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Employee Recognition Programs Examples and Ideas 2017

If you are searching for “Employee Reward Program Examples” this article has some awesome ways to reward your employees, create more fun, and improve workplace morale! Having reward programs that give tangible awards increases employee engagement and rewards individuals who are willing to go the extra mile.

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Employee Recognition

A nonprofit organization is good at being able to recognize the valuable contributions of their volunteers. Although the recognition of the paid staff is often placed on the back burner. There are several reasons that you should focus attention on employee recognition. Employees who feel appreciated:

  • Are more likely to stay with the organization
  • Are more motivated and productive
  • Often go above and beyond what is expected of them

Employee recognition will let an employee know that their work is actually valued. It doesn’t cost anything and it can be done within 5 minutes and the results can have a lasting impact.

In this section:

  • What is employee recognition?
  • Why is it important?
  • Guidelines for employee recognition
  • Formal and informal recognition programs

What Is Employee Recognition?

Employee recognition is acknowledging a teams or individuals effort, accomplishments, and behavior that have supported the values and goals of an organization.

*Good Practice

Employee recognition isn’t a one size fits all type of thing. Thought has to go into what would be appreciated by the person who is being recognized. You should ask your employees how they would like to be appreciated.

Why Employee Recognition Is Important?

Employee recognition is important because it:

  • Improves employee retention
  • Increases employee motivation
  • Enhances loyalty
  • Improves morale
  • Helps to build a supporting work environment
  • Lets employees know that their work is appreciated and valued
  • Gives employees a sense of ownership and belonging within their workplace

Employee Recognition Program Examples:

In the end there’s no way to ignore that people are your company’s most valuable asset.  Turnover from dissatisfied employees is expensive because it is expensive to hire and train new staff members.  A proven method for inspiring your staff to perform up to their fullest potential is to take advantage of one of PromoGroup’s simple yet meaningful employee recognition programs.  Listed below you can see some employee recognition program examples.

1. Employee Reward & Recognition Gift Certificates:

Gift certificates are one of the easiest and most meaningful ways to reward and encourage your staff. These gift certificates are easily redeemed at local grocery stores like Walmart, Target, Kroger stores and more.

Grocery Gift Certificate

Grocery bills are a fact in every household no matter how much of a bachelor some of your staff might seem like.  A welcome relief for rising food costs could be your thank you through a Grocery Gift Certificate.

Grilling Gift Certificate

Put some substantial flavor on their table by putting a Grilling Gift Certificate in their hand.  They can easily visit their favorite store and select a rack of ribs or any steak they want, up to the maximum value of the certificate.  Any size, any variety, any brand.

Smokey Joe Grill Gift Certificate

These grills are almost as easy and fun to use as it is to just hand them out and put a huge smile on your employee’s face.  They can redeem their Gift Certificate at their favorite store for ANY Smokey Joe, up to the maximum value of the certificate.

Chocolate Gift Certificates

Chocolate is simple, just in the way that nearly everyone loves the stuff.  These are an easy way to say Thank You to those people that make your business successful and let them know that they aren’t just another number in the crowd.

Ice Cream or Coffee Gift Certificates

You probably don’t have the time to take every important member of your business out for ice cream or coffee.  But this gives you an easy way to extend your the gesture as a thank you.  They’ll love being able to go to their favorite place and get a free one on the boss.

Omaha Steak Gift Certificates

The title reads Omaha but when you give this as a thank you to your team they can use this for the purchase of any steak they want.

2. Office Retreat Day:

Abbotsford Community Services has a wellness circle that is made up of managers, staff, and supervisors. There are several events that are held for the employees through the year that include a Soup for the Soul luncheon to activities that make employees feel good like head massages, hand massages, chocolate fondue and Reiki.

3. Gifts, Cake, & Fun:

Women’s Resources has various ways of recognizing their employees. Staff birthdays are celebrated with flowers, gifts, and cake. A Secret Sister game is played around Christmas time where each of the staff will draw a name of another from a hat and then buys them little gifts for three weeks which leads to Christmas where they buy a large gift and give it to them. A Christmas luncheon is held and everyone will try to guess who their secret sister is. The secret sister will then organize the person’s birthday celebration.

4. Personal Recognition:

The Ann Davis Transition Society has created various ways to recognize employees. The executive director, Bobbi Jacob, writes personal acknowledgment notes to the employees that have done something good. They also have a Ground Hog Day pancake breakfast. Bobbi does this at her home and she cooks and provides breakfast for all of her employees.

5. Employee Awards Ceremony:

The Catholic Family Counseling Centre holds Cathy Awards every year around the Oscars. The awards were named after the executive director, Cathy Brothers. The communication director creates a list of categories for the awards. The employees vote in advance on who should get the awards. On the night of the awards, employees and their partners are invited to a casual pizza and beer supper at the agency. All of the costs are covered by the agency.

These Employee Recognition Program Examples bring the offices together through group lunches, massages, special office parties with cake, gifts, pizza and verbal recognition.  If your company has grown beyond the bounds of having the time to sit down and write everyone a note or hold having cake and ice cream for all of the 5,000 employee’s birthdays; you should consider the ease of having gift certificates for your employees.  They still get the much needed thank you for not only their birthday, but for any other time where you want to recognize them and let them know that you’ve noticed them going the extra mile, but you don’t have to either assign someone to run out and get the ice cream or take hours out of your day to write notes to each one of them.

Guidelines For Employee Recognition

Employee recognition needs to be something that is being a daily practice within your organization. For the best effect, you should incorporate recognition as part of your day to day life within your workplace.

Employees may be recognized for both group and individual achievements. Whenever you are recognizing a group of people, it is vital that every person be distinguished for their contributions. Group recognition will contribute to team building and lets the group know that they are valuable to their workplace.

In order to be effective, employee recognition needs to be heartfelt and sincere. Employees will be able to sense if their being recognized as a sense of duty or if the comments are lacking any sincerity. Acknowledging the accomplishments and efforts needs to be effective and timely. Remember, every person has their own preference on how they want to be recognized, what one person appreciates, may not be the same for someone else.

Recognition can be informal or formal. A formal initiative may be placed within a yearly, monthly, or weekly basis while informal recognition happens when it is merited.

Good Practice

Keys to giving positive feedback to an employee:

Bob Nelson, recognition expert, states that the following guidelines for daily recognition:

ASAP Cubed Guidelines

  • As proactive: Don’t wait for a perfect performance
  • As Positive: Don’t mix in criticism
  • As personal: Do it in person or use a handwritten note
  • As sincere: Do it because you are truly appreciative
  • As specific: Give details on the achievement
  • As soon: Timing is very important; don’t delay the praise


Without having a clear link to the performance standards, a manager may end up recognizing an employee just for doing their job. It is vital to have a performance management system in order to understand the difference between supporting employees to do their job, and recognizing great performance.

Formal And Informal Recognition Programs

There are plenty of ways for you to recognize employees. Below are the informal recognition ideas for managers. Employee recognition must be created to conform to the type of workplace culture that you have and to the interests and needs of the individuals. Some of the suggestions may fit while others may not fit all of the individuals or workplace cultures.

Informal Recognition Ideas

  • Giving a simple Hello or Goodbye is obvious but it is an overlooked form of recognition. Spending a few minutes chatting with your employees can open the lines of communication and even set a positive tone for the whole day.
  • Give a sincere thank you for a job done well. This should be done often and be specific.
  • Writing a personal note can be quite meaningful. You should keep a pack of note cards within your desk for convenience. You can also send emails to acknowledge a job well done, with a copy to the executive director.
  • Use the company newsletter to acknowledge employees or just to thank the staff for doing their jobs well.
  • Tell your employees about positive comments that you hear from other people.
  • Organize celebrations: do this at the end of projects, individual milestones, just because, after the quarterly review, or team milestones.
  • Acknowledge teams or individuals at staff meetings, board meeting, management meeting, or a special event. This is often really meaningful for the recipient and can even be a source for inspiration for others.
  • Write down 3 things that you appreciate about your direct reports and give it to them.
  • Attach thank you notes to employee paychecks
  • Take your employees to lunch
  • Ask employees to represent you at a meeting outside of the company
  • Give a day off for a job well done
  • Create a recognition bulletin board to post Thank You’s from clients
  • Have team meetings outside of the office at a local restaurant or coffee shop
  • Give out hour off certificates for exceptional work. Let them accumulate them for a day off.
  • Acknowledge birthdays, new babies, work anniversaries, and other types of life events.
  • Food is always important. Have cookies or muffins at meetings and reward achievement with box of chocolates, bring in ice cream on hot days. Don’t do it all the time, just keep it spontaneous.

Planning A Formal Recognition Program

Additionally, there are some company’s that may want to set up more formal recognition programs. It is these types of programs that may take different forms and recognize various types of accomplishments. The following steps are for setting up a formal recognition program:

  1. Set up planning groups. This shouldn’t be a top down process. The buy in will be greater and the results will be better if various employees contribute and take some of the ownership of the process. It doesn’t need to be a large group, but it should reflect the variety of employees that you have.


Most non-profit organizations will have a small number of staff. Therefore, it may be hard to set up a planning group in a small organization.

The planning group will need to determine what types of accomplishments will be recognized. Such as:

  • Team accomplishments
  • Length of service
  • Milestones
  • Personal accomplishments

This group should take the lead in asking the staff what they would like to see recognized and how they would like it done. They may want to create a survey to get the input of everyone.


With the competition for retention and talent issues, a newer trend is to recognize the service length before 5 years.

Once it’s been determined which accomplishments will be recognized, the planning group should then began thinking about how often people will be recognized and what the token of appreciation will be. It might be best to give the planning group a budget, although the formal recognition process require few resources.

Lastly, communicate that there will be a formal recognition program to the staff and managers. It is best to advise the Board so that they are completely aware of what is going on and be supportive of it. Review your program on a regular basis so that will still fit for your company’s culture and keeps relevant and important to the employees.

PromoGroup Rewards Can Help With Employee Rewards & Recognition

PromoGroup Rewards can help with Employee rewards and recognition with our gift certificate program and Employee gift certificates. Our gift certificates make the perfect gift for employees! Order online or give us a call today at 1 (800) 288-8671.

Employee Recognition Program Examples and Ideas 2017
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Employee Recognition Program Examples and Ideas 2017
Employee Recognition A nonprofit organization is good at being able to recognize the valuable contributions of their volunteers. Although the recognition of
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