Twenty Ways to Recognize Your Employees

It seems so simple. Recognize people and results happen.

Think about Pavlov’s Theory of classical conditioning. Some of you may think I am going to the dogs, however, the behavioral point of view continues to play out every day. Our environment plays an important part in how we learn. Each of us wins when managers harness the ability to motivate the workforce through simple actions.

Why is it so hard to do? Are we too busy? Why do we forget to do the right thing? Most of the things we can do are simple and do not take a lot of time.

The truth is, it is really more about timing and to a lesser degree about what we do.

The action does not have to grandiose. Remember is it about the event, not about the fabulous reward.

Here is a list of ways to recognize your employees:

  1. Give praise immediately after the employee does something – tell them what they did and how it affects the company, customer or employees in a positive way.
  2. Provide additional training dollars to employees who excel – let them learn a specialized skill that will benefit them and the company.
  3. Impromptu events such as ice cream socials, managers grilling steak and lobster on the grill for the employees or popcorn and a short movie.
  4. Develop a reward and recognition based on a point system. Encourage employee gift selection from a pre-selected catalog.
  5. Recognize the employee’s spouse. Their role and support is often overlooked.
  6. If give a cash reward, be aware of the taxation rules applying to the amount you are awarding. In some cases, there will be no tax due.  When tax is due, consider how it will affect the final distribution. Tangible goods such as airline tickets, weekend giveaways are taxable to the employee. Advise the employee that these selections will result in tax deductions in a future paycheck! Some employees do not want to carry the additional burden and opt for a cash payment.
  7. Use AMEX gift certificates – employees can use them just about anywhere!
  8. Invite the employee to a management meeting to present the results of a project they led.
  9. Write a personal note of appreciation for their contribution. Send it to them and put a copy of it in their employee file.
  10. Sponsor the employee’s attendance to a conference in which they have expressed interest.
  11. Enlist an executive to share their experiences for “a day” with your employee.
  12. Nominate your employee to play a leadership role in a key project with high visibility to top management.
  13. Be flexible in your approach to working hours. Manage by results rather than time.
  14. Recognize them at your next staff meeting in front of their peers.
  15. Submit a story to your newsletter outlining what they did on a particular project or how they accomplished something significant.
  16. Establish a preferred parking spot near the front entrance and award it to the employee of the month. Bonus points if the employees select the individual and not management!
  17. Shadow the boss or president of the company for a day.
  18. Create “Save a Penny” program to capture employee ideas on cost savings ideas. Select one and make it happen each month.
  19. Incorporate a career or employee development discussion once a year, not tied to the performance management process.
  20. Encourage people to get to know one another personally. Employees come to work because the like to work with their peers and managers, not because of the company.

If there are some ways you recognize people in your organization which are not included in this list, please share it with us here!

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  2. Good list — with some ideas I hadn't though of! One of the key aspects to making employee recognition work is knowing what an individual employee will respond to. For example, a shy employee might not like a public call out while an extroverted one might prefer to have the spotlight over quiet recognition and cash. Ultimately, any program should be designed with several options such that it's motivating and rewarding to as many different workers as possible. At the end of the day, the better you know your people and what they respond to, the more successful the program will be.

  3. Great ideas!
    Other than cash and gift rewards, I've also provided "certificates" that the employee can cash in any time she wants. I've given certificates that award a "casual day," "lunch on the boss," "play hookie day," etc. At a call center, a popular one was "day off the front lines" where the employee could take the entire day on other projects (organizing files, etc.) and not have to answer a single phone. It causes you to be creative and think about things that would lighten an employee's day.

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