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24 Fast and Fun Ways to Recognize Employees

Written by: Andrew Clark
(View Author Bio)

Building a positive and energized workforce takes more than participation in a company recognition program. It takes attitude and action to support the initiative.

Here are 24 fast and fun ideas leaders can use to give employees the recognition they deserve:

  1. Write a welcome note to each new employee and mail it to the home address a few days before the employee’s start date.
  2. Greet each of your employees by name every day. Exchange a few pleasantries and show that you are happy to see them.
  3. Make it a priority to get to know at least one thing about each employee on a personal level such as hobbies, volunteer activities, pets, children, leisure pursuits, etc. This gives you a wonderful way to open a casual conversation.
  4. At the end of the day, ask at least one employee what went well for them that day. This gives you the opportunity to give immediate reinforcement for good work.
  5. Use an employee complaint as an opportunity to get feedback on how things could be done differently.
  6. Recognize the simple as well as the grand. It’s just as important to recognize a new employee for quickly learning a task as it is to recognize a long-term employee for being a great leader.
  7. Use an employee’s name when you speak with them. Calling a person by name is one of the most basic ways to show that you respect them as an individual.
  8. Make someone feel great today. Each time you compliment an employee, you are encouraging them to continue their good work and to find even better ways to get the job done.
  9. Ask employees for feedback. Sometimes the best recognition you can give is to simply listen. Listening tells an employee that you value their opinions and are willing to take the time to hear them out.
  10. Hold a light-hearted brag session. Ask each employee to brag about one positive contribution they make to the team or the company.
  11. Show employees how much you respect them by sharing key organizational measurements with them on a regular basis. Employees should know how their work impacts company success.
  12. Acknowledge employment anniversaries every year. Make sure employees know you value their loyalty.
  13. The more you smile and laugh, the more your employees will too. Attitude is contagious – both positive and negative.
  14. If you are meeting virtually don’t hide behind the microphone. Turn on the webcam and show you are fully engaged in the meeting.
  15. Ask your employees what they need from you to do their best. Listen carefully. Explain that you will do your best to support their needs, but only promise what you know you can deliver.
  16. Share messages of praise from customers, suppliers, managers, and other employees. Show the message to the mentioned employee first and ask permission to post it or to read it aloud at a group meeting.
  17. Tell your superiors about your special employees. This helps them get to know who may be ready for career advancement. It is also a testimony to your great management skills!
  18. Create a short survey for new employees to fill out on their first day. Include things like preferred name, previous employer, alma mater, family, hobbies, etc. Post or email the information to colleagues so everyone has some quick conversation starters when meeting the person.
  19. Introduce good employees to other managers. While you don’t want to lose a good employee, it’s better that good workers stay with the company when they are ready for advancement or a change instead of going to the competition. It also demonstrates that you are a team player.
  20. When you implement a suggestion made by an employee, make sure to let their colleagues and your managers know where the great idea came from. Doing this gives you credibility throughout the company.
  21. Help a good employee develop professionally. Suggest specific company training classes, additional education, books to read or seminars they might attend to build their skills.
  22. Ask employees about their current work in a way that starts a conversation: “Tell me about what you are working on right now.” Listen carefully. Avoid yes or no follow-up questions. Encourage a bit of bragging. End the conversation with a “Thank you.”
  23. Be honest. When you make a mistake or can’t follow through on a promise, make sure to communicate quickly and clearly with the affected employees. Although they may be disappointed, they will appreciate that you are treating them with respect.
  24. Make it personal and real-time. Successful managers keep their teams innovating and creating by using recognition that is timely, specific, sincere, and positive.

Andrew Clark

President, BI WORLDWIDE Canada

As President of BI WORLDWIDE Canada, Andrew's primary focus is to develop employee engagement strategies and recognition solutions that change the behaviours of employees and achieve measurable results. Andrew is an evangelist for the principles of behavioural economics which are at the core of what BI WORLDWIDE Canada does.