3 easy, budget friendly ways to recognize employees

Top performers are hard to find.  In a recent Gallup poll on the American workforce, “Employees who do not feel adequately recognized are twice as likely as those who do feel adequately recognized to say they’ll quit in the next year.”

So why don’t we recognize employees more?

As a manager, you want to keep these top performers and let them know about the great work they are doing.  Recognition motivates employees and gives them a sense of accomplishment.  They are more likely to do more and stay with the company. It’s also a way to show other employees what success looks like.

Giving recognition is easy and can be budget friendly.

3 Easy Ways to Recognize Employees:

1. Thank you cards with lapel pin

As an employee, I appreciated receiving a nice thank-you note from my manager or leader in the organization.  It was the simplest way to show appreciation and I felt great that they were noticing my work. I was making a difference and wanted to do more.

Recognize Employees Card and Pin
Appreciation Card with Lapel Pin available on Amazon

A modified version of a thank-you note is an appreciation card with a lapel pin.  The pin acts as a token of appreciation and can be worn on a lanyard with the employee’s badge, displayed at their desk, or put onto a laptop bag or backpack.  Here is one that Agile Inspirations offers on Amazon.

2. Recognition Wall (aka Big Ups or Snaps)

When my team had low-morale and felt a lack of recognition from the organization as a whole, I implemented a recognition wall, something I called ‘Big Ups’.  Big Ups was the motion of ‘raising the roof’ to show appreciation, something like ‘Snaps’ from the movie Legally Blonde.

Big Ups Recognition Wall
Outside Recognition Wall Example

Since the wall was highly visible, anyone who walked by the wall felt compelled to stop and read the kind words we had to thank and appreciate the good work being done.  This created more visibility into the team’s efforts and what they did day-to-day to make a difference.  Sometimes there was some humor sprinkled in for some additional fun and laughs.

Materials needed: a wall or whiteboard, sticky notes, and markers.

Have sticky notes and markers available for your team near a wall.  When someone sees another person on the team going above and beyond, increasing sales, saving an account, being proactive, etc., write a note of appreciation and post it on the wall.    For example, Anne mitigated a critical issue on a project and was proactive to fix the issue in a timely manner.  As a manager, you may not have known about this accomplishment, but Brian who sits next to Anne does and writes a sticky note and puts it on the wall.  Anne is recognized for her efforts that others may not have seen.

3. Awards for the next all-hands meeting

A higher visibility way to recognize employees is to implement certain awards such as Innovation, Leadership, Teamwork, Quality, Customer Focused, Above & Beyond, etc. or values aligned with the company.  This provides recognition to a larger audience.  For example, in one organization, teams worked in different locations and aligned with different business units.  Recognition at an all-hands was a great way to show appreciation for the teams across the organization.

Example Google Form survey for nominations

An easy way is to send a survey using Survey Monkey or Google Forms and have employees nominate peers that they see demonstrating the values in each award and write a little blurb on why. After the deadline to submit nominations has passed, the results can be determined by popular vote or by management.  Carve out time in the next all-hands meeting to announce the winners.

The bonus is that there is feedback for all the other nominees and this can be shared later in a one-on-one meeting.  It’s also great to use for annual reviews.

Do you have other ways you recognized your peers or employees?  Let us know!


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