Coach Dave’s Innovative Ways to Recognize Employees

Employee recognition does not have to be expensive or a boring corporate gift. There are dozens of ways to recognize employees. Further, employees are more likely to work hard and feel valued when their work is noticed and appreciated. 

Recognition at work is key to making employees feel like they’re doing well. It’s proven to make employees more likely to stick around and creates an all-around positive work environment.

What are good ways to recognize employees? It depends on the team and the employee. Sales teams are often the most rewarded groups, but not alone. It doesn’t have to be a grand gesture—just the simple fact of acknowledgment can keep employees motivated.

Read on to learn nine innovative ways to recognize employees.

a group of employees celebrate with chair races in their office

Cash Doesn’t Rule Everything

People are motivated by a variety of factors. Consider the emotional, financial, and social aspects of rewards. The reward should match the employee and the job. It’s even more meaningful when they feel it aligns with their identity.

A Harvard Business School article notes that more than 80 percent of American employees say they do not feel recognized or rewarded, even though US companies are spending more than 20 percent of their budgets on wages.

Cash rewards can be motivating when work is measured quantitatively—such as sales, manufacturing, and customer service.

When to Reward?

It is argued that you should give a reward as soon as an achievement is made or milestone achieved rather than use a reward for a future bonus.

If you are incentivizing a team to reach a sales goal, they may only be consumed with money or large sales and forgo the long-term ramifications of client interactions.

How Other Companies Reward

Sometimes a good exercise in learning about innovative ways to recognize employees is by looking at other companies.

Disney has over 180 employee recognition programs. One of the rewards is on-brand—a Spirit of Fred Award given to longtime employees that exemplify the company’s qualities.

Groupon gives employees a bright green ADIDAS jacket for every year of service. They’re welcome to customize it, add their nicknames, or any flair they see fit.

The Motley Fool isn’t a joker with recognition. Besides the events hosted throughout the year, they rely on a peer-to-peer recognition tool that lets them give shout-outs that can be converted into prizes. For measure, employees let each other know about a job well done about 35 times a day.

Innovative Ways to Recognize Employees 

Most employees haven’t received a reward in the past year — that number is 65 percent.

Monthly MVP Trophy – think Dundies” from The Office.

  1. Monthly Newsletter Highlight – include their professional achievement, company impact, and who they are outside work.
  2. Upgrades – Surprise employees with a flight or room upgrade on their next business trip
  3. Parking Privileges – Parking indoors or in the first spot can inspire people to work harder without walking farther.
  4. Time Away – Offer free afternoons or an additional holiday day off
  5. Gift Cards – Similar to cash, but can be personalized for your employee’s favorite spots
  6. Verbal Recognition – Share employee success with their clients. It makes everyone in the room look better.
  7. Greeting Card – A handwritten card with a thoughtful, personalized message that can be saved forever.
  8. Donations – Offer a donation to the charity of the employees’ choice
  9. Paid Vacation – Offer outstanding employees a paid vacation for themselves and their families.

Sincere recognition at work motivates your crew to strive for greatness and makes them feel appreciated, which in turn creates a more positive company culture.

It’s more important to find ways to recognize your employees regularly with small gestures than it is to grant more significant gestures that are few and far between.

Click here and sign up for free weekly leadership tips. No strings attached.

Coach Dave



Dave Schoenbeck
Follow Dave