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6 Employee Recognition Ideas to Build a Culture of Appreciation

What kind of employee recognition ideas should you employ to build a culture of appreciation? Read on to find out!

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A Culture of Appreciation is all about valuing individuals - both as an important part of the business and as human beings. And this isn’t just a top-down mentality; the actions and words of all team members contribute to this culture. When appreciation becomes a part of your culture, it’s habitual and ingrained into the very structure of an organization

Appreciation and recognition come in many forms; it can be a monthly award that’s handed out by the CEO or a shoutout in a team meeting. Perhaps it’s a year-end bonus, a gift card to your favorite coffee spot, or an extra day’s vacation. Maybe, it’s something as simple as a “thank you” for a job well done. 

You can be as creative as possible when it comes to showing appreciation for your team, but whatever form it takes, employee recognition is the cornerstone of a good company culture. 

What kind of employee recognition ideas should you employ to build a culture of appreciation? Read on to find out!

Why employee recognition is so important

Corner offices, pay bumps, and table tennis are all well and good, but the real secret sauce to keeping your employees engaged is letting them know that their hard work and achievements have been noticed

When you proactively take the time to show employees that you appreciate their hard work, those employees will feel good about their efforts. When you show them the role they play in the company’s success, they’ll feel like active stakeholders in it. In fact, studies show that employees whose manager consistently acknowledges them for good work are 5x more likely to stay at the company.

And when people are publicly and consistently recognized for embracing actions and behaviors that reflect company core values, those behaviors are put in the spotlight and amplified. In other words, as leaders, if there are actions that you believe are inherent to your organization’s culture, employee recognition is a great way for team members to set a positive example for others to follow.

“Recognizing others feels good, and feeling appreciated and recognized feels great! Giving verbal or written shout-outs and recognitions is extremely simple, yet impactful. It’s a feel-good, positive loop!

Beyond that, we all know that what gets recognized gets repeated. Looking at theories of motivation and Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, we know that esteem needs are one of the important psychological needs for individuals.
Being recognized, appreciated and feeling valued fulfills this need and can play an important role in motivating behaviour.”

- Katie Wray, Senior Manager of People & Culture at Bucketlist Rewards

6 employee recognition ideas 

In order for recognition to be effective, it needs to be meaningful and impactful. This may require you to go beyond traditional recognition efforts like “Employee of the Month” awards and Christmas bonuses.

Building a Culture of Appreciation is a fun and exciting process. Here are some of the ways that you can give recognition within your organization to ensure that it is impactful and engaging:

1. Empower team members to recognize each other; unlock the power of peer-to-peer kudos

Instead of having recognition with a top-down approach where only managers hand out awards and acknowledgement, empower your people to recognize each other’s efforts. Encouraging team members to recognize their peers will not only help people feel more connected to each other, but also feel more connected to the company's goals and values. It’s a simple but effective tool that high-performing organizations use to foster more cohesive teams. 

There’s many ways you can do this, such as implementing an employee recognition software that allows for employees to easily recognize their peers for a job well done, or throwing a peer-to-peer recognition event like Secret Snowflake, which lets individuals give public gratitude to other people in the company! It’s especially perfect for the holiday season. 

Virtual Secret Snowflake by Confetti

2. Give recognition beyond KPIs and overtime 

Your people are much more than just their jobs, so why just focus your recognition solely on what they achieve in the workplace? From personal achievements to life goals, recognizing who your employees are both inside and outside of work will make for special and personalized recognition that is as unique as they are. 

Side note: There’s a new movement for building workplace cultures that supports all aspects of an employee’s life so that they may thrive, both at work and in their personal life (because we don’t leave our personal lives at the door when we go to work!). It’s called the “Whole-Person Workplace,” and if this peaks your interest, check out Bucketlist Rewards’ recent playbook on building an employee experience that supports the whole human.

3. Incorporate company core values

Core values matter. From small startups to billion-dollar giants, every accomplished business has a collection of values upon which their success has been built. But it’s not just enough to write them down in your employee handbook or stencil them as a motivational reminder on the office wall. Recognition is a great tool to turn your core values from an idea into a reality. By rewarding employees for actions and behaviors that reflect your values, you help to build a virtuous cycle that engrains them within everyday life at your organization. 

4. Embrace technology 

Modern platforms make it easier than ever to recognize your teams and help them to feel connected to your company’s core values. Especially on teams where peer-to-peer recognition is the norm, various digital platforms can be integrated so that kudos can be given, received, and interacted with in real time. Platforms like Slack, Confetti, and Bucketlist Rewards can help you to create customized programs that will take your employee recognition to the next level. 

5. Make the most of milestones

Milestones matter. Whether it’s a birthday or a work anniversary, there are occasions that are unique to every person on your team. They’re also a time to reflect, an opportunity to look back on accomplishments and progress. That’s why celebrating them is a crucial part of any employee recognition strategy. Whether you give people shoutouts in team meetings or give out gifts, it doesn’t take much to make someone feel recognized. If you want to go a step further, celebrating milestones with memorable events — like Workplace Gratitude — can be an incredibly effective way to combine team building with your recognition and rewards program. 

Virtual Workplace Gratitude

6. Gamify recognition

From the app you use to track your steps to the rewards program at your favorite coffee spot, there’s a good chance that you’ve experienced gamification at some point in your life. Depending on your team’s culture, gamification can be a way to make recognition even more engaging and fun! 

Prompts such as “the person who gives out the most recognitions this month will win a prize” or having a recognition leaderboard can create some friendly competition to incentivize appreciation, making it easier for your employees to buy-in and bringing whole teams together with a shared purpose. 

The bottom line 

The ultimate goal of a Culture of Appreciation is to make the act of appreciation a habit. Small actions like setting time aside at the start of every team meeting to share kudos or making sure appreciation is on the agenda at your next town hall, can help to engrain recognition into your team’s day-to-day lives. 

The world of work is changing. In an era of people power and the battle for talent, it’s vital for organizations to do everything they can to attract and retain the very best people. That’s why employee rewards and recognition are so important. 
Your employees want to feel connected to their work, to be appreciated for their efforts, and rewarded for the impact they have on the company. By tapping into this fundamental need you won't just help to build a better workforce, you’ll build a whole new culture. 

We know the power of employee recognition because we’ve experienced it first hand. It’s what drove us to create the number one Employee Rewards and Recognition Platform, so organizations across the globe can create programs that work for their business. 

If you’d like more ideas on building a fun and engaging Culture of Appreciation in your organization, check out the Bucketlist blog for more resources, tools, and strategies! 

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