Employee Recognition Ideas for Teams That Do the Most

At Work


Mia Abrahams

Think back to the last time you had a win at work—big or small. Maybe you nailed a client presentation, mentored a new summer intern who’d been feeling a little overwhelmed, or navigated a particularly crazy week of meetings despite a mountain of personal commitments (or just regular life stuff!). Knowing you’re killing it at work is validating, but being recognized externally for that skill, effort, and success can be a big contributor to overall job satisfaction.

Of course, bonuses, promotions/raises, and other substantial incentives will always be appreciated. But everyday rewards matter, too. According to a Gallup report, when employee recognition is effective, workers are five times as likely to feel connected to their company’s culture, and five times as likely to see a path to grow there. But only 23% of employees are satisfied with how much recognition they receive. So we’ve collected some of our favorite ways to show employee appreciation well—no coffee chain gift cards on the list!

If your old ways of highlighting accomplishments aren’t resonating, try shaking things up.

Tell ’Em to Take Off

Your time outside work is extremely precious. Once you’re done with family and household commitments, exercise, going to those drinks you scheduled three weeks ago but now really don’t want to go to…you don’t have much time for yourself. And when work entails demanding hours and lots of meetings, every bit of free time counts. One way employers can meaningfully show appreciation is to give back some of this time—a morning off after a week of late nights, summer Fridays, or an annual Employee Appreciation Day holiday. Valuing people’s time is one of the most direct ways to show value for people, period.

Prove Gift Giving’s Your Love Language

We probably don’t have to sell anyone that hard on getting gifts, right? But, if we can look the proverbial gift horse in the mouth, we would caution leadership to stay away from generic and thoughtless clutter. Instead, try to curate items that align with company branding and values. If your company works in the green energy space, a Citibike membership and nice reusable coffee tumbler may inspire more enthusiasm than a lackluster box of chocolates or wasteful tchotchkes.

Similarly, think about matching the gift to the milestone or occasion being celebrated. Think: a box of functional baby-themed items for a new parent on leave, or a bestselling book on leadership to a newly promoted team leader.

Cheers to a job well done. (Photo: Death to Stock)

Use Your Words

Hearing directly from your supervisor or team leader that you’re doing good work can be incredibly impactful. Personalized positive feedback is reliably motivating, whether it comes informally, like in a Slack message or at the end of a regularly scheduled check-in, or formally, like in a team-wide email shouting out your work.

Our tip for when you get your due: Save a folder of emails with that positive feedback from managers and coworkers—you can go back and remind yourself of your skills and contributions when you need a confidence boost (or are negotiating a promotion or raise).

Get Creative (and Gamify)

If your old ways of highlighting accomplishments aren’t resonating, try shaking things up. Through New Stand’s employee rewards program, managers and org leaders can distribute points and choose other fun, low-lift ways for individuals to earn them (via our proprietary app). Team members can then use earned points as purchase credits at retail points like their in-office New Stand market. Sleek new notebook? Yes, please!

Besides top-down rewards, shouts from your coworkers can often be the most validating, so don’t sleep on facilitating peer-to-peer kudos, as well. In a similar spirit, carve out moments of communal praise; shared acknowledgement often reverberates more profoundly than a single pat on the back. If you’ve ever been part of a curated team experience or special dinner out together, you know that celebrating teamwork with a group can be one of the most memorable ways to feel valued.

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