Employee Recognition: The What, Why & How (+ Creative Ideas) 

Employee recognition is a powerful driver of positive changes across your organization. Find out how to recognize your employees and why it is important you do.

April 10, 2020 By Sara Ana Cemazar Share on Twitter! Share on Facebook! Share on LinkedIn!
employee recognition program
employee recognition

Employee recognition is crucial for driving employee motivation, productivity and retention. In the last couple of years, many companies expanded their budgets to implement programs that facilitate employee appreciation, thus improving their business results. 

In this article, we will show why you should recognize your employees and how to do it successfully. 

💛 Check out our Employee Recognition Playbook to get a detailed plan for implementing an employee recognition program in your company. 

employee recognition playbook

What is Employee Recognition 

In short, employee recognition is a practice of recognizing, appreciating or applauding your employees for their work, or for different aspects of their workIt can come from managers or higher-ups, or it can come from peers. 

Furthermore, employee recognition has many forms. It is also an important part of the employee experience, which takes in account everything employees encounter in a workplace. 

employee experience payoff

Recognizing your employees will drive positive changes in your company, and every organization, no matter how big or small, will benefit from it. 

How to Set Up a Successful Employee Recognition Program 

Since employee recognition has many advantages, many employers are now planning and implementing various employee recognition initiatives. By doing this, they are able to enjoy all the benefits that employee appreciation programs bring. 

Follow these steps in order to set up a successful employee recognition program in your company. 

1. Get Executives’ Buy-In 

If you don’t have the support of your executives for your initiative, it will be extremely hard to convince the rest of the company about the importance of building a culture of appreciation. Therefore, it is important to present and prove the ROI of employee recognition to the executives. 

For example, companies with strategic recognition programs reported 31% lower voluntary turnover rates compared to companies that have no recognition programs. Furthermore, 35% of companies who have peer-to-peer recognition programs have seen improvements in customer satisfaction. 

employee recognition effect on customer satisfaction

2. Appoint a Recognition Program Manager

You should assign the role of a Recognition Program Manager to a person that truly believes in the positive outcome of employee recognition. He or she should plan, implement and manage the program. Additionally, this person has to provide support to both managers and employees. 

Ideally, this persona should come from an HR related team such as total rewards or employee benefits, but Employee Experience professionals and HR Business Partners are also taking these roles. 

3. Choose an Appropriate Recognition Program Type 

According to your company culture and the changes you want to drive, you can choose from a wide variety of recognition programs. You can implement a monetary or non-monetary program, with a top-down or peer to peer approach. 

💛 Know your facts: a values-based, peer-to-peer recognition made 90% of workers more satisfied with their work. 

peer to peer recognition

4. Define a Budget for the Recognition Program 

If you choose to implement a monetary recognition program, you need to set a budget for it. Research shows that assigning 1% of the overall payroll to recognition increases employee engagement by 85%. 

Nevertheless, non-monetary programs are sometimes preferred by employees who say it creates a culture of appreciation in the company.  

5. Find and Implement the Right Recognition Software 

When thinking about recognition software, you should ask yourself: Is there a flexible technology that can support the company’s needs and existing internal processes? 

Next, you should proceed with finding, evaluating and choosing the right employee recognition software for your organization. 

💛 Check out how JobPts, our Recongition and Rewards Platform, could fit your needs for recognition program. 

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Recognize and reward your employees with JobPts.

6. Set Clear Employee Recognition Program Goals 

As it is recommended to set your employees’ performance goals, you should also set clear employee recognition program goals. Your goals should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-based. 

More specifically, determine what you’re trying to achieve with this employee recognition initiative. Next, look at how you can measure the outcomes of your program and set the time frame to measure its effectiveness. 

7. Align Recognition with Your Business Goals, Purpose and Core Company Values 

It goes without saying that your employee recognition initiative should line up with your company’s core values and business goals. Not only will it tie employees’ actions to your company’s mission, but it will also help your employees better understand the impact of their work on the business success. 

employee engagement payoff

8. Carefully Define Recognition Policies & Procedures 

Once again, after determining your goals, you need to be specific: what, why, who, when and how should be recognized? This means you should carefully design your recognition procedures and think about what it says to your employees and the external marketplace. 

9. Ensure Attractive Gift Options for Everyone 

In case you are opting for a monetary recognition program, make sure to provide appealing gift options for everyone. This step emphasizes the importance of choosing the right recognition software as various vendors have various gift options to choose from. 

However, if you are implementing a non-recognition program, look at these templates for showing appreciation to your employees. 

employee recognition templates

10. Make Recognition Fun and Easy for Employees to Use 

Once again, choosing the right employee recognition software comes in play. Look for a vendor that offers features such as gamification, social recognition, team collaboration and other. These features have a positive influence on the end-user adoption rates. 

💛 For an inspiration, check out these employee recognition programs ideas. 

11. Ensure That the Recognition Program Is Fair 

If you are working in a company that operates in multiple locations, make sure to adjust your recognition rewards to a specific country where your branch is located. More precisely, your employees in different countries have different purchasing power 

Therefore, ensure that your recognition program offers equal opportunities for everyone – and check if your recognition software supports such an option. 

12. Communicate Internally to Increase Participation 

This step is crucial for success of your employee recognition program. In other words, you need to make sure that employees are on the same page as you are. 

Therefore, collaborate with your internal communications team to explain the purpose of the program. Carefully communicate the program procedures and explain how employees themselves are going to benefit from this initiative. 

results of employee recognition

13. Educate Your Employees 

If you want to get the most out of your recognition program, you need to educate your employees about how to give recognition. There are specific rules, norms and best practices for giving meaningful recognition to employees. 

Besides, your employees will feel more secure and will more likely give recognition to others if they receive clear instructions.

14. Measure the Impact of Your Recognition Program

Finally, you need to measure the results of your employee recognition program. Did you achieve all the goals you set? If not, why?  

💛 Compare the data you choose to observe for measuring the effect of your program and inspect if you have achieved what you wanted. 

See how our Recognition and Rewards software, JobPts, can help you implement an employee recognition program in your company. 

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Try out our Recognition and Reward Platform JobPts.

What are the Benefits of Employee Recognition 

Employee recognition has numerous benefits. That is why more and more companies across the world started implementing employee recognition practices and programs. 

Here, we will list all the specific advantages of employee recognition that all contribute to a company’s business success. 

1. Employee Recognition Increases Employee Engagement 

Employee disengagement costs $500 Billion in US alone. On the other hand, the benefits of engaged workplaces are numerous 

Employee recognition drives employee engagement by creating a culture of appreciation, which is a powerful motivator. That is why more and more companies are investing their resources in improving employee engagement. 

cost of employee disengagement

2. Employee recognition improves customer satisfaction 

Your employee satisfaction is reflected through your customer satisfaction! A happy employee will give your customers a better service. In fact, research shows that 35% of companies that have recognition programs noticed an increase in customer satisfaction.  

3. Employee recognition boosts employee productivity 

Your business success starts with your employees! Showing appreciation to your employees will motivate 78% of your employees to work harder. 

effect of employee recognition

4. Employee recognition improves employee health, wellbeing and company culture  

85% of HR leaders agree that employee appreciation programs had a positive effect on company culture. Moreover, your employees will be more engaged and willing to take part in your wellbeing initiatives when recognized. 

5. Employee recognition decreases employee turnover 

Since it costs 6 to 9 month’s salaries to replace an employee, it is essential to recognize your employees work as continuous as you can. 32% of employees would leave their jobs because of lack of recognition.

why people leave their jobs

Out-of-the-box Employee Recognition Ideas 

There is plenty of ways how you can recognize your employees. Take a look at these recognition ideas your employees will love and have a pick from creative ones listed below.  


You can easily appreciate an individual employee by dropping some sweets on his or her table with a casual “Thank you” note. However, surprising a whole team with a cake or a lunch is both rewarding and has a social component to it. 

Good parking spot   

The best parking spot can even be an award you rotate on a monthly basis! For example, it can accompany your Employee of the month award. 

Tickets to an event 

Give tickets to a concert or a show to an employee if you can! However, this is a very personalized prize, so do it only if you know what type of event would the person recognized be excited about. You could, for example, ask the person’s coworkers in the same department for a help. 

Appreciation emails 

It’s as simple as that – your employees will love a straightforward letter or email in which you express your gratitude. Be specific about the reason you’re appreciating them and pick from one of these editable employee appreciation templates to send out. 

organizational barriers

Leave early or day off  

On special occasions such as birthdays or anniversaries, you can give your employees a day off. This will prove to be an especially dear form of recognition for employees who welcomed a newborn or want to spend time with their new puppy! 

Custom awards 

There are various fun examples of awards created for special types of behavior in the office. If your company culture allows it, you can make it fun: give “The Snacker” certificate to a person who is always nibbling on something in the office. 

Furthermore, you can give a duct tape as a funny reward to the developer that fixes the most bugs. Moreover, you can create your own company trophies and give them out in an Award ceremony! 

Important Facts About Employee Recognition

In this blog, you have learnt about the importance of recognizing your employees for their work and efforts. It has a direct impact on employee morale, wellbeing, satisfaction, motivation and, therefore, business success.

When trying to prove the ROI of your employee recognition programs, the best way to go is to show statistics from existing research i the business world. This way, it is much easier to get the executives’ buy-in regarding the importance of employee incentives.

Take a look now at some of the most important facts and statistics about employee rewards and recognition.

Employee Recognition Synonyms 

There are a couple of phrases that have a similar meaning as employee recognition. They are used interchangeably, and you will find all of them in the relevant literature. 

  • Employee Appreciation 
  • Employee Gratitude 
  • Employee Acknowledgement 
  • Employee Rewards 
  • Employee Awards

How Semos Cloud Can Help You Recognize Your Employees 

As a part of our comprehensive Employee Success Suite, JobPts is designed for giving your employees the recognition they deserve. 

Book a demo today to find out how Recognition and Rewards Platform JobPts fits into recognition plans for your organization. 

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Check out our Recognition and Rewards platform JobPts.