Employees are the heart of any business; start-up, small, medium or enterprise businesses, but if they aren’t feeling appreciated or recognised frequently it often leads to broken culture and can negatively affect company performance.
Successful companies understand this.
Engaged employees are motivated. They bring positive energy to the office, and this results in them being more productive, performance-driven and collaborative with the teams within which they work. Further, all of these can result in higher levels of customer satisfaction that lead to higher levels of customer retention - and that’s good for business.
On the other side of the coin; disengaged employees impede the growth of a company. They drain all the positive energy from their colleagues and they merely pitch up for work to collect a salary cheque. They pass on their negative sentiment to your customers and their apathy could be driving the customer experience down.
So what can be done about all of this?
For many companies, employee engagement is often a soft, fluffy metric and is therefore not necessarily viewed as mission critical.
The fact is, that work is changing and the war for talent has gone nuclear. If you want to retain your customers, you need to retain your people.
Employee recognition can help you do this.
Fortunately, employee recognition doesn’t cost as much as you think. Boosting employee engagement can be as simple as starting a conversation - a recognition conversation that is. And yes, you guessed it, it all starts with a ‘thank you’ - the primary aspect to building a performance-driven culture.
We have rounded up 25 ways to give recognition to your employees (that they’ll actually love). These recognition ideas are easy to implement and can be carried out with little cost:
1. Implement a recognition program:
The benefits of having a recognition program for employees to recognise and be recognised cannot be overstated.
It helps to align employees to the company values; when employees see a colleague living out a company value through their daily tasks the employee can send recognition using a digital recognition platform, like bountiXP.
You can also level up the recognition and create some healthy employee competition by building in a Recognition Hall of Fame where the top three most recognised employees receive even more rewards each quarter.
2. Choose teams for a show-and-tell to business leadership:
Employees want to feel that their ideas are being heard and that their opinions really do count for something.
You could randomly select teams to showcase their ideas and project efforts to senior management and broader business leaders - almost like a Shark Tank styled presentation.
It also gives management and leaders the opportunity to understand the level of innovation occurring within the company and can help them identify future leaders to fast track.
For the employees, it builds their engagement levels as they feel that their ideas are recognised and are helping the company in achieving its goals.
3. Step up the office coffee game:
Employees drink a lot of coffee. But not everyone can afford to buy an expensive, gourmet coffee very often.
You could invest in a high-end coffee machine but only make it available to individuals and/or teams who have been recognised the most for a specific week.
Employees will feel appreciated that their employer cares about them enough to make an important invest like coffee, but it also lends itself to a feeling of exclusivity for that period.
4. Appreciate them with cards:
While we live in a digital world, there’s just something truly special about sending and receiving appreciation cards.
You could hand out up to three cards per team member at the start of every week. Each card could have a value attached to it and can be redeemed with the employee's immediate manager for a coffee or sandwich voucher.
There's a twist to this one...
The only rule is that the employees have to give away all their cards to their colleagues to promote a recognition culture amongst your teams.
5. Offer pay-day surprises:
If employees go above and beyond standard performance, why not include a ‘pay-day bonus’ in the form of a gift card or voucher with their salary slip. The key is not to alert the employee to anything as this adds to the surprise and delight element of recognition.
6. Be flexible in office hours:
Giving your employees the much-needed time to balance their work and personal lives can be very motivating for them.
Consider giving your employees flexible hours as a way to motivate them to become even more engaged at work. Alleviating some of life’s pressures for them may see them go the extra mile for you.
7. Get your employees to vote for their favourite rewards:
Your employees are probably the best people to ask when it comes to ascertaining how they want to be rewarded. Get them to come up with ideas for rewarding their fellow colleagues. You can encourage their participation by adding a reward for the top three most creative ideas.
8. Send thank you notes to employees who worked long hours:
If your employees have put in the hard slog of working long hours above the call of duty, thank them. Send a thank you note to their home addresses.
This acknowledges their efforts and helps them to understand that you appreciate the fact that they have spent time away from home to meet a work deadline. We have even taken the time to craft 32 really nifty messages for you, take a look here.
9. Recognise employees’ personal achievements:
Recognise your employees’ personal achievements in the next newsletter, team meeting or quarterly staff meeting. Employees are people and people have lives outside of the office. Celebrate them for completing a marathon, participating in a charity drive, or achieving a personal goal.
10. Give employees an extra hour for lunch:
Few things say, ‘we value you’ than getting an extra hour for lunch. If employees have performed well for a specific task or project give them some extra noshing time.
11. Make sure it’s personal:
The workplace is a busy one and while it can be the normal state of things to have Human Resources send out a ‘congratulations on your work anniversary’ email, sometimes it’s better to make it personal.
Personalise the experience by hand delivering recognition gifts or sending out an email from the CEO or direct manager.
12. Recognise your employees with training opportunities:
Empowering your employees to new levels of purpose is a great way to show them that you recognise their value to the company.
One way to do this is by highlighting your employees as a subject matter expert when designing training within your company.
This affords you an opportunity to recognise your employees’ valuable strengths and also helps to entrench a culture of internal development amongst colleagues.
13. Show them you care about their charity causes:
Charity projects are very personal. Imagine recognising employees for a great job by supporting their favourite charity with a donation in their name. Not only will they feel really appreciated but they would get recognition from the charity as well. Create a repository of charity names by asking employees via email to name their favourite charity.
14. Get social about recognition:
It’s the digital era and social media is the epicentre.
Your employees spend a lot of time on social media platforms so why not give them recognition for all their friends, followers and family members to see?
Perhaps highlight an employee of the day or week on the company’s social media pages. This helps employees feel valued but it also strengthens their personal brands that build their self-confidence.
15. Time to get creative about the way you recognise:
If an employee has done fantastic work, make a point of finding out what his/her personal interests are.
If they’re into origami, for example, buy them a book related to that craft with a handwritten note that relates to that interest e.g. “You’ve never folded in tough times, that’s why we value you.”
16. Make it a group date in:
If specific teams have really pushed through some difficult projects and have really delivered exceptional performances, a group date may be a good way to recognise individual and collective efforts.
If your office has the space or facilities why not dress up an area for a mini golf or bowling team event. This gesture shows that the company recognises their extra efforts as a team.
17. Use your company website to recognise employees:
Your company’s website attracts hundreds if not thousands of visitors - it’s prime marketing real estate.
So, if recognising your employees is important as retaining your employees, why not carve out a front-and-centre section dedicated to stories about the valuable contributions your employees make to the company every day?
18. Recognise employees who help others:
Teamwork and collaboration are important to building a great company culture.
A great way to encourage teamwork is to add significant value to it. Create an award, for example, the “CoLab” award, that recognises employees who display next-level teamwork and collaboration. Each month the chosen employee gets featured in the company blog and is bestowed with a creative token - e.g. a golden banana.
19. Don’t keep the praise to yourself:
When employees do a good job and you hear about it then share it. Do so in an email and copy the relevant managers into it.
This is a powerful way to send surprise recognition to employees. It also works as a great way to recognise introverted personality types.
20. Call employees into your office for recognition:
Sometimes all you need to make an employee feel appreciated is to call him/her into your office and say ‘thanks’ for a job well done. The gesture is very sincere and your employees will feel pleased that their contributions didn’t go unnoticed.
21. Make recognition public:
Recognition is super powerful when it is public.
Tap into the potential of your company newsletter by creating a special “recognition page” in it. Employees will be scurrying to see who received recognition for that particular month and the reason for it.
This can be sent in by colleagues or management and can be an addition to your other daily social recognition efforts.
22. Email is your friend:
While most of us have come to know emails as digital faxes, emails can be used to quickly pop employees an email to say thanks. You can dole this out as often as you like. Not only will employees feel valued they’ll start to understand which behaviours the company values.
23. Show employees that you care about their career growth:
Expressing an interest in your employees’ career growth and professional development speaks volumes about how much you value them.
You don’t have to fund their educational pursuits but recognising their efforts to grow it and offering some knowledge repositories in the company library or advising them on specific books to read will be appreciated.
24. Surprise employees with an unexpected office leisure hour:
If you’ve heard about employees who have done amazing work, surprise them with an unexpected leisure hour. Play some tunes, get some ice-cream or coffee and watch as they revel in the recognition bestowed upon them.
25. Give employees a choice to work cross-functionally:
These days individuals and teams alike work cross-functionally.
If your business model allows for this, why not ask employees in which part of the company they would like to do temporary assignments. This way you can engage them with something out of their normal scope of work, but also gauge where they potentially see themselves.
Who knows you may just find some hidden talent hidden away in another department...
There are many frugal ways to give recognition to employees so there’s no reason for your employees to not feel appreciated. With the right ideas and application, companies can recognise employee performance and foster productive, motivated and engaged workplaces.
Frequent recognition makes employees feel valued and this leads to better teamwork, more innovation and happier customers.
Remember recognition should be frequent, public and aligned to company values and goals. So, how do you recognise your employees?