Employee Recognition in the Workplace

Years ago, the salary was a key driver for employees in their roles. However, workplace norms and perceptions have significantly changed, and employees value being valued. Besides having an outstanding work-life balance, employees want to be recognized for their work, milestones, achievements, performance, etc. Employee recognition is one-way an employer shows they value their employees and keeps them motivated. 

According to a survey conducted by SurveyMonkey and Bonusly, 63% of employees who feel recognised are unlikely to look for a new job. Additionally, a report by Harvard Business Review showed that 72% of businesses agree that recognition impacts employee engagement positively. In today’s competitive work environment, employee recognition is crucial. 

This is the ideal post if you’re a business owner, employer, or manager who needs to understand employee recognition. It discusses how to show recognition, types of recognition, and why employee recognition is vital in the workplace. 

What are the four types of recognition for employees? 

Below are four major types of employee recognition often applied by companies and organisations: 

1. Formal recognition 

Formal recognition is an organised program that entails specific processes of recognising employees based on your company’s culture. Often, formal recognition is something a company has been doing for a while: it’s like the foundation of a company’s recognition program. Also, formal recognition is governed by specific rules and clear objectives; therefore, employees know what is expected of them to earn an award. 

It includes programs like performance reviews, anniversary celebrations, bonuses, and raises. 

2. Informal recognition 

Unlike formal recognition, informal recognition is unplanned or unstructured. Everything is within the discretion of your organisation’s employees. Often, informal recognition emphasises behaviour or achievement worthy of mention. 

In brief, companies use informal recognition to show employees that they value and appreciate their work. 

Examples of informal recognition include a thank you message, a shout-out, and rewards points on a company’s recognition platform. 

3. Social recognition 

Social recognition is the act of acknowledgement and empowerment for great work employees. Social recognition allows anyone in a company or organisation to show appreciation, share experiences and extend congratulations. It’s often referred to as peer-to-peer recognition. 

Social recognition strengthens employer-employee relationships, creates a gratitude culture, and supports diversity and inclusion.  

4. Monetary recognition 

As the name suggests, monetary recognition relates to financial rewards to employees for exceptional performance at work. It entails using traditional incentives such as offering employees cash awards, stock options, paid time off, profit-sharing plans, bonuses, raises, etc. 

In a modern work environment, most companies have a point-based reward system whereby employees with points can spend them on rewards that suit them. This approach enhances a personalised reward for employees. 

How Do You Show Recognition in the Workplace?

There are many exciting and creative ways you can use to recognise your employees in the workplace, as outlined below: 

1. Offer professional or personal development opportunities 

One way to show employee recognition is by offering them opportunities to help them advance their professional skills or explore their abilities and qualities. It may entail sponsoring employees for courses and seminars. Consequently, an employee will feel valued. 

2. Make gift cards part of your employee recognition program

Gift cards also make employees feel valued and appreciated. More importantly, tangible rewards have proven to be effective. A study showed that 44.07% of employees agreed that gift cards are the “best rewards,” while 27.12% agreed they are “good rewards” to receive.

Unlike cash rewards, a gift card allows employees to create an experience. 

3. Encourage social media recognition

Social media is a powerful tool, and recognising employees on social media is excellent. It makes employees feel great and helps them establish their brands. Consequently, recognising employees on social media may instil more confidence in your customers. 

Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook are some of the best social media platforms to recognise employees. 

4. Give shout-outs 

Employees appreciate hearing they did an exceptional job from their boss, manager, team leader, etc. Giving shout-outs is a form of acknowledgement that inspires and motivates people. 

An effective way to give shout-outs is through meeting announcements, email blasts, social media posts, etc.

Shout-outs may also be given for employees’ birthdays and work anniversaries. 

5. Throw a competition, team-building, or party event 

Another excellent way to celebrate the achievements of your employees is by planning an event that breaks the norm. Such events also allow employees to interact with other members and show their hidden talents. 

6. Embrace peer-to-peer recognition 

Peer-to-peer recognition is an impactful way of appreciating employees in an organisation. Encourage everyone in your organisation or team to recognise one another. It may entail nominating a peer to be an employee of the week, signing a card, or giving handwritten notes. 

7. Give employee bonuses 

Giving employees bonuses at that particular instance where they have made a valuable contribution or accomplishment is also good. It shows that you value whatever they do. Additionally, it may boost productivity. 

8. Allow employees to express their views and listen

Some employees don’t want monetary recognitions, awards, verbal appraisals, or gift cards. They want you to listen to them and take effective action. Listen to their ideas, suggested solutions, or contributions. That’s how they feel valued and appreciated. 

However, this approach requires standardised guidelines and a vetting process. 

9. Just a simple “Thank you.”

To some employees, simple gestures are powerful. Letting them know you acknowledge their great job makes them feel good and motivated. 

According to a survey, 75% of employees agreed that if a manager noticed good work and said “thank you,” their morale and motivation were likely to improve. 

Why is employee recognition important in the workplace? 

A culture within your company/organisation that embraces employee recognition is vital to your employees and business. Below are the main benefits of employee recognition: 

1. Builds a positive work environment 

Recognising employees brings about a positive atmosphere in the workplace. Employees feel good that someone values their work. It also makes them perceive a workplace as where they want to work. 

2. Enhances job satisfaction and employee happiness 

Employee recognition is an exceptional and effective means to improve job satisfaction (how happy employees are in their jobs and workplace). Besides, appreciation is rated as one of the top causes of job satisfaction

More importantly, recognition demonstrates to employees that they are a good fit for their role and the organisation. 

3. Improves employee retention 

Hiring your staff is one thing, and retaining them is another. Employee recognition is one incentive program you need to motivate your employees. As a result, they feel valued and appreciated; thus, you easily retain them. 

4. Cultivates a better culture 

When you instil the practice of employee recognition (formal, informal, or social recognition) in your business/organisation, it helps create a positive culture of appreciating one’s milestones, accomplishments, ideas, etc. 

Additionally, it encourages healthy competition among teams and individuals. 

5. Improved performance and productivity

Employee recognition boosts employees’ morale; thus, they’re more productive and perform better. 

A report (3rd Annual Engagement &Retention Report) showed that 90% of workers said recognition made them work harder. 

6. Alignment through the core values of your company

One significant and natural way to encourage your employees to commit to your company’s values and goals is by valuing their efforts and work through recognition. 

When should an employee be recognized?

Before we look into instances where employees should be recognised, let’s briefly explore how often this should happen. 

A study published a few years ago suggested that waiting more than a week to recognise an employee after an accomplishment is too long. It indicated that recognising employees as soon as they have an achievement is a great way to keep them engaged. A tremendous yet practical approach to employee recognition should be a real-time process. However, recognition of big projects should be monthly. 

Below are instances when employee recognition should be given: 

  1. When a team or individual has done an exceptional job on a project 
  2. When an employee or company has a birthday or anniversary 
  3. When an employee reaches a new level of professional or personal development. 
  4. When an employee or team has an excellent or viable idea or suggestion with the potential to solve a problem or enhance efficiency
  5. When there is teamwork and corporation 
  6. When an employee is promoted 

Final Thoughts 

An employee recognition program in your organisation or company is good but insufficient. It would be best to embrace authenticity in your recognition to get effective results. Authentic appreciation is a two-dimensional approach that communicates and embraces what is suitable for the company and what is good for employees. This approach allows employees to feel genuinely valued and appreciated. 


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