“Hey, thanks for the amazing effort you put into the presentation. It stuck to the point and delivered our pitch just right. You were built for this!”

It took you five seconds to read that sentence. It’d take you barely fifteen seconds to say it out loud to someone, and guess what—it’ll take a long time to forget for the person you say this to.

Employee recognition is a timeless process, and it’s evolved from handing out cash-filled envelopes to making the workforce feel at home. While conventionally creative employee recognition ideas are all about monetary gratifications and carrots and sticks, the new generation of employees isn’t wooed by it.

The new era involves creative, funny, quirky, and legit out-of-the-box employee recognition ideas that involve making people feel appreciated and involved in the workplace.

But it’s not just about the twentyish creative and fun employee recognition ideas that are shared below, but some requisites to understand how to recognize employees that must be religiously followed to bring the spirit of recognition alive, rather than the specter that it is in most organizations.

How to recognize employees: 4 Essential tips

Do you wonder why every other piece reminds you that employee recognition is a round-the-clock process? Because it often gets ignored. The creative employee recognition ideas do no good if done once a year. Be it a customary lunch or a festive bonus, there couldn’t be just one thing your employees look forward to throughout the year.

Here are some requisites that lay the cornerstone of your employee recognition framework:

1. Regularity is the key

A culture without regular strands of recognition is gloomy and morbid. It doesn’t give the person coming to work a reason to hustle except for their paycheck. Of course, too much recognition leads to inflated egos and empty praises. Still, a regular recognition culture keeps things uniform and doesn’t result in hoarded compliments and thank-you notes at one point in time.

2. Recognizing at the right time

Recognition delayed is an opportunity denied— opportunities of motivation, zest, and sense of belongingness to the receiver. Recognition doesn’t always involve a pat on the back, but it comes with constructive criticism, which is a perfect way to wrap one’s feedback. If it is forgotten and left out for another day, its value is lost.

3. Keep it specific

A bland “thanks” or “good job” without reason doesn’t cut it and gives the receiver of recognition a feeling that their effort wasn’t worth paying attention to. Remember the specific things like “I loved the infographic on slide #12” or “your research about sales equilibrium was rather succinct” to give the person being recognized a better feeling about what they did.

4. Establish an employee recognition platform

These pints of praise and recognition can't be dropped into people's IMs and inboxes at all times. A virtual connection is a dire need for organizations due to remote ops and cross-functional teams, and an engagement platform would comprehensively deliver the culture of recognition.

Empuls, the all-in-one solution to employee recognition, engagement, and rewards help build a winning culture. With 360-degree recognition capability, driving productivity and performance is simpler and happier.

Recognize your peers, superiors, subordinates, and work-BFFs with value cards, tokens, and Empuls points, which can be redeemed at a comprehensive catalog of perks, experiences, offers, and vouchers.

This makes employee recognition simpler as any organization member can use creative and fun employee recognition ideas to acknowledge a job well done in a public forum such as Empuls. Want to know more? Check it out, or give it a whirl with a free trial.

10 Best employee recognition ideas that work

When it's about retaining the top talent, employee recognition is the first thing that comes to mind. That's because employee recognition is considered the best way to improve engagement, motivation, and overall employee experience.

Building a culture of recognition helps people feel valued, which leads to commitment and accountability and creates a sense of satisfaction.

Considering how important it is to recognize employees, here are the ten best employee recognition ideas that must be at your fingertips.

1. Constructive feedback

While critical feedback gets more eye-rolls than enthusiastic smiles, positive feedback strengthens people. Constructive feedback doesn't highlight the problem but gives a solution (and is often topped off with a job-well-done remark).

Managers and people on the high table should donate time to every personnel stuck in an uproar. Employees getting regular, constructive feedback is 3x more engaged than those who don't, highlighting its importance.

2. Tête-à-tête over lunch

A lunch with the CEO is deemed the highest honor in many organizations, and it is an excellent employee recognition idea. For an idea well presented, a target accomplished, or a big win, the manager, can take the individual or the team out for lunch and talk about everything but work.

Both parties showcase their off-work sides and a personality that might not be reflected in the workspace.

3. Value-based rewards

An organization's mission, vision, and values make it what it is, and value-based rewards exemplify the members who take them to heart, teaching them their work ethic.

Value-based rewards encourage the employees to learn about the organization's ethos and teach it in their daily doings. Based on that, they can be rewarded with praise and reward.

4. Company swag

Swag as a tchotchke is statistically a big hit across all generations and turns out to be a fantastic prize for recognizing employees. Swag as a step is an excellent choice to recognize and reward in public, and in the case of remote employees, they can always be shipped as a must-have hoodie, water bottle, or some stationary. Add this up with a personal note from the CEO, and you got yourself a handy recognition hamper.

5. Public recognition

Nothing gets across sharper than public recognition, and it's a fact. Public recognition or accomplishment via an award or certificate is the most preferred mode of bagging praise for employees, and that's what managers should strive for.

When it comes from the high power, public recognition lifts an employee's status in their mind. The others get the inspiration to recognize themselves, making it a great creative employee recognition idea.

6. Experiential rewards

A three-day retreat to a resort sounds like the ultimate token of recognition, and experiential rewards give just that. Not only do the receivers find experiential gifts convenient and unique, but there's a memory attached to it that, unlike any tangible thing, doesn't fade away.

The weight that these gifts carry makes them look rather befitting, coming from high-level managers or on the organization's behalf.

Many organizations prefer point-based recognition, which can be put towards experiential rewards by employees, giving them the freedom of choice.

7. A new vending machine

The best form of recognition is one that gives your workforce a reason to hustle harder. Metaphorically, a new vending machine, a popcorn stand, or anything can be put to use as a creative employee recognition idea by coining it to the result of all the efforts put forth by the team. This brings out the best in your workforce, and every day they look at it, they have a sense of pride—mission accomplished.

8. Picnic day

With the onset of jam-packed workweeks and tectonic full-day shifts, a getaway with the employees is always a good idea. Often termed as "company retreats," these lowkey picnic days are perfect for recognizing employees after a quarter that went well or one that could've been better.

With the managerial figures involved in an activity such as this, picnic day would greatly recognize employees and their efforts, which earned everyone a day of fun.

9. Manager of the week

This recognition—often celebratory—has the potential to be a game-changer. This unique employee recognition idea can be the right pedestal for your organization's think tanks you've got big plans and ideas to bring forth.

It's all about how to recognize employees from every quarter—be it team-wise or in the whole organization—and give them managerial authority for a week. Watch great things happen as ideas transcend into reality.

10. Health and wellness perks

Exclusive perks are customary to recognize employees, and they can't be written off. Health and wellness perk the hour's need, as every working person needs to take care of their mental health to balance themselves and their jobs, let alone their family lives.

From something as therapeutic as a spa session to Employee Assistance Programs, all of it helps. While health and wellness can be a recognition tool, something like the Employee Assistance Program is a bare necessity and accessible to all. Recognition doesn't always flow from top to down.

Revolutionize it all with a stellar Employee Recognition Platform

When it comes to employee recognition, it's always a case of "how do I begin" for CXOs and HR. A dedicated recognition platform keeps it all in check. Not only does it make recognition a part-and-parcel of every employee's day, but regular recognition is bound to get results.

Increased employee productivity, a positive experience at the workplace, and a high eNPS score are some of the many benefits of a comprehensive employee recognition platform.

If you think, "what are my options?" then give Empuls a whirl. It's an all-in-one engagement platform that takes care of employee rewards and recognition ideas, employee motivation, sharing big wins and small, and more. To put the cherry on top, all of these recognition ideas can be tried out on Empuls!‍

Ready to put these creative ideas to use?

Recognition is a timeless art, and it would only make your organization's efforts better than what they are at the moment. When the organization keeps up with it the right way, it shows in its efforts.

In case recognition feels like a tough task, you can always take the help of Empuls—the all-in-one rewards, recognition, and engagement platform. Talk to us for a demo or start a free trial.

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Syed Maaz

Syed Maaz LinkedIn

Maaz is a writer by heart and by deeds. Since he discovered the wrath of words on people's minds and hearts, he's made it his quest to match people's thoughts to intricate topics by demystifying them.