7 Examples of Employee Recognition Programs to Try

Developing a consistent and thoughtful strategy for recognizing employee achievements is an important part of promoting growth and success at your business. Employees who receive praise and feel valued for their work tend to be more satisfied, productive and motivated. According to an Indeed survey, 30% of people who left a job within the first six months said being recognized more for their unique contributions could have helped them stay longer.*

You can implement an employee recognition program at your company in several different ways — from public praise to employee of the month awards to monetary incentives. Below, learn about employee recognition strategies you can deploy at your workplace to create a positive company culture where employees feel valued, appreciated and satisfied.

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What is an employee recognition program?

Employee recognition programs are a method of motivating employees to do good work by rewarding them for their hard work and dedication. They are designed to maintain high standards of behavior, provide motivation and feedback to employees and publicly praise big wins. Overall, employee recognition is how you express thanks for employee accomplishments, efforts and work.

You can implement one or several recognition programs that acknowledge a variety of achievements, such as work anniversaries, positive feedback from clients or other workplace accomplishments.

Related: How to Motivate Your Employees

Benefits of employee recognition programs

Rewarding outstanding behavior in the workplace can be a great motivator for employees and create a company culture focused on growth and achievement. By investing time and resources into encouraging employees and sharing their successes with the company, you can greatly increase productivity and employee happiness.

The following are a few ways that employee recognition can positively impact an organization:

Encourages engagement. Employee recognition programs can greatly increase overall employee engagement rates. Employees are more engaged in their work when they’re recognized for it. This can ultimately lead to increased productivity and innovation.

Boosts performance: Employees who feel recognized and appreciated by their employer are more likely to perform better in their work. Being recognized can have a significant impact on an employee’s outlook, happiness and performance.

Enhances company culture: When leaders take time to recognize employees who perform well, employees feel that the organization cares for them. This improves relationships between managers and their teams.

Attracts new talent: Attracting top talent to your organization is vital to growing within your industry. Many of the most talented candidates want to find a workplace that recognizes its employees for their successes. Implementing employee recognition programs and sharing them with potential new talent can have a positive effect on your recruiting efforts.

Improves retention rates: Employees who don’t feel recognized are more likely to leave an organization than those who do feel recognized for their work and accomplishments. By practicing employee recognition in your company, you can increase overall employee retention and reduce turnover rates.

7 examples of employee recognition programs to try

You can show your appreciation for your employees through verbal praise, monetary awards, personalized gifts and fun events or experiences. Learning how your employees prefer to be appreciated can help you decide on which types of employee recognition to incorporate regularly into the workplace. Here are a few programs you can implement to help recognize employees for their hard work.


1. Years of service award 

An employee award that acknowledges years of service helps tenured employees stay engaged while encouraging new hires to stay committed to the role. New hires may become more motivated when they see their company rewarding employees based on their years of service to the company. Employee recognition based on years of service can also help improve employee retention.

2. Customer service award

You can show appreciation for employees in customer service roles by rewarding them for meeting sales goals, demonstrating leadership skills, receiving positive customer feedback or providing exceptional customer service. Rewarding customer service employees with praise, a bonus or flexible scheduling is a great way to help them stay motivated.

3. Employee appreciation events

Hosting an employee appreciation event is another way to recognize employees. Praising employees for their good work in front of their colleagues can help boost self-esteem and make employees feel valued, which can lead to increased motivation to succeed. When other employees see a colleague being recognized, they may be encouraged to work harder to achieve similar recognition.

Other appreciation event ideas include:

  • Surprise celebrations: If an employee has been performing exceptionally well, you can surprise them with a celebration that recognizes their hard work and contributions to the workplace.
  • Office outings: When a team or department has been delivering consistently good work, you can recognize them by taking them out to lunch or a fun outing for the day (e.g., bowling, karaoke, cooking classes).
  • Holiday parties: Annual traditions like holiday parties give employees something to look forward to.

4. Employee recognition wall 

Consider setting up a board or dedicating a wall where everyone shares messages of appreciation toward their peers. Not only will this inspire employees who have been recognized to maintain their good work, but it can also challenge others to increase their efforts so they can receive praise too.

5. Weekly shoutouts on social media

Shouting out an employee on the company’s social media platforms or internal company intranet is a great and free way to recognize employees regularly. You can post a picture of them (with their approval) and go into detail about what makes them such a great employee. List their job title, accomplishments and most recent contributions that you want to recognize.

6. Monetary employee recognition awards

Rewarding employees in a monetary way is another employee recognition tactic to consider.

Common monetary awards include:

Monetary employee recognition programs don’t have to be extravagant or cost a lot of money. A $10 gift card to a coffee shop can be a nice perk for an employee who does a great job.

7. Employee of the month

An employee of the month program is a classic employee recognition award that works when implemented strategically. Consider having peers or managers vote for the employee, and have each person explain why they’re voting for a particular person. Personalize the reward for each employee and be specific when discussing why the employee is being recognized.

Tips for implementing employee recognition programs

There are many ways to recognize your employees in the workplace. Here are some tips for you to consider:

Make recognition part of your company culture

Once a company embraces a culture that rewards employees for quality work, it’s easier to establish a foundation for creating an employee recognition program.

Make it a habit

Make employee recognition a regular part of your management style as opposed to a one-time event. The more you recognize your employees, the more likely they are to feel appreciated. Try to recognize employees on a weekly basis if possible or a monthly basis at a minimum. The recognition can be something small, like thanking them for their work on a certain project or helping a team member with a challenge.

Provide recognition at random intervals

Recognition that is unexpected can sometimes be more meaningful for employees. Consider giving compliments, praise and thanks at random times or at other unexpected moments — unrelated to any event or organized recognition. This shows that it’s truly genuine and authentic because it’s not related to a quarterly award or regularly scheduled company event.

Be specific and personal

Rather than simply saying “good job,” be specific about what the employee did to earn recognition. Explain the impact they made on their team and the company. Give measurable results if you can to give it more meaning. For example, send an appreciation letter that describes specifically what you appreciate about the employee, noting any special skills they have or progress they’ve made during their career.

Give equal opportunities

Because employee recognition is often given publicly to boost morale, it’s especially important to use a recognition strategy that is available to all employees. Be clear and specific about the requirements needed to receive them.Your goal should be attainable, and each member of your team should have a fair chance to earn the reward.

*Indeed survey, n=438

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Employee recognition FAQs

Should employers reward employees in the same way or do something different for each employee that receives recognition?

To make employees feel valued, take the time to get to know them and the quality of their work. You can increase the impact you have on an employee by recognizing their individual efforts and contributions with personal and individual appreciation.

What should an employer do about employees who feel left out of an employee recognition program?

Someone in your company may feel upset or left out when others are being recognized. When an employee feels left out, reassure them not to take it personally and find ways to praise them for the work they do. Offer a compliment or positive feedback for their work. You may also consider making changes to your employee recognition program to recognize everyone for their efforts rather than a single employee. 

What are the elements of a successful recognition program?

An effective employee recognition program should praise behaviors that are aligned with the goals and objectives of your company and create an experience that encourages employees to increase productivity and stay at your company. It should also be fair and valuable to employees. 

When should an employer recognize an employee privately as opposed to offering public recognition?

The answer to this question comes down to knowing your employees and their preferences for recognition. While some employees may prefer and appreciate public recognition, others may want to avoid being the center of attention so it’s best to provide recognition privately.

How effective are employee recognition programs?

The effectiveness of each employee retention program depends on how specific, measurable and timely each reward is to employees. Before implementing a recognition program, survey your employees on their preferences and research how to use rewards successfully.

When do I give employee recognition?

Recognition should ideally be given soon after an employee does something praiseworthy in order to show that you’re paying attention to their successes and noticing excellent work.

What are additional examples of employee recognition awards?

The following are additional employee recognition examples:

  • Event tickets
  • Preferred parking
  • Raises
  • Promotions
  • Meals
  • Character awards
  • Department MVP awards

What’s the most important part of an employee recognition program?

While there are several aspects that are important, getting the leaders at your company on board with an employee recognition program can ensure its success. This means showing your leaders the importance of the program and encouraging them to actively participate on a regular basis.

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*Indeed provides this information as a courtesy to users of this site. Please note that we are not your career or legal advisor, and none of the information provided herein guarantees a job offer.