5 Effective Employee Recognition Strategies

Manager congratulating an employee
Alex Mikaelian
March 27 2023

One of the most effective steps in creating a healthy work culture and improving employee engagement is to recognize good work and create a reward system to go with it. There are several advantages to recognition and reward strategies for companies. It improves employee engagement, motivates professional growth, and introduces a fun, friendly competition that increases work efficiency.

HR departments use a variety of employee recognition strategies to identify, highlight, and reward employees who not only pull their weight but go beyond their essential responsibilities and achieve great things at work. The following five strategies will help you understand how to recognize exceptional employees, reward them, and motivate them and their colleagues to achieve greater success at work.

1) Recognize Personal Achievements

A key aspect of recognizing exceptional work and appropriately rewarding these successes is to make this process personal. Smaller companies may find it easier to notice and recognize employee accomplishments. But in much larger companies, where hundreds or thousands of people are working and dozens have been recognized for their good work, personalizing rewards and recognition is challenging but necessary.

In the recognition phase, ask employees or their immediate managers about their biggest achievements and milestones and send them recognition messages accordingly. Perhaps one of the account executives closed a really expensive deal, or a programmer ironed out a bug that’s been wreaking havoc for months. Recognizing employees for their achievements helps them feel proud of their hard work and motivates them to work even harder with the prospect of being recognized for their exceptional effort.

2) Make Rewards Personal

The same personalization goes for rewards. Pick rewards that are employee-specific. For example, if you know an employee likes to ski, reward them with a new piece of skiing gear. If they like a particular author, buy them their newest book. This approach also works for remote workers, as you can send them a package containing personalized gifts anywhere on the planet. When it comes to gifts, it’s the thought that counts; however, some gifts are still more favorable than others.

A financial reward such as a bonus is always appreciated, but a personalized gift speaks volumes about the company’s appreciation of its employees. This extra step shows your employees that their contributions matter and are rewarded accordingly. It may take a little time to learn what each awardee is interested in receiving, so you’ll have to do a bit of snooping around. However, personalized rewards are much more satisfying to receive than generic gifts like mugs and stickers.

3) Use Recognition to Motivate

Even if your company offers plenty of bonuses, performs regular salary revisions, covers HSA expenses, and provides numerous other workplace benefits, there is still the need for additional motivation that incentivizes professional growth within the workplace. An advantage to employee recognition and reward is that it motivates others to work just as hard, if not for the reward, then for the recognition of their colleagues. In a way, recognizing outstanding performance in the workplace acts as a demonstration to others of what rewards they’ll receive if they work hard.

A great way to motivate employees to achieve more and be rewarded is by ensuring that everyone is aware of the recognition system. Whether during the employee onboarding process or an all-hands meeting, let employees know the ways in which you will reward their hard work. This method motivates employees to improve their performance and achieve greater goals.

4) Diversify Achievement Recognition

Companies that give out employee of the month awards often face the problem of having the same people qualify month after month. On paper, this phenomenon means there is an employee whose performance is consistently above company expectations, and they deserve to be rewarded for their professionalism and dedication.

However, this occurrence does have the negative effect of demotivating other employees who feel as though they have no chance of competing with their peers, especially newly hired workers who are just getting the hang of things. Overcome this challenge by diversifying the recognition system to include a variety of criteria for the award.

For example, divide the recognition system per department and team by including specific titles for the awardees, such as “sales representative with the highest sale in company history” or “customer success specialist with the best feedback from clients.” By diversifying the recognition of your employees’ work, you level out the playing field for all employees, giving everyone an opportunity to take the spotlight.

5) Don’t Forget about New Hires

Motivation is key to most learning theories. This fact is especially true with onboarding employees, who are tasked with learning a lot of new information but aren’t incentivized to hone their skills. Employee recognition is a great way to motivate new employees to not simply learn the ropes, but also to prioritize improving their professional skills as they adapt to the new work environment.

As we mentioned above, make sure that new employees are aware the company recognizes and rewards employees who put a lot of effort into their work. This method encourages them to pursue even greater achievements and milestones in their work right after completing the onboarding process.

To Finish Things Off

Recognizing good workers and rewarding them is the foundation of a healthy work environment. It creates a workplace where employees are incentivized to not only work their hardest but to also challenge themselves professionally and help their peers reach greater milestones in their careers.

A workplace shouldn’t be a static environment where employees come to do their work and leave. Ideally, every day that a person spends at work, they learn something new or improve their professional skills in some way. These employee recognition strategies are a great way to motivate them to do so and reward them for their hard work and determination to improve.

Alex Mikaelian 

Alex is a content and copywriter with a focus on digital marketing and the freelance lifestyle. With the rising popularity of freelancing, he enjoys sharing useful tips and healthy habits for remote workers.

Related articles

How to Write a Self-Performance Review (With Examples)

Self-assessments help you identify your own strengths and areas of improvement for a more effective performance management process. Here is everything you need to know to write the best self-review.

Read more
30 Employee Onboarding Statistics for 2024

We all know that employee onboarding programs are a crucial part of your HR strategy… right? Sometimes, you need numbers to realize how vital a strong onboarding process and a good employee experience are for your company culture.

Read more
5 Ways to Manage Employee Overtime Effectively

Having the right strategies and tools in place can help streamline your overtime management, keep your budget in check, and above all, increase workplace productivity and improve employees’ mental health.

Read more
Human Resources Today