employee recognition program ideas

Recognition Guide
for Today's Employees

Empower your Team: Guide to Effective Employee Recognition Programs

Unlock the potential of your workforce with proven strategies and best practices for creating impactful recognition programs.


Appreciation forms the cornerstone of a productive and engaged workplace. Studies show that the primary reason employees leave their jobs is a lack of recognition. Instituting a regular appreciation program can yield remarkable benefits for organizations that execute it effectively. When employees receive frequent recognition and praise, they become more efficient, energized, and content.
This guide is your roadmap to crafting and implementing the most effective recognition program possible. Explore these essential questions:
  • What are the best practices for recognizing and motivating employees?
  • How can my organization develop a comprehensive and effective recognition strategy?
  • How can I ensure our startegy aligns with our culture and core values?
  • What are the initial steps to get started with employee recognition in my company? 

starting employee recognition programsContact us today and we'll help you get started. Call today, or use the forn below and we will send an information package to you, including a sample Employee Gift of Choice award packet, awards-catalog, and recognition certificate, along with pricing. A dedicated specialist will provide personal assistance and be your main point-of-contact.

Select-Your-Gift wants to help make recognizing employees easy! Get started now!

Welcome to your guide to creating and optimizing your employee recognition programs for enhanced talent retention and improved performance. Discover how to craft a recognition strategy tailored to the needs of today's workforce, complete with invaluable tips and ideas to boost engagement, morale, retention, and productivity. Your employees will appreciate it, and your business will reap the rewards!
Table of Contents: (click to jump to each section)

Understanding Employee Recognition

Employee recognition encompasses the acknowledgment and appreciation of an individual's behavior or accomplishments within an organization. It serves as a tangible demonstration of respect and gratitude, reinforcing the value of employees' contributions and achievements.

Recognition vs Employee Rewards:
While recognition focuses on acknowledging specific actions or milestones, employee rewards often complement recognition efforts to amplify appreciation for outstanding performance or accomplishments.

Appreciation Gifts vs. Recognition Awards
Appreciation gifts express gratitude and value for individuals within the organization, such as giving holiday gifts or other tokens of appreciation. Recognition awards, on the other hand, serve to formally acknowledge and honor achievements, reinforcing the culture of recognition within the organization.


Creating a Culture of Recognition

A culture of continual recognition is fostered when organizations integrate employee appreciation into their daily operations, providing managers with many opportunities to offer timely and meaningful acts of recognition. This continual and pervasive approach to recognition cultivates an environment where employees feel valued and motivated, leading to enhanced morale and productivity throughout the organization. Implementing this strategy will  influence everything and everyone in your company!

The Value of Employee Recognition

Before delving into the development of your organization's recognition strategy, it's crucial to understand its purpose and the benefits it can bring to both your company and employees. applause1-285-opt

  • Prioritizing Your People. Leading organizations prioritize the recognition of their employees, recognizing them as their most valuable asset. Research indicates that employee recognition is pivotal in fostering satisfaction, motivation, and retention among your workforce.
  • Simplifying Management. Employee recognition streamlines a manager's role by boosting morale and productivity within the team. Decreased absenteeism and turnover rates, coupled with heightened employee enthusiasm, translate into improved performance and a willingness to go the extra mile.
  • Improving Employee Engagement. Recognition fuels employee engagement, unlocking a wide range of benefits for organizations. Engaged employees exhibit higher levels of happiness, morale, productivity, and deliver superior quality products and services, driving overall organizational success.
  • Enhances Retention. Insufficient employee recognition exacts a toll on morale and productivity, significantly impacting retention rates. Research by SHRM revealed that nearly 80% of employees cited the lack of appreciation and recognition as a leading cause for contemplating leaving their current job.
    * SHRM - Society for Human Resource Management.

Value & Benefits of Employee Recognition

Due to the value and benefits of employee recognition programs, every organization should make employee recognition an integral part of their corporate strategy.

Some of the major benefits include:

  • Employee Hiring - Attract the best talent
  • Employee Retention - Keep your best talent
  • Improves Morale & Motivation 
  • Improves Employee Engagement
  • Creates a Culture of Recognition  - Builds a positive, encouraging, and rewarding work environment

Impact of Recognition Programs on Key Areas

Employee Hiring

hiring employees

  • Recognition plays a pivotal role in enhancing your employee hiring process. A study by Gallup highlighted that leading companies prioritize employee recognition, providing a competitive edge in attracting top talent.
  • Robust recognition programs contribute to improving your organization's reputation. Satisfied employees share positive experiences on social media platforms, elevating your brand's reputation and attracting high-caliber job applicants.
  • Individuals gravitate towards organizations with a robust company culture. A strong Culture of Employee Recognition becomes a distinguishing factor, influencing candidates' decisions in choosing their preferred employer.

Employee Retention

employee retention ideas

  • An effective Employee Recognition Strategy can significantly impact retention rates. Studies have demonstrated that employees are more likely to stay with companies where they feel appreciated and valued.
  • Recognition helps foster a positive work environment, enhancing job satisfaction and loyalty among employees. Additionally, recognition serves as a powerful motivator, encouraging employees to remain engaged and committed to their roles.
  • With an effective recognition strategy, organizations can reduce turnover rates and retain their top talent for the long term.

Employee Morale


  • When management prioritizes opportunities for personal growth, fosters employee involvement, and consistently demonstrates appreciation, employees perceive their value within the organization. Consequently, employees are motivated to contribute more to the organization's success.
  • Some ideas to further boost morale and motivation include: Encourage social gatherings, offer ongoing educational opportunities, facilitate brainstorming sessions for innovative ideas, and integrate employee recognition into some of your public events.

Employee Engagement
  • employee engagement and recognitionEmployee engagement is pivotal for organizational success. Employee engagement levels reflect sentiments toward their roles, their willingness to exert additional effort to achieve objectives, and their dedication to the organization. Engaged workforces consistently outperform their competitors.
  • Recognition serves as a catalyst for improved engagement, particularly when linked to tangible business outcomes. When achievements are acknowledged, it fosters a sense of ownership toward the organization's goals, and inspires employees to improved performance.

Effective Strategies for Employee Recognition

Employee-recognition-best-practicesEvery organization is unique and has its own culture, so what may work the best for one, may not work as well for another. However, certain practices can significantly enhance employee recognition programs across diverse organizations:

  • Timely:  For the biggest impact, be sure to give recognition as soon as possible. For example: When employees are "caught in the act" of doing something you appreciate, quickly provide a spot recognition packet, including a personal, hand written note of thanks. Similarly, strive to present Service Milestone Recognition, close to the employees' anniversary dates.
  • Frequent: If employees only get recognized on the service anniversary dates, they could go for years without any recognition. Each employee should be thanked and recognized often throughout the year. Remember, every acknowledgement doesn’t have to cost a lot, or even take much time. Often, a simple, personal thank you is all that is needed to recognize a job well done.
  • For a Specific Purpose: All recognition should be for actions or accomplishments that are aligned to your organization's core values, goals and principals. Did their efforts or achievement make a difference to the company, team, or customer? Point out the specifics of what the employee did when saying thanks.
  • Present to the Employee: When possible, present the Recognition to the employee directly. Preferably by their direct manager, along with their personal comments and/or note. The small amount of time it takes for leaders to show their appreciation can yield long lasting impressions on employees.
  • Present in Public: Presenting formal recognition in a public setting, such as an office or group meeting, provides positive reinforcement for both the employee being recognized and others around them. You are showing everyone the behaviors that are valued in your organization, and inspiring them to do the same.

Creative Ideas for your employee recognition committee:

Management should include recognition into everything they do. To help managers continually recognize their employees, managers need many different ways to provide that recognition - all working together to boost morale and make employees feel appreciated. Consider these employee recognition ideas and opportunities for inclusion in your comprehensive strategy:

    • employee-holiday-giftsHoliday Gifts for Employees - show appreciation for their hard work all year with a Christmas gift they'll love and remember. Our Gift-of-Choice Holiday Packets, with tier-level packages starting as low as $22 can  fit every budget. To make gift giving easy and memorable,  packets can be prepared with your company's Christmas message and logo. (details)

    • Employee Appreciation Day - National Employee Appreciation Day is observed annually on the first Friday in March. This day was designated as a way to show your appreciation to ALL employees, celebrating their contributions to the organization's success. A few ideas for this day: Have a meeting and talk about all the recent accomplishments; Bring in a Sundae Bar for the entire office; Have a Pizza Party; Give everyone a small gift.

    • service-anniversary-awardsService Anniversary Recognition - Recognizing years of service milestones are perfect ways to show employees you appreciate and value their loyalty and dedication, plus their significant contributions. Include recognition for Early Service (1, 2 and 3 years), at 5 year-increments, and for Retirement. (details)

    • Recognize New Hires – Human Resources can provide for special recognition of New Hires at the completion of your Onboarding Process.  Having a detailed and effective onboarding strategy will reduce employee turnover, and is the best way to welcome your new talent. It will help them understand their role, give the employee experience in their new job, familiarize them with your culture, and help them feel confident in their new position. (details)

    • spot-awardsSpot Recognition - Reward desired actions as they occur. This type of recognition has a positive impact when given On-the-Spot! Give each manager a supply of these to give out. Many themes are available, with price levels to fit every budget. Each includes a note card and a gift of their choice. (details)
    • Peer-to-Peer Recognition - Employees value praise and recognition from their peers. Peers know what others are doing, so when a co-worker acknowledges someone for their efforts, the impact is very meaningful. A feature is available within the Comprehensive Points Platform that allows employees to nominate their peers to get points. (see point programs below)
    • Points programsPoints-Based Recognition - Point-programs are powerful motivators, and are the best recognition solution when employees have multiple opportunities to earn points for various achievements. You can manage all your rewards and recognition initiatives in one online points-based platform. (details)
    • Safety Incentives Programs - Recognize employees, or teams, for their safety record, or for completing safety training. Successful safety programs can actually pay for itself by reducing amounts paid for injury claims. (details)
    • Sales-Contests-GuideSales Incentives - Create Sales Contests for defined periods of time. These are great tools to motivate your sales team, but will only work if designed correctly. Design your contests to give all employees an incentive to increase their own personal sales, and reward them when each person reaches their predetermined goals. (details)
    • suggestion-programsSuggestion Program - This type of recognition program encourages employees to come up with solutions for specific problems or improvement opportunities. (details)
    • Team Recognition – Recognising the entire team for an accomplishment  encourages everyone on the team, and creates a sense they're all in it together.

Reward Ideas - What to give for Recognition 

When deciding what to give employees as awards, remember the role of recognition is about Motivation! When planning your awards, some might suggest Cash is a good reward. So, let's see what the research says about using cash for recognition.

Studies repeatedly show that cash is a very poor motivator to get employees to do something different. That's because cash lacks trophy, or memory value. It will be quickly spent and forgotten! When cash is given to recognize great work, it's often perceived to be part of their compensation package. Employees will quickly forget the cash was given as part of the company's recognition of their accomplishments.

Unlike cash, Merchandise Recognition Awards are memorable and have a certain Trophy Value, providing long lasting reminders of the employee's accomplishment, their efforts to achieve it, and of the company that gave the award to them.

"If you want your Employee Recognition Program
to have a positive and lasting effect as a motivator,
merchandise will always be better than cash."

See the following three
Easy-to-Use Recognition Award Solutions:

Option-1: Employee Recognition Packets - gives each recipient a Gift of their Choice:

your-gift-theme-280Everything is included with each employee recognition packet: The presentation materials include themed stationery for your recognition certificate, a large gift catalog, the selected gift, and the gift shipped directly to the recipient (within lower 48 US). All this is included for one package-price for each tier level. Designed to fit every recognition budget with packages starting as low as $22.

They are perfect for all types of Employee Recognition Programs, including: 
      Service Awards - Recognising Years of Service Milestones
      New Hire and Onboarding Gifts - Welcome Gifts, or to acknowledge completion of your Onboarding program
      Employee Appreciation Day Gifts - The first Friday in March is a day companies thank employee for their hard work throughout the year.
      Employee Christmas Gifts - Most employees say a gift from their employer makes them feel valued.
      Employee Birthday Gifts - Another opportunity to remind employees that you care about them.
      Sales Incentives and Contest Awards - When a salesperson achieves their goal, they get rewarded.
      Safety Recognition Awards - Use Awards to maintain safety awareness, and to reward good safety performance.
      Employee of the Month Awards - The most important aspect is memorable recognition it provides.

Option-2: SPOT Recognition - to Instantly Reward Employees for great work, or for going that extra mile:

theme-a-spread-423The best way to provide SPOT Recognition is to use ready-to-go, instant, gift-of-choice packets. These are perfect because they are tier-level based and everything is included. An envelope, a card with everything needed so the employee can instantly redeem their award, and a note card for your handwritten congratulations message. 

With Spot Recognition cards, recipients can immediately redeem their award from a large online gift catalog. Choose the tier level for your awards, and one or more of our pre-designed themes. We can also create a unique spot recognition  theme design, just for you.

Order a supply for each manager to keep on-hand to reward employees when needed, immediately - when it happens!

See Program Details for: Spot Recognition 

Option-3: Points Based Incentive Programs & Recognition Software:

point-award-programs-smlFor a comprehensive incentive and recognition solution, consider our Points-Based Platform. A Points Program is the best solution when employees may participate in multiple recognition initiatives within your organization, and have many opportunities to earn points.

Features Include: With this one complete platform, you can manage all your recognition programs with these easy to use features:
  - Corporate Hierarchy
  - Budget manager
  - Peer-to-Peer Nomination
  - automated Service Awards and Birthdays
  - Reports Center
 A communication feature is also included for administrators to provide employees with updates and status information for each incentive/recognition initiative.

Earned points accrue in each employee's point-bank.  Redeemable from a large, online selection of great life-style awards.

Get Management and Employees excited about Employee Recognition

The difference between the success or failure of your Employee Recognition Strategy, is the organization's Executive Leadership, and their support for a Culture of Recognition. The most effective programs are only possible when senior management participates and strongly supports a continual recognition strategy.

See this article on the difference between Employee Incentives and Recognition. 

Good Communication is also key to your success.  When announcing your recognition plans, have Leadership help communicate what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. Get employees inspired and excited about your new recognition programs, making sure they understand its purpose, and are aware of their many recognition opportunities.

Ongoing Training for managers will help them understand the importance of employee recognition and how to do it effectively.  When managers get excited about your employee recognition goals and benefits, and are given the tools needed, they will be able to create an environment where people will feel valued and motivated.

To get Managers and Employees excited about Recognition, please see this article:

Tips to Create Excitement for Employee Recognition

How to Get Started with Employee Recognition

Starting-Employee-RecognitionReady to get your Recognition Program started? 

Contact Us Today - We make recognition EASY.

Call to talk to a Recognition Specialist
630-954-1287  (M-F, 8:30 am - 5:00 pm CST),

Or, use the FORM below to request FREE information.

We will work closely with you to help develop and manage efficient, effective and cost-saving employee recognition solutions.


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Program Information

Use this form to request your free information package, sent via US Mail. It will include:

*  Sample Employee Recognition Award Presentation Packet
*  Sample Gift-of-Choice Award Catalogs
*  How to tailor Award Presentation Packets
*  Pricing, order forms, and how to get started.

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