5 Tried-and-True Recognition Ideas Employees Love

by Dora Wang on Mar 31, 2015 11:00:00 AM

Does thinking of employee recognition ideas have you scratching your head? We understand the feeling. Sometimes it’s hard to predict what your workers will like best.

So we went to the source. Here are five ideas that employees love — and you can use yourself.

Showing Trust

These recognition ideas aren’t about physical gifts, but rather something intangible and more valuable.

Angie Weber, Operation Manager at tena.cious, is fortunate and gets plenty of appreciation: “thank you cards, encouraging emails, and pats on the back.” But one simple sentence was her favorite. “I felt most valued when I heard one little statement from my boss, ‘Go with what you think.’”

Weber was working on pricing for a service, and used to go back and forth getting quotes before she could move forward with the sale. “But with this phrase — although short and sweet — I realized that my boss had enormous trust and faith in me to take ownership and represent her company.” And the effect it had? “It put my job, responsibilities, and mindset in a new light. I moved forward being more confident, motivated, and valued.”

New Call-to-action

Lori Kaye, CEO of Lion LinQ, shares a story from her earliest working experience, serving ice cream at Dairy Queen. “My boss noticed right away that I loved being a leader, I enjoyed extra responsibility, and I flourished when helping my fellow workers. She immediately allowed me to start training the new hires, which made me feel so proud. I felt like she trusted me not only with the newest team members but also when she wasn't present to supervise.”

Yes, this recognition was actually more work — and it was the right move because “[my boss’s] ability to understand what I was passionate about has resounded with me ever since.”

Eric Ebert of Lookeen tells us about a recognition practice that involves the whole company. “Twice a month, all of our teams get together and pitch our ideas to the CEO and COO. We've had quite a few ideas that were pushed forward (such as free fruit for the office) and even some products that have been developed because of this approach.”

It’s a simple idea, but the message is clear — everyone has the potential to contribute, and no one is too unimportant to be heard by the company leadership.

What’s Behind the Gifts

Sometimes recognition is material, and that’s great — who doesn’t appreciate the occasional gift card or comped meal? But the most effective ideas are the ones that mean something, as you’ll see below.

Author Carrie Aulenbacher got a big bonus from the CEO this past Christmas. “I was overwhelmed and touched that he'd think that much of me. I went to give it back, with tears in my eyes, because I truly didn't feel that was an appropriate amount, but he insisted I keep it,” she says. But the most important part is what came next: “He and the president told me that I was an invaluable part of their team. I told them how much I enjoyed working for them. The CEO told me he didn't want me working anywhere else. THAT meant more than any bonus.”

Ana Darstaru, Content Writer at Squirrly, tells us about her boss, CEO Florin Muresan. “[H]e bought me a pretty expensive book he knew I wanted, and that would help me a lot with my professional career. I never thought that he would buy it for me, but it was actually a gift from the whole team to thank me for all the amazing work I did with customer service.”

Sure, the gift cost money — but it wouldn’t have meant nearly as much without the thought behind it.

These recognition ideas certainly meant a lot to their recipients. Have they inspired you with ideas for your employees?



The Effects of Employee Recognition & Appreciation Report by TINYpulse


author avatar

This post was written by Dora Wang

Dora is an employee engagement researcher for TINYpulse and managing editor of TINYinstitute. Having grown up in Texas, she is now firmly settled in Seattle, where she spends her free time reading comic books, wrangling her three cats, and (of course) rooting for the Seahawks.

Connect with Dora