Employee recognition guide

Employee recognition examples

10 effective employee recognition examples

Employee appreciation and recognition are essential in any workplace. We dedicate a lot of our time and energy into our professional lives, and everyone wants to feel appreciated at the end of the day. In order to make recognition a priority, many companies choose to implement employee recognition programmes.

Recognising and rewarding deserving employees is truly a win-win situation. It's important because of the positive effects it has on both employees and the overall work environment. Some of these undeniable benefits include:

  • Having a healthy, supportive work environment
  • Boosted employee morale
  • Improved employee retention rates and company loyalty
  • Reduced staff turnover
  • Increased employee engagement
  • Improved interpersonal dynamics
  • Strengthened company core values
  • Reinforcement of good behaviour
  • Affirmation that employees are doing a good job
  • Making employees feel appreciated and valued

All of these results sound great, but you might be wondering how you can actually implement a recognition program in your business. To help you on your journey, we've assembled a list of ten tried and tested appreciation ideas and recognition programs in this article. Take a browse and consider whether any of them would align with your work environment.

We've also written a series of recognition message templates that you can use for free. Should you want to express your appreciation and gratitude to a colleague, copy one of our templates, edit it to suit your needs, and send it along. You'll be sure to put a smile on their face.

What should team members be recognised for?

female employee gets rewarded

There are many things that deserve recognition, reinforcement, and praise in the workplace. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but some examples include:

  • Quality of work
  • Adaptability
  • Personal initiative
  • Attitude or being a team player
  • Improvement, personal growth or willingness to learn
  • Performance (general or with regards to a specific project or task)
  • Leadership
  • Milestones (work anniversaries, promotions, etc.)
  • Professional development achievements
  • Problem solving
  • Objective success (high sales, landing an important new client, etc.)

Employee recognition examples

To help get your creative juices flowing, we’ve assembled ten great employee recognition examples to get you inspired. We’ve selected programmes from a variety of companies all around the world, so you’ll get a diverse sample of great company’s initiatives. 

1. The Celebration hub at Perkbox

Perkbox Celebration hub

At Perkbox, we pride ourselves on our innovative platform and often use the Celebration hub to let our teams know they're doing a great job. Sending recognition creates a culture of celebration and shows our people we value their efforts and can-do attitude.

However, The Celebration hub isn't just about recognition and offers so much more. Other features include: 

  • Company values. Add company values each time you send a colleague recognition, for example, they may have shared a brilliant idea that demonstrated your value 'curiosity'.
  • Team and company-wide polls. Create a poll to encourage some healthy competition or stimulate creative thinking. Employers can also use polls to drive learning-based initiatives, such as voting on topics for a guest speaker.
  • Rewards Marketplace. Reward your teams when they do a great job. Our Rewards Marketplace has over 40 pre-selected rewards from the biggest Australian brands. 
  • Custom Rewards. Treat your employee who has gone the extra mile to something special. Custom rewards don't have to be monetary and can be an extra duvet day, for example.

Other occasions to recognise

The Celebration hub is a versatile tool and teams can use it to recognise personal milestones, such as weddings and birthdays. In fact, what people celebrate is completely up to them, which is what makes the Celebration hub special.

2. Spontaneous applause at Typeform

Sometimes employee recognition doesn't have to be complicated, and there's nothing a classic round of applause won't do. Typeform is a Barcelona-based business that builds beautiful, interactive online forms and surveys.

In the office, Typeform has an internal playbook that guides teammates in terms of the core values and attributes they should follow. One element of that playbook is "celebrating with spontaneous applause." That means that if anyone in the workplace wants to recognise one of their coworkers for a job well done, all they have to do is start a round of applause. Everyone joins in, and it results in a great moment of informal recognition for one special employee.

3. Celebrity shout outs at Dribbble

dribbble employee recognition example


Dribbble is one of the largest platforms out there where digital designers, content creators, and other creatives can showcase their work online. It's used for self-promotion, recruiting, job searches, social networking, and more. It should come as no surprise that such a creative platform has a unique approach to employee recognition in their workplace.

Dribbble's team is entirely remote, so they come up with tons of different ways to recognise achievements and accomplishments without meeting face-to-face. However, our favourite approach is the fact that they use the Cameo web app to get personalised celebrity shout outs for specific teammates when they've gone above and beyond. These shoutouts always get a laugh and are incredibly memorable. They've even had messages from Rebecca Black and Flavor Flav.

4. Surprise time off at Apple

Although Apple is one of the biggest companies in the world, they are still doing a great job with employee recognition. Last year, they surprised all their employees with an extended paid holiday over American Thanksgiving. Employees were only supposed to get one paid day off, but they were given three instead. How's that for workplace rewards?

It gets even better because Apple personalised this reward for different employees depending on their circumstances. Workers in different countries or who celebrated different holidays got equivalent days off according to their preferences, and employees who were working holiday hours still got the reward at a different time of year.

5. Meeting shoutouts at GE Healthcare

office meeting

GE Healthcare is a global leader in medical technology, diagnostics, and digital solutions from the United States. They do a great job weaving employee recognition into their regular meetings, communications, and workweeks.

First, they like to hold their weekly Friday team meetings in their on-site restaurant, as this is a comfortable and casual environment for employees. They also mount a dashboard on the wall that highlights specific employees' performance and achievements.

They also recognise team members in their monthly briefs and publicly present "six word success stories," about stand-out employees.

6. Anniversary yearbooks at the Yorkshire Building Society

The Yorkshire Building Society (YBS) is the third-largest building society in the United Kingdom, and they've come up with a unique way to make sure all their employees are recognised for their workplace anniversaries. This is a great idea because all employees experience workplace anniversaries, so they all get celebrated.

Once you've worked at the Yorkshire Building Society for three years, you receive a personalised yearbook on your work anniversary. Yearbooks contain notes, photos, and other memorabilia from colleagues and managers and are a unique way to recognise the continued hard work of all team members.

7. Shine points at Siemens Australia

overjoyed businesswoman

Siemens is a multinational technology company from Germany that provides all kinds of different appliances. Instead of relying on more typical rewards and gift cards, their Australian branch has implemented an interesting point system as an employee rewards initiative that's been very successful. It's particularly effective because it allows colleagues from different parts of Australia to interact and engage with each other.

The Shine recognition program is a basic point system with a twist. It gives employees the opportunity to award their colleagues with Shine points as prizes for a job well done. Once an employee has collected enough Shine points, they can redeem them for a gift of their choice.

8. Professional development at Hubspot

Hubspot is a massive name in the marketing, sales, and customer service industries and really needs no introduction. They also have a unique approach to recognition efforts that we love. After all, employee recognition doesn't always have to come with a prize, it can also be expressed through investment in people's professional futures.

Employee recognition through continued education is also doubly beneficial as it makes for a smarter, quicker, and more innovative team in the long run.

At Hubspot, they regularly offer their employees an array of professional development and continuing education opportunities like a free books program, access to their Learn@Hubspot online platform, workshops, HubTalks, their mini-MBA fellows program, and more.

9. Mandatory paid vacations at FullContact

paid vacation

FullContact is a privacy-safe identity resolution company and they certainly have employee recognition ideas that no one would turn up their nose at.

The idea is simple: If you work at FullContact, it's mandatory that you take your yearly vacation. However, there's a catch. The vacation is paid, and valued at $7500. However, if you don't take your vacation, you won't get the money.

You're also not allowed to work while on vacation, at all. Sounds like a pretty good deal, right?

While a paid, totally disconnected vacation is something that all employees should ideally take, we're aware that it doesn't happen often enough. We love to see a company reinforcing their employees’ opportunity to decompress and relax!

10. Monthly heroes at Zappos

Zappos is a massive clothing and shoe retailer from the United States, and we love their multi-faceted, fun approach to employee recognition that we can't help but share.

It's called the Monthly Hero Program. Zappo's employees receive $50 to give to a stand-out colleague as a bonus each month. Once all the monthly bonuses have been distributed, they take things a step further by having a manager or executive draw a name out of the group of employees that were given a bonus.

The winner of the draw wins the title of monthly hero. This honour comes with a Bonnie Tyler serenade,  a monthly parking spot, a $150 Zappo's gift card, and a cape!

Sample recognition message templates

woman smiling reading

You might find yourself wanting to send a recognition message to a colleague to thank them for a specific task or simply congratulate them on their consistent, above-and-beyond performance. However, it can be difficult to determine exactly what to say. Not to worry, we’ve assembled a selection of sample recognition messages to help you get your wording just right. 

1. Recognition for a general job well done

Hello [name]!

I wanted to reach out personally and thank you for the great work you consistently bring to your team and the company as a whole.

Your hard work has not gone unnoticed and has made a huge difference in the quality of our work and the success of our business.

Hiring you was without a doubt a great decision as you consistently do your best, inspire other employees, and generally set the bar very high. We deeply value you as an employee and want to make sure you know that.

Congratulations, and keep up the amazing work!

2. Recognition for a specific task or project

Hello [name]!

I'm writing you a quick note to let you know how impressed I am with your recent work on [x project]. Your work has truly been phenomenal and has made a great impact on [x project]'s overall success.

You've done an incredible job with your own work, as well as helping your colleagues with their tasks and playing a leadership role within your project team. It's no easy feat to do so on such a high stakes and complex project, and I wanted to personally commend you on your great performance.

I highly value you as an employee and know that you would be a great addition to any project team.

Congratulations, and thanks again!

3. Recognition for work anniversaries

celebrating work anniversary

Hello [name]!

Wow, you've already been with our company for [x] years. It's amazing how time flies! Congratulations on x great years on our team, and I know I speak for everyone when I say I'm looking forward to many more.

We knew you'd be a great hire when we first met you, but we couldn't have imagined the special skills, abilities, and perspectives you'd bring to our company. You've done great work, been a true team player, and really added something special to our company. We deeply value the role you play here and are looking forward to seeing you grow professionally and reach even greater heights in your career!

Congratulations on [x] amazing years. We can't wait to see what you’ve got in store for the future!

4. Recognition for a great attitude

Hello [name]!

I wanted to reach out and sincerely thank you for the incredible positive attitude you bring to work every day. I have noticed how your positivity, can-do personality, amazing work ethic, and compassion always make a huge difference in both team morale and all the work you do. All your colleagues and managers love working with you and you are truly a pleasure to have any project team!

I have seen you always being the first to volunteer to help out, explain something to a new recruit, or simply give someone a smile or an encouraging word when it's needed. These might seem like small things, but they truly make all the difference in our organisation and create a wonderful work environment.

Thank you for being such a valuable member of our team at [x company] and we're looking forward to working together for many years to come!

5. Communication of a promotion

exciting news

Hello [name]!

I'm writing to you today with some exciting news. We deeply value the role you play in our organisation and have been noticing how you go above and beyond in everything you do. You consistently exceed all of our expectations and more. Not only do you knock it out of the park with your own work, but you help everyone else reach their team goals and perform their best. The bottom line is that you're one of our top employees.

Recognising and rewarding excellent work is a core value that we take very seriously in our organisation. So, we'd like to offer you a promotion to the position of [x]. We can't think of anyone better qualified or better suited for this role, and we'd be excited to have you taking on more responsibility in our company. In this position, you'll take on more of a leadership role and get a raise to boot.

Please let us know if you have any questions about your promotion. Congratulations and talk soon!

6. Peer recognition

Hello [name]!

Here's a little note of appreciation to thank you for the amazing team member that you are and everything you bring to our team.

We've worked together for a number of years on various projects, and you have always been a source of inspiration for me. You're great at working with other people, have great problem-solving skills, never hesitate to help someone out or explain something twice, and truly improve all of our work lives in general.

I know I'm speaking for both our employer and our colleagues when I say that everyone loves working with you and you definitely deserve a pat on the back.

Thanks again!