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10 Employee Recognition Examples That Real-Life Companies Use To Appreciate Staff

By June 6, 2023June 13th, 2023No Comments

How you reward employees can make or break the company culture.

Celebrating employee achievements and outstanding performance may sound like a no-brainer and you may already have some kind of rewards system or recognition platform in place. But if it’s not effective, what’s the point?

According to a Gallup poll, there are five must-haves to focus on when creating a successful employee recognition plan.

Employee Recognition Examples

Whether you decide to reward employees’ outstanding work with public shout-outs or private praise, always make sure it’s:

1) Fulfilling – it should boost employee morale and improve the overall employee experience

2) Authentic – “fake it till ya make it” won’t work here. Employee rewards should be as unique and individual as they are.

3) Equitable – not always relative to money. The emotional equity you’ll build with your employees can’t always be monetized.

4) Embedded in the culture – consistency and repetition create a cycle of recognition that becomes ingrained into the work culture and supports the company values.

5) Personalized – this doesn’t necessarily mean something that’s engraved with their name. It’s about making the reward personal to the receiver and understanding how they like to be recognized.

Your best employees deserve to know how much they’re appreciated and your recognition efforts are the perfect place to show up and show out. Since there are enough options online to fill an ocean, we’ve drained the sea of useless information to bring you our ten favorite examples of employee recognition.

Grab some coffee, pause your notifications, and take a few minutes to check out how easily you can motivate employees, improve the work culture, and retain your top performers with these practical and effective employee recognition examples.

Why are examples of employee recognition important at your company?

Numbers don’t lie! The stats behind effective employee recognition prove exactly why it’s so important.

1️⃣ Less than 1/4 of employees believe they’re adequately recognized at work.

To be more specific, only 23%. This means that the other 77% are out here feeling unrecognized, unappreciated, and undervalued. That math isn’t “mathing” well for your bottom line.

2️⃣ You could save the company thousands – maybe millions – in turnover costs.

It’s estimated that a company with 10k employees can hemorrhage over $16 million on poor retention and turnover expenses. Less is more. Less onboarding and training costs; less time lost on getting new employees acclimated and up to speed; less knowledge lost with the departure of each skilled employee.

3️⃣ Employee recognition done right has a far-reaching ripple effect.

The impact of appreciation at work doesn’t stop when they log off for the day. An estimated 44% of employees find that their lives flourish overall when they’re satisfied and fulfilled at work. Feeling valued in their career spills over into their personal lives and supports a healthy and balanced life in general.


10 Employee Recognition Examples That Teams Use To Appreciate Staff

1) Identify everyone’s RecognitionDNA

No more guessing what your employees might like. RecognitionDNA is where recognition intersects with the five love languages.

This quick online assessment narrows down how each person responds to different types of employee recognition and shows you how to “speak” directly to them.

Giving the same kind of kudos to every employee for every achievement is impersonal and can feel empty and thoughtless on the receiving end. Knowing exactly how your employees feel valued can help you speak their “language” fluently when recognizing their hard work.

Try RecognitionDNA

2) Recognizing employees without spending money

There’s a misconception that employee recognition has to be a major capital investment carved out of the annual budget. This is absolutely false.

Your bottom line doesn’t have to take a hit in order to effectively recognize your employees.


Recognition isn’t all about the Benjamins. Nonmonetary rewards and perks can be major motivators so don’t sleep on financially-friendly options. Compensating their achievements with freebies like group ecards, extra flex time, and public recognition are great alternatives to consider.

At the end of the day, rewarding employees without money can be a very valuable strategy by recognizing their achievements in unique ways that carry more wieght that a dollar bill.

3) Celebrating one employee with a signed card from the team

Team cards are a great way to get everyone involved. Each team member can add a personal message of appreciation to show the receiver how much their contributions matter. You can choose hard copy paper cards or handy ecards that can be digitally customized, signed, and delivered. Even add a digital gift card from the team if you want!


Being recognized by their team as a collective has a profound impact on your employees. It’s a clear indicator that their peers value their skills and appreciate their input. These cards offer support and a sense of shared values that creates a culture of appreciation in your teams.

4) Asking employees what they like

Missing the mark with your recognition can be a costly error. Avoid having to use “ignorance” as a reason for not offering authentic appreciation by just asking what they’re into. This simple action shows you care about them as an individual and want their recognition to really mean something – crisis averted.

Getting to know your employees on a more micro level helps to hone in on their preferences. Everyone enjoys feeling appreciated but not in the same ways and knowing matters. Whether it is a short list of survey questions or a one-on-one meeting, this time can be an effective strategy to learn more about the different styles of recognition you can employ.

5) Planning a team event

These events can be absolutely anything you want them to be. A planned happy hour gathering, complete with recognition toast; a team lunch to honor the whole squad; a group hike because your entire team loves hiking so why not?

These team-building activities give your employees an opportunity to socialize and connect over things other than work. They can also be prime opportunities for more casual peer-to-peer recognition and one-on-one conversations with their team members, minus the usual at-work vibe.

Employees Get To Know Each Other

6) Recognizing employees on their work anniversary

Anniversaries are a big deal – just ask anyone who’s ever forgotten theirs! Work anniversaries signify an employee’s ongoing commitment and dedication.

Each year is a celebration of their loyalty to their job, their team, their leadership, and the organization overall.

Work Anniversary

Work anniversaries are an annual opportunity to improve employee engagement, boost morale, and enhance the company culture – one employee at a time. Letting them know that you value their milestones and accomplishments is a great way to keep them in the work family.

7) Recognize employees virtually over a shared workspace

You probably have all the virtual tools you need at your fingertips already. Whatever internal communication platform you’re using can easily be turned into a recognition stage.

Create a Slack channel, internal social media, or email group specifically for recognition so that everyone can share their appreciation.


Empowering your employees starts with recognizing their wins, big or small. A shared workspace keeps everyone in the group in the know about their colleagues’ accomplishments and surrounds employees with support and appreciation.

8) Personalizing employee rewards

Nothing says “Congratulations on your big promotion!” better than a cheap foam stress ball and company pen from the lobby pen cup… said no one ever.

These generic trinkets hold no value to the receiver and actually send the message that they don’t really matter as an individual – just another cog in the wheel.

Award Show

When employee recognition awards are personal, that connection shows up in bigger areas like engagement, creativity, motivation, and ultimately, in your employee retention stats. Your employees feel seen for their uniqueness and appreciate the fact that you’re listening. People want to be heard and when they are, they stay where they feel valued. A personalized reward is a type of thank you idea that says a lot more than a piece of swag or bouquet of flowers that appear more cookie cutter and less thoughtful.

9) Encourage peer-to-peer recognition

The days of top-down-only recognition are over. Employees don’t just want to know they’re doing a great job from their managers. Hearing it from the colleagues they’re in the trenches with has a whole different impact.

Peer-to-peer employee appreciation drives a culture of recognition that resonates throughout the entire organization. Collaborations get bigger, creativity gets bolder, and kudos get louder. Being recognized by their colleagues supports a healthy company culture and lets employees know their talents are being invested wisely.

10) Surprise them with some extra flex time

Time is our most valuable asset so sliding a few extra hours into their PTO account can be just as beneficial as money in their bank account.

Who couldn’t use some extra time to complete a personal project, take a mid-day hot yoga class, or grab lunch on a Tuesday with a friend without constantly checking the time?

People don’t want to work for a company that doesn’t care about their well-being outside the hours of 9 to 5. The beauty of this recognition example is it supports a healthy work-life balance, which is an increasingly important core value many employees value even more than money.


Examples of Employee Recognition Messages

You don’t need any creative writing skills to make a big impact with employee recognition messages. Simply be sure your message is personal and specific and you can’t go wrong.

1.The Valuable Contributor

“I just wanted to let you know how important your input was in the Leadership meeting yesterday. Valuable feedback like yours helps us to stay connected with what employees need from us to be successful. Thank you for speaking up and sharing your unique perspective!”

2. The Thank You

“We’ve been working together for a few years now and I realized I don’t tell you often enough that I think you’re an amazing coworker! Your positive attitude is infectious and your work ethic is so admirable. I learn something new from you every day and I don’t say it enough, but thank you for always being a great team player!”

3. The Congrats

“Congratulations on your new promotion! I’ll miss you on my team but I know you’ve been working really hard to get here and I couldn’t be more proud of you for never giving up. Keep up the great work and I may be working for you someday soon!”

4. The “Where Did The Time Go??”

“Has it really been five years already? We knew when we hired you that you’d be a great addition to the team and boy, were we right! You’ve become such an intricate part of this group and we couldn’t be more thrilled to celebrate this milestone with you today! Can’t wait to see where the next five years take you!”

5. The Project Completion

“It’s finally complete! This project only launched successfully because of you and your impeccable leadership. I wanted to personally thank you for all your hard work and congratulate you on this major win.”


Employee recognition has come a long way.

There once was a time when having your name added to the “Employee of The Month” plaque in the back office was a high honor.

But going the extra mile for a rarely-seen wall-hanging is no longer keeping top performers motivated or engaged.

Getting clear on who your employees are and what they like is at the core of effective employee recognition best practices and can put your company name on the list of desirable places to work.

Employee Recognition Examples: Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is an employee recognition example?

Q: Do small companies use employee recognition programs?

  • A: Employee recognition programs are perfect for small companies. Their company’s success depends on employees who work hard and appreciate being recognized too!

Q: Are there examples from real companies that recognition works?

  • A: There are plenty of examples from real companies showing that recognition works. Major brands like Apple, Disney, Nike, Google, and Southwest Airlines are just a few of the companies with the highest-rated employee recognition programs in place.

Q: What is one example of recognition in the workplace?

  • A: One example of recognition in the workplace is shouting out your star players virtually in a shared workspace so the whole team can celebrate them.

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