Creative Employee Recognition Ideas

When looking to hire new employees, an employer has to send out job ads, read a bunch of resumes, conduct several rounds of interviews, train the employee and get all the proper paperwork in order before the company’s needs are met. This is why employee retention and employee engagement are so important.
Every time an employee leaves a company because they don’t feel valued or feel appreciated at work, it comes at a cost to the company. The whole hiring and training process needs to happen again. If you want to know how to have happy employees you need to know a thing or two about employee recognition because employee recognition goes a long way to improving morale. Upper management better-recognizing employees for their sincere efforts to be valued workers will more effectively boost employee loyalty and company culture than anything else could.
Implementing employee recognition programs in the workplace will help your employees feel that their work is valued and the results of their work are valuable to the company as well. For those seeking employee retention, this is an important first step in answering the question of how to have happy employees.
Here is a short list of employee recognition ideas.

1. Say Something

Most people don’t work because they love to. In fact, most people work so they can afford to do the things they like outside of work on their own time. Their favorite part of the workday is usually lunch in the break room with coworkers. Most employees feel that work is more of a means to an end than one of their passions. That’s even more true for Millennials. If you’re going to ask an employee to go the extra mile by coming in early or to leaving late, you’re cutting into that personal time. Something as simple as saying, “Look, thanks for staying late. We really needed this done and I appreciate you taking the time to finish this,” is enough to make an employee feel recognized. Sometimes all it takes is a handwritten note or a 1-minute conversation to convey that you appreciate employees’ sacrifices for the company. Employee recognition ideas don’t have to be complicated.

2. Compensate Them

Obviously, you pay your employees for their work but sometimes it doesn’t hurt to reward them for going the extra mile. Afterall money definitely motivates some employees and would be the preferred option if they could pick from multiple rewards Extra compensation can come in the form of a bonus, gift card, or lunch. What the compensation depends on the budget of the company as well as the work performed by the employee. No one will say a surprise bonus from one’s supervisor is a bad way to express appreciation for employees’ hard work and talent.

3. Let Everyone Know What They Did Right

If there is an important project that needs to get done and an employee puts in the extra effort to finish it, there’s no reason that others shouldn’t know about it. Whether it’s a quick shout out to Bob the next day or a brief moment of recognition in the next work meeting for Emily’s efforts, employees should be publicly recognized for their good work. Public praise and acknowledgment are good for employees individually as well for the workplace as a whole. It shows that you appreciate everyone who works hard. Employee appreciation is staff appreciation. Not only can this make them feel good but it sets an example for their peers as well.

4. Help Them Advance

Ask your employees what they’d like to do either inside the company or outside of it. Is there a position they’d like to attain in the company? Some promotion they’d like to get? If there is, giving them extra work that puts them on the fast track to their dreams will help them feel recognized. Now they’re not just doing their job but working towards a goal. If you a creative employee, find work that helps them explore that. Find work that makes employees feel like they’re improving and working on something better. Ask their peers of employees what they’re each good at. Recognize employees’ personal goals and help find work that lets them accomplish those. Employee engagement is just as much about talent management as it is about deadlines and work habits.

5. Give Them Some Time Off

If an employee has been consistently working hard and meeting deadlines, one of the best things an employer can do is reward them by giving them time off to do more of what they really want to do. Perks like extra PTO help prevent burnout and give them a reason to work hard when they come back to the office.

6. Birthday Celebrations

Everyone loves cake. Try giving your employees cake on their birthday. It’s a simple way of recognizing them as individuals.

7. Recommend a Band or A Podcast

Get to know your employees. Get to know what they like and what they don’t. Look for musicians that they may enjoy or a podcast about something that they’re interested in. Maybe even a book they’d like reading. Nothing says you have to waste a whole day enjoying your employee’s personal interests or that they should read a book instead of work but turn them on to something they may enjoy is going to make you and the workplace more likable.

8. Work From Home Day

Technology allows us to do amazing things. One of those things a great many of us can do with technology is work from home. Some employees like to work in the office and some like to work from home. Telecommutes give employees more flexibility and control over their day. If your employee would like to work from home from time to time, let them do it. It’s a small thing that you can do to increase employee appreciation for the job.

9. Transportation Help

Although employers pay employees for what they do in the office, sometimes it’s nice to help cover the costs to get there. Many companies have travel budgets where they cover at least part of the cost of commuting to work. Providing your employees with a gas budget or bus and train tickets will reduce the cost for them to get to work. That makes the distance less costly for those who live further away, making the job more attractive.

10. Feed Them

You know that most of your employees probably don’t eat breakfast before they head off to work. Getting the office a good breakfast or the occasional hot lunch will make them greatly appreciate the company. Besides, who doesn’t love a good team lunch?


These employee recognition ideas will hopefully better help you know how to have happy employees. Happy employees lead to higher employee retention which leads to long-term savings in both time and resources.

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