Why some recognition schemes just don’t work – are you guilty of these 3 little mistakes?

We all want a successful recognition programme in place. After all, the aims of any reward and recognition programme are all about benefits. Benefits to employees, your business, even employee acquisition and retention.

However, the sad fact is that some recognition programmes just don’t work. The results you’re looking for don’t come. If you’ve launched an employee recognition scheme without success, don’t lose heart – just change your tactics.

Recognition schemes tend to perpetuate a number of common mistakes. See if you can spot yourself on this list.

You don’t consult employees

Employees are at the heart of your business, so it makes sense that when you recognise them, you are giving them what they actually want as opposed to what you think they need. It isn’t just about the recognition on offer, but also about how you reward.

If your current plans include a big song and dance and company presentation, you may have your introverts hiding under the table to avoid something that makes them squirm.

If you decide to reward top performers with an annual exotic break, single parents and carers are probably sighing in exasperation.

Consulting employees with a survey, or getting to grips with what gets them going face-to-face, is the only way to get a real understanding of what your employees want. You might even be surprised that it’s predominantly verbal recognition and respect that resonates most with your teams.

Then, when you’re putting your recognition plans together, make sure you carefully consider what your employees have told you and plan accordingly.

Your communication is too sparse

We know that communicating recognition often feels low priority, but every business gets busy. If you have a recognition and reward programme in place, there can never be too much communication around it.

Tell your new employees. Remind your current employees. Shout about the winners and highly commended team members in your newsletters, meetings and noticeboards, even on social media.

A recognition programme ceases to be relevant when it’s not top of mind. Keep it fresh and breathe life into it – harness your marketing team to get it alive and kicking once again. Making it a priority is essential for your managers as well and now is the time to reiterate why recognition is so vital to your business.

You rely on manual intervention

We mentioned that your business is busy, but if you rely on manual work to keep your recognition programme going, it’s always going to fail in some way unless you are hyper-vigilant. Technology is the answer.

Recognition platforms are available to help you reward and recognise employees and improve the morale in your company.

Technology allows you to take a step back and introduce employee-led elements into the programme, whether that’s a peer-to-peer mechanic, leader boards, real-time engagement or the ability to self-select rewards. Technology can simplify employee recognition and make it more effective.

Remember that when it comes to recognising employees, the whole point is to ensure that employees are in the spotlight for the work that they do. Make sure that they receive valuable recognition and rewards in a way that works for them, and you’ll find your employees are more productive, happier and even healthier, resulting in sustained business success.

About the author:

Elaine Keep is the owner and director of Incentive & Motivation, among the longest standing titles in the employee and customer reward space catering to HR pros. Elaine is also the founder of Your Marketing Managed,  offering marketing management, content production and copy writing services.

What should your criteria be for employee recognition?

The saying is, that what gets rewarded is what gets done.

If you manage a team and want to really ace employee rewards and recognition, you need a few strategies in place. Your criteria needs not only to be known to you internally, in whatever position you sit, but also be understood by all your employees.

So that they can achieve what you want, and meet your business goals, while also boosting morale. But what criteria is best?

Before we jump into some areas you can reward, let’s look at some of the housekeeping areas around an excellent recognition programme.

Be fair

Two of the reasons employee recognition programmes fail are:

  • Managers don’t recognise consistently, and;
  • Employers give the total power of choice over who deserves to win to other employees

Neither of these strategies are fair, and it will soon demoralise teams. When it comes to recognising employees, timing is everything.

If you only acknowledge and reward employees quarterly and try and ‘catch up’ or ‘think back’ you only get a partial benefit of recognising that you would if you did it every single month, or even sooner.

If you have a current programme or plan where employees can pick the winners themselves or vote for the winner, and this is the final say, you might need to change this, fast.

While peer to peer recognition has incredible results when used in conjunction with an overall culture of reward and recognition from a higher level of business, when it comes to overall recognition, you need to do all you can to prevent it ever becoming a competition around popularity.

Know what you want

You need to know what you really want your business to stand for and to work with that. It can be beneficial to remind your managers and supervisors of your brand vision.

Perhaps let’s say you are a start-up with a big charitable ethos. You have values of being open, honest, going the extra mile at any cost, and being seen as friendly.

You might then want to reward someone for getting a customer their product on a next day delivery, just because they needed it – even if this was a monetary loss.

Or you might reward someone who suggested a different item, even if it cost less, just because that built trust. A range of great tweets might mean the world to you.

On the other hand, perhaps you are a business that is all about growth, challenging norms, breaking down ways of working and failing fast.

In this business, you might want to reward someone who worked overtime to get a release out or someone who called out a manager in a meeting over a strategy or a concept, or someone who refused a client based on a specific value unique to you.

In short, your business is unique. Reward what you want your employees to do, and you will likely get more of the same.

Recognise by division

It is also key to ensure that you are rating employees within their departments and then selecting an overall winner. If your business is large, you might have a sales employee competing with a customer care advisor or the tech department.

How could you rank or compare their performance? You simply can’t! By making recognition divisional, you increase your understanding of each area. And you get a vast array of achievements you can highlight.

Criteria ideas

Being told ‘hey, great job’ isn’t great recognition. You need real criteria, but that doesn’t just have to be numbers.

As well as sales, achieving KPI’s and meeting targets like time on the phone, seeing customers, responding to issues, beating speeds you might also choose to showcase examples by asking

  • How helpful are they ?
  • Have they committed to the company recently (overtime, new ideas)?
  • If they have cross-trained or learned new skills
  • Are they positive and collaborative?
  • If they have developed something that changes the company
  • If they have had positive feedback externally
  • If they are engaged and interested in providing ideas for growth

Whatever you pick, make it a policy that is company-wide, and make it easy for employees to know what matters to you and who won and WHY. Consistently mention what matters, whether that’s sales, attitude or ideas and celebrate the greatness that you see with a ceremony or announcement.

As Pareto’s law shows, 80% of the results come from 20% of the employees. If you can move this just a small percentage, you can see results across the whole business, so treat your programme with the seriousness it deserves.

About the author:

Elaine Keep is the owner and director of Incentive & Motivation, among the longest standing titles in the employee and customer reward space catering to HR pros. Elaine is also the founder of Your Marketing Managed,  offering marketing management, content production and copy writing services.

8 reasons you can’t afford to ignore recognition

If there’s one place to start to improve your company culture, it’s staff recognition. And the stats prove it.

We have eight key staff recognition stats in this blog that show how much you stand to gain from embracing recognition.

Recognition affects key areas in your business like:


Employee retention

Employee recognition improve retention
*2015 SHRM/Globoforce survey

Recognition reduces turnover
*Bersin by Doloitte research


Recognition improves productivity
*2015 SHRM/|Globoforce survey

Customer service

Appreciation improves customer satisfaction
*SHRM/Globoforce survey 2012

Employee happiness

Values-based thanks drives employee happiness
*2015 SHRM/Globoforce survey

Recognition adds humanity to the workplace
*2015 SHRM/Globoforce survey

Employee engagement

Improve employee engagement with recognition
*2015 SHRM/Globoforce survey

Improve engagement with recognition
*SHRM 2012 survey


As the stats show, every company needs to be thinking about employee recognition. There are clear arguments for the benefits of embracing recognition, so why not put these to your senior leadership team?



you absolutely have to know five things about employee recognition

How to ensure your employee recognition scheme is a success

The leaders in your company must understand the value an employee recognition scheme brings and how it impacts on overall business success. Any business that values its employees and wants them to stay needs to understand that regularly showing appreciation is a key driver of engagement and retention.

Having constant flow of employee recognition is vital to productivity, engagement, morale and retention. You’re doomed if you ignore it while your competitors embrace it.

This blog gives covers the fundamentals of what everyone, from middle management to CEOs, needs to know about employee recognition.

What’s covered in this article:

1. What employee recognition is
2. Why employee recognition matters (the business case)
3. When to recognise your employees, and for what
4. How to recognise staff
5. Getting started on employee recognition


What is employee recognition?

what's employee recognition all about?By definition, employee recognition is:

“Communication that seeks to highlight or celebrate achievements, with the intent of reinforcing behaviour and building positive habits.”

That’s a very staid and plain way of describing recognition, however accurate it is.

When you recognise employees, you’re highlighting positive behaviour. Behaviour you want to see repeated and celebrated. We’ll go into details on what you might want to highlight later.

But for now, you can see from that definition that recognition has always existed. It was there every time someone said “good job.”

It just hasn’t always been understood or embraced as a tool for your business.

Peer-to-peer and social recognition are different

Traditional recognition schemes tend to focus heavily on top-down recognition.

Managers recognise employees and senior leaders recognise managers in turn. There’s nothing outright wrong with that, managers should recognise staff for their work. It’s just so constrictive. Peer-to-peer and social recognition put the hierarchy aside and let anyone recognise anyone.

Giving employees the chance to recognise anyone across the business is empowering. It offers them a voice, and an opportunity to talk about what’s important to them in the workplace.

How recognition and rewards interact

employee recognition and rewards are linked but differentYour recognition efforts aren’t inherently separate from your rewards. But they’re not really the same thing, either.

We have a good longer read on everything you need to know about rewards here if you want to read up.

To summarise in a hurry: they’re connected, but separate. Recognition doesn’t have to involve any kind of cash-value reward, but rewards are inherently a form of recognition when they’re the result of behaviour at work.

Pay isn’t the same as employee recognition, by the way

Despite what the more curmudgeonly business leaders think.

Pay is a transaction. It’s cold. It’s also something employees fast become accustomed to. That’s why cash is so questionable as a reward. Our blog goes into more detail on that here.

The emotions you’re trying to create with recognition shouldn’t be associated with being paid on time. You and your employee have already agreed about what their work is worth. Recognition, and reward, are always in addition to being paid.


Why employee recognition matters

Employee recognition is more than just a feel-good exercise. Even though it does feel good. It’s a valuable tool for your business.

Companies that embrace recognition, and take the spirit of recognition the right way, see genuine benefits to their business.

The tangible outcome of embracing recognition is more motivated, productive and loyal employees.


employee recognition is directly linked to better moraleNo one wants to feel like their achievements aren’t valued or noticed. When staff feel unappreciated or ignored, they lose heart. It’s only a natural reaction.

By pointing out and highlighting achievements, we make sure people know they’re valuable.

This makes employees feel good about their work and their place at your company. Their morale will improve, improving the mood of the employees around them.


Receiving employee recognition, whether from peers or managers, is validating.

If you’re feeling a bit more callous, you might say to yourself: “Why do I care about employees being happy as long as they get the job done?”

Simple answer: happy employees do more work. They also do better work, they’re easier to collaborate with, and their happiness rubs off on other staff.


Feeling unappreciated is one of the biggest reasons employees cite when they leave a company. And recognition is a proven pathway to make employees feel more valued.

As we talked about in one of our longer read blogs, retention costs companies thousands of pounds a year. It costs as much as £30,000 to replace a skilled employee once recruitment, training and productivity dips have been accounted for.

There’s no real room for argument here. Not when your company can start recognising employees for free, and it could save you tens of thousands a year.

How employee recognition affects your company culture

An employee recognition scheme influences your company's cultureWhen you embrace employee recognition, it becomes a feedback loop for your company culture.

What you recognise is by default what you treasure and want to promote about your workplace.

You’re signalling that to staff when you recognise them. It’s only natural human behaviour to seek out validation, and to seek to replicate behaviour that results in positive reactions.

Your leadership need to understand this

The link between recognition and culture is why it’s so important leadership understands their role in recognition.

They’re building a company culture, for better or worse. Whether or not they even know they’re doing it.

What your leadership recognise and reward is a way of telling staff how to behave. Regardless of whether your employee handbook says otherwise.

Engagement is in the employee recognition mix

engagement can be improved by tactical recognitionYou’ve probably heard about employee engagement by now. If you haven’t already thought about it, read a quick run-down on our blog here.

It’s essentially your staff getting invested in your company purpose and values. That investment influences their behaviour at work.

Employee recognition has a positive effect on engagement. As long as you get it right.

For many companies, embracing recognition is an extension of their company culture. Seeking and highlighting the value other colleagues bring to the company is a part of how they work.

For other companies, the recognition is what makes the values in your company come to life. By asking employees to express the company values when recognising employees, those ideals are kept alive in the workplace.

This makes it easier for staff to identify and invest in what your company stands for, improving their engagement with your business.

Where’s the proof?

We don’t advocate for the benefits of recognition for no reason. There’s plenty of evidence to show that recognition generates real improvements in your company. As long as you execute it properly.

When there are measurable, tangible benefits to employee recognition, you sort of have to be mad to refuse to take it seriously.

  • Morale
  • 97% of public sector managers agree recognition improves morale, and 98% of managers agree recognition improves a sense of belonging[1]
  • Loyalty
  • 55% of employees say they would move for a company that clearly recognises its employee contributions [3], and recognition rich environments have a 31% lower turnover rate. [6]
  • Productivity
  • Happy employees are, on average, 12% more productive,[2] and and strategic peer-to-peer recognition improves productivity by 32%. [5]
  • Engagement
  • Employee engagement increases by 61% when employee recognition programs are offered [4], and a 15% uplift in engagement correlates with a 2% uplift in operating margin. [7]


When to recognise employees, and for what

Employee recognition isn’t a magic staff happiness button. You can’t dish out recognition for everything and anything and expect to see the benefits in line. Pick your moments.

It might cross your mind that we talked about social and peer-to-peer recognition earlier. When your company puts the power to recognise in your employees’ hands, you have to give up a bit of control.

That’s no bad thing, staff need that freedom to feel in control. And you can keep the recognition on track with your social recognition platform – just ask staff to match all their recognition up to one of your company values.

Picking the right time to recognise staff

pic your moments for employee recognitionChoosing the right time to recognise – Use a similar checklist to our when to reward section but make some changes.

Much like rewards, it’s handy to have a little mental checklist. When you’re thinking about employee recognition, especially as a manager, think about:

Values – Ask yourself whether what you want to recognise is part of your company values.

Notable – Making a coffee, or completing standard job tasks isn’t notable. For recognition to be effective it has to highlight behaviour both the employee and management would acknowledge as notable.

Timely – Millennials especially feel the need to see quick recognition for the best work. But it doesn’t matter what generation your staff belong to, being close to the event is helpful.

Positive – Remember what we said about what you recognise becomes what you see in the workplace. Only recognise employees for behaviour you would want the public to see.

Repeatable – This harks back to what we said about recognition being about generating positive behaviour. If you want to see certain behaviours more often, it helps if what you recognise is repeatable. If not the actual task itself, then the spirit of the achievement.

Employee recognition suggestions

shine a light on the right time for employee recognitionTake a look at these ideas as a starting point. Every business is different, so please don’t feel like you should be constrained by these suggestions.

Employee achievements – Put employee accomplishments in the spotlight and show they’re valued.

Longevity – The longer your staff stay, the more valuable they are. And the more important it is to keep them around. Recognise their longevity milestones to make it clear.

Good ideas – Improving processes, products or services with creativity or knowledge.

Problem prevention – Spotting a roadblock and prevent a crisis could save you huge amounts of hours and money fixing a problem.

Project delivery – Making sure vital projects go live on time.

Working on initiative – Acting on good ideas when the chance comes along and turning them into something workable and valuable to the business.

Helping colleagues – Offering time and care to help colleagues hit deadlines, or help other departments deliver projects.

Going above and beyond – Employees who go outside their job role and take responsibility for projects or ideas.

Putting values first – Finding ethical solutions to problems requires ingenuity and skill. That often merits recognition.

Hero of the month – Focus on your stand-out performer of the month. And, as we suggested in another blog, consider democratising that process and letting your staff have a say.

Milestones – Recognise your teams and employees when they bring you closer to organisational goals.

And many more possibilities – Without a crystal ball, we can’t look into your company and tell you what matters most in your workplace. Your values and your day-to-day needs will tell you that.

Focus on outcomes

focus on what really matters for employee recognitionThe most effective employee recognition will focus on tangible outcomes.

Differences and improvements employees, and their colleagues, will recognise in the workplace.

By staying in the visible spectrum, so to speak, what you recognise is always easy to understand.

And it’s easy for employees to latch on to what’s important and encouraged in your business.


How to recognise your employees

Employee recognition channels

In broad terms, you have three avenues to recognise employees; verbal, physical and digital. For example:


Verbal recognition would include face-to-face talks, or vocally celebrating someone’s achievement in a huddle or department meeting.


Digital recognition would include highlighting achievements on your social media or your website. It would also cover using a recognition platform or an online wall of fame. You might also choose to send out emails to celebrate staff achievements.


Physical recognition uses items to create trophies. That might include literal trophies, but you don’t have to stop there. It also includes recognition letters, handwritten notes, certificates and placards.

Mix and match your approach

pick and mix the right approach to employee recognition based on your employees' needs and valuesThe best employee recognition schemes don’t just stick to one way of communicating. There are benefits and limitations to every approach, so it’s best to mix and match.

Verbal recognition is personal, immediate and emotional. But it’s fleeting. A digital recognition is more permanent, but needs a public element to influence other staff.

Trophies and plaques are nice mementos, but need an accompanying personal message for proper context.

Be funkier if you can

Get creative if your company culture and environment let you. Like we’ve said a few times already on this blog, if you get the basics right you can be as creative as you like.

Work the flavour and personality of your team and company culture into your employee recognition scheme.

Some companies hand out custom Lego miniatures. Others use stickers on the back of chairs, or a Wall of Fame on the wall of the office. You’re only limited by your imagination the boundaries of your company culture.

Platforms make employee recognition easy to manage

Using an employee recognition platform simplifies issuing, tracking and managing employee recognition.

Issuing recognition

Issuing recognition over a platform is versatile. You’re no longer bound by the need to be in the same room as the person receiving recognition. Email makes a nice alternative, but you forgo the benefits of recognition being public: a central, digital, visible place to recognise employees.

Tracking and learning

Platforms offer you a top-down view of employee recognition. You can see who receives recognition. And what they’re recognised for. This gives you valuable insight on how your company interacts. When recognition is quiet, or private, there’s no opportunity to use it as a business learning tool.


Often, recognition in between employees is private. Delivered through emails or verbal. In turn, it’s fleeting. When recognition goes public, managers can see it. There are two benefits to that. First, senior leadership can see the virtues and achievements of teams they don’t always get to interact with. Second, they can measure it and better understand the business.

Values framing

While verbal recognition is personal and real, it makes it harder to incorporate values. Your staff live your values, they don’t generally sit around talking about them. A digital record lets you frame recognition in your values without being stilted or coming off awkward in a conversation.

Integrating rewards

It’s much easier to integrate rewards into your employee recognition with a platform. Many recognition platforms have reward options built-in, or have simple reward plug-ins. That makes it easy to top recognition off with a reward.

For more on the advantages of using a platform, read more on our Shout! employee recognition product page.

Or, if you’re shopping around, you can read our blog on how to pick quality employee recognition software.


How to get an employee recognition scheme off the ground

getting an employee recognition scheme started is the hardest partYou could introduce an effective employee recognition platform with just the time it takes to plan and implement it.

Establish values

Make sure you have a clear idea of what your company culture is about, and the behaviours and values you want to see reflected.

This will form the basis of which behaviours you want to recognise later on.

Seek buy-in

Your company’s leadership need to understand and buy into your values, and the concept of employee recognition.

This is important – the success of new ideas depends on buy-in for two reasons.

First, your senior leaders must believe it’s necessary, and must agree to put the resources aside to achieve it. Second, your middle management must have the motivation, and the breathing room, to execute the new idea.

Establish criteria

Get a clear idea of what should merit recognition in your business. This will be based on the details of how your company works, and what achievement looks like in your company. Then communicate this decision to your management teams.

Tell your employees what to expect

Tell your staff about employee recognition. Explain why you’re taking employee recognition more seriously, and what kind of changes they can expect to see.

Name your scheme or concept

Give your employee recognition efforts a name. By giving it an internal identity, something that reflects your employees’ personality and culture, you make it easy to remember and become attached to.

Measure and reflect

set your goals and measure your progress after start your employee recognition schemeUse an anonymous survey ahead of time to gauge how your employees feel. Ask about the areas you’d like to see influenced by an employee recognition scheme.

Ask your managers to keep track of what recognition they’re issuing, and when (assuming you don’t have a platform to manage this for you).

After enough time, ask your staff’s opinion again with another survey. A year would be enough time to get a feeling of your success.

However, you might want to use pulse surveys at shorter intervals for top-ups.

Good today, perfect tomorrow

Start with something simple, repeatable and effective. Don’t fall into the trap of trying to make something completely perfect before getting started.

Over time you can implement platforms, rewards, social recognition and more. But the benefits of embracing employee recognition are available regardless of whether or not you have a formalised piece of software.

Easy to learn, difficult to master

Once you have your head wrapped around the concept of recognition, it’s easy to get started. But like many worthwhile things, it’s easier to get started than it is to master.

Platforms, as we discussed earlier, are a great way to gain an understanding of how recognition is affecting your company. But you need the expertise and time inside your company to measure and understand what you’re getting out of them.


Take us as an example of employee recognition in action

Park Group, our parent company, has a company culture informed by four ideas. We call it our Trademark Behaviour. We always aim to be:

  • Collaborative – We value each other and we work together as colleagues, clients and partners so that we exceed our goals effectively.
  • Respectful – We appreciate the contribution and opinion of others; when we act with respect we optimise everything.
  • Empathetic – We are human and we value everyone.
  • Dynamic – We are curious about the world; we are passionate about agility and we love what we do.

We see our colleagues put these values into motion every day. How we treat each other, how we treat clients, and how we approach our work reflects those values. Leadership figures understand the need for recognition, and all of our colleagues are empowered to deliver it.

Recognition at Park and Lov2shop is expressed over a variety of channels. We see verbal recognition straight after tasks, we see written recognition in notes and emails, we see recognition in our meetings and we see it in our internal communications.

Notably, you can also see it on our shared social recognition platform. By using a blend of techniques, we can see employees across department, divisions and sites receive recognition for their work.


Talk to us about your employee recognition scheme

Our Engagement Services team are experts in helping businesses deliver effective employee recognition schemes and platforms.

If you’re not sure how to get started with yours, or want to talk about using some effective recognition software, get in touch. Send us an email, use the web chat on this page, or call the number at the top and bottom of this page.

employee recognition ideas for when the piggybank is empty

15 Cheap employee recognition ideas that work

Having no budget to implement your employee recognition ideas shouldn’t hold you back. All you need is a bit of thought, creativity and the will to execute your plans.

Cash-value rewards are exciting, and they do positively affect motivation and performance. But they should be treated as an amplification tool to recognition. Praise should be dished out regularly to employees, regardless of whether rewards are available or not.

Recognition works when it embraces an employees’ need to be valued. Everyone wants to know their work is worthwhile, and they want to feel that they’re contributing to something bigger than themselves.

So, it’s not good enough to simply shrug your shoulders and complain you have no budget. You can start with almost nothing and still show your employees that you value their daily contributions with regular recognition.

No-cost employee recognition ideas


1. Verbal recognition

verbal praise is a great employee recognition ideaSay it and mean it. Let staff know the great work they do is valuable, and it’s helping your business reach its goals. Verbal recognition is personal and emotional. It can have great upticks in employee morale.

The only downsides are that it’s fleeting. And it’s difficult to connect verbal recognition with your company’s values without coming across as stilted.


2. Written recognition

Written recognition, such as a small note or a letter, is very effective. You can present it alongside a verbal recognition, and it becomes a little trophy. It’s also much easier to include a mention of your company’s values in a written statement.

It might seem like a small gesture, but taking time and care is always valuable to staff. You putting effort in validates the effort of staff and helps them see how valuable you think they are.


3. Team-level recognition

Not every team has a stand-out star. Not every project has a lead individual to single out for recognition.

Teams might achieve goals through exceptional teamwork, or problem solving. They might work across departments, or incorporate new ideas quickly. Equally, they might have acted on their own initiative to lay the groundwork for an upcoming project.

In these situations, it would be hard to single out one employee, so recognise the whole team. Call them in for a meeting, praise their exceptional efforts, and perhaps offer a reward of some kind.

A lot of companies that don’t have a budget to work with use flexibility as a reward. Time off for a whole team, an early-dart in an afternoon, or for individuals to use some extra flex-time.

4. Ask for feedback

Having a voice in the company matters as much as hearing one.

When someone demonstrates exceptional effort or achievement, listen to them. Offer the employee a chance to give their feedback on what’s happening in the company.

You might gain valuable insight from your top performers. And the employee will see that you don’t just treasure the value of your work. You see value in their thoughts and ideas too.


5. Boast achievements internally

Lean on your internal communications to showcase the achievements.

Even if you don’t have anything formal in place for internal communication, you can write an email. Depending on your position in the company, you might limit that to your department or division.

The wider your message goes, the bigger the impact of the recognition. But we understand not everyone has that luxury. If you have the seniority though, go company-wide.

If you’re casting the net wide, ask other managers for suggestions. They’ll nominate the stand-out performances from their teams. With care and consistency it could become something your employees look forward to seeing.


6. Share achievements externally

Share your teams’ wins with the world.

Take to social media, your website or your monthly newsletter. Use these mediums to highlight your employees’ recent successes.

Setting up a LinkedIn page, or a Facebook page, and connecting with your customers costs you little. And it would give your employees immense pride to have their work highlighted there.

Some companies squirm at the idea of putting things out in the public. We understand that. But as long as what they’re doing lines up with your values, you should fine.


7. Noticeboards or whiteboards as a makeshift wall of fame

If you can spare one, whiteboards and noticeboards are extremely useful. It’s not as advanced as proper employee recognition software, but it has its own low-tech charm.

You’re limited only by what’s available around you. Written notes, photographs, letters from clients, certificates or more.

Your little wall of fame could quickly become a popular centrepiece of the office.

It won’t be measurable like a formal platform, but it will be fun for your staff. And it doesn’t have to go away if you do introduce a formal platform.


8. Measure achievements and progress

Measure progress towards personal and departmental goals. Acknowledge employees when they get past milestones on their way to those goals.


9. Celebrate milestones

It costs you nothing to write down and always make sure to acknowledge your employees’ milestones.

Birthdays, work anniversaries, or product launches. Anything that you know your employees will find valuable, make a note of it.

This one is so simple you can’t lose. And as we’ve outlined before, we think it’s important to recognise all employee longevity. Even after just one year.


Be creative with your employee recognition ideas

If you can peel off even a bit of extra cash, recognition possibilities start to open up.

Start with the culture of your company. Not just the formal values you lay out for staff to adhere to – the way your employees actually interact with each other.

Take that, and get creative with your employee recognition ideas. There are some really energising, funky recognition systems out there that don’t break the bank.

We’ve seen some creative, successful ideas put together with very little real budget.


10. Stickers or badges

Stickers are cheap, but fun and disposable. Pop one on an employees’ equipment, their workstation or their document folders.

Badges, also, give you a little creative outlet that’s easy to implement. Your staff might wear them on their uniforms, attach them to lanyards, or affix them to the back of their chair.


11. Picking the team lunch

If you can afford to foot the bill for a team lunch, let a star performer pick the weekly or monthly meal, however best suits your team.

Team meals are a great way to coax your staff out of their shells a bit. Having one team member pick the meal might also give you a glimpse of your staff’s personalities and let them create deeper bonds together.


12. Time for projects

In today’s world, almost everyone is time poor. Professional lives blend and blur with the personal, and both can suffer for it. A lot of good ideas tend to go to rust when employees don’t get the time they need to develop them.

As an act of recognition, you might give an employee the space to develop an idea. If it’s a really good idea, the company could stand to gain from it being developed. And your employee will enjoy a sense of personal ownership over the project.


13. Charitable acts

Put aside cash for a monthly donation to a smaller charity of choice. Big charities will barely notice a £50 donation, but many staff have charities close to their hearts. So target smaller charities with causes close to your staff’s lives.

A donation in their name would mean a great deal to your employees, and would have a bigger impact on the charity.

Or perhaps your employee would appreciate a bit of time for volunteering for a cause of their choice. As we pointed out above, everyone is perpetually stretched for time. And extra activities like volunteering are often what takes the hit when staff allocate their time.


14. Group trophies

Rather than shelling out month after month to make an office full of trophies, just buy the trophy once. The monthly winner of the trophy gets to keep it at their workstation for a month.

For an extra twist on this employee recognition idea, make it a vote. Offer your staff the chance to vote on who should be recognised every month. You can read our blog here on why we favour a bit of democracy in the workplace when it comes to recognition. Our recognition platform, Shout!, is based on the idea that employees should have a say in what’s important and who gets recognised.


15. Car washing

Invite a car wash team on site to clean and detail someone’s car. Or maybe offer money off a bike service for a bicycle commuter. Train commuters are bit harder, but you can always be creative – Kindle books, books on tape, Acast podcast subscriptions. Just use your imagination and your knowledge of your employees.



Making your employee recognition ideas work

Good employee recognition ideas keep individual personalities in mind. Look around your office, and look at what makes them tick. Look at what generates humour, enthusiasm and participation in your teams. Take that as your starting point and use it as a launching point.

Just remember not to discard the basics. Whatever funky initiatives you decide on, keep them linked to your company culture and values.


Put values in the spotlight

More than once in this piece we’ve mentioned values. We talk about them so often because they’re so important. They’re vital to shaping the attitude and the culture of your company.

Focus on your company’s values to get more out of your recognition. Filtering recognition through your values puts employee behaviour through a lens. It lets them see how their work contributes to a greater whole.

This is a building block towards an engaged workforce.


Be consistent

Make recognising staff a habit. Build it into your daily, weekly and monthly work. A lot of staff will notice if you suddenly start then stop something or lose interest over time.

If you buy into the idea, make sure you show your staff that you buy into the idea.


It’s not complicated or expensive to recognise employees. Platforms and cash-value rewards have an impact, but they’re not the focus.

They’re a welcome addition but the crux of your effort needs to be about making employees’ value feel seen, welcome and treasured.