35 Awesome Employee Recognition Ideas You Need to Try

motivated employees high five

In today’s workplace, employee reward programs are no longer just nice to have – they’re critical. To keep your staff happy and appreciated, they need to be rewarded. Especially if their friend that works in a shiny new office gets company perks and they aren’t even being praised for their good work.

A World at Work survey found that 88% of organisations have employee recognition programs in place, but less than a quarter of businesses believe their employees are engaged in their work. Only 1 in 4 workers feel valued at work, meaning that many current recognition programs simply aren’t working. This could be because large enterprises aren’t taking the time to get to know their staff and invest in them individually.

We’ve listed the top 35 tried and tested tips to reward your employees:

1. Keep a Good Book

You can have a “G Book” for each team and encourage teammates to write down other’s accomplishments throughout the week. In your bi-weekly meetings, you can read out the good feedback that may have gone unnoticed. It will help employees praise each other and will also reinforce a positive environment.

2. Catered Lunch or Breakfast

People go crazy for free food; if it’s in your budget host a day a week where you offer catered breakfast or lunch. Your staff will look forward to this day and will want to come to work just for the grub.

3. Personalised Recognition

There’s nothing more heart warming than receiving a personal “thank-you” from your manager for your performance. If an employee has done a great job, call them into your office and thank them for it.

4. Go the Extra Mile Program

When an employee witnesses another going the extra mile, they can nominate them for a GEM certificate. The program is simple but gives staffers recognition they can hold in their hands, which can make them feel truly appreciated. They can leave it on their desk and look at it for inspiration when they are feeling demotivated.

5. Social Media Shout Out

Publically recognising your staff for an achievement can do wonders. If they worked overtime to finish a last-minute project praise them on Twitter or Facebook, so their work doesn’t go unnoticed.

6. Game It Up

An alternative is creating a game in the office. Each time an employee goes the extra mile, give them a badge. They can then trade their badges in to get a prize which can be kept secret, or known so the employees can work towards a goal.

7. Recognise Their Passions

Another idea involves recognising an employees core desire. Whether it’s related to work or not, allow them 2 hours per week to work on a project they are passionate about. This will let them know you value them as an individual.

8. Website Acknowledgment

Got a company website? Have a column where you can post about the employee of the week – with a short description of what they have accomplished. They will feel proud and will definitely be bragging amongst their friends and family which will show your company in a good light.

9. Personal Caricatures When They Hit the Year Mark

When your employees reach the year mark, do something fun like having a caricature drawn of them. It’s something out of the ordinary and who doesn’t like a good exaggerated drawing anyway?

10. Recognise Personal Goals

Are most of your employees interested in a healthy lifestyle? If so, sponsor a marathon and provide a training program to help them succeed.

11. Company Shout Out

Got a monthly newsletter amongst the different offices? If so, create a shout out section where you can highlight good feedback, make sure you add a picture of the employee next to the praise – it will give it that personal touch.

12. Suggestion Box

Keep it old school with a suggestion box; if your employees see a colleague do something good, drop a comment in the box. At the next company meeting you can compliment them with a small token of appreciation.

13. Immediate Praise

If you see a member of staff coming up with suggestions or going the extra mile, remember to praise them then and there. Other colleagues will hear and will also aspire to do more to receive credit too.

14. Employee of the Month Clock

If you have a small office, you can create a clock on the wall with pictures of your staff members. Each month, when an employee meets all your core values, you can change the big hand towards the successful worker.

15. Lunch Drawing

Have a peer-to-peer recognition program in place and encourage employees to recognise their colleagues and place their name in a bowl. At the end of the week, pull two names of the bowl and let the chosen employees enjoy a meal on the company.

16. Birthday Celebration

Nobody wants to spend their birthday in the office, so be a good boss and give your team members a day off. They will be so grateful and will come back to the office feeling happy and energised.

17. Off-Site Days

If you can see there’s a general slump in the office, organise a day where employees can work from a café or a function room at a hotel and treat them to a coffee. You’ll be surprised what a change of scenery can do to spike creativity.

18. Say Thank You with a Sticky Note

You could always leave a hand-written sticky note on your employee’s desk to show your appreciation.

19. Surprise Treats

After an employee has left for the day, stick a treat in their desk drawer. They’ll be able to start their day off on the right foot after they’ve found their tasty surprise.

20. Recognition Days

Forget a meeting; arrange a whole day with team-building games to recognise your employees and their hard work. Having training days really boosts morale, and is a great incentive so teams can return to work with a new game-face on.

21. Wall of Fame

Snap photos of your employee’s and celebrate their contributions by creating a collage showcasing their hard work.

22. Company Tee

If you’ve got some cool company attire, reward your staff with a funky tee or jumper. Likewise, gadgets always go down a treat. You can have a portable speaker or headphones made with the company logo.

23. Send a Card

Rather than patting an employee on the back or giving them a high-five send a hand-written card to their home address. It will show that you really care having gone through the thoughtful effort of purchasing, writing and posting a card.

24. Commute Help

Transport is one of the deal-breakers when taking a new job. Employees normally worry about the cost of getting to work, as well as parking. Creating a commuting scheme will really help in reducing staff turnover and keeping your employees happy.

25. Reward the Whole Team

Rewarding a whole team, rather than an individual can be much more effective. If one team has reached their target before the rest, allocate a budget so they can arrange an activity of their choosing, like go-karting or bowling.

26. Flexible Working Programs

Giving employees a chance to rest and relax with flexible working could be a great way to improve the work/life balance that professionals so desperately crave. You will also see a reduction in sick leave as employees will generally feel more rested.

27. Pet Days

As long as no one is allergic, have a pet day where employees can bring their well-behaved dogs or cats with them for the day.

28. Work from Home Days

Who doesn’t love a day working from home with PJs and a brew in hand? Allowing working from home days once a month can encourage employees to work harder as they won’t be stressing with the routine of getting to work.

29. Casual Tuesdays

Forget casual Friday. Declare a casual Monday or Tuesday to help your staff feel relaxed during the week.

30. Mug Full of Treats

Have any company-branded coffee cups lying around? Stuff one full of little snacks and sweets and leave it on an employee’s desk with a small thank-you card after a successful day/week or month.

31. Ice-Cream Day

Are your staff-members feeling hot and bothered from the scorching sun? Arrange for an ice-cream van to park outside your office for an hour allowing staff to treat themselves to a cooling ice-cream or lolly.

32. Happy Hours

Every quarter arrange a happy hour where teams can go to a pub and have a few beverages on behalf of the company.

33. Surprise Bonus

The excitement of finding an extra 50 pounds in your pay slip at the end of the month is out of this world. If it’s in the budget arrange a surprise around Christmas to give a little back to your staff.

34. Sports Day

A sports day is an excellent way to build new relationships with other colleagues that staff wouldn’t usually interact with. By mixing departments at an event, employees can have an enjoyable day socialising with new people and building new bonds.

35. End of Year Bash

After a long year, go out with a bang with an amazing party to celebrate the company’s achievements! It will be talked about until the next one – promise!

Recognition is a key success factor even and can boost the development of business in the future. If you invest in your employees, they will invest even more into the company. Some of these ideas may seem relatively insignificant, but it’s always the small things that make the biggest differences.

How does your company recognise the team’s efforts and good character? Let us know in the comments below.