In performance reviews, words matter.
Let me explain.
Showing appreciation for employees consistently impacts employee happiness.
From a productivity standpoint, the same study found that 40% of employees would be unlikely to go above and beyond if their bosses took their efforts for granted.
To learn more, check out some more facts and statistics from our 2019 Employee Engagement Report.
In other words, you can’t compromise on the intrinsic rewards. And the best part? They don’t cost you any money!
In this article, we’ll discuss the importance of employee recognition and list down 50 thoughtful compliments that you can give members on your teams.
To be more specific, we’ll discuss:
- What is employee recognition?
- Why is employee recognition so important?
- Common misunderstandings of employee recognition programs
- 50 thoughtful employee appreciation messages
- How to recognize employees for a job well done
- 3 steps to writing down your employee appreciation ideas
- Key things to remember to keep employees engaged for years to come
What is employee recognition?
Employee recognition refers to the actions or words an employer or colleague shows as an acknowledgment for another team member’s work. The purpose behind an employee recognition program is to reinforce certain kinds of productive behaviors that will, in turn, keep employees engaged and happy at work, bringing in positive business results.
It’s no longer enough for employers to pay their workers and offer common benefits.
Good leadership understands that people now want to receive peer-to-peer recognition, be rewarded in one way or another every time they achieve something or hit their goals, and get strong support when it comes to their professional development.
Workers are motivated whenever someone else sees them or their work as being important to the company. Employee recognition takes advantage of this human need to reward strong performers and reduce employee turnover. It’s a win-win.
Why is employee recognition so important?
Employee engagement and recognition helps keep your team happy with their jobs and, overall, improves their quality of life. This way, they’re more likely to stick with your company. As a result, you’ll increase your employee retention rates.
Over time, your team members create strong bonds, learning to rely on each other for different tasks and work challenges.
An overarching employee recognition benefit is that it boosts the team’s morale even during tough times because they know there’s someone to turn to for help.
Engaging employees keeps the team’s productivity levels higher and can even increase them over the long run.
With a good recognition program in place, people feel valued and have a personal purpose to do their best work, rather than just aimlessly putting in the effort for someone else. All of this results in a positive work environment.
Common misunderstandings of employee recognition programs
Some common misunderstandings regarding employee recognition are that it’s expensive, it takes a lot of time to do, or it demotivates the rest of the team as it’s only aimed at top performers.
All of these are false claims made by companies that can’t be bothered to put in the extra effort.
If that were true, every employee appreciation idea wouldn’t have worked for any company. And this belief that complimenting your coworkers won’t work for everyone is why so many employees are unhappy.
The good news is that anyone can keep employees engaged: managers, team leaders, coworkers, and even clients and other stakeholders.
To make sure you’ve got employee recognition in check at a companywide level, it’s best to formally establish a person or team to take care of this.
For the best results, choose someone who gets to interact with the team on a regular basis and already knows your employees to some extent.
How to tell if this approach if the right one for your employees
All kinds of teams can benefit from an employee recognition program. Keeping your employees engaged can lower your turnover rates by as much as 31%. So why wouldn’t you give it a go?
Before you start, though, prepare your current team for the new program and designate the people responsible for making this strategy work. Ideally, everyone in your team should be involved. So make sure all of your employees understand its value.
You can quantify your results with an employee engagement tool like TINYpulse. A good option is to create employee surveys and use their feedback to improve your work culture overall.
Ask questions like “How happy are you at work?” and “What’s the one thing that would make you happier at your job?”
Your findings should never be left at the information-gathering stage. Benchmark the results before and after the recognition program. From our own studies, we’ve seen an increase in happiness scores when there are more Cheers per employee.
50 thoughtful employee appreciation messages
Have you been praising your coworkers for good work?
If not, it’s time you seriously considered making active efforts to express words of appreciation.
It all starts with having good base phrases to say to them sent via Slack to brighten their day. You can also write them on a performance review to raise their morale whenever they’re not confident with their results. And you can sprinkle them in your day-to-day conversations, too.
To express gratitude, appreciation, and encouragement to your coworkers for their hard work, here are 50 examples of compliments for coworkers:
- Having you on the team makes a huge difference.
- You always find a way to get it done—and done well!
- It’s really admirable how you always see projects through from conception to completion.
- Thank you for always speaking up in team meetings and providing a unique perspective.
- Your efforts at strengthening our culture are not unnoticed.
- Fantastic work!
- Even when the going gets tough, you continue to have the best attitude!
- It’s amazing how you always help new employees get up to speed.
- Wow! Just when I thought your work couldn’t get any better!
- I couldn’t imagine working without you!
- Your work ethic speaks for itself.
- There’s no other way to say it: We’d be lost without you.
- Thanks for always being willing to lend a hand.
- The pride you take in your work is truly inspiring.
- You’re so great to work with.
- I am continually impressed by the results you produce!
- Thank you for being so flexible.
- It’s incredible how thorough your work is.
- Your work ethic is out of this world!
- You have an extremely healthy perspective.
- You’re really good at cheering everybody up!
- Is there anything you can’t do?!
- You are one of the most reliable employees I’ve ever had.
- Thank you for setting a great example for your coworkers.
- Not everyone is as creative as you—I mean it!
- It’s amazing how you’re always able to overcome any obstacle thrown your way.
- Keep up the great work!
- I was blown away by your contributions this week.
- I really enjoy working with you.
- You’re awesome!
- Amazing job on that project—I really mean it.
- You are an invaluable member of the team.
- To be honest, I’m jealous of your talents.
- I can’t believe how lucky I am to have a great employee like you.
- You come up with fantastic ideas!
- What’s your secret? Your output is impressive, to say the least.
- Wow! Nice work.
- Your work ethic is enviable.
- I just wanted to let you know how much you mean to the team.
- How did this place ever operate without you?!
- I know I’ve been busy lately, but I just had to tell you what a great employee you are.
- You play a crucial role in our company’s success.
- It’s so obvious how you pay attention to detail.
- You are always so quick to show initiative.
- It’s honestly hard to explain how integral you are to this team.
- You are an awesome employee!
- It’s incredible how often you go above and beyond.
- Your work never ceases to amaze me!
- I couldn’t live with myself if I didn’t tell you how much you mean to this company.
- Things have definitely been crazy lately, but you’re crushing it!
Mix things up by combining those example phrases!
A quick Google search may be able to provide you with more ideas. But remember, personalization is key here.
Another thing that matters is how you give these compliments. While you can do this over email or behind closed doors, it’s highly recommended that you do it during a meeting or one of your public speaking sessions at the office.
How to recognize employees for a job well done
Of course, you won’t be sending these employee appreciation phrases just because you have to. You need to also understand why appraisal is so important and what the various methods for showing your recognition are.
Now that you have this list of phrases at hand, here are five easy ways to recognize and reward your employees in a meaningful way without breaking the bank.
1. Write a thank-you card
It's a simple gesture to say thank you in person or write a thank-you note to employees who've done a great job. The caveat is that you can’t simply just blurt out these recognition phrases in hopes that they’ll feel valued.
Make sure that you acknowledge tangible accomplishments and send in performance-based appreciation words to employees who earned them. That way they’ll continue to deliver top results in the future.
Appreciation goes a long way for employee recognition. Feeling valued and receiving employee recognition messages is directly responsible for people’s happiness at work. But, unfortunately, only 3 out of 10 employees actually feel recognized for their efforts.
2. Give them a shout-out at all-hands meetings
Knowing you're doing a great job is one thing. Hearing it from your boss has a different meaning and can certainly be regarded as more valuable.
Public recognition is also a great way to inspire and motivate the rest of the team while rewarding one employee for a job well done. It can be something as simple as email blasts, shout-outs at company meetings or other company-wide communications.
Plus, it’s totally free! All you have to do is craft your best speech, add in a few praise words as listed above, pair them with their results and stats, and you’ve made one more employee happy.
3. Encourage peer-to-peer recognition
Recognition should never be solely left up to managers. Many organizations today are spread across the globe, which means that managers don’t get the chance to see day-to-day activities or have one-on-one meetings with everyone.
Peer-to-peer recognition comes in to save the day by ensuring employees are shown appreciation from their colleagues so they feel valued for their hard work.
In our Employee Recognition and Appreciation Report, we found out that 44% of employees give regular peer-to-peer recognition when they have a tool that makes it easier for them to do so.
Give your team the opportunity and encouragement to recognize one another. This way, everyone is invested in the process and you’re paving the foundation for them to build strong bonds, increasing your employee engagement and long-term retention.
Don’t forget to recognize your boss, too. Great managers with strong leadership qualities who can also communicate super efficiently and are able to praise and motivate their team like no other deserve thanks, too.
Every now and then, you’ll come across a manager you’d wish you could clone. However, not all of these folks receive the recognition they themselves deserve.
Generally speaking, there has been a lack of management recognition across all industries. Employee recognition is always a manager’s problem. So, the latter is left out of the equation even if they’re valuable members of the team. Many are also hesitant to praise their bosses when this is a very natural thing to do.
So, what can you do to praise your boss?
Thank them for sharing their knowledge or taking the time to instruct you and help you learn a new skill. Leave an appreciative message or reply to their feedback.
One-on-one meetings are a great opportunity to do this and even bond with your managers.
Just say thank you whenever needed, be honest and appreciative, and talk positively about them.
4. Take your employee out of the office
We all need to change our environment from time to time so we don’t get bored or fall into an unproductive routine.
People are starting to prefer more and more diverse methods for working and collaborating—from remote work to working from coffee shops and going on workcations with the team. In fact, 43% of Americans work from home at least sometimes. And they love it.
It’s safe to say that employees are looking for diversity and recurring breaks from their regular routines.
So, take your top-performing employees to a fun activity whenever they achieve something or reach a milestone.
You can also have a one-on-one meeting with them in a coffee shop, host a company lunch break, even give them a couple of free mornings to enjoy their start of the day.
5. Invest in their future
All fun and recognition aside, many people are still interested in taking their careers one step further and keeping up with the latest changes in their industry.
To fulfill this need, one way to reward these workers is to offer them a free day (and free tickets) to attend a conference or support their pursuit of getting a new certification.
If you think about it, your employee’s new skills will also aid your business and help you tap into new methods and strategies for growing your products and services.
Unfortunately, the stats are worrying. Our extensive research found that fewer than 30% of employees feel they have proper opportunities for growth at their current company.
Pair that with a continually decreasing employer loyalty and you’ve got a better look at why so many professionals who already have great wages and benefits are still looking to switch jobs.
3 steps to writing down your employee appreciation ideas
We’ve crafted this easy three-step formula for the perfect complimentary email or handwritten note to send to your colleagues or workers right away.
1. Share what happened and why it’s appreciated
It's important to be brief but still craft a clear explanation as to why you’re sending out this employee recognition message. Otherwise, they’ll just be confused not knowing why they’re getting praised and won’t really know what performance to keep on mimicking.
State the name of the project they worked on and share what happened in your eyes. What did the person do? What were the results? The more specific you can be, the better.
2. Share the impact of their input
Here, you can get into more details to explain how the situation prior to their performance was and how the employee’s work has helped you succeed.
Did the person help save the company money or time? Did their efforts lead to a sale? Did it help a colleague achieve success? Maybe they helped the company win an award or they were a vital link within the team for the past few months.
Sometimes it pays to send something as simple as Thanks for helping me with that task! I couldn’t have done it without you.
The reason why we’re putting so much emphasis on results is to help them feel valued and essential to the project’s development.
3. Share how it makes you feel
This is the most important step—and one you shouldn’t skip. It helps you bond with your colleague or employee and create a new discussion around the topic. Use this step to talk about how the employee’s accomplishment makes you feel as a person.
If they helped you nail a deadline, describe the emotion you honestly felt at the time. Were you relieved? Excited? Nervous?
Nothing completes a great compliment like sharing how you feel. This helps your team members understand that there’s another human who was helped by their efforts, which gives them the satisfaction that comes with knowing they are also using their skills to help others.
Don’t know where to start with your employee engagement efforts?
Take notes from how other companies are engaging their employees.
Here’s how the Boston Red Sox have improved their employee happiness by getting real-time feedback and encouraging peer recognition at a company level.
Key things to remember to keep employees engaged for years to come
If you want to help your colleagues with their words, feel free to send the list of employee recognition phrases to your team. You can even create a separate Slack channel that’s dedicated to praising colleagues for their weekly achievements.
Make it a regular activity for each one of your team members to offer praise to someone and cultivate appreciation within your company to make people feel truly valued. This is a perfect opportunity for motivating each other and reminding everyone that they’re an active part of a complete team that works together to achieve great results.
Your employee engagement research doesn’t need to end here. You need to constantly develop new ways of keeping workers engaged, so check out this complete guide to employee engagement next.
- 16 Fun and Unique Employee Recognition Awards
- 15 Ways to Delight Your Employees on Their Birthdays
- 19 Creative and Sincere Employee Appreciation Ideas