The Benefits of Meaningful Employee Recognition

Meaningful employee recognition is exceptionally important for a multitude of reasons. Not only does it let the staff know that their contributions are valued, but it can instill more pride in the employees and inspire them to take more ownership of their roles. In addition, meaningful recognition can boost individual or team morale, reinforce a sense of purpose, and improve employee engagement among other things.


Most organizations have some form of an employee recognition program in place. Unfortunately, implementing and maintaining a successful program can present its own set of challenges, and many companies tend to see their recognition programs fizzle out or fail for various reasons. From budget constraints, lack of oversight, unacknowledged interests, or failure to implement a solid system in place, we can construct a long list of reasons why recognition programs aren’t maintained or fail to even get off the ground.

Recognition Beyond “Employee of the Month”

One of the biggest considerations to make when starting your program is what to recognize your employees for. One of the most common recognition programs is “Employee of the Month”. While this can be a great honor to the recipient, selecting Employee of the Month does have some common pitfalls:

  • Employees think it’s a popularity content (and sometimes it is)
  • Getting genuine nominations from employee peers (or getting them at all)
  • Pressure to select employees because they haven’t held the title in awhile (or ever)
  • Choosing someone objectively (even if they always get it)
  • Determining the criteria that earn someone the coveted title
  • Making it an honor that employees really strive for and work hard to get

“Employee of the Month” has been around for quite some time, but let’s start thinking outside of the box. Providing and receiving valuable recognition is not an obligation, but an honor. We provided you with some ideas to reimagine recognition and make it fun again!

Types of Employee Recognition

One of the easiest ways to select your reason for recognition (and keep it fair) is to find something measurable: a tangible goal reached, a specific milestone met, an accomplished achievement, and so forth.

  • Years of Service
  • Quotas Met/Exceeded
  • Certifications/Trainings Completed
  • Customer Reviews Received
  • Perfect Attendance

Whether it’s for their creative ideas, commitment to company success, or desire to make a difference, there are so many reasons to applaud your team. Another way to go beyond the standard “Employee of the Month” is to consider ways to recognize some of these very important contributions to the organization:

  • Change Making Champions
  • Innovation Award
  • Living the Company Values
  • Culture Changer

What, why, when, & who you recognize is up to you. At the end of the day, people want to feel important, valued, and genuinely appreciated. This is a constant that has not and will not change. So get it started, keep it going, and make your recognition program meaningful as well as memorable. In that instance, everyone will win!

Benefits of Employee Rewards and Recognition Programs

In the grand scheme of things, the list of reasons to recognize employees is far longer than the reasons not to. Employee recognition should not be viewed as an obligation but as an opportunity to:

  • Enhance the work environment
  • Improve employee morale and job satisfaction
  • Increase job performance and productivity
  • Uplift your valuable employees and applaud their achievements
  • Promote a positive company culture

Having a solid recognition program in place does not have to be a huge expense or time commitment. A token of appreciation for a job well done does not have to be expensive, it just needs to resonate as meaningful and help your employees feel valued. Find a program that works best for your organization, set realistic expectations, and maintain regular implementations to build long-term trust and reinforce the important roles your teams play within your company. The key is to commit to doing it! We’ve provided you with some simple ideas below to help you get started:

  • Write a handwritten “Thank You” note
  • Present the employee with an assortment of their favorite treats
  • Provide them with a gift card to one of their favorite stores
  • Provide them with branded gifts
  • Publicly acknowledge their accomplishments on social media, in a meeting, through a public “shout out”, etc.
  • Provide some extra time off
  • Present an award for a large achievement
  • Utilize a plaque to display milestones met
  • Create a “healthy competition” to motivate employees

Whether it’s a wall plaque, a card, a commemorative award, a personal gift, or anything in between, investing in the RIGHT program means investing in your people. The time it takes to applaud your employees for their contributions is far less than the time it takes to hire and train a replacement for someone who did not feel their contributions were appreciated.

In turn, the lack of employee appreciation (or simply just a perceived lack of appreciation) can compromise the trust employees place within the organization, leading to decreased loyalty and participation, increased absenteeism, and higher turnover rates. The cost of a simple, yet effective recognition program far outweighs the cost of losing employees who do not feel valued. Plus, having an engaging program can positively influence or motivate peers and other staff members. With a meaningful employee recognition program, everyone wins, the company included.

Consistently acknowledging the team for their individual and collective achievements is essential. Going the extra mile for employees that have gone the extra mile can positively impact the bottom line and improve the overall success of the organization in so many ways!

It’s Always the Right Time for Recognition

While most companies tend to evaluate performances and recognition programs towards the end of the year (which is fast approaching), you don’t have to wait until a specific time of the year to recognize the individual or collective accomplishments of your team. There is no time like the present when it comes to providing memorable and meaningful recognition for your employees!

Outside of timed or incremental formal recognition, there are always opportunities for supplemental acknowledgment. For example, if your employee does a stellar job completing a big project before a deadline in March, you don’t have to wait until their annual review to show your appreciation. If the team comes up with an exemplary resolution to a problem, there’s no need to hold out until the next quarterly staff meeting to applaud their hard work. Whatever deadlines your employees meet, whatever expectations your teams surpass, and whenever they have done it, it is ideal to acknowledge them as soon as possible.

This is because as time passes, the effectiveness of praise tends to wear off. There is a possibility that the employees will feel unappreciated if they are left wondering if their contributions were even noticed along the way.

Employee Recognition Plaques

It is possible to effectively recognize your employees without a whole lot of time, grandeur, or an extensive budget. Consider creative, simple, effective, and sincere ways to express your appreciation, such as with one of our gratitude plaques. PlaqueMagic offers customizable DIY awards and employee recognition plaques for small to medium-sized businesses, large companies or enterprises, and every organization in between.

Having a solid recognition program in place contributes a wide range of benefits for your company, including boosting employee morale, improving employee retention, and investing in an invaluable resource in the long term. By maintaining a culture of recognition, appreciation, and gratitude, everyone—including your business!—ultimately wins.

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