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Creative Employee Recognition Ideas

Creative Employee Recognition Ideas

By Braulio Giron, Jr. on December 4, 2018

An appreciated employee is a motivated employee, and there are several ways to genuinely thank team members all throughout the year

As the end of the year approaches, many companies take time to look back and recognize employees who contributed significantly towards the successes of the past twelve months. For many, this usually culminates at a holiday or year-end event,  where a handful of team members are officially rewarded by the company’s decision-makers for their work.

Yet, what about the rest of the employees? The truth is, a lot happens in twelve months, and employee recognition should know no calendar, being practiced year-round and ingrained in company culture. While seemingly just an added task to the numerous that already need to be done at the office, employee acknowledgment should still not be put to the wayside.

Countless research and reports have shown that employee acknowledgment can have serious return on investment– to the tune of as much as 50-percent increased productivity, and as much as 20-percent higher business outcomes. Many employees also continue to attest that being appreciated and/or recognized for their contributions help boost their morale, and encourage them to go beyond the call of duty to help meet company goals.

Although employee recognition and appreciation sounds like a no-brainer, it still requires some thought to determine which works best for your company culture, and a great deal of consistency to be effective. With that, the following are some relatively easy to do employee recognition and appreciation ideas to consider using next year.


Cheers from Peers

There is no greater respect than that from one’s peers, which can be the theme of your employee recognition program. In some companies, this is done by way of a book or ledger, where employees are encouraged to write in and recognize their colleagues for their accomplishments, be it work-related or even personal. Periodically, during monthly meetings for example, these can be read out loud or published for everyone to know about.

Another way which companies have encouraged “cheers for peers” is by setting up a wall or board where employees are encouraged to post notes which contain congratulatory messages to exemplary co-workers. It serves as both an inspiration to employees who do well to continue doing better, and motivation for others to put in a little more effort since it will be duly recognized.

Having employees recognized by their own peers is beneficial for a number of reasons. For one, doing so makes the effort all-inclusive, where no one is left out of the process. Second, it is an effective way to consistently acknowledge personnel throughout the year, and keep record of more than the usual accomplishments and look back on it as December rolls around.


Reward Achievement with Improvement

While some will have a hard time admitting it, cost will always play a pivotal role in almost every business decision, including company reward or recognition programs. In instances where budgets can be a little tight, favoring career-based training as a form of reward can be the way to go. Not only are employees duly recognized for their hard work, they’ll be made aware of their employers’ interest in their personal improvement.

On the employers’ end, career-based rewards can also serve as a long term investment. New skills acquired from the program will allow rewarded employees to be further contributory to the company’s goals. At the same time, it builds loyalty among employees when they know that their employers take an interest in their individual improvement.

So whether you help pay for their attendance at training seminars, or are lenient with time off so that they can attend such professional development events, showing appreciation will actively make them want to continue growing in their career. Then, look to even promote them as their qualifications increase. Few things can be as frustrating as working hard to be the best possible only to be locked into a dead-end job.


Thank You Notes with Quotes

Although seemingly minuscule, thank you notes can still mean a lot in this day and (digital) age, particularly when it contains more than a typical thank you. A thoughtful quote as to why they are being thanked (for a job well done obviously) should not be underestimated when wanting to make employees realize that their efforts are not going unnoticed.

Coupled with a tiny trinket or reward of sorts, like cookies or a gift certificate to the nearby coffee shop, thank you notes can prove to be an inexpensive way to make sure employees are recognized and appreciated.

Given thank you notes’ utility, another benefit to using them to show gratitude to employees is how it allows you to do so in a timely manner. When you see something great happening, write thank you notes to show your appreciation immediately and say why you think it was a great job. Giving out a thank you note helps make sure you don’t forget to thank the employee later and helps to reinforce the types of behavior desired from the team.


Take Individual Wins as Team Wins

While taking employees out to lunch for a job well done is nothing out of the ordinary, it can be when it involves an entire team. Recognizing accomplishments in a collective manner, such as the aforementioned going out to lunch but as a team to celebrate even just one member’s big win, can help further enhance camaraderie, as well as reinforce to everyone that performing well can and does lead to benefits for all.

Employees will increasingly want to do well not only for themselves but for their teammates as well. This will also genuinely cheer others on and assist them whichever way they can so that the latter also ends up doing a great job.

Depending on the company culture and the number of people or teams involved, collectively rewarding employees is an ideal way to recognize individuals, while embodying the notion that the company goes where the employee goes, and business is and will only be great thanks to their efforts.


Give a Real Choice and a Real Voice

Another way to put a greater deal of thought into your company’s recognition or appreciation programs is to actually test some of the ideas with the employees. Find out what forms of recognition of appreciation resonate the most with personnel.

Typically, a streamlined process is what we equate with effectiveness, and unfortunately, this leads to blanket recognition programs that may not necessarily be as widely seen as meaningful by the employees. When taking only one approach to recognition, and subsequently missing the mark in the recognition others, it can be equivalent to not recognizing them at all.

It is then important for managers to ask employees how they most like to be recognized—and this activity alone will already make employees feel appreciated as they realize that their opinions matter. One might also be surprised at the contributions of employees when they’re given a real voice, hearing ideas that are fresh and out-of-the-box and can prove to be real game-changers of the company culture.


The bottom line is, employee appreciation shouldn’t be reserved for one day and should be ingrained in the company culture which management adopts. Employees are a business’ most prominent asset, yet some put more effort in maintaining equipment than letting their staff know that they are valued and appreciated.

Employee appreciation is another asset in your own set of turnover-reduction tools, as well as one of the immediate ways to promote both a positive culture that leads to a positive customer experience.


Kalibrr is a technology company that aims to transform how candidates find jobs and how companies hire talent. Placing the candidate experience at the center of everything it does, the company continues to attract the best talents from all over, with 1.6 million jobseekers and counting. Kalibrr ultimately connects these talents to companies in search of their next generation of leaders.

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