10 Recognition Ideas You Can Use Today

by Allan Peretz

The great thing about Employee Appreciation Day is that it reminds managers to thank their employees at least once a year. The bad thing about it, though, is that it only comes once a year. Employee recognition really needs to be an every day event.

According to a Deloitte study, "organizations with recognition programs which are highly effective at enabling employee engagement had 31% lower voluntary turnover than organizations with ineffective recognition programs." Let that sink in... Is a "thank you" worth your time?

Whether or not you have a formal program, someone on your team almost certainly deserves recognition right now. With the approaches below, you can deliver it today.

Call an Impromptu Recognition Meeting

When someone's just over delivered with some great work and results, there's no time like the present to recognize it. Gather the team into a conference room and call out the accomplishment to the entire team. While your employee may be a little shy about all the attention, they will almost certainly appreciate what you've done.

Give Them a Little Time Off

Balancing work and life is a challenge for most employees and a little extra time is always welcome. When a superstar delivers, let them know and offer them a day (or the rest of that day) off. They'll use the time with family, to take care of personal task, or just to rest. Either way, they'll appreciate it.

Call a Happy Hour

Even if a bit over-used, this one's a classic and has the added bonus of encouraging socialization between teammates. This is a great one to use when you want to recognize the whole group for a big win.

Take the Employee to Lunch

Access to management is a big driver of employee satisfaction. Taking your stars out to lunch allows them to speak with you in a casual environment and on more "even footing" than in the workplace. Make sure you choose somewhere nice and somewhere that reflects their preferences (including any dietary restrictions) - taking them to the wrong place will backfire and show that you don't understand this employee.

Write a Perfect Appreciation Letter

In the digital age, a handwritten note, letter, or card can carry incredible weight. Use this approach!

Call Out The Achievement in a Group Email

This one's a little less personal than an appreciation letter but it does have its strengths. The great thing about a recognition email is that you'll have the time to formulate your thoughts and to capture details (like sales figures, customer testimonials, etc.) in your writeup. Make sure you include relevant members of senior management to give the note even more weight.

Give Small Appreciation Gifts

A big gift or bonus is great, but isn't always necessary. It truly is "the thought that counts." When an employee does something special, you can show that you noticed delivering their favorite coffee drink, the movie they said they've been waiting to see, or a small award.

Create an Everyday Employee Awards Program

The classic "employee of the month" program works fine but consider taking it a step further. Develop an anytime / anywhere awards program that allows not only you, but any employee to recognize great work at your company. Consider making awards freely available in a common area so that any employee can support your recognition program.

Ask "The Big Boss" to Drop By

For really big accomplishments, consider having your company's owner / CEO drop by to help you deliver recognition. Make sure you prepare the boss well, however, so that their remarks show that they know the employee's name, what they accomplished, and even a little something about the employee's personal life. This will make a major impact on the employee and the entire department.

Write Up The Employees Accomplishment "For File"

Even in today's digital world, the "employee file" is alive and well. When a team member does something truly outstanding, write it up, provide the employee a copy, and let them know that you're putting it in their personnel file.  The employee will know that this will help them not only today but also in the long-term even after they move assignments.