35 Unique Employee Recognition Ideas
Luke Rodenburg
Apr 8, 2019
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All employees want to be recognized for the work that they do.
Instead of guessing the best way to make them feel recognized, use this list that we at Arcade have compiled to ensure your employees feel valued:
1. Give shout-outs
Recognition in-front of other employees makes it known that when someone is doing a good job, they will be recognized.
2. 'Gamify' work practices
Create games and competitions within the workplace. This allows constant recognition and the ability to monitor success and productivity.
3. Promote autonomy
Trust your employees to complete their tasks with minimal supervision. This inclines employees to feel empowered in their roles.
4. Impromptu time off
If work has been achieved or sales targets have been met, offer a morning or afternoon off to keep employees fresh and happy.
5. Say thanks
Saying a genuine thank-you with no constructive criticism or ulterior motive attached goes a long way.
6. Time-off coupons (15 or 30 minute increments)
These are good to use as instant rewards when you see an employee do something positive. Employees can use this to come in 15 or 30 minutes late, or leave 15 or 30 minutes early.
7. Develop a peer-recognition program
Recognition from a peer can be as meaningful as recognition from a manager or superior. Develop an efficient way for employees to recognize one another, such as an opportunity at meetings. Encourage and reward employees to do so.
8. 'Travelling Trophy'
Create a trophy that travels from employee to employee based on whoever has been going the extra mile, or working the hardest. It's a great way to encourage healthy competition and hard work.
9. Celebrate a 'growth system'
Outline a way for staff to achieve the next tier within the company. Set out roles and responsibilities that need to be achieved. This will encourage employees to stay with the organization, and to work harder.
10. Give a personal handwritten note of thanks
A handwritten note shows that you have really thought about what to recognize the employee for. The handwritten aspect adds a personal factor that can't be achieved through e-mails.
11. Have an afterwork get together
Go to dinner or get a drink with employees. Getting to know them outside of a work capacity illustrates a genuine care for employees as people.
12. Team birthdays
Throw a little party for employees' birthdays to recognize them as people as well as workers.
People surrounding a birthday cake
13. Work Anniversaries
Recognize employees for their work milestones. If an employee started working for the company 1, 2, or 5 years ago, identify loyalty to the organization and reward it.
14. Points reward system
Offer a system whereby completing tasks or working hard offers points. These points can be collated and exchanged for prizes, like a free lunch or an extra-long lunch break.
15. 'Bring Your Pet to Work' day
Bringing pets in allows employees to engage with one another on something other than work. This can be recognition for sustained work across the organization, or just a fun idea to keep a working environment fresh. Remember to make sure none of your employees are allergic to pets first!
16. Buy a subscription for an outstanding employee
Employees (and more specifically millennial employees) love subscriptions. Paying for a few months or even a year of Spotify or Netflix is a thoughtful, creative form of recognition.
17. Give out merchandise
Give out branded work merchandise as an instant reward. This can also result in increased pride in the organization.
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18. Personal Pin-Up Board
Put a pin-up board in the break room or communal area. Have employees' personal achievements on display. It illustrates that recognition exists inside and outside of the organization.
19. Print Certificates of Achievement
If an employee receives glowing feedback from a customer or has achieved their best week in sales, use a framed certificate to recognize this achievement. This can be announced in front of colleagues or privately.
20. Make it organizational news
If an employee goes above and beyond or lands a large sale, contact higher-up member of the organization and ensure recognition comes from a superior source.
21. Make it social media news
Get on the social media site for the organization and recognize employees who consistently surpass expectations. Include who they are and what they did.
22. Write the employee a LinkedIn recommendation
A recommendation on LinkedIn ensures that the recipient is represented as a hard-working employee. This is a favourable situation if the employee eventually looks for another job. (Which they won't if you use these techniques properly!)
23. Spontaneous treats
One day every week or month have coffee and donuts waiting for staff. It's a great way to start off the day on a positive note.
24. 'Hackathons'
Offer staff a half day off to work with other staff members to brainstorm ideas of tasks that they would personally like to work on. Find ways to implement the best ideas into everyday activities. This technique works alongside number three on our list; Promoting autonomy.
25. Commute help
Offer a 'cab to work day' to alleviate the stress of the morning commute for employees.
26. Keep a good book
Keep a book for everyone to write positives about one another or the company. This book then gets read out once a week, so people are recognized even if they don't know it at the time.
Person reading a book
27. Unique rewards
Giving out unique rewards shows that you understand who your employees really are. Through a personal present, employees feel individually recognized.
28. Costume days
Offer a costume day once a month to ensure an entertaining work environment. This helps promote a healthy work culture.
29. CEO/Manager for the day
Let an employee work alongside you for the day. Seek their feedback on decisions, and encourage their input.
30. Lunch on the boss
Avoid talking about work. Use this as an opportunity to get to know the people you work with.
31. Have a time auction
Employees auction their time off to one another, for baby sitting, hours at work or even mowing lawns. This encourages employees to assist and get to know one another.
32. Holiday giveaway
Reward employees with extra 'leave with pay', to recognize employees surpassing their roles in the organization.
33. Spa/Massage vouchers
If work has been particularly stressful or deadlines were compact, the individual or group of individuals who completed them receives a voucher.
34. Organizational outing
Take employees to activities like go-karting on a work day or weekends when a milestone or quota is met. This promotes a positive work culture, and is an opportunity to get to know employees outside of a work capacity.
35. Rebates on gym memberships
This can be used to promote healthy living among your employees. We recommend that these rebates are offered to everyone rather than specific individuals, though they could be offered in recognition of a united effort across the organization to meet an ambitious goal, or in recognition of employees working overtime during a peak sales period.
Although a number of these ideas are monetarily based, employees often respond best to other factors of recognition.
It's vital to understand the best ways to recognize
employees. Every employee is different.
The industry most often needing recognition and motivation is retail trade. However, managers in all industries need to learn how to effectively motivate and incentivize staff.
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How one manager does it
Christina Lee is the Acting Education Manager at Kangan Batman TAFE in Broadmeadows, Melbourne. Naturally, Lee applies techniques in order to keep her staff productive.
Christina Lee in her office
Many of the techniques Christina uses appear on the list we created.
Christina uses Number one (Give shout-outs) predominantly, through awarding flowers or gifts to deserving teachers as a way to recognize her staff in front of their peers.
"I give flowers to deserving teachers at the end of year celebration- in front of students and staff."
Lee also adopts Number six (Impromptu time off). Lee finds that allowing employees to come in late when work has been particularly stressful is a big hit. It alleviates the rush of coming into work on time and the added benefit of a sleep doesn't hurt the cause.
"I organise 9:00am starts for the teachers who have to drop children at school instead of 8:30am."
Christina however, like many other mangers or leaders overlooks a few recognition techniques. Number two on our list (Gamification) is a big one.
The difficulty of implementing and maintaining a gamifying experience may be a factor for many managers not having one.
For management, it may seem more convenient to take their employees out for lunch once a month.
However, across lots of industries and when applied properly, gamification boasts some of best results regarding growth in organizations.
At Arcade, we believe that creating fun and entertaining ways to recognize your staff is vital for organisations. Our platform makes it incredibly easy to gamify employee goals. Visit Arcade for a rundown on gamification and ways to increase recognition and productivity for your business.
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Luke Rodenburg
Luke is part of the Content team at Arcade.