Employee Recognition Programmes — Benefits & Best Practices 

As anyone in human resources will tell you, this fierce competition out there for top talent. And even when you manage to hire and train highly skilled workers, they will face constant poaching from other recruiters and organisations. 

So what can you do to help cultivate a strong workplace culture and foster higher employee engagement, loyalty, and retention? 

An effective way is through the use of employee recognition programmes. 

Here, we explore some unique ways to recognise your employees’ contributions and make them feel genuinely appreciated.

What are Employee Recognition ProgramMes? 

Employee recognition programmes are initiatives put forth by employers as a way to reward employees for achievements and milestones. These can be things such as:

  • Monetary/Tangible Rewards Programmes include things like salary increases, bonuses, commissions, free meals, paid time off, a company vehicle, tickets to concerts or sporting events, or anything else that can be physically held and used.  
  • Nonmonetary/Intangible Rewards Programmes include things like job promotions, more responsibility, job security, parking space, days off, which don’t necessarily cost the business more money but which help employees feel recognised and rewarded for their work. Using these sorts of ways is often an effective method of cutting variable cost associated with employee recognition programmes. 
  • Semi-Tangible/Digital Rewards Programmes include things like discounted access to courses created by the company on a third-party online course platform, NFT artwork, subscriptions to streaming services, or other unique digital awards that fall somewhere between the tangible and intangible. 

You can also have a verbal appreciation or written employee appreciation. There are peer-to-peer recognition programmes and manager-to-employee programmes. You can also choose between public and private recognition, and so on. 

Your creativity is the limit when it comes to creating the right recognition programme for your employees.

Benefits of Employee Recognition Programmes

Your employees are your company’s most valuable resource, and here we take a look at some reasons why you might want to implement recognition and rewards programmes in your organisation:

  • Increased Engagement: They have the benefit of boosting employee engagement in the workplace. They build trust between managers and the rest of the staff and help to improve the relationship when the employee feels appreciated for the work they do. For example, the team at gaming company Solitaired improved their employee engagement by 24% by recognising, and listening to their employees.
  • Higher Productivity: We all want to be recognised for our contributions and achievements in order to stay motivated, which is why these types of programmes work so effectively for getting people to put forth their best work.
  • Lower Turnover: Employee turnover can be very costly for companies, and one way to lower your business’s voluntary turnover rate is to use employee recognition programmes. When workers feel that their efforts are being recognised and appreciated at work, they are less likely to want to switch to another company.

Best Practices for Integrating Employee Recognition Programmes 

If your organisation is still struggling to retain its top talent, implementing some of these steps will help improve employee engagement, satisfaction, and retention.

1. Set Goals for Recognition

The first step in creating a successful employee recognition programme is to develop objectives that clearly define expected outcomes. In fact, this is always the first step when launching any new initiative. If you can build a strong foundation for your programme, you’ll get the added incentive of higher organisational performance on top of all the other benefits to employees.

This means you must take the time needed to define and communicate your goals, which might include:

  • Establishing the criteria for work performance
  • Recognising workers from all areas of operation
  • Fostering a recognition culture where you frequently receive informal feedback
  • Using screen recording tools to record processes so you can give employees a direct, hands-on visual of how to perform certain tasks (personally, I prefer Movavi Screen Recorder)
  • Aligning all performance benchmarks with your company goals
  • Making sure the recognition objectives are aligned with your company culture
  • Providing a succession strategy in line with the goals for recognition
  • Offering opportunities for career development or advanced training as part of employee recognition

… and many more.

2. Make Recognition Personal

Your next step in launching a successful rewards programme is to make it personal. Make sure the person receiving the reward understands that they are more than just an employee, but an important part of your family. 

A great way to personalise employee recognition is to consider milestones outside of the work environment. 

For the most part, managing these different aspects of work and life can prove challenging. 

Recognising the personal milestones of your employees such as birthdays, anniversaries, first home, earning a degree, etc., shows how much you care about them.

When recognising achievements outside of work, you can use humour on your congratulatory note or appropriate images or GIFs to personalise your message. Make sure to include funny social media videos to entertain your employees. You can get creative with this but always keep it light so you don’t risk offending anyone.

3. Align Recognition with Company Values

As previously stated, it’s important that your recognition goals match your company’s core values and culture. Make sure your programme has clear targets and reinforces the types of behaviors that support your organisation’s culture. 

Furthermore, make sure to recognise exceptional effort frequently. Your recognition programme will lose its power if people are only recognised once in a while. On the flip side, you don’t want to be recognising people every day, otherwise, the programme will lose its effectiveness. 

Try to strike a balance that works for you so you can show appreciation for employees at regular intervals throughout the year. 

But, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t recognise the “every day”

Find ways to show your employees that the work they do day-in and day-out is appreciated, (even if we know that not every day will be great). You can appreciate them by giving gifts or rewards, conducting events, and praising the employees for their achievement.

This way, work becomes so much more than just a job for your workers when they feel truly appreciated.

4. Offer Peer-to-Peer Recognition

This type of recognition is a key component for building a comprehensive employee recognition strategy. 

It differs from manager-to-employee recognition in that it’s typically offered by someone who works alongside the employee and has more frequent contact at an interpersonal level than the manager. 

This feels a lot more authentic and employees greatly value having their colleagues acknowledge that they are doing great work. 

In effect, peer-to-peer recognition is more likely to have a stronger impact on your financial results compared to manager-only recognition. 

In order to fully leverage this powerful tactic in your employee recognition programme, offer all employees a formal system for recognising colleagues who do good work. This will help you sustain a culture of recognition for years to come. 

There are a variety of ways to do this from simply setting an example and expressing appreciation to employees publicly or by making recognition of accomplishments a regular part of workplace culture.
You can also use a variety of digital technologies to assist employees. For example, you can create employee Facebook groups or allow employees access to webinar software used by the business to create and send personalised recognition videos to their peers directly.  

Facilitating peer-to-peer employee recognition within the workplace is a great way to generate positive behaviour changes that lead to higher engagement and satisfaction. Ultimately, employees will give more and stay at your company longer if they feel recognised by their bosses and peers alike. 

5. Make Recognition Fun, Easy, and Fast

Consistency matters in this regard, but managers typically have a lot on their plate which is why the recognition you offer to your employees should always be fun, fast, and easy. 

So, rather than making employee recognition yet another entry in a long list of to-do items (where it will likely be lost in the shuffle), put processes in place to make it easy for giving rewards to employees. 

For example, you might use an online recognition platform or an employee recognition app that gamifies the process of sending recognition to coworkers and employees. 

With a tap, users can: 

  • Send recognition
  • Add award points
  • Include images or videos
  • View public recognition
  • Contribute to service awards celebrations, etc. 

This way, you will surround your team with a culture that generates enduring performance and purpose. And they will see a promising future designed to support their career goals and growth within the organisation.

I can’t think of a better way to win your employees’ loyalty than by using fun to make their work more meaningful and satisfying. 

Examples of Successful Recognition and Rewards Programmes

Many leading companies, including the ones below, understand how important it is to acknowledge the efforts of your workers on a regular basis. 

You too can learn from their examples to get inspiration for creating your own exceptional employee recognition strategy. 

With that said, here are a few examples of employee recognition strategies from companies that have nailed it. 

1. Apple

Apple has a considerate paid time-off reward programme for its massive global workforce. The recognition applies to everyone in the company and provides an exceptional workplace experience that workers rave about. For instance, during the holiday season, employees received an extended holiday, where the entire workforce was given a week’s break.

2. E.On

This company strategically uses simple, personalised thank you notes (both physical and digital) as part of a successful employee rewards programme. This is a simple way that is neither expensive nor effort-intensive, yet it works effectively to make everyone feel appreciated and boost staff engagement levels throughout the organisation.

3. Zappos

Zappos is one of the largest multinational eCommerce chains, which means it has a sizable workforce. The company, which is known for its cultural focus, created a rewards programme based on the peer-to-peer format. Employees share inexpensive, high-frequency rewards to acknowledge and recognise each other’s efforts in the company. 


There you have it – five powerful ways to improve employee recognition, as well as a few tips for effective integration. Hopefully, the information in this article will help you create and launch a successful employee recognition initiative that will boost motivation, engagement, and loyalty within your organisation.

Author: Ron Stefanski – Entrepreneur and College Professor, OneHourProfessor.com.

Photo Credit: Thomas Schütze on Unsplash

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  1. Hello – this article is very useful thank you! I'm currently doing some research on ways to recognise colleagues who are leaving the business. I wondered if you have any articles focused on this?

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