Employee recognition is the not-so-crazy notion that employees perform best when they feel their work is valued. The business owner then gets more return on their investment, so this is a win-win situation for everyone and a great way to compete in the job market.
Many businesses get employee recognition wrong. Many do not attempt to recognize employees at all besides their paychecks and, maybe, some benefits. Others rely on old standbys like employee of the month plaques hung on the wall.
It is all too common for companies to make the mistake of thinking employees are most motivated by money. This causes two problems: making the employer feel less motivated to recognize the employee because they have their current salary expenses glaring in their minds as well as potentially wasting their employee recognition investment by throwing money at employees when they might be better motivated by something else. Money is important, but employees most want to feel valued.
You can foster this sense of value in many ways from doling out cash, to handing out praise, to giving them more responsibility, to encouraging them to grow, to making it easier for them balance their work and the rest of their lives. Let’s take a deeper dive. If you’re searching for free online recruiting software, then know that Recruiteze can’t be beat. Click here for a free trial.
34 Creative Ways to Recognize Employees
Giving Out Praise
Simone Weil pointed out, “Attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity.”
It’s powerful, sincere, and a low to no cost way to motivate your employees.
Certificates of achievement highlight the employee’s personal growth. Inspire them!
#2. Points reward system
Senior Human Resource Specialist, Amy Marcum, suggests, “Develop a points system for a reward program. This provides a perfect platform for ongoing recognition. Employees receive points every time they go above and beyond. After accumulating a certain amount, employees can redeem their points for gifts,” Time off would also a good redemption benefit.
#3. Immortalize their creation
If an employee is influential in creating or building a new product, service, or technique, name it after them.
#4. Shout it out online
Publicize your employee praise on your website and social media. Not only will this give employees a jolt in their self-esteem, but it will give you the added benefit of demonstrating your company culture to potential new employees. Employee recognition+branding!
#5. Encourage peer recognition
This is both a uniquely meaningful form of praise for staff and a way for employees to be noticed for things that management may not see.
#6. Have a bulletin board for peer recognition
Give employees a permanent space to spontaneously recognize a peer.
#7. Give a peer and management signed t-shirt
Single out an employee each month who has received a particularly noticeable amount of praise and give them a t-shirt signed by all. This is a great tangible way for them to always know they are/were appreciated.
#8. Create a points program based on peer praise or both peer and management praise
Those with the most points in a given period might receive prizes or time off.
#9. Have multiple awards
Give newcomer awards for those who have been recognized for the first time and ones for repeat award winners.
Work is stressful, and stress reduces productivity. Build some strategies into your corporate culture to lessen the pressure and it will make a world of difference to your employees and your ability to reach company goals.
#10. Greet employees well
Waking up in the morning, commuting, and starting a pressured work period are not so much fun. Set your employees off on the right track with a welcoming area filled with quick and easy food and beverages. This could give employees a little something extra to look forward to in their day and make up for missed breakfasts in hurried commutes.
#11. Bring in a masseuse
Periodically, when a particularly stressful time is happening on the job, or when an employee or two is troubled, hire a masseuse. It’s hard to be productive when you’re in pain or tense.
#12. Delight them with animals
Puppies, kittens, bunnies, and other animals make excellent stress relievers. There are services where people bring animals into schools and workplaces for reducing stress. Consider using them.
#13. Replace office equipment
Another contributor to workplace stress and productivity reduction is old, lagging, and buggy office equipment. Pay attention in offices and retail establishments and notice how often employees complain, sometimes becoming openly threadbare, because a machine isn’t doing what it should. It makes their tasks take exponentially longer and causes them unnecessary stress that distracts them.
If you don’t do anything else for your employees, address the office equipment and issues that cause them discomfort. Pats on the back don’t mean much when you’re grimacing.
#14. Make the work environment comfortable
A main contributor to employee productivity reduction is, sadly, discomfort. They can’t hear to do their job effectively because there are too many people talking around them. The room is too cold or too hot. Their seats are uncomfortable. The hard floor is causing them leg and foot problems.
Invest in a one-time flooring replacement to carpet, switch out the chairs, supply them with headphones or provide spaces with fewer people working in one room. Get new desks or add on desk converters so employees can alternate between standing and sitting during the day.
Encouraging Them to Grow and Be Healthy
Companies have long bragged on giving employees room for advancement with mixed amounts of realism. They offer this because the kind of motivated, invested, innovative, and goal-reaching employees you want also want to better themselves. This is good for you and them. In today’s businesses, it becomes ever more popular to foster personal growth from within the company. Give them opportunities to learn, to better themselves, and get involved in the company.
Steve Jobs highlighted the importance of employee involvement and giving them free rein when he said, “It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and tell them what to do; we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.”
#15. Cross-train employees
Employees like being able to do different things; it breaks up the monotony. It also makes them feel like they can do more for the company. If you have the opportunity to train an employee to do more jobs for your company, take it.
#16. Give them a company library
Collect videos, reading material, and audio books on topics your employees might enjoy. Allowing them to train themselves further in the job and learn skills they may be interested in for their future can provide numerous benefits.
#17. Pay for their education
If an employee wants to get training or certification regarding their tasks for company, pay for it, or at least contribute. You might also pay or contribute to them going back to school for training involving your company.
#18. Let them choose
Give employees an opportunity to select an assignment, project, or task for the day. They can pick one they can get more excited about and have an easy opportunity to save themselves some stress if they want to avoid certain tasks during a stressful time or particularly triggering situations. For instance, if you have a great employee who just went through an ordeal, they might appreciate being able to select a lower stress task or one that avoids a lot of social interaction without having to make a special case out of asking for it. Or maybe this great employee does everything well except for tasks that involve certain people or situations.
#19. Encourage suggestions
Suggestion boxes, questions at company meetings, and surveys and questionnaires give employees an opportunity to voice their opinions and contribute innovatively to the company. Employees will feel more motivated on the job if they feel their ideas are valued. Of course, you can’t accept all the suggestions, but do make sure employees know that they are read and considered. If a suggestion is rejected briefly explain to them why it won’t work. You might save yourself and the employee some time if you incorporate an explanation when you ask for their input, telling them about limitations or possible reasons for rejection.
#20. Let them indulge
If you can, give them a certain allotted time that they can work on a project that is their own special baby. Maybe they want to try working with a new type of client, writing about a particular topic or in a different style, or inventing a new dish. Encouraging this kind of activity sparks their innovative processes which is excellent for expanding your company.
#21. Let them give
Sponsor a group volunteering activity and let the staff go together to select where to volunteer.
#22. Pay for an experience
Instead of, or as part of, a paid vacation, pay for them to do something unusual. You might buy them tickets to a concert or sports event or pay for them to go whitewater rafting or skydiving.
#23. Acknowledge employees’ personal achievements
Offer them praise, give a gift, or maybe throw a party if they get a good grade in or graduate from college, reach a fitness goal, overcome an addiction, etc.
#24. Invest in standing desks
Mentioned above, but it deserves to be mentioned again. Desks that can be converted from seating to standing are healthier, more comfortable, and improve productivity. You could purchase new desks or get extensions for current desks.
#25. Stock healthy snacks
You probably have a break room stocked with food and beverages. Make sure to offer healthy options like fruit, nuts, snack mixes, sandwich ingredients, etc.
Fostering a Healthy Life/Work Balance
Your employees have lives outside of work and the health of this life corresponds to their productivity in your business. Don’t just throw a paycheck at them and expect them to sort out the rest. Plan part of your company culture to make it easy for the employee to do their job.
If possible, offer someone work from home days. You might do this as a reward for good work, because something is going on in the person’s life that would be eased by a brief work from home period, or just because it’s a nice thing to do sometimes.
#27. Acknowledge anniversaries and life events
Remember employees’ birthdays and work anniversaries and acknowledge pregnancies, births, marriages, and loss of loved ones.
#28. Include the family
When you plan rewards, include the family. Give a dinner out for the whole family. Send flowers to the wife. Pay for tickets for the family. They are supporting your employee and sometimes sacrificing for the employee’s job. Show that you appreciate it.
#29. Offer flexible schedule options
Employees appreciate flexible hours. It can even make or break some candidates’ decision to take a job. If possible, try to give employees a way to easily request a certain day off or gain permission to shave an hour off a particular workday.
#30. Accumulate time off
One way to do the flexible schedule thing is to let employees earn time off through recognition programs. They could redeem this time off whenever needed for an emergency or mental health day without making a big deal about it.
#31. Reward employees with paid commutes
You might reward employees with a period of reimbursement or paid-for commute expenses. Pay for their gas or buy them passes to compensate them for the money they must spend to get to your job.
#32. Compensate the family for being put out
When an employee is asked to come into work on a scheduled day off or to work extra hours, it might negatively impact their family. They might need a ride for an appointment or to go to work themselves and have difficulty arranging these things at the last minute. You could pay for a taxi or their commute to make up for their inconvenience.
#33. Clean their home
As a reward for a job well done, you might pay for a good cleaning of their home so they have less work to do at home.
#34. Optimize hours
Does business slack off during the summer or just after Christmas? Maybe you could shave a little time off the work day too. Less time might not be the answer, but different hours. In your town, there may be an event that affects how things run in the whole town, you might open or close at different hours while that is going on, or do the same during the summer or during daylight saving time fall back periods so people don’t have to arrive before sunrise.
Some methods of employee recognition suit pretty much all employees while some do not. You might play around with having some “for everyone” rewards and some that you mix and match to best reward employees with different personalities.
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Sources of inspiration for many of these tips:
13 simple ways to recognize employees without spending money
52 epic ways to reward employees
Ways to reward employees
25 staff appreciation ideas that won’t break the bank
Employee recognition ideas
101 ways to reward employees without giving cash
Here is a new article by Laura Handrick of fitsmallbusiness which we came across, that shows you another 25 creative ways to recognize employees.