but also gives them a sense of autonomy in selecting their incentives.

Employee of the Month/Quarter Recognition

A classic but effective approach when it comes to employee recognition examples, this program involves acknowledging outstanding employees on a regular basis. The selected employee is named “Employee of the Month” or “Employee of the Quarter” and receives various rewards and recognition. Rewards can include a dedicated parking spot, a personalized trophy or plaque, a featured spot in the company newsletter, a sponsored lunch, or a monetary bonus. This program not only provides tangible rewards but also boosts morale and motivation by publicly acknowledging and celebrating employees who consistently go above and beyond in their roles.

Employee Recognition Gifts

Customized Professional Development Opportunities

Instead of traditional tangible gifts, consider providing employees with the opportunity to enhance their skills and knowledge. Offer them access to workshops, conferences, online courses, or industry certifications that align with their career goals. Of the employee recognition examples, this approach not only recognizes their contributions but also invests in their professional growth, demonstrating a commitment to their long-term success within the organization.

Flexible Work Arrangement Privileges

Recognize exceptional employees by offering them the gift of flexibility in their work arrangements. This could include options such as remote work days, flexible scheduling, or compressed workweeks. Providing employees with greater control over their work-life balance acknowledges their hard work and shows that the company values their well-being. This type of recognition gift is especially relevant in today’s evolving work landscape, where flexibility is highly valued by many employees.

Employee Recognition Awards

There are plenty of employee recognition examples when it comes to awards. Try out these two or develop your own based on your organization’s unique culture.

Innovation Champion Award

Recognize employees who consistently contribute creative and innovative ideas to enhance processes, products, or services. The Innovation Champion Award celebrates employees who demonstrate a forward-thinking mindset, problem-solving skills, and a commitment to driving positive change within the organization. This award not only acknowledges individual efforts but also reinforces a culture of continuous improvement and creativity.

Customer Excellence Award

Acknowledge employees who consistently deliver exceptional service and go above and beyond to satisfy customers. The Customer Excellence Award recognizes individuals who demonstrate outstanding customer service, client relationship management, and a commitment to exceeding customer expectations. This award emphasizes the importance of customer satisfaction and reinforces your organization’s dedication to providing high-quality products or services.

Employee Anniversary Recognition

You can celebrate any amount of tenure for your team, but significant milestones tend to be at five-year marks. Track and celebrate work anniversaries, and ensure that the celebration size reflects the size of the milestone. 

Monetary recognition

Providing a bonus at the time of an employee anniversary is a welcomed and appreciated form of recognition. Be sure to make the amount reflective of the tenure and include a personalized note or conversation to thank the employee for their contributions.

Non-monetary

If not monetary, these efforts can be anything. Think gifts, cake celebrations, congratulatory videos, handwritten cards, wellness packages, anniversary lunches, company swag gifts, and celebratory events for loyal employees.

For example, one idea among our specific employee recognition examples for anniversaries is to put together anniversary yearbooks after a fixed tenure and on employees’ work anniversaries. Personalize them with photos, notes, and more memorabilia from managers and workmates.

Other less time-consuming employee recognition examples would be to write a letter, email, or note to your employee for their work anniversary. You can use this employee recognition note example:

Hello [Name]!
Happy [Number of Year] year work anniversary. Isn’t it amazing how time flies by?! It feels like you’ve just joined [Company Name] yesterday, but it also feels like you’ve been with us forever (what with all your contributions and achievements)! [Company Name] is a changed place because of you. Thank you for your hard work and dedication to [Company Name]. We’re so glad to have you! 

Personal Recognition

Across all employee recognition examples there should be a personalized element.  Here are some employee recognition examples that double down on the personal element to give a unique edge and community aspect to your recognition efforts.

Personalized thank-you notes

Encourage managers and team members to write personalized thank-you notes expressing appreciation for specific contributions or qualities of their colleagues. These notes can be shared in team meetings, posted on a recognition board, or delivered privately. The personal touch of a handwritten or thoughtful digital thank-you note makes the appreciation more meaningful and reinforces positive behaviors and attitudes.

Employee spotlight interviews

Conduct regular employee spotlight interviews, either written or video, where team members share insights about their colleagues. Highlight individual strengths, achievements, and personal qualities that make each employee unique. This not only acknowledges the individual but also helps build a sense of connection within the team. Colleagues appreciate seeing and understanding the diverse talents and personalities within the organization, fostering a culture of mutual respect and personal appreciation. Share these insights either privately or during monthly team meetings.

Public Recognition

Last but certainly not least of the employee recognition examples is public recognition. This style of the employee recognition examples not only acknowledges individual accomplishments but also reinforces positive behaviors and fosters a sense of pride and accomplishment among your entire workforce.

Spotlight awards ceremony

Host a quarterly or annual awards ceremony where outstanding employees are publicly recognized for their contributions. This event can be conducted in-person or virtually, with the CEO or senior leaders presenting awards and praising the recipients. Share success stories, highlight achievements, and showcase the positive impact each employee has had on the organization. This public recognition reinforces a culture of appreciation and motivates others to strive for excellence.

Slack or social media shoutouts

Leverage the power of Slack and social media to publicly acknowledge and celebrate employees. Regularly post shoutouts, success stories, or employee spotlights on your company’s Slack or communication channels. Include photos, quotes, or videos that showcase the individual’s achievements and contributions. This not only provides widespread recognition within your organization but also enhances the company’s employer brand by showcasing a positive and appreciative work culture to the external audience.

How Can Omni Help Boost Employee Recognition?

Employee recognition can boost employee engagement, which affects every aspect of your organization, from culture to morale, productivity to innovation, investing in your employees is a sure fire way to improve your business functions and drive growth. 

Any of the above employee recognition examples are great ways to boost engagement and drive culture for your organization, but they require monitoring and administrative management from HR teams in order to be successful. 

Omni makes it easy to track employee performance, anniversaries, contributions, and engagement through one, automated platform for easier employee recognition management. Build employee profiles and receive automated reminders of milestones such as work anniversaries, goal achievements, engagement metrics and other useful information that helps drive recognition programs.

With Omni, HR professionals can leverage automation and expert created templates to build seamless processes to support each stage of the employee lifecycle, and manage each function in a centralized, easy-to-use platform. Omni’s data analysis and smart-reports allow you to derive real-time, actionable insights on your employee experience so you can build an award winning culture of growth, innovation, and engagement.

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