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Employee Recognition & Appreciation Ideas

It’s really tempting to start this piece with something about this being the time of year for giving. But, employee recognition, not unlike a beautiful Labrador puppy, should be for life and not just for Christmas!

And your employees feeling recognised and appreciated has, truthfully, never been more important. After nearly two years of uncertainty and unprecedented change within every workplace, and losses of personal freedoms and enforced distancing from family, friends and loved ones, most people have gone through, or are still experiencing, some level of frustration, anxiety, or unsettledness.

And this is all on top of a workforce which, as Gen’s Y and Z slowly take over, already places greater emphasis on wellbeing, work/life balance, feedback and recognition than those who came before.

If you want some facts and stat’s to underline the importance of keeping your employees engaged and feeling recognised, just take a look here.

Many companies like to think that they are doing a decent job of recognising and rewarding their people, but the sad truth is that many of their employees don’t agree. Sure, you can rely on individual leaders to express gratitude and show recognition when and where it’s due, but, even in the unlikely event that that happens consistently and across the board, is it enough?

I’ve written many times about the importance of internal communications on the levels of engagement and satisfaction across your workforce. A robust internal comms plan that ensures all of your people are informed, empowered and engaged all of the time is absolutely fundamental to keeping them happy, performing highly and loyal to your business and its strategy and goals.

A part of that strategy should ideally include something designated specifically to recognition and appreciation. There are many ways to do this, but a peer-to-peer recognition platform that does the work for you is ideal. It engages your entire workforce in a fun, social experience, and encourages inclusivity and a greater sense of belonging across your teams. It also gives greater opportunity for appreciating your people for the efforts and achievements made that don’t necessarily or immediately result in a traditional output, metric, or business goal. I’m talking about recognising teamwork, colleague support, innovation, and collaboration as well as those classic financial or sales targets. The great thing about properly managed and encouraged peer-to-peer recognition is that it highlights these other wins and achievements, and it’s as morale-boosting for those doing the nominating as it is for the recipients. It becomes contagious, driving a culture of recognition, appreciation, and the desire to do more for your colleagues and your business.

Either off the back of such a platform, or independently of one, it’s not difficult to set up regular, formal recognition awards. Employee(s) of the week, of the month, most valued colleague, most innovative thinking, most collaborative, best customer feedback received, went the extra mile, a general thank you… the list is almost endless. Awards can be accompanied by rewards, but don’t necessarily have to be. Cash rewards will always be welcome, but so will an early finish or a half-day holiday, a “lunch on us”, cinema tickets, a gift voucher or a hamper.

And if the Christmas party (or replacement MS Teams/Zoom call) isn’t the perfect time to reflect on and celebrate the previous 12 months’ nominees, repeat winners and frequent nominators, then I don’t know when is. Mix those recognitions up with a few silly and fun awards for a few laughs too, if you like! And if you are only Christmas partying (or annual conferencing) remotely this year, you could consider compiling a short video to celebrate those that have earned the recognition, expressing it with gratitude from the very top of the company structure.

There are numerous companies that will partner with you to offer a range of perks and rewards for your people, from experiences and events to tangibles, via sponsored gift vouchers and discounted membership schemes, and these are great if you have the budget. But, even if the budget doesn’t allow for that, at least facilitate the recognition, grow that culture of appreciation, and shout about the good stuff that your great people are doing.

“Appreciation can make a day, even change a life. Your willingness to put it into words is all that is necessary.”

- Margaret Cousins

Of course, any recognition scheme should be aligned to your company’s culture and strategy so that the right behaviours are recognised, shouted about, and encouraged.

If this is indeed the season for giving, then let’s start by giving some well-deserved and much-needed recognition and appreciation to our most important assets, our people! And let’s keep it up throughout 2022 and beyond.

A very merry Christmas to all of our clients, visitors and readers!


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