Organizations with a solid employee recognition strategy can get so many important benefits from recognizing their employees: stronger employee morale, higher engagement, better productivity, and lower turnover rate, among other benefits. 

Acknowledging positive behaviors and actions can result in up to 50% higher productivity, and a 20% increase in tangible business results. 

However, planning and implementing an employee recognition program for your company can be easier said than done. Using overused methods, and your acknowledgment might not feel authentic and genuine, which can be counterproductive in the long run. 

So, it’s crucial to find the right employee recognition program for your company, and in this post, we will discuss some of the best employee recognition ideas you can use to develop your program.

Let us begin right away. 

Top Employee Recognition Ideas in 2022

1) Straight-Up Bonuses

Bonuses here refer to monetary rewards that leaders can give to team members (and sometimes, the other way around). Bonuses remain one of the most common types of employee recognition, simply because they are effective when done right.

Employees obviously expect monetary rewards, and since the nature of the reward is typically immediate, bonuses are effective in maintaining employees’ morale and engagement.

2) Personalized Gifts

Giving personalized items like mugs, T-shirts, and even key-chains can be tacky, but when done right they can be very effective in making your employees feel valued by your company. Understanding the specific employee’s preferences and coming up with the right design for each of them is key for this type of reward to be successful. 

3) Gift Cards

Gift cards remain a very versatile form of reward that is very effective for acknowledging various behaviors and actions. Your options are simply limitless: you can purchase and give gift cards from your employees’ favorite brands like Apple, Amazon, and others, but there are also employee recognition platforms like Guusto that offer flexible and inclusive gift cards that your employees can redeem from more than 60,000 merchant locations.

By letting it be your employee’s choice, you can make sure your recognition reward is meaningful

4) Opportunities to Develop Themselves

Some employees would appreciate rewards in the form of opportunities to develop themselves further. You can give sponsored education opportunities to performing employees, but sponsored online classes can also be a more cost-effective option.

You can also offer sponsored classes and courses that aren’t directly related to their current expertise like Yoga classes and meditation classes, which can help in improving your employee’s overall wellness. 

5) Experiential Rewards

Experiential rewards are gifts that don’t come in the form of money or physical gifts, but rather will present the opportunity for your employees to experience something. Free event tickets are a great example of custom-tailored experiential rewards. For example, you can give them tickets to the next Lakers game or their favorite music festival.

You can also offer vacation benefits paired with paid leave, which can be a great way to improve an employee’s morale and wellness. 

6) Uber/Lyft or Cab Credits

A simple but great way to acknowledge employees who also happen to travel to work is to offer them Uber/Lyft or cab credits. This can help them reduce their commute expenses, and most employees will find this simple gesture meaningful. 

7) Free Meal

This type of reward can come in many different forms: taking an employee to a private lunch with the boss, which can also be a great opportunity for one-on-one conversations and recognition, bringing your employees’ favorite food truck to the office, free meal for the whole team, and even free meal home delivery (by partnering with a meal delivery service).

Everybody loves good (and free) food, and this is why this type of reward is effective.

Employee Recognition Best Practices

The employee recognition ideas we’ve shared above, albeit effective, can quickly fizzle when not implemented appropriately. With that being said, here are some best practices to follow in keeping your employee recognition program: 

1) Communication is key

Many companies make the same mistake of not continually reminding employees about the employee recognition program, its importance for your organization, and how it will benefit them.

Rules and policies surrounding the employee recognition program must be clearly communicated: make sure they understand the criteria of receiving recognition so they know that the awards are attainable. 

2) Timely rewards are key

In general, the sooner you recognize an action or behavior, the better. Ideally, acknowledgments should happen on the same day as the desired action or behavior. 

When delayed for too long, rewards can have a negative effect, so don’t make your employees wait until the end of the year for their project milestones award. Consider offering on-the-spot rewards whenever possible. 

3) Relevant, personalized, and meaningful rewards

Find out what each employee really wants and would find meaningful. Don’t waste your investment on rewards they wouldn’t find attractive or meaningful, but instead, make an effort to understand your employees’ needs, behaviors, and preferences.

For example, a younger employee located in New York may have different preferences on how they’d like to be rewarded when compared to an older employee located in Ohio. 

4) Fair, objective, and consistent

Make sure rules and criteria of getting acknowledged and recognized are easy to understand and make sure these criteria aren’t impossible to attain or they may end up demotivating your employees. 

Also, these rules should be consistent and fair: all employees across all departments and even levels should have equal chances of being recognized and acknowledged.

5) Develop measurable results

Make sure to continually evaluate and monitor the employee recognition program’s implementation and analyze measurable results. Identify the right metrics for your program’s success, and measure these metrics regularly through adequate analytics tools. 

Also, gather feedback from participants and stakeholders. Learn from this feedback, and optimize the program accordingly. You can, for example, conduct surveys to employees so you can address any issues as early as possible. Continue to maintain regular contact with participants and stakeholders as the recognition program is being implemented.

Wrapping Up

Implementing an employee recognition program can be quite tricky at first, but you can use the ideas and best practices we’ve shared above to improve the quantity and quality of the acknowledgments that you provide your employees. 

Effective implementation of your employee recognition program will translate into happier and more engaged employees, which in turn, can help improve your company’s productivity.