Let me state this up front: There is no proven recipe for a successful employee recognition program.
What works well for one organization is not guaranteed to work for another. What worked for you two years ago may not work in today’s workplace. The world is changing, the job market is changing, and employee expectations are naturally evolving, too.
So, what will it take to discover that secret sauce for your very own successful recognition program? We say it’s persistence, willingness to experiment, and a strong desire to succeed.
Just in time for 2022, we’ve curated a list of 22 ideas to help you revamp your recognition efforts for success in the new year. And as you go through the list searching for a perfect idea, here is a song to help get you in the right mood — Blondie’s “One Way or Another”:
One way, or another, I’m gonna find ya
I’m gonna get ya, get ya, get ya, get ya
One way, or another, I’m gonna win ya…
3 recognition ideas for encouraging happiness
1. Celebrate your team with end-of-year awards. This celebration could be company-wide, divisional, or at a team level, depending on your company size. It requires some creativity and really knowing your employees, but it’s well worth the effort. Who is best at meeting tight deadlines? They would be the “On the Dot” award winner. Whose positive energy is contagious? The “Mr. or Ms. Sunshine” award winner. Who else is on your list?
2. Start a Traveling Trophy program. Select a fun trophy or stuffed animal that you can pass around the office. In remote environments, this could become a special virtual background. Don’t shy away from something that will make your people smile. Consider introducing a “Top Banana” or a “Unicorn of the Week” award. Give it to an employee who performed better than expected and let them keep it on their desk for a week, or use it as their virtual background during the next team meeting.
3. Recognize your top-recognizers. Put your employee’s name in a hat, real or virtual, every time they recognize a co-worker. At the end of the week or month, draw a few names from the hat and let those employees enjoy a meal on the company.
4 recognition ideas for attracting talent
4. Go social! Qualified candidates leverage social media when researching job offerings, and this creates excellent opportunities for employers. Celebrate your employees on corporate social media channels — post photos of captured moments of public recognition and share statistics associated with your rewards and recognition program. Use relevant hashtags such as #recognitionawards and #employeeappreciation.
5. Focus on learning and growth. Does your recognition program include educational opportunities for your employees, such as conference attendance, training, and coaching? Learning and development are essential to attracting top talent and it is important to emphasize that your organization prioritizes employee growth.
6. Add each employee to your “About Us” page. Who made the rule that only the leadership team can be featured on the company website? Recognize every single member of your workforce instead. Show your potential employees that you’re proud of the people on your team and provide an opportunity to see who they’ll be working with.
7. It’s never too early to recognize. Have you ever considered sending a personalized gift to a star candidate as part of their job offer? This initiative can make your offer a special moment that will not only delight your new hires, but will also entice them to spread the word.
5 recognition ideas for team building
8. Celebrate everyday wins! Starting every team meeting with recent wins is a great way to make recognition part of your business culture. Discuss the progress you and your team are making on your projects, celebrate small successes, and encourage everyone to recognize the co-workers whose help and support they appreciate!
9. Encourage wellness initiatives. Encourage healthy behavior that contributes to a strong workplace, whether it’s a company step challenge or flu shots. Create a nutrition challenge and reward employees for taking steps to build healthier habits.
10. Indulge your team with food. While many components of corporate recognition programs are centered around celebrating successes and accomplishments, it’s also important to recognize the value of each and every team member. Periodic or surprise team lunches are a great way to demonstrate such recognition. Team lunches could easily be organized around remote or hybrid workers, too.
11. Gamify peer-to-peer recognition! Not everyone is good with words, but given the right tools, your employees are much more likely to offer regular peer-to-peer recognition. Check out our fun SoGoMatic appreciation tool, created to make it easy to share good vibes by just quickly filling out a few fields.
12. Monday matters, Friday forums, and happy hours. In today’s increasingly remote and hybrid environments, it can be a challenge for everyone to feel connected. Create frequent opportunities for your people to get together by scheduling voluntary meetings with a semi-formal agenda. Start debates (Is a hot dog a sandwich?). Play trivia. Let your employees tag each other as they go around the room talking about the highlights and challenges of the week and the things they are looking forward to — both personally and professionally.
6 recognition ideas for retention
13. Create an employee wall of fame. A wall of fame is an excellent way to celebrate both individual and team achievements. Take pictures of those achievements, take pictures of your employees’ hard at work, or let them submit their own favorite shots of themselves. Encourage other employees to post notes of gratitude for featured employees around their photos. In remote environments, create a virtual wall of fame on your intranet.
14. Showcase your employees’ success stories. Do you have a corporate newsletter? Consider including a special section where employees can learn the stories of the company’s top performers, whether they’re new to the company or senior leaders.
15. Celebrate employees living cultural values. Create a platform for your employees to send each other virtual kudos for demonstrating behaviors that embody one of the company cultural values. This could be implemented as a peer-to-peer variation or as a tool for managers to request and send rewards to their team members. If your budget allows, supplement this program with T-shirts for each company value and encourage your employees to collect all the T-shirt types.
16. Create an “open door” environment for ideas. Great business ideas can come from anyone, yet not everyone might have the confidence to bring up their idea to a leadership team. You can create a virtual idea box for collecting business ideas, submit an anonymized list weekly or bi-weekly for a leadership team review, and then identify and recognize the winning idea owners.
17. Start a mentoring program. A mentoring program could bring your recognition program to the next level. Set up your mentoring program to recognize employees who are engaged, reliable, and ready for further development. Research shows that high-potential employees work 21 percent harder than their peers — recognize their hard work by providing support and growth opportunities.
18. Offer learning opportunities. Extending on the above idea, recognize your high potential employees by offering them a variety of growth opportunities. Listen to their needs and if a mentoring program is not their preference, offer additional learning opportunities such as industry conference attendance, training and certification classes, a book of choice, and more.
4 random recognition ideas
19. Reward employees with swag gifts. Company swag is not just for clients and new hires. Practical, branded swag that reflects the personality of your company is a great way to recognize your employees and thank them for their hard work — whether they are working in the office or remotely.
20. Make employee birthdays special. A great opportunity to recognize how important every employee’s presence and hard work is to the success of your team is to make their birthday celebration more personal. For those in the office, desk decoration according to their personal interests (sports, country, hobbies) is a great idea, as well as a birthday card signed by all teammates. For remote employees, compile a video of birthday wishes from colleagues, mail a surprise gift to their address, or organize a birthday meme pile using your internal communication channels.
21. Celebrate Employee Recognition Day. Make Employee Recognition Day a company tradition. It can be observed the first Friday in March, the last Monday of every quarter, or the first workday of the year. Acknowledge your team’s contributions and collaborative spirit, recognize and reward your best employees, celebrate your top recognizers and most inspiring leaders. Make it yours.
22. Personal thanks from senior management. Imagine working in a big company and having a senior executive call or stop by your desk to tell you that they’ve heard how well you did with a specific project. This form of recognition might be extremely effective in organizations with an established top-down hierarchy.
I would also like to recognize the attendees of our recent webinar, “The Value of Appreciation: How to Build a Recognition Program that Works,” who shared their top priorities around employee recognition and helped us to realize a need for more recognition ideas for success in 2022.
Ready to speak with someone about how Sogolytics can help you build a culture of recognition at your organization? Connect with us today!