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What is Employee Recognition, and Why Does it Matter?

Employee Recognition is simply the act of commending individuals for their attitudes, behaviors, or contributions that make a positive difference.  

Why Employee Recognition?

It's good for people.

Showing people that they are noticed and appreicated for their contributions will make their day, maybe even their month or year.  People who feel appreciated for going above and beyond, do.  

It's good for business.  

Employee Recognition is the #1 driver of employee engagement.  Engaged employees are those who understand and embrace the mission of your organization.  They know how they can contribute and are eager to go above and beyond to help the organization succeed.

Organizations who's employees report feeling undervalued are more than twice as likely to look for a new job, while employees who do feel valued are almost 3 times more likely to be motivated to do their best.  

Bottom line, organizations that excel in employee recognition are 12 times more likely to produce strong business results.  - Bersin & Associates

Employee Recognition: 7 Best Practices

1. Recognize employees while the achievement is fresh - the sooner the better! 

2. Personalize the recognition.  Skip the form letter, and be sure each individual feels highlighted uniquely.

3. Be specific. Communicate to your recipients what they did to earn recognition, and how their contributions impact the organization.

4. Tie recognition to your core values. Recognition is powerful opportunity to communicate your core values by connecting employees' actions to their results. 

5. Be consistent.  Earn your employees' trust by being consistent with recognition throughout the organization over time.  

6.  Be sincere. Transparency and authenticity are essential.

7. Lead by example. Your leadership sets the tone for your company culture.  It's important for employees to see that company leaders see the importance of recognition, and actively participate.    

What's an Employee Recognition Program?

Employee recognition can come in many different forms: a high five after a great presentation, a handwritten note of appreciation to a co-worker, a certificate of achievement for achieving a milestone, or a formal award presented publically.

An employee recognition program is simply establishing a framework so that recognition happens consistently over time throughout the organization. 

Service Awards

Service Awards are the most common type of recognition program, and they are a meaningful way to demonstrate what your organziation values. Often, organizations that are just getting started with employee recognition will begin with a service awards program.  

>> Benefits of Service Awards Programs:

● Service awards are a good place to start with employee recognition

● can be setup and launched quickly

● builds community by involving all employees

● provides a framework for everyone in the organization to be recognized consistently throughout their career

● simple to administer, communicate, and manage with clear and objective criteria

>> Best Practices for Service Awards

● Recognize early and often.

● When possible, present service awards personally or in a group setting.

● Acknowledge the recipient's specific contributions to the organization. 

● Include new hires in your service awards program with a small Welcome Aboard Award

● Acknowledge every service anniversary. This can be as simple as a verbal congrats from a manager on "inbetween" years, with a tangible award for signficant milestones.

● Recognize "in context." Awards should approprriately reflect the level of achievement from early milestones to significant tenure.

● Use awards that incorporate your company symbolism

● Authentic, not automatic. Take advantage of the many tools available to streamline administration of your service awards program, but don't elimate the personal touch.  Use the recipient's name, and present the award in person with a sincere word of thanks.

Performance Recognition

Performance recognition can take many different shapes, including peer-to-peer recognition, manager-driven recognition, and recognition for performance benchmarks, like sales awards, attendance awards, or safety achievements.

>> Best Practices for Performance Recognition

● Tie recognition criteria to your organization's core values

● Communicate your program consistently and frequently to employees so they understand why the program is in place and how it works.

● Avoid "employee of the month" programs which are prone to favoritism or quota recognition, where everyone gets a turn regardless of performance.

● Instead opt for programs where a goal is set, and anyone in the group can earn recognition for meeting the goal.

● Always be sure to communicate how the achievement impacts the organization.


Visit our programs to learn about specific types of recognition programs, or check out our tangible rewards to browse a selection of products designed to recognize and reward employee achievements.

Terryberry can help you develop an employee recognition program from the ground up, or offer suggestions to enhance your current recognition program.   

Contact us for more information on starting employee recognition programs for your business.