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Employee Recognition Tips and Best Practices

Recognition, rather than rewards or compensation, is a useful tool for increasing employee engagement in your company. Here are a few ideas and best practices to keep in mind as you build your recognition program:

  • Schedule reminders. Having your employees schedule time to recognize colleagues is an easy and impactful way to encourage recognition.

  • Have swag on hand. Invest in inexpensive company logo shirts, backpacks, jackets, and so on. These can be used to recognize employees for their accomplishments.

  • Keep gift cards handy. Invest in some $50 American Express gift cards to distribute to employees who go above and beyond. You'll find your employees will appreciate them a lot!

    These aren't bonus checks — they're simply there to recognize high-performing employees.

  • Establish a formal award. This might be an annual President's Award, given to the employee who submitted the most innovative idea, drove the best internal initiative, or won the best client. Don't overdo it, though.

    Although you could introduce countless team, office, store, and individual awards, employees may become cynical if they view them as a “flavor of the month” initiative. Also make sure that whatever award you do introduce will stand the test of time — good times and bad. You don't want to suddenly stop giving out the award!

  • Catch someone doing something right. Allow any employee in the company to recognize someone else for doing something right. This may even be something as simple as a cool postcard that one employee sends to another to tack on his or her cubicle wall.

  • Distribute handwritten notes from the boss. In this era of communications technology overload, nothing beats an old‐fashioned handwritten note acknowledging someone's accomplishments.

    Just ask Doug Conant, former CEO of Campbell's Soup. Conant made it a practice to write 10 to 20 notes a day — more than 30,000 in all during his tenure at Campbell's — to employees all over the world to recognize their achievements.

    As Conant notes in a YouTube video in which he discusses this practice, “It's something that people will treasure!”

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