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4 Ways to Recognize Employees

In a previous blog post, we outlined the pros and cons of using rewards or recognition to drive employee engagement and recognition.

Regardless of which method you choose, the following four points should always be kept in mind:

  1. Employees should be recognized for their performance and not their presence
  2. The reward or recognition should be frequent and timely
  3. Each reward or recognition should come from the top-down and from peer to peer
  4. Be mindful of using public or private praise

In this post, we’ll dive into each of these four points and outline what you need to know about them.

1. Performance-Based Recognition

We’ve all been a part of or heard of companies celebrating the number of years that an employee has been with an organization (i.e. each employee who sticks around for twenty-five years receives a shiny new watch!). While this does encourage loyalty and dedication, it’s also sending a subliminal message to everyone else that in order to be rewarded, they simply need to stick around. This does little to encourage high performance.

Having rewards that encourage repeatable behaviours that drive value for the organization are what will benefit everyone. For example, recognizing an employee for exceeding their metrics by improving the efficiency of a process is an action that will increase value for the organization and encourage other employees to accomplish this as well.

2. Recognize Immediately and Frequently

Frequently recognizing your employees is not only a great way to positively reinforce behaviours, but it also encourages management to create a habit of it. But apart from being frequent, the praise should also be timely. Immediately recognizing an employee’s efforts means that:

  1. They will remember what they did
  2. They will strive to repeat that behaviour

By being prompt with praise, employees will be able to directly see the value of their actions and how they benefit the organization.

3. Top-Down and Peer-to-Peer Recognition

Using two separate streams to recognize and reward employees is the best way to support them. When recognition comes from someone higher up in the organization (i.e. C-level management), that praise tends to hold more meaning as we assume that these are busy individuals who have many other tasks they are trying to accomplish at the same time. Recognition from peers is also important, however, as co-workers know your metrics and will have witnessed firsthand what you’ve done to accomplish your goals.

4. Public Praise versus Private Praiserecognize-employee1

Being praised publicly is often the most preferred type of recognition as it celebrates the individual’s success and accomplishments, and it motivates others to perform similarly. But public recognition isn’t always best. Some employees will prefer to be praised in private, whether that be through a hand-written appreciation card or a dinner rather than going up on stage to accept an award.

Before you take action, turn to your front-line managers for advice. They’re most in tune with an employees’ preferences and will know which recognition method will be most appreciated.


Keep these four simple but essential elements in mind when giving feedback will help to reinforce value-driving behaviour and motivate employees to continue to do the amazing work.

Harness the power of employee ideas.