Menu
10 Creative Employee Recognition Ideas Your Company Should Be Using
Friday, Sep 16, 2016

Gone are the days of the employee-of-the-month plaque and designated parking spot. Employee recognition has become a hot topic in the HR community, leading more companies to part ways with traditional recognition programs (think: once a year holiday bonuses, annual reviews) and are replacing them with new and improved efforts. From increased productivity to boosted morale, the benefits of recognizing your employee’s hard work are endless, which is why you too should be creating a healthier culture with better ways of saying thanks. We’ve listed ten innovative ideas to get you started.

1)     Level Up with Gamification

Recently, modern workspaces have turned to gamification to engage and reward their employees.  In fact, the gamification trend has led to a sprawling niche software industry whose goals are to move beyond traditional badges and leaderboards, and more creatively harness the power of gamification in employee recognition. Software companies such as WooBoard, GameEffective, and BunchBall utilize cloud-based technology combined with gaming elements to empower employees through motivation, social recognition, and rewards. These programs are easy to integrate and drive meaningful appreciation in a fun, (sometimes competitive) new way.

2)    Wall of Fame

This is an easy yet dynamic way to promote peer-to-peer recognition around the office. Begin with a community chalkboard or dry-erase board in your workspace’s common area and encourage your employees to use it as the internal “Wall of Fame.” Leave notes of praise and thanks, encouraging quotes, and even photos of your employees accomplishing great things. This creative collage will boost spirits and inspire your employees to express their gratitude daily.

3)    Hop On the Wellness Wagon

Another trend in employee recognition? Workplace wellness programs, aka- the investment your company needs to make. Why? Health and wellness programs are a win-win for both your company and your employees. Investing your time and money in the health of your employees will result in less sick days used, more energy, and better corporate performance. You can start simple and use basic incentives, such as covering the entry fee at local running races, or providing reimbursement for gym memberships.  If you’re looking to make a bigger impact, try out some friendly competition! Set a goal for yourself and your employees, like a daily step count, and challenge one another to see who can reach the goal for the most amount of days within a given time period. Offer a prize to the winner – like a month’s membership to the local yoga studio, or better yet, a FitBit. These competitions are voluntary, too, so you can keep the games lighthearted and spirits up.

4)    Out and About

While in-office perks are always a plus, reward your team by taking them off-site to give them a break from their daily routine.  Dedicating some time away from their desks will double as an easy way to say thank you and offer an opportunity to recharge their batteries. Need some ideas? Local sporting events, wine tastings, and miniature golfing are an easy, fun way to get out of the office. Better yet, plan something that can promote cohesion and team-building, like a scavenger hunt, or live-action escape game that encourages team members to work together to solve puzzles, crack codes, and more.

5)    Get Social

Leverage your social media for more than company updates and industry-related articles. Implement a “Praise of the Day” and give shout-outs to your employees that have gone above and beyond in their accomplishments. Another simple idea is to host a monthly employee spotlight, giving employees from different departments the chance to stand out and share the projects they’ve been working on. Your efforts won’t go unnoticed- engaging social posts will show you appreciate your employees, a key feature in attracting top talent.

6)    “Not-To-Do” Awards

At iCIMS, we’re always looking for ways to “kaizen” things. In layman’s terms – we love improvement.  That’s why we established the Not-To-Do Awards –  an employee recognition program that rewards our greatest out-of-the-box thinkers for finding a way to save us time, money, or resources. Employees can submit their nominations to our panel of executive judges, and are rewarded with a monetary award at the end of the year.  Encouraging and rewarding your employees share their ideas and improve current processes is mutually beneficial and gives them the chance to share a hand in the bigger picture.

7)     Desk Drops

Say thanks with a small surprise. Desk drops are a simple way to say thanks and give your employees something to look forward to. Think: Starbucks gift cards, drink tumblers, sweet treats, tee-shirts and more. Small, creative gifts once a month or quarter are an easy way to show your appreciation for dedication and hard work, and be a pleasant surprise to jumpstart your employee’s workday.

8)    Go the Extra Mile(stone)

Milestones are important, and should be recognized with more impersonal lackluster plaque or gift card.  Get inspired, and celebrate employee loyalty in a way that expresses genuine appreciation. For smaller anniversaries, throw a party or decorate their desk, then surprise them with a small gift.  For example, Groupon gives their employees a bright, personalized track jacket on the day of their one-year anniversary. For more tenured employees, consider giving something more extravagant, like a vacation or paid sabbatical. Your sincerity and thoughtfulness will let them know they matter for years to come and give other employees something to look forward to.

9)    Passion Projects  

What is a passion project, you ask? A passion project is just that — a project you feel passionate about. Be it professional or personal, individual or team-oriented, encourage your employees to dedicate some time on the clock to a project of their choice as way to say thanks and ignite fulfillment. Your employees will appreciate your trust, and intrapreneurship can go a long way. Microsoft, LinkedIn, and Google all have products, both internal and external, as a result of intrapreneurship. Who knows, your company might be next!

10)    Time (Off) is of the Essence

Let’s not forget one of the easiest ways to thank your employees — good old-fashioned PTO.  More and more companies are beginning to recognize time as a reward, fulfilling their employee’s dedication with extra hours out of the office as a way to say thanks, but also to recharge their batteries. Want an inventive way to give time off? Give out 15 and 30-minute vouchers as spot awards for employees to collect and redeem for an ex