8 Employee Recognition Examples from Thriving Workplaces

Employee recognition examples

Employee recognition and appreciation is a crucial aspect of creating a thriving workplace. It not only boosts employee morale and motivation, but also increases job satisfaction and productivity. A workplace where employees feel valued and appreciated is more likely to retain top talent and attract new hires.

But how do you effectively recognize and appreciate employees? It can be difficult to generate good ideas that your employees will love.

So we pulled together 8 examples of effective employee recognition that can inspire your own.

8 Examples of Effective Employee Recognition

1. Celebrate Work Anniversaries – Every Year

Recognizing employee milestones is a powerful way to show appreciation and ensure that everyone feels valued. This is something that Yorkshire Building Society (YBS) discovered when they noticed that only customer-facing employees were receiving recognition, leaving those in supportive roles feeling overlooked. 

To fix this, YBS implemented a recognition program that focuses on a milestone that every dedicated employee experiences: work anniversaries. Starting from their third year, YBS employees receive a unique yearbook, filled with personal messages and photographs from both colleagues and leaders. 

The impact of this program was immediate, as within the first half-year of implementation, over 3,700 comments and 1,100 photos were added to employee yearbooks, demonstrating the significance of recognizing and appreciating the contributions of all employees.

2. Make Employee Recognition a Unique Experience

Employee recognition should be a meaningful and memorable experience, rather than just a transactional act. NewYork-Presbyterian healthcare understands this, and created a dynamic employee recognition program that encapsulates their culture. 

The program includes Mobile Appreciation Stations located throughout the hospitals, allowing employees and leaders to personalise recognition moments with heartfelt messages, eCards, points, and nominations via their recognition platform – a brilliant idea. 

These heartfelt recognition experiences have had a profound impact on employees, fostering a sense of belonging, and reducing turnover at the hospitals. This program is the perfect example of how recognition can be transformed into an experience that actually resonates with employees.

3. Use a Peer-to-Peer Rewards Program

Zappos, a huge e-commerce chain, is known for its special focus on company culture. Its rewards program is in line with its motto of “doing more with less,” and is based on a peer-to-peer format. 

Employees can earn “Zappos Dollars” for training participation, and these dollars can be redeemed in the office through branded vending machines or donated to a Zappos partner charity. 

The awards are wisely tailored to each specific office location. For example, in Las Vegas, employees can nominate a colleague for a special parking spot as a reward. This peer-to-peer style of recognition gets the entire team involved, and raises morale company wide.

4. Post Employee Success Stories Around the Office

GE was struggling to keep employees engaged, so between 2010 and 2014, they really doubled down on their employee recognition efforts, and one of their goals was to make their appreciation more public.

They began with a wall-mounted dashboard that highlighted employee achievements and performance, but they eventually went the extra mile by turning some of those achievements into creative “six-word success story” posters and posting them throughout the office. 

This kind of public recognition was a big part of their holistic change management plan, and led to continued success.

5. Utilise a Simple Thank You Note

E.On, a German utility company, understood that effective employee rewards don’t always have to be costly or complex. They introduced the “Buzz” recognition program, which allows for personalised recognition through digital and physical thank you notes. 

This approach broke down hierarchies, allowing employees to receive “thank yous” from managers and peers alike. The program also included leadership teams, with senior executives personally recognizing nearly a thousand employees! This thank-you note approach demonstrates that simple, heartfelt employee recognition messages can have a significant impact on employee engagement and motivation.

And the results speak for themselves:

  • E.On’s staff motivation score increased from 61% to 69%
  • The number of employees “feeling valued” increased by 39% to 52%
  • Employee understanding of E.On’s business vision also rose from 57% to 75%

6. Personalise Employee Appreciation

Roto Rooter understood that recognition awards should be tailored to the individual in order to be truly meaningful. To achieve this, they created specific rewards and recognition trophies for nearly 3,000 employees across multiple locations in the United States. Each award was a special gift designed with the employee’s location in mind, ensuring that their hard work was appreciated with unique gifts that align with their personal preferences. 

This approach led to a successful refresh of their recognition program, with 75% of employees expressing their love for their awards and 66% planning to keep and display them. This showcases how personalization in recognition awards can lead to increased employee engagement and appreciation. You could easily give special corporate gifts to accomplish something similar.

7. Ensure Everyone Gets Paid Time Off

Apple is known for providing a great workplace experience, reflected in the numerous accolades they’ve received, such as being named the best private-sector employer in the UK by Indeed and the 6th best company to work for in the US by LinkedIn. One of the key components of Apple’s success in managing workplace experience is its comprehensive employee recognition strategy. 

For example, during the holiday season, Apple goes above and beyond by offering an extended holiday break for its entire workforce, allowing them to take a week off and enjoy paid holidays for three days in a row – and they make sure different locations and cultures receive the same paid time off for equivalent holidays. This ensures every employee feels valued – regardless of the office location.

8. Go Above and Beyond with Employee Recognition

Walt Disney is known for offering a wide range of employee awards, including pay raises, plaques, trophies, and public recognition. However, Disney also offers something truly special and creative for employees who go above and beyond – the Magic Backstage Sweepstakes. 

This program allows managers to nominate workers who have made notable contributions and enter them into a drawing to win a night in Cinderella’s castle, a free Disney vacation, or another grand prize of similar value! This program not only recognizes and rewards hardworking employees but also incentivizes other cast members and staff to strive to provide the magical experience that Disney is known for which ultimately attracts more visitors to the park. 

Disney’s sweepstakes goes above and beyond to make sure employees feel extra appreciated.

Be Inspired by These Employee Recognition Examples

From bonuses and incentives to heartfelt thank you notes and posters, organisations across the world have found many effective ways to recognize and appreciate their employees. Use these examples to inspire your own employee recognition ideas to foster a positive and productive work environment, increase job satisfaction and productivity, retain top talent, and attract new hires.