10 Creative tips to recognize your employees and boost engagement

You probably realize that both employee recognition and employee engagement are important for the success of your business – but what is the link between the two? Employee recognition leads to employee engagement – it is an important piece of the puzzle that will help you to achieve your long term goals.

When it comes to implementing an employee recognition program, don’t be surprised if you start to see a massive increase in your employee engagement metrics. As engagement experts Derek Irvine and Eric Mosley write in their book “Winning with a Culture of Recognition: Recognition Strategies at the World’s Most Admired Companies”, recognition can make all of the difference in the world.

“Strategic recognition gives company executives the tools to create and manage a culture of appreciation at their firms for competitive advantage. For the first time, employee appreciation emerges as a sound management method that moves recognition from anecdotal morale-booster to data-driven business discipline.”

By managing your recognition strategy you can change your business from the inside out and gain results that are in line with some of the most respected companies on the planet.

What is employee recognition?

While you might think of recognition as simply ‘a nice thing to do for your employees,’ it encompasses a lot more than that. This is a strong and vital communication tool that can reward your top performers while reinforcing your corporate culture.

Employee recognition can include cash rewards, special privileges, verbal & written compliments, extra time off of work and casual dress days. It can also include much more serious rewards, such as awards, promotions, partnerships, mentorships and more.

Why is employee recognition important?

Employee recognition is one of the most important things that you can do to improve engagement – and therefore improve the health and prosperity of your business.

  • It shows employees that they are valued and appreciated
  • Recognition helps to encourage a sense of ownership in your company
  • It improves morale and helps to boost productivity
  • Enhances loyalty and retention, and reduces staff turnover
  • Creates an enjoyable and fun place to work
  • It motivates even the most reluctant employee

The role of the manager

Irvine, Mosley and many other experts in the field all preach one key component more any other –  CEOs and other managers must be the ones to lead strategic recognition efforts. As a leader in your industry and your company, you play the most important role in your corporate culture. You bring it to life, and you set the pace.

This is a form of active management – if you neglect to walk the walk and talk the talk, all of your efforts are destined to fail. Not only do you need to decide what kind of culture you want your company to embody, you also need to breathe life into this culture.

This means that you need to reach out to your employees and frequently recognize their efforts, but you also need to demonstrate and mirror these efforts. In addition, it’s a great idea to encourage all staff members to recognize and verbally compliment their peers and colleagues on a regular basis. This creates a warm, supportive and productive workplace.

In particular, millennials are motivated by rewards and recognition – if you want to attract and retain the best young talent, you need to make this a priority.

Best practices – how do top companies recognize their employees?

Let’s look at a key case study and have a peek at how Google motivates and rewards their top performers. They are on the cutting edge of tech innovation, and so in order to show that they value their best innovators, they have created an award.

Their Founders’ Award is given to teams who have created something amazing and therefore built value for the company. This recognition comes with a hefty cash prize that can be in the millions of dollar range. While the money is a lovely addition, it is the recognition itself that most employees are after – the chance to join the illustrious alumni who have also been granted this award.

10 Creative tips to recognize your employees and boost engagement

1. A meal with the big boss

Reward your employees with the chance to have lunch or dinner at a lavish location. Choose a restaurant that offers a truly marvelous experience, and provide transportation to and from. It’s a great idea to keep work chat to a minimum – use this chance to have meaningful conversations and learn about each other’s personal life.

2. Hold regular ‘Thank you’ meetings

On a regular basis, hold meetings just to say thank you to your employees. Don’t discuss other problems, bring up other issues or take the focus away from gratitude, plain and simple.

3. Give them recognition in front of their peers

Highlight a particular employee or group of employees by recognizing them in front of their peers. Include these accolades in a company meeting (such as the one suggested above), in a newsletter or in a group email.

4. Give ‘on the spot awards’

Give your employees instant recognition when you see them doing something exemplary. This can be something lavish, or something small, like a €5 gift card for Starbucks or a candy bar – it’s the recognition itself that is important.

5. Give spontaneous time off

Look out the window. Is it a beautiful day? If so, give an impromptu day off. Send your team an email that says, “go on and enjoy the gorgeous weather.’

6. Allow work-from-home days

If you know that your employee has a significant life event coming up (maybe it’s their child’s first day of school or an anniversary), allow them to work from home.

7. Delicious treats are good currency!

Arrive to the office with delicious donuts, fill the staff fridge with nice sandwiches, order pizza, or even hire a local food truck to serve up lunch.

8. Remember team birthdays and work anniversaries

Remembering birthdays and work anniversaries makes people feel valued and important. Bring some cupcakes or host a team lunch to make the occasion.

9. Employee competitions

Arranging a fun, healthy competition can help your employees feel motivated – and recognized. This can be based on performance, customer service or productivity.

10. Invest in their health

By showing your employees that you care about their health, you show them that you recognize their long term importance. Fill the fridge and cupboards with health snacks, invest in a bike share program, or negotiate a corporate rate for a local gym.

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