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Remember the last time someone told you what a great job you were doing? You felt all warm and fuzzy inside, like you could conquer the world. 

That’s why it’s so important to recognize employees’ efforts.

Let's dig in on some employee recognition ideas that will rock the socks off your staff and team.

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A.I. Tools for Employee Recognition Ideas

Automation tools are important for many industries, including human resources. This is especially true for brands that want to practice agile methods in all parts of their business. 

There are more opportunities for recognition than ever before, and reward systems can even be automated. But how should these tools be used?

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Forms of Recognition & Reasons to Celebrate

When it comes to employee praise, the first point of celebration is often small scale and work-related. Peers can offer kudos for a task well done or managers can shout out employees during a team meeting. However, there are a number of large events that deserve recognition at work as well.

  • Birthdays. Many employees choose to take this day off, but some spend it where they like to be best: in the office. Managers can honor their choice with a birthday card signed by peers or a surprise cake in the break room.

  • Work Anniversaries. Professionals spend a long time at work. In fact, many American workers spend more time in the office with coworkers than they do at home with family. Find a way to celebrate their commitment and passion for the brand.

  • Personal Anniversaries. Whether they’re celebrating their 30th wedding anniversary or planning their honeymoon, recognize these major milestones in employee lives. Instead of kudos, offer extra time off or cover dinner during their vacation time.

  • Project Completion. Completing a project typically wouldn’t trigger a kudos. But if an employee has closed a behemoth deal, consider offering up a gift card to their favorite lunch spot. They’ll be hungry for bigger projects with the right recognition. 

  • Employee Reviews. These can be incredibly stressful for an employee. Congratulate their patience and growth with a thoughtful letter, or take them out for a cocktail!

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What are Some Employee Recognition Ideas?

There’s something deeply fundamental about the way human beings thrive on recognition. This applies especially to work environments where employees are motivated by project appreciation.

According to Deloitte, organizations with advanced employee rewards and recognition programs are 12x more likely to have strong business outcomes. This speaks volumes about the potential of employee appreciation to improve engagement and boost performance.

But how do we practice employee appreciation in ways that are not only impactful, but that truly benefit employees?

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Cheers from Peers (Peer Recognition Programs)

One of the biggest myths of employee recognition is that it should come from a top-down approach.

Despite complaints of busy schedules and other office distractions, employees are often more aware of positive peer acts than we think. In fact, 90% of workers feel that a values-based, peer-to-peer recognition system increases their work satisfaction. 

Begin by creating a chance for your staff to show kudos for one another in day-to-day activities. This can be shout-outs in weekly meetings, tagging them on social media, or a nomination for Employee of the Month. 

Some examples of recognition types to try are: 

  • Bonusly. It offers a point system tool that integrates with Slack. The tool allows you to recognize and reward your co-worker easily. While this platform does not use A.I., it integrates with a number of other services that do, like Microsoft Teams.

  • KangoGift. Using IBM Watson's technology, this platform does everything from onboarding to recognition using artificial intelligence at it's best.

At Remesh, we have our own active #kudos slack channel to recognize co-workers for stellar work.

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Customize Employee Recognition Ideas to Your Staff

What’s the easiest and most effective way to know how your staff want to be acknowledged? The answer is simple: ask them.

Consider the following when thinking about employee recognition ideas for strategy:

  1. Survey your staff regularly to gather feedback
  2. Be open to hearing what your staff have to say
  3. Know that learning more about your co-workers enables you to reward them with value

A.I.-powered employee engagement platforms such as Remesh offer the ability to engage employees in scheduled, deeper employee insights. Plus, employees can also receive feedback in peer to peer recognition programs.

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Unique Recognition For Special Projects

Recognizing staff by rewarding them based on their unique interests makes the rewards much more memorable. Consider using these basic tactics for a DIY approach to recognizing top performing workers with an official in-office program.

  • Personalized athletic gear, like a yoga mat
  • Picture on an employee wall of fame
  • A hand-written letter from the leadership team
  • Documented positive feedback to leverage for a bonus or other benefit
  • An employee happy hour in their honor
  • Peer-to-peer bulletin board for praise

Unique rewards show you’ve gone out of your way to make appreciation personable (and fun!).

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The Cost of Disengaged Employees

Disengaged employees can be a massive financial risk for any brand. The price is so enormous that it encompasses 10% of the U.S. Gross Domestic Product annually - or $500 billion per year.

Physical examples of this risk include:

  • workplace injury
  • illness
  • employee turnover
  • absences
  • decline of good work
  • fraud and theft 

To put it another way, brands with employee engagement levels of 65% or higher outperformed the total stock market index. Companies with employee engagement levels of 45% or less had a total shareholder return of a whopping 28% lower than average.

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Peer to Peer Recognition Helps Employee Growth

We all want our employees to develop their professional skills, but how often do we actively help them to do so? And, how can we respect employee schedules in the process?

You can show employees that you recognize and appreciate them by being invested in their professional interests and development. This not only fulfills your employees’ professional pursuits, but also equips them to perform better! Some employee recognition ideas include:

  • Giving your staff the option to choose their own projects
  • Giving employees space to develop their skills and articulate mentorship preferences
  • Providing a variety of career growth options (technical research courses, leadership coaching, networking strategy, etc.)

SalesForce is great inspiration as a company that both hears and delivers (the action for appreciation) what its employees want.

When learning that employees wanted customized education paths segmented by learning pace, Salesforce's Dan Darcy (SVP Productivity) leveraged the platform. That is, they enabled employees and managers to design individual learning journeys.

employee success program

While the education program does not use A.I. itself, it does train employees on the topic of artificial intelligence. Learning paths include the risk of bias in A.I., onboarding for Salesforce Einstein (the A.I.-powered customer management feature), and more.

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Ask Employees For Recognition Ideas

Employees feel valued when they know that a company listens to their needs. In fact, employees are 4.6 times more likely to perform well at work when they know their voices are heard.

Clearly asking employees for recognition ideas not only signals to professionals that they've output a job well done. But it also suggests that an employee's individual value is important to the brand.

But, what types of methods should you use for employee listening?

  • Traditional Employee Experience Surveys. These are good for DIY research purposes or quick and dirty responses that can initiate deeper research into satisfaction at work. They can also measure quantitative catalysts for happiness or frustration within the office. Alternately, innovations like Edelman's Workforce Listening tool can replace a survey, and provide more accurate workforce sentiment results. 

  • Online Focus Groups. These provide deeper insights into the psyche of your employees. This is especially the case if your brand is interested in developing strong employee-centric programs. These are good for measuring qualitative employee feedback on mergers and acquisitions, change of benefits, and more.

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Summing Up Employee Recognition Programs 

During a busy work day, taking time for employee recognition ideas can be at the end of our to-do lists. Regular recognition of small achievements has been proven to foster a sense of belonging and increase productive workflows. In summary, developing a robust employee appreciation program is one of the most powerful assets for your company.

Keep empowering your employees in the age of A.I. by downloading our report on the state of the industry.