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Corporate Recognition Ideas For Every Business

Many businesses don’t give corporate recognition ideas much thought. Part of that is due to the fact that these companies feel like their particular business model doesn’t call for an employee recognition program to keep employees engaged. But whether your business is small or large, traditional, or remote, rewarding employees for their hard work is vital.

Obviously, the needs, abilities, circumstances, and budget for your business may affect how you approach employee recognition. But the fact remains, you can’t afford not to have a strategy in place for recognizing employees. 

If you’re not sure how to get started, consider the best practices we’ve outlined in this guide as well as the many ideas we’ve listed to guide your corporate recognition strategy.

Corporate Recognition Ideas: What Is Corporate Recognition, Anyway?

Corporate recognition, also known as employee recognition, acknowledges the accomplishments and hard work of employees within your company. The goal is to reinforce positive behavior and show employees that you view them as more than just a cog in the wheel—but an actual person who deserves to be recognized individually. 

Recognition is vital to the success of your business because it sends the powerful message that the recipient is important and that their accomplishments are contributing to a greater purpose. This sense of purpose is what makes employees feel motivated to keep performing at a high level. 

Corporate recognition comes in many forms, whether through tangible rewards, experiences, or expressions of gratitude.

3 Key Principles of Corporate Recognition

Another crucial aspect of corporate recognition is giving it out in a strategic way. Employee recognition efforts are most effective when the recognition for hard work is frequent, timely, and specific. Let’s look at those in more detail.

  • Frequent: Showing employee gratitude once a year doesn’t cut it. If you want your employee recognition program to be impactful, it’s important to give out recognition consistently.  While this doesn’t mean you have to show gestures of appreciation every day, you should plan efforts every three to four weeks minimum. This is often enough for employees to be constantly reminded that their hard work is paying off. But it’s not too often that it begins to lose its impact.
  • Timely: After an employee performs a specific action that’s worthy of a reward, recognition should immediately follow. If you wait too long to recognize the employee, the recognition could lose its meaning. Plus, the team member won’t remember the reason you rewarded them in the first place.
  • Specific: When organizations give out generic “thank you” messages, employees start to feel like the recognition is ingenuine and forced. Team members want to feel like you recognize them individually, so make sure any recognition is specific to each employee’s actions, values, and preferences.

Why You Can’t Afford NOT to Recognize Employees

So, why is corporate recognition so critical for organizations? The answer is simple. Employees value recognition. It’s what keeps them motivated, engaged, and happy. In fact, 82% of employees consider recognition an important part of their happiness at work. 

And there’s a reason for this. People have a deep need to be recognized for their accomplishments. Otherwise, they end up feeling unappreciated.

So, when managers recognize and reward employees for their hard work and great performance, employees feel like their work isn’t in vain but has an important purpose. As a result, they feel happier because they’re at an organization that’s fostering a culture of recognition, where they matter and their hard work doesn’t go unnoticed.

Beyond making employees feel appreciated and boosting retention, corporate recognition programs also improve employee relationships, organizational culture, employee engagement, and organizational values, according to a survey by SHRM.

Related: 10 Benefits of Employee Recognition Programs

What’s the Best Way to Recognize Employees?

All this said, it’s clear that employee recognition is no longer an option for organizations but a necessity. So what’s the best way to carry out recognition efforts? As we mentioned earlier, the most effective way to recognize employees is to provide frequent, timely, and specific feedback.

In a nutshell, you must recognize employees often enough to keep momentum, immediately following a positive action, and individually. But beyond that, it’s important to choose rewards that are meaningful and thoughtful. This involves getting away from giving out generic rewards that don’t make a real impact.

For example, only offering generic thank you notes, mass gift cards, company branded gifts, and other rewards that aren’t personalized can eventually make an employee feel like your company isn’t putting much effort into your rewards program.

On the other hand, when you’re taking the time to give out rewards that are truly meaningful to each individual employee, your efforts will be a lot more impactful. 

For example, imagine that one of your employees has shown significant dedication to your company, while at the same time, being a devoted parent. You might reward them with a fun family trip to an amusement park.

Perhaps you have an employee who has been serving your organization for over a decade. A reward that means the most to them might be a team dinner at a fancy restaurant or a vacation/trip package.

Notice that none of these rewards are tangible gifts. While material things are also great offerings to add to your rewards program, offering experiences brings more variety and unique opportunities to your program. Both intangible and tangible rewards, when customized, turn work into a healthy, fun, and rewarding experience.

What Should Employees Be Recognized for?

An important thing to consider when designing a corporate recognition program is what accomplishments you’ll be recognizing employees for. Knowing which behaviors to recognize allows you to have a more organized rewards program. 

But not only that, you’ll also be able to recognize your employees for a specific action, which means they’re more likely to repeat the action.

If you’re not sure where to start, here are a few valuable employee behaviors that could be recognition priorities at any organization:

  • Providing and acting on feedback
  • Passing recognition on
  • Pursuing opportunities for learning and development
  • Collaborating with others
  • Living your culture
  • Growing from mistakes
  • Showing reliability
  • Demonstrating problem-solving ability
  • Displaying honesty and integrity
  • Meeting or exceeding KPIs
  • Hitting sales targets

Note that these are just a few behaviors you can recognize. Depending on your specific business model, the industry you’re in, and the different goals you set for employees, you might add on even more accomplishments to reward employees for.

Corporate Rewards vs. Recognition

Before we get into corporate recognition ideas, let’s look at why it’s important to distinguish between corporate rewards and corporate recognition.

A big challenge of carrying out effective employee recognition and rewards programs is rewarding employees without recognizing them for earning those rewards.

Many organizations fail to realize that corporate rewards go hand in hand with corporate recognition. So, rewards without recognition are often less meaningful, and vice versa. And recognition begins to feel less impactful without some tangible value attached to it.

Let’s look at some key differences between rewards and recognition:

Corporate RewardsCorporate Recognition
Rewards are mostly tangible itemsRecognition is intangible
Rewards usually have some monetary valueRecognition typically has emotional value
Rewards are more transactional, tied to specific performance goals or work accomplishmentsRecognition is less transactional, more sentimental
Rewards are simply consumedRecognition is mostly experienced
Rewards are often expectedRecognition is usually a surprise

So, while employee rewards and employee recognition are two different things, they both must be tied together if you want to make an impact. This is important because many of the ideas on our corporate recognition list below work in conjunction with tangible rewards.

Related: How Memorable Employee Recognition Awards Can Change Your Workplace

7 Thoughtful Corporate Recognition Ideas

1. Offer Experiences

Consider giving your top performers experiential rewards for their hard work. You can use a rewards platform that allows employees to choose from a wide range of experiences, from skydiving to singing lessons.

Other types of experiential rewards include:

●     Exotic Car Supercar Test Drive

●     African Safari Zipline Adventure

●     Secret Food Tour

●     Winery Tour

●     Sunset Sailing Cruise

●     Golf Lessons

2. Give Positive Feedback

You can show your employees you appreciate their effort by simply saying nice things about them. You could say, “Nice job on..” or, “I really appreciate your hard work on…” It doesn’t have to be long, but make sure it’s specific and direct for each employee.

3. Surprise Employees With Lunch or Sweet Treats

Providing meals on busy workdays is a thoughtful gesture that will show employees you notice their accomplishments. From leaving snacks in the common area to ordering pizzas, small gestures can have big impacts. You could also use a subscription service that delivers treats and lets employees order their favorite meals.

4. Celebrate the Small Wins

Where many employers go wrong is only recognizing workers for large accomplishments. This violates one of the three rules of recognition—recognizing regularly. Big achievements aren’t always easy to come by and tend to happen a lot less frequently than meeting smaller goals.

By celebrating small, daily or weekly wins, you’re letting your employees know you see even their smallest accomplishments. Whether a team member just rocked a presentation, learned a new skill, or simply updated their LinkedIn bio, you can show them their achievements aren’t going unnoticed, no matter how little they may be. You could celebrate by:

  • Ringing a small gong in the office to notify everyone about wins
  • Passing out candy to co-workers
  • Dedicating a section in your newsletter to wins of the month
  • Giving the winners a “written” pat on the back through email, social media, company announcements, etc.

5. Start a #Kudos Channel on Slack

Whether you run a remote organization or have a completely in-person workforce, you can use an instant messaging platform like Slack to recognize employees. You can create quick Kudos videos or posts to make your Slack channel shoutouts more special and fun, and reward employees for achievements and strong performance.

You can also include awards alongside the recognition you give out in your #Kudos channel. For example, you could enter everyone who’s received kudos in your Slack channel to win a $100 Amazon gift card–or, if you’re using a points-based rewards platform, you could enter them for a satisfying stash of reward points. 

You can also come up with your own corporate recognition ideas for your #Kudos channel. But the point is to create an incentive that’s strong enough to encourage employees to recognize their peers with a quick shoutout. 

6. Allow Spend-Time-With-the-CEO Days

One fun corporate recognition idea is to let your employees interact with the CEO or president of the organization. This could entail special meetings with the chief. You can base this reward on various criteria such as performance, good attitude, tenure, or creativity. And if physical meetings aren’t feasible, a special video conference can still make a big impact.

7. Create a Rewards Program

Implementing an employee rewards program gives you a tool to frequently, immediately, and individually recognize members of your team. This also gives employees the opportunity to recognize each other.

One of the best tools to make your custom rewards program organized, effective, and efficient is a full-featured online rewards platform.  This kind of platform can make things easy and meet the recognition needs of your business. 

For example, some platforms allow each employee a certain number of points to give out each month to colleagues for their achievements. Over time, workers will be able to accumulate the points they earn and cash them in for rewards they can choose from a curated catalog. From extra time off to a free breakfast, employees can choose from a wide range of rewards.

Use an Employee Rewards Platform to Make Recognition Easier

When implementing your corporate recognition program, always remember to give out meaningful rewards in a frequent, timely, and specific manner. To streamline this process and make things easier on you, consider using a corporate rewards software program like Xcleration.

Xceleration is designed to recognize, engage, and motivate the most valuable part of your business—your people. Using our recognition technology, your organization can implement a customized, cohesive, and effective recognition strategy that lasts. Contact us today for a demo.


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