Employee Recognition Ideas

Make Their Day Readers Share an Employee Recognition Idea

We can never have enough employee recognition ideas or examples of what works! Here, readers share some of their successes.


BCMinistry Recognition IdeaHere is a peer recognition idea you might like!

“We developed a BRAVO BALLOON with gifts and cards are placed in the basket of the balloon. Staff can choose something from the balloon to give to a co-worker to thank them or recognize them for a job well done. We located the Balloon in a central location in the office, hanging from the ceiling and visible to all who walk by.

“It has been well received and we track the use by asking people to sign a tracking sheet with the gift they chose, the recipient and the reason. We have left the signing out as optional but most seem to have not concerns with filling out the sheet. Gift values range from $5.00 to $10.00 and include gift coupons for coffee, music CD’s and health food, as well as pens and coffee mugs. We have a suggestion box placed near the balloon to solicit ideas for other gifts.” Heather M. Rice, RFT, Forest Health Officer, Vernon, BC

Recognition Rock Star

you rock - inexpensive recognition ideaHere is an example of a recognition idea that costs nothing!

“A Supervisor within our building distributes rocks as awards. The rocks can range in size from a tennis ball to a football, but each is hand-painted with “YOU ROCK!” , “You’re a ROCKSTAR!”, etc. Along with being free, and very well received by the recipients, they also serve as a great conversation piece sitting on a desk, and have encouraged other colleagues to adapt similar ideas, thereby increasing the level of overall recognition.”
Jeff Leining, U.S. Bank

Written Treasures

Written notes are some of the most valuable recognition given. This recognition idea encourages people to write and keep these notes.

“I have a note that my director wrote from 10 years ago. It always makes me feel good to go back and read it when work is getting me down. Last month I gave each of my 98 employees a wooden box with a letter inside encouraging them to use the box as a treasure box – a treasure of kind words, thank you cards, words of encouragement or recognition so that they too could go back and read them.”
Kathy Ehlers, BA, RRT, Director of Respiratory Care, Forrest General Hospital

Peer Recognition Book

Many people have adopted this recognition idea in their workplace. It is very effective!

Patricia Marsh, Manager, Ministry of the Environment writes: “When I was at your course [Strategies for Recognition Programs that Work] one of the participants (BC Lottery) told us about a simple, inexpensive way their group did  recognition – I adopted it here, and the feedback is amazing – people love it !! I just got a ringed book (about $4.00), started with my own entry, and passed them out – six books, six hundred staff. I call it “You’re a STAR” – on the inside cover is the message – Someone thinks you’re a STAR – the person writes the name of the person they are thanking, the date, and signs their names. The idea is to keep the book moving.”

And this is what one recipient had to say: “That little book you are sending around asking people to write something nice about someone and forward it along is a wonderful idea! It made my day! Thanks so much for reminding us to stop and say thank you once in awhile, it makes all the difference in the world.”

gameGame to Reinforce Recognition

Cheryl Miller of Wells Fargo created the game, Race for Recognition (see photo), with the help of her art and design group. Wells Fargo managers played this western-themed board game as a way to reinforce both basic recognition principles and Wells Fargo’s recognition programs. Nicely done!

Team Appreciation

Here is a recognition idea that uses an inexpensive item as reinforcement.

“Recently, our Human Resources team had a lengthy discussion regarding the Department’s dress code; specifically, appropriate hosiery and footwear during the summer months. The following week, I presented my staff with some flashy, fun socks to thank them for being professional from “head to toe.” Our HR team works incredibly well together to serve the 2300 employees of the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services. We don’t always feel that we’re appreciated by the masses, but we always show our appreciation for each other.” Linda Bos, Recruitment and Retention Coordinator, Nebraska Dept. of Correctional Services

director chair recognition ideaBalanced Opportunity for Recognition

Have employees who don’t seem to be eligible for existing awards? Here is a recognition idea for creating your own award!

“To ensure that all members of the sales team have the opportunity to be awarded, we have instituted the Director’s Award. Each quarter, I present the award (a director’s chair pictured in the photo)  to an outstanding individual whose work supports the efforts of the sales team.”
Doug Purcell
Senior Director, Federal Service Sales Worldwide
Cisco Systems

Small Business Recognition Idea

Here is a recognition idea that uses time off as an award (one of the most popular awards you can offer).

“My company is relatively small with 6 full time employees. In the summer I give the staff an extra day off before a long weekend to make a 4 day weekend. We also have a staff barbeque every Friday. Gives us a chance to sit together, eat and chat. Seems to work well with everyone always participating.” Rick Clarke, President, R&D Corporate Services Limited

Recognition Wall-BCLCSimple, But Effective

The IT Recognition Committee at the British Columbia Lottery Corporation created a recognition wall. As part of this wall they put up a big whiteboard and some dry erase pens. They use it to write notes of praise and appreciation to the team and to individuals. The whiteboard is used by both staff and managers and often includes project milestones, thanks for personal help, and congratulatory type stuff.  They erase items after about a week so that the notes are fresh and interesting. This keeps people coming back to read what has been written. The bricks that appear at the bottom of the wall each have a plaque that commemorates an  IT milestone. These bricks are laid in simple celebratory ceremonies.

Want more? Visit the Resources page

Have an idea to share? Click here