Effective Methods of Employee Recognition

 Effective Methods of Employee Recognition

Amy L. Wees

1 December 2009

There are many ways that employees can be recognized in the work place for doing their job well or exceeding the expectations of their employers.  For example, a manager can give verbal praise, present a certificate of appreciation, hold a sales competition, or utilize a more formal performance feedback and evaluation system.  No matter the method used, effective employee recognition programs have proven to be helpful in improving the workplace environment by motivating employees, increasing productivity, and encouraging improved performance.



Maintaining employee satisfaction and keeping attrition rates low are important to managers and companies alike because of the high cost of training new employees and the affects of low morale on productivity.  Establishing an effective employee recognition program can be the answer to keeping employees motivated, productive, and loyal to the firm.  Training company management to give praise for a job well done or hosting celebrations for goals that are met are good examples of simple everyday recognition practices. However, to really make a difference in the bottom line a formal and structured recognition program is best (Messmer, 2004).

Research Focus


The primary focus of this research project is to identify the most effective methods of employee recognition in today’s business environment and also what it is that makes these methods successful.  Although the mission, goals, and employee culture of each business may vary, the secondary objective of this research is to identify the methods that are most successful across the board and are most common among all workplaces.   The reasons for choosing these particular research focuses are to bring to the forefront what ultimately motivates people to perform at their best in the workplace; no matter what their profession.

Research Results


Refer to Table 1 for research results.

Table 1



Desired Effect on Motivation

(APA citation required for  each)

Desired Effect on Performance

(APA citation required for  each)

Desired Effect on Productivity

(APA citation required for  each)

Frequently Delivered 1.Saying Thank-you publicly


2. Employee-to-employee recognition

1. Publicly thanking staff can encourage others to strive for similar recognition (Lovewell, 2003). 1. Treat your employees as you want them to treat your customers (Hart, 2009). 2. Goodies box stocked by employees.  A co-worker who spots another going above and beyond can award a prize on the spot (Administrative Professional, 2009).
Reflects Organizations Values 1.paid educational conferences

2.rewards for impacting the mission

2. The bottom line in terms of motivating people is that employees understand what they’ve done has had an impact on the organization (Lovewell, 2003). 1. Universities have no control over pay but allow employees to attend educational conferences (Lovewell, 2003). 2. If people receive positive reinforcement for what they’ve done, they’re more likely to do it again (Lovewell, 2003).
Appropriate to the Achievement 1.certificate of achievement


2. gifts


3. celebrate personal milestones

1. Recognize the behaviors that led to achievement… recognize employee enrollment instead of graduation (Hart, 2009). 2. The gift items are just awards, the reasons employees receive them and the way their given are the heart of a good program (Hart, 2009). 3. At our company, when an employee fills out a change of address card, HR automatically sends a housewarming gift (Hart, 2009).
Individually Tailored 1.gifts or awards that appeal to people’s personal interests


2. personalized letter



2. A handwritten note from the CEO may have far greater impact than a large bonus… personalized gestures are likely to be remembered (Lovewell, 2009). 1. One company full of sports fans took top performers to a ball game… creates ongoing enthusiasm (Administrative Professional, 2009). 1. Try to customize the options to suit the personality and interests of each performer to make it more meaningful…a ski pass for an outdoor enthusiast (Messmer, 2004).
Team Recognition 1.group rewards


2. certificate or award


3. employee-to-employee recognition

1. the most effective incentives are available to everyone (Messmer, 2004).


1. When your team achieves goals, recognizing their accomplishment is perfectly appropriate… should be done before project ends (Bielaszka-DuVernay, 2007).

3. Recognition can flow from managers to employees… research shows that absence of recognition is the second leading cause of burnout and stress in the workplace (Hart, 2009). 2. Creative options can have a positive impact, one company the most coveted form of recognition is the Koala T, a stuffed koala that is given for quality work (Messmer, 2004).



After researching this topic I realize that having an effective recognition program is perhaps the most important element to any business’ success or failure.  After all, it is the people that keep the wheels turning in the business and when they want to come to work and are motivated to do their best and be their best for the company it can make a huge difference in the bottom line.  It is also important that employees feel they are an important part of the process, and the mission as a whole.

Overall, I have learned that it is important for a business to establish a recognition program and make sure employees know what they are being recognized for and where they fit into the organization. If this is done employees will have something to strive for and be motivated to perform.  Without an actual program in place it is likely management may only take the time during an annual review or after a big project to recognize employees and this is not enough.

After completing this research I realized some ways in which we can improve the recognition program at my workplace.  We currently hold quarterly and annual awards programs for top performers.  We could do better by recognizing people every day for the things they do, recognizing team performance, tailoring awards to individual interests, and ensuring our personnel know how their achievements impact our organization.



(2009). Spur excitement with employee awards. Administrative Professional Today, 35(10), 7. Retrieved December 3, 2009, from Business Source Complete database.

Bielaszka-DuVernay, C. (2007). Are You Using Recognition Effectively?. Harvard Management Update, 12(5), 2-3. Retrieved December 3, 2009, from Business Source Complete database.

Grigg, N., & Mann, R.. (2008). Rewarding Excellence: An International Study into Business Excellence Award Processes. The Quality Management Journal, 15(3), 26-40.  Retrieved December 3, 2009, from ABI/INFORM Global. (Document ID: 1525289771).


Hart, P. (2009). Employee recognition: Have you hugged your employees today?. HR Specialist: Compensation & Benefits, 4(12), 5. Retrieved December 3, 2009, from Business Source Complete database.

Lovewell, D. (2003). Valuing the power and praise of reward. Employee Benefits, 10. Retrieved December 3, 2009, from Business Source Complete database.

Messmer, M. (2004). Creating an Effective Recognition Program. Strategic Finance, 85(7), 13-14. Retrieved December 3, 2009, from Business Source Complete database.

Saunderson, R. (2009). INCENTIVE ONLINE COLUMNIST: Teaching Recognition from the Top Down. Incentive, 183(6), 66. Retrieved December 3, 2009, from Business Source Complete database.

Saunderson, R. (2009). Last Word: Can You Be Specific About Recognition?. Incentive, 183(1), 3. Retrieved December 3, 2009, from Business Source Complete database.











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