All 20 Employee Recognition Program Benefits and Ideas
All Recognition and Rewards

20 Employee Recognition Program Benefits and Ideas

Author: Ravijojla Novakovic Last updated: March 1, 2024 Reading time: 12 minutes

Employee recognition programs are employer initiatives to reward employees for achievements, new behaviors, anniversaries, and milestones. Let’s take a look at some ideas for successful employee recognition programs.

If you want to implement an Employee Recognition Program at your organization, our Employee Recognition Playbook is all you need!

What Are Employee Recognition Programs? 

Employee recognition programs include various activities that employers take to recognize, appreciate, and reward their employees for good work.  

Employee recognition programs are often combined with rewards. That is why, instead of just “Recognition” programs, we see companies implementing “Rewards & Recognition” programs. 

Check out our e-book on reasons why employee recognition is crucial for business success

In the past, employee recognition programs were mostly informal, and they were associated with staff or team member recognition programs, employee of the month programs, or thank you programs.  

Today, most companies are implementing formal but more fun recognition programs in which employees can nominate, be nominated, recognize, and reward each other using a point system and gamification.  

This new approach and the introduction of new technologies have enabled employers and employees to give meaningful appreciation, celebrate shared success, and drive employee engagement.  

Let’s take a closer look at some of the most popular statistics on employee retention and the recognition culture.

What Are the Benefits of Employee Recognition Programs?

The main benefits of employee recognition programs are lower turnover, increased productivity, higher in employee retention and engagement, positive company culture, and an elevated customer experience.

A Gallup Poll shows that 65% of employees haven’t received any form of recognition for good work in the last year. This fact alone should ring alarm bells in HR departments across the globe. 

Let’s dive deeper into the benefits of having top-notch employee recognition programs.

1. Employee recognition drives engagement  

This is not the truth because employers believe so. Employees have said it themselves. According to research on employee engagement, 58% of employees say that leaders could drive more engagement with employee recognition. 

In addition, employees who feel like they can trust their leaders and managers are more engaged in the workplace. Employee recognition programs are a great way to build trust between managers and employees.

Research has shown that 50% of employees believe being thanked by managers not only improved their relationship but also built trust. 

2. Employee recognition boosts productivity 

When you recognize employees you invest in their productivity. People want to get recognized for their contributions and achievements to stay motivated. Moreover, 69% of employees would work harder if they felt their efforts were better appreciated. 

Today, companies and leaders are also aware of how recognition can drive employee productivity. In fact, according to Aberdeen Group’s research on employee recognition, 60% of Best-in-Class organizations stated that employee recognition is extremely valuable in driving individual performance. 

Additionally, Bersin by Deloitte states that organizations with the most sophisticated recognition practices are 12 times more likely to have strong business outcomes.

3. Employee recognition lowers turnover 

We all know how expensive employee turnover is. This is the reason why companies across the world are looking for solutions to lower turnover rates. Employee recognition programs are your best bet!

According to Bersin & Associates research, companies with recognition programs that are highly effective at improving employee engagement have 31% lower voluntary turnover. 

Not convinced? 

Recent research has also proved that 21.5% of workers who don’t feel recognized for doing great work have interviewed for a job in the past three months vs. 12.4% who do feel recognized.  

4. Employee recognition boosts customer satisfaction 

Employee satisfaction drives customer satisfaction. You all know, from your own experience, that employees who love their jobs and employers make much more effort to keep the customers happy as well.  

Therefore, appreciating your employees for good work has a direct impact on customer satisfaction. In fact, according to WorkHuman, 41% of companies that use peer-to-peer recognition have seen positive increases in customer satisfaction. 

5. Employee recognition improves employee health

Employee recognition programs are a great way to improve employee health, satisfaction, and well-being.  

According to research by Hero & Mercer, when leaders recognized employees’ healthy actions and outcomes, there was a 91% improvement in population health and 87% improvement in medical plan cost compared to companies that didn’t recognize employees’ success. 

6. Employee recognition is the foundation of a strong company culture.

85% of HR Leaders say an employee recognition program has a positive effect on organizational culture, and 83% say that employee recognition programs benefit organizational values. 

Employee Recognition Program Ideas 

There are many ways and situations in which you can use employee recognition programs.  

employee recognition program ideas

1. Monetary and non-monetary employee recognition programs

Let’s take a look at monetary and non-monetary employee recognition programs. 

Monetary programs

Monetary rewards programs include monetary or tangible awards for certain employee achievements, milestones, or events.  

Some of the most common examples of monetary rewards include: 

  • Salary increase 
  • Bonuses 
  • Commissions 
  • Stock options 
  • Tuition reimbursement 
  • Paid career development and training opportunities 
  • Retirement and healthcare plans 
  • Paid time off 
  • Profit sharing plans 
  • Merit pay 
  • Company car, laptop, mobile phone, and other work equipment 
  • Free meals 
  • Gift cards 
  • Conferences and work travel 

Non-monetary programs 

While we may assume that all employees would appreciate more money, this is not the only way to provide recognition and thanks for a job well done. In fact, many employees would prefer to have their efforts recognized using non-monetary rewards.  

Moreover, according to the Incentive Marketing Association, 65% of employees prefer non-cash incentives. 

Some of the most common non-monetary employee recognition programs include: 

  • Job promotion 
  • More job responsibility 
  • Job enrichment 
  • Job security 
  • Employee empowerment 
  • Parking space 
  • Achievement trophy or medal 
  • Internal career development 
  • Thank you awards 
  • Achievement certificate 
  • Flexible work hours and locations 
  • New office space 
  • Days off 
  • Employee ambassador role 
  • Free health checks 
  • Lunch with the manager or CEO 

2. Verbal and written employee recognition programs 

Managers and employees can recognize each other in a written or verbal way. Let’s look at the difference.

Verbal appreciation 

Verbal praise is the oldest and longest-standing form of social recognition in the workplace. Verbal praise is given by colleagues, generally in spontaneous workplace situations.

Although nearly always informal in nature, verbal praise can also be solicited as part of a formal staff recognition program. 

Written appreciation 

Writing a simple thank-you note can not only show appreciation but is tangible proof of your employee’s contributions. Written praise is an efficient way to motivate employees and show them that, whether written or sent as electronic communication. 

In addition, it is a great alternative for employees that are introverts.  

3. Peer-to-peer and employee recognition programs 

Here are some examples of the peer-to-peer and manager-to-employee programs.

Peer-to-peer recognition

Peer employee recognition differs from manager to employee recognition. This is because it is typically someone the employee works alongside who has more frequent interpersonal contact than their manager. 

Manager-to-employee recognition can feel less authentic than when an employee lets their colleague know they are doing great work. 

According to SHRM, peer-to-peer recognition is 35.7% more likely to have a positive impact on financial results than manager-only recognition. 

Manager-to-employee recognition

Managers who prioritize employee recognition understand the power and benefits of recognizing employees. For them, employee recognition is a communication tool that reinforces and rewards the most important outcomes people create for your business. 

4. Public and private employee recognition programs 

Wandering if you should recognize employees privately or publicly? Here are some ideas.

Public recognition 

Being recognized publicly, in front of other colleagues, may mean much more to employees than when they are the only ones hearing the praise.  

Share and celebrate success as a team, and let others know about their colleagues’ achievements.  

There are many different ways to recognize employees publicly: 

  • Internal employee newsletter– Send out an internal newsletter to let everyone know about their colleague’s achievements. 
  • Through an internal communications platform– Post the news on your internal comms platform, such as Slack or Microsoft Teams. 
  • Social Media posts- Create a Social Media post to engage and attract the outside talent. 
  • Press release- Consider engaging a local press release to create and publish a great employee success story. 
  • Appreciation celebration– Create an event to celebrate the appreciation.  
  • Meetings– Give a shout-out during one of the team or company meetings.  
  • Company events– Recognize employee achievement during your company’s events, such as company anniversaries or team buildings.  
  • Company careers blog– Post a blog about your employee’s success on your company’s career blog.  
  • Company’s wall of fame- post a recognition on your company’s wall of fame!

Private recognition 

Some employees don’t like to be appreciated publicly. For those, here are some ideas on how to recognize them: 

  • “Thank you” notes – It can be as simple as writing “Thank you” on a sticky note.  
  • Appreciation email – Send a private appreciation email to praise achievement or a gesture.  
  • Home delivery – Send your colleagues a gift to their home address.  
  • “Thank you” video – Colleagues, or even CEOs, can create short “Thank you” videos to show appreciation.  
  • “Thank you” meeting – Organize a short “Thank you” meeting.  
  • Achievement certificate – Create and send or print out an achievement certificate to show praise.  

5. Employee recognition for personal and professional achievements 

Employees can be recognized and rewarded for both personal and professional achievements.

Professional achievement 

Work achievement rewards are used when employees achieve something that is strictly related to their work or business success.  

Some of the common examples include: 

  • Project achievements 
  • New deals closed 
  • Innovations 
  • New behaviors 
  • Goals achievements 
  • Resolved tickets…

Personal achievement 

We see employers reward their employees for personal achievements more and more. The most common situations when employees are rewarded for their personal achievements include: 

  • Health and well-being achievements such as physical activity 
  • Taking work-life balance seriously 
  • Baby rewards for new parents 
  • Engagement and wedding events 

6. Employee events, milestones, and years of service 

Here are some other types of recognition programs you can implement.

Employee events 

There are many different employee events throughout the whole employee lifecycle that can be recognized and rewarded.  

The most common events when employee recognition programs can be used include: 

  • Employee birthdays 
  • Employee’s first day at work 
  • Employee Appreciation Day 

Employee milestones 

Employee milestones are related to employees’ achievements on the job. These types of employee recognition programs are probably most commonly used by companies across the world.  

  • Work anniversaries 
  • Project completion 
  • Employee reviews (monthly, quarterly, yearly) 
  • Career advancements and role changes 

Service anniversaries 

In addition to milestones, years of service is also a very common event when employees get recognized and rewarded.  

According to research, 90% of companies have service anniversary employee rewards programs. 85% of them reward employees after five years of service, and 17% reward employees for 1-3 years of service.  

Employee of the month 

Employee of the Month is another event many companies use to recognize and reward their employees. Every company has a different employee of the month program depending on the employee recognition program’s goals.  

Setting Up a Successful Employee Recognition Program 

When setting up an employee recognition program, follow these steps: 

  1. Get your leaders on board – In order for a recognition program to work, leaders have to be on board. Define the real ROI of employee recognition and present it to your CEO.  
  2. Define goals – Carefully define what you are trying to achieve with your new program. This can be anything from increasing employee satisfaction or engagement, increasing customer satisfaction to motivating employees to finish a project on time.  
  3. Determine resources needed – Understand how much and which resources you need to implement and manage the program. Define the key team who will lead it.  
  4. Define policies and procedures – Define how the program will work. What will the employees be nominated and rewarded for? Will you have monetary or non-monetary rewards? What is the maximum amount of nominations and rewards? How will the employees collect points? 
  5. Choose the right technology – Without the right technology, implementing a successful employee rewards program is impossible. Rewards and recognition solutions like JobPts are designed to help employers implement and manage rewards programs that best fit their business strategy.  
  6. Measure success – Measure the success of your recognition programs. Track the KPIs you have defined at the beginning of the process. 

Recognize Employees Today

Employee engagement remains the top HR concern for companies across every industry. Great employee recognition programs have consistently proved themselves to be essential tools for creating a strong culture, happier workers, and maintaining a spotless employer brand. Regardless of the types of recognition you’d like to run, a comprehensive Reward and Recognition platform is essential.

Investing in a new employee recognition program and tech is not just a gesture of employee appreciation here; it is a strategic move to cultivate a motivated, high-performing, diverse workforce, positively impacting both individual employees and the organization as a whole. Whether sending gift cards, cash rewards, or other gifts matching employees’ preferences, a consistent recognition experience never goes unnoticed.

Additionally, setting up peer recognition initiatives where employees can show appreciation for each other’s everyday efforts is a bona fide way of increasing job satisfaction, promoting the company’s values, and helping employees feel appreciated.

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