Employee Recognition Letters (With Template and 3 Samples)

High turnover and poor morale are a nightmare for any business. While there’s no single answer to these complex problems, you can help combat them with something as simple as an employee recognition letter. A letter of recognition is a great way to show your appreciation for an employee who’s exceeded their job expectations. By ensuring hard workers feel visible and appreciated, you help improve employee morale and retention.
 

Related: 7 Examples of Employee Recognition Programs to Try
 

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What is an employee recognition letter?

An employee recognition letter is a way for employers to thank and recognize their employees for their hard work or achievements. The goal is to express your appreciation for exceeding expectations and for all the effort they put into their jobs in order to motivate them to continue working hard. 
 

There are three types of employee recognition letters. They can be formal, semi-formal or informal. Informal letters are typically given to an employee by a coworker, while semi-formal letters are given by officers or team leads. Formal letters are given by higher-level positions such as managers on a monthly, weekly or yearly basis. Formal recognition letters should be more formal in terms of style and content, while informal letters carry less stringent requirements. While informal and semi-formal letters are important, employers don’t control them and can only encourage these sorts of letters. From your position, you should focus on how to write formal recognition letters.
 

Recognition letters aren’t restricted by form, and you can send them as emails, handwritten notes or typed letters. Handwritten notes have the most sentimental value, but that doesn’t mean a thank-you email can’t be a good way to show appreciation of an employee. Regardless of the format, though, the letter should recognize an employee for their hard work. The content of the email should be specific about what you’re praising them for, and the employee should receive it not long after the incident you’re expressing appreciation for.
 

Related: Employee Evaluation Form
 

Why are recognition letters important?

Recognition letters can inspire and encourage your employees. They let workers know you value them, that their dedication to their job and your company hasn’t gone unnoticed. A recognition letter serves as a morale boost that can positively affect an employee’s overall performance and loyalty to your company. Over time, recognizing your employees for their hard work may even begin to lower your turnover rate.
 

A recognition letter can also help foster a relationship between you and your employees. Even a formal letter of appreciation makes the work environment more personable and open to communication. One potential benefit could be that your employees feel more comfortable coming to talk to you about their needs or concerns. These are major issues in the workplace considering most American workers feel under-recognized. Studies have shown that under-recognition is a key factor in turnover, with as many as 44% of employees leaving positions in part because they don’t feel appreciated.
 

While recognition letters aren’t the end-all of boosting turnover, studies show that such gestures are important to most American workers.
 

Related: Top Coworker Quotes to Recognize Your Team
 

How to write an employee recognition letter

Follow these steps to write an effective employee recognition letter:
 

1. Determine the format you want to use

Before you start writing an employee recognition letter, decide which format you want to use. Depending on your company’s style and culture, you can choose to write an email, a typed letter or a handwritten note. 
 

2. Add contact information

In the upper left-hand corner, write the employee’s first and last name, their address, city, state, zip code, phone number and email. Below this, include the date of the letter and follow it with your own name, company name, company address, city, state and zip code.
 

3. Include a greeting and opening statement

Next, include a greeting such as “Dear,” followed by their first name. After this, open your letter with a sentence that details your reason for writing. This helps the addressee quickly understand why you wrote them a letter. Typically, you should begin by thanking them for their workplace contributions and efforts.
 

4. Write the body of the letter

Next, provide the employee with details about your gratitude and appreciation. Provide examples of the work they’ve done that you appreciate in particular. For instance, you might discuss a goal they achieved or assistance they offered other employees.
 

When you write an employee recognition letter, keep in mind that you’re reinforcing an employee’s behavior. This means they’ll be more inclined to repeat this action in the future since you’ve expressed your appreciation for it. Nonetheless, be mindful of the phrases you use and the tone you write in. As a manager or higher-up, it’s important to be supportive and appreciative while nonetheless remaining formal.
 

5. Conclude the letter

Conclude your letter with a closing statement reiterating your appreciation. If you plan to promote them or want to let them know you’re considering them for an advanced position, include that in the conclusion.
 

6. Sign off the letter

After the conclusion of your letter, include a sign-off such as “Sincerely,” followed by your name, signature and job title. This lets them know who wrote the letter and who’s praising their hard work.
 

7. Proofread your letter

Before sending your employee their recognition letter, read it through a few times and check for clarity as well as grammar and spelling errors. Make sure your letter accurately details your thanks and appreciation. As a final step, read the letter aloud to check for flow and see if the message sounds right. A clear, well-written letter delivers your message more effectively and shows greater sincerity and effort on your part.
 

Related: How to Motivate Your Employees
 

Tips for writing an employee recognition letter

When you write an employee recognition letter, there are five key elements to include:
 

  • Be genuine: The purpose of this letter is to thank employees for their hard work and motivate them to continue putting in that effort, so it should be sincere and honest. Make sure the praise you’re giving is true and that they’re not receiving praise for something they didn’t do.
  • Be specific: When you detail an employee’s contributions, it’s important to provide them with examples of what they’ve done well. This helps them understand what you’re praising in particular.
  • Consider the future: When you write an employee recognition letter, consider their future at your company. Express your excitement and, if applicable, mention a possible promotion.
  • Focus on their strengths: Be sure to mention an employee’s strengths when you write a recognition letter. This can be any positive attribute they display on a daily basis.
  • Be mindful of your tone: As an employer, it’s important to keep a formal tone to ensure professionalism. 

Employee recognition letter template

Here’s a template for an employee recognition letter you can customize to your needs:
 

[Employee’s first and last name]
[Employee’s address]
[City, state and zip code]
[Phone number]
[Email]

 

[Date]

 

[Your first and last name]
[Company name]
[Company address]
[City, state and zip code]

 

[Greeting]
 

[Opening statement with the reason for the letter]
 

[Body of the letter detailing your appreciation for the employee’s actions and hard work]
 

[If applicable, mention a possible promotion]
 

[Closing statement reiterating your gratitude]

 

[Sign off]
 

[Your first and last name]
[Your signature]
[Your job title]
 

Employee recognition letter example

Here is an example of an employee recognition letter from a manager:
 

Kellie Weber
123 Garden Street
San Luis Obispo, CA 55555
555-555-5555
kweber@fakemail.com

 

February 4, 2020

 

Joan Evans
Pastel Press
123 Willow Avenue
San Luis Obispo, CA 55555

 

Dear Kellie,
 

I wanted to thank you for your contribution to our company rebranding and the extra effort you put into your daily responsibilities to ensure a smooth transition.
 

Your creativity and willingness to learn continuously exceed my expectations. The value you’ve added to our company has helped us reach new levels of productivity and ingenuity. I also appreciate that you’ve stayed dedicated to your own tasks while assisting with the onboarding and training of new hires. This says a lot about your skills and generosity.
 

If you’re interested, I believe you’d be a strong candidate for the upcoming Senior Designer position at Pastel Press. My hope is that this promotion will allow you to expand your skills even further and continue to take our company to new heights.
 

Thank you again for your contributions and hard work.

 

Sincerely,
 

Joan Evans
Design Lead

 

Employee achievement letter example

Janice Markova
654 Fifth Street
Los Angeles, CA 55555
555-555-5555
jmarkova@fakemail.com

 

March 25, 2021

 

Larry Evans
Southwest Sales
961 Third Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 55555

 

Dear Janice,
 

I wanted to personally commend you for breaking sales targets in the last quarter.
 

From the start of your time with our company, you’ve always been an asset. Your ability to close deals and hit targets is among the best in the company, and you’re one of the most reliable people we count on. Your work has been indispensable to the company, and you’ve single-handedly helped us grow faster than we first projected.
 

Southwest Sales expects to soon have a new opening near San Diego that will entail a higher salary, your own territory and other benefits. We believe you’re the ideal candidate for this new position, should it interest you.
 

Once more, thank you for all the work you do with us.

 

Sincerely,
 

Larry Evans,
Sales Manager

 

New hire recognition letter example

Jan Winters
456 Olive Street
Sacramento, CA 44444
555-555-5555
jwinters@fakemail.com

 

February 11, 2021

 

Duncan Suttles
Flowers Press
123 Second Avenue
Sacramento, CA 44444

 

Dear Jan,
 

We’ve taken notice of your exemplary performance as a new hire and wished to recognize your success.
 

You’ve demonstrated great diligence and persistence and a knack for learning new things in your short time with us. The speed with which you’ve completed onboarding and the results you’ve achieved in so little time have impressed all of us. We have high hopes for you and suspect you’ll be a rising star in our company.
 

Thank you again for your contributions, and we hope to continue working alongside you for many years.

 

Sincerely,
 

Duncan Suttles
Chief Human Resources Officer
 

Recognition letter FAQs

Here are some frequently asked questions regarding recognition letters:
 

Who sends out recognition letters?

Employee recognition letters can be given by coworkers, managers, supervisors or other workplace leaders.
 

What are the main elements of an employee recognition letter?

Along with the proper contact information and salutations, an employee recognition letter should include the following:

  • Description of the behavior or hard work you’re encouraging
  • Appreciation for their hard work and contributions
  • A timely deliverance to ensure the letter is still relevant
  • The right tone depending on who is sending the letter 

When should you send a recognition letter?

Here are some occasions when you should write an employee recognition letter:
 

  • To thank an employee for putting in extra effort that aided the organization
  • To show your appreciation for an employee going out of their way to help a coworker
  • To thank an employee for volunteering to fill in for a coworker or come in on their day off
  • To recognize an employee’s many years of service in your company
  • To thank an employee for their contribution in a company-related activity, event or project
  • To show your gratitude for an employee’s outstanding sales performance
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