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6 Types of Employee Recognition: Best Practices and Examples! – 2024

types of employee recognition

Just how many types of employee recognition are there? What are the 6 types of recognition? If you are a lost soul searching for the answers to those questions, you have come to the right place.

While HR Trends come and go, there is one trend that will never go out of fashion and that is keeping your employees engaged. Employee recognition is one of the most important pieces of the employee engagement puzzle and the most fun part is, there are all sorts of different types of employee recognition.

So before you start working on those employee engagement action plans, why not take a look at these different types of employee recognition and see which ones best fit your style and which ones you’ve been neglecting recently!

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6 Types of Employee Recognition

1. Peer-to-peer Recognition

Peer-to-peer recognition is a powerful form of employee recognition that involves employees acknowledging and appreciating the efforts and contributions of their peers. Peer-to-peer recognition fosters a culture of empowerment, collaboration, and support among team members, leading to increased morale and engagement in the workplace.

Best Practices:

Encouraging a culture of appreciation: Creating an environment where employees feel comfortable and empowered to recognize and appreciate the efforts of their peers is always a great perk. Encouraging open communication, teamwork, and mutual respect sets the stage for peer-to-peer recognition to thrive.

Providing opportunities for employees to nominate and recognize their peers: Implementing a formal system or platform that allows employees to nominate and recognize their peers for their achievements, behaviors, or contributions can be highly effective.

Some of the best ways to accomplish this can be through employee pulse surveys, online platforms, or even physical suggestion boxes, providing employees with an avenue to express their gratitude.

Creating channels or platforms dedicated to feedback: Establishing channels or platforms for employees to provide feedback and recognition to their peers can facilitate the recognition process.

Devoting a channel of your communication software of choice such as Microsoft Teams or Discord should be enough for this. Devoting a channel just to constructive feedback enables employees to express their appreciation and share examples of outstanding performance with their peers.

Example:

Let’s imagine a software development team where members collaborate closely on a complex project. One team member, Jane, notices that her colleague, John, has gone above and beyond to troubleshoot and resolve a critical issue that saved the team a significant amount of time and effort.

Jane takes the initiative to nominate John for a “Tech Hero” award through the company’s peer-to-peer recognition program, citing his exceptional problem-solving skills and dedication to the project. John receives recognition and appreciation from his peers, which boosts his morale and motivation to continue performing at a high level.

A very simple way of to turn this example into reality is to use employee recognition software with customizable recognition badges.

2. Public Recognition

Public recognition involves acknowledging and celebrating the achievements and contributions of employees in a public or visible manner. It can be highly motivating and inspiring, as it not only recognizes the individual’s efforts but also highlights their success to the entire organization.

Best practices:

Making it timely and specific: Public recognition should be timely, meaning it should be given as close to the achievement or contribution as possible. Think about your recognitions as having a timer on them. The further they are from the praiseworthy situation, the lesser their effect. It should also be specific, clearly highlighting the details of the achievement or contribution that is being recognized.

Praising an employee in public in front of his peers, if done wrong, can do more harm than good. If the rest of the employees don’t see the merit, this can result in a massive decrease in morale. Being timely and specific in how you present public recognition helps employees understand what they did well and encourages them to continue their positive behavior.

Using multiple channels: Organizations can use various channels to publicly recognize their employees, such as team meetings, company-wide emails, social media platforms, or internal newsletters.

The key is to choose channels that reach a wide audience and have a positive impact on the employee being recognized. Out of all the different types of employee recognition, public recognition is the one that makes your employees feel like the rock stars they are!

Involving leadership: Involving leadership in the public recognition process adds significance to the recognition and emphasizes the importance of achievement. Having a senior leader personally congratulate the employee or having them deliver the recognition during a company-wide event can make all the difference.

Example:

A simple example of public recognition in action could be during a company-wide meeting where the CEO acknowledges and praises the outstanding sales performance of an employee, Sarah, who has consistently exceeded her sales targets and brought in significant revenue for the company.

The CEO highlights Sarah’s exceptional sales skills, dedication, and positive impact on the company’s bottom line in front of the entire organization. Sarah feels proud and motivated, and her success serves as an example for others to emulate.

3. Milestone Recognition

Number three as we go through the different types of employee recognition is milestone recognition! This employee recognition type celebrates significant milestones or achievements in an employee’s career or tenure with the organization.

If you have to pick one out of all the types of employee recognition we are discussing today, go with milestone recognition (But please. Do practice all of them. Milestone recognition acknowledges the dedication and long-term commitment of employees, creating a sense of loyalty and pride.

Best practices:

Recognizing various milestones: Milestone recognition can be for different achievements! These achievements include but aren’t limited to:

  • Years of service.
  • Completion of a major project.
  • Reaching a specific career milestone.
  • Achieving a significant professional certification.

It’s important to identify and celebrate the milestones that are meaningful to employees and align with the organization’s values and goals. Using OKR software to keep track of the goals you’ve set is always a great idea.

Personalizing the recognition: Milestone recognition should be personalized and tailored to the individual employee. Whether you are making use of custom recognition badges or actually handwriting letters of appreciation, personalizing the recognition shows that the organization values and appreciates each employee’s unique contributions.

If you are in a situation where you are practicing remote team management, then you might end up finding these handy: Virtual Employee Recognition Ideas

Involving the employee’s team and peers: If you are celebrating the milestone achievements of a single employee, then involving the employee’s team and peers in the milestone recognition process can add an extra layer of significance.

Example:

For the sake of this example, let’s say that we have a company that is celebrating its 50th anniversary since its founding. The CEO sends a company-wide email recognizing and appreciating the hard work and commitment of all employees, past and present, in reaching this significant milestone.

The company hosts a special anniversary event, such as a gala dinner or a commemorative ceremony, where employees are recognized and honored for their contributions to the company’s success over the years.

With two very simple gestures, the leaders in this organization used milestone-based recognition to create a sense of identity by making employees feel like they are a part of something bigger and celebrating their involvement in the 50-year achievement.

types of employee recognition

4. Formal Recognition

Also known as structured recognition these types of employee recognition are formalized and systematic approaches to recognizing and rewarding employees for their outstanding performance and contributions.

Best practices:

Clearly defining criteria: Structured recognition programs should have clear and well-defined criteria that employees can strive to meet. This isn’t a simple pat on the back, after all. This is a formal piece of recognition. Using criteria such as preset objectives and goals is a great way to keep these types of employee recognition legitimate.

Providing meaningful rewards: Structured recognition programs should offer meaningful rewards that are valued by employees. This can include financial incentives and monetary rewards ranging from gift cards, professional development opportunities, or even promotions. The key is to align the rewards with the achievements and contributions being recognized to make them truly meaningful and motivating.

Ensuring fairness and transparency: Structured recognition programs should be fair and transparent, with consistent criteria applied to all employees. It’s important to communicate the program’s guidelines, eligibility, and selection process clearly to all employees to avoid any perception of favoritism or bias.

Example:

An employee is recognized for their exceptional performance through a formal letter of recognition from their manager, highlighting their achievements and contributions. The letter is signed by relevant stakeholders and acknowledges the employee’s impact on the team and organization. The formal recognition process serves as a formal acknowledgment of the employee’s outstanding performance and expresses appreciation for their hard work and dedication.

A formal recognition from the managers that the employee can hang their hat upon can have a wonderful effect on employee engagement. Speaking of managers…

5. Managerial Recognition

Managerial recognition as one of the types of employee recognition is an umbrella term for all employee recognition that is initiated by managers or supervisors to acknowledge and appreciate the contributions of their team members. Managerial recognition can come in a wide spectrum, being informal and spontaneous, or more formalized through regular feedback sessions, performance reviews, or employee kudos programs.

Best practices:

Being more of a general, umbrella term for all the types of employee recognition that come from managers to direct reports, the best practices for these types of employee recognition are more attitude and relationship type based.

Mentors and mentees: Managerial recognition is one of the types of employee recognition that works best when it has a strong base in mentor-mentee relationships between managers and their direct reports. A great way to build upon this relationship is to utilize feedback templates that emphasize growth and development.

Genuine and sincere: Managerial recognition should be genuine and sincere, coming from the heart and reflecting the manager’s appreciation and gratitude for the employee’s efforts. It’s important for managers to show authentic appreciation and recognition to make it meaningful and impactful.

Example:

A manager recognizes a mentee’s progress by providing personal recognition for their achievements, writing a recommendation letter, publicly acknowledging their contributions, and continuing to provide ongoing mentorship and support. The manager’s recognition acknowledges the mentee’s growth, reinforces their efforts, and motivates them to continue their professional development journey.

6. Tangible Rewards

We are capping off our list of the different types of employee recognition with perhaps the sweetest of all, tangible rewards. Tangible rewards employee recognition that involves providing physical or material rewards to employees in recognition of their achievements or contributions.

These rewards can range from small tokens of appreciation, such as gift cards or company-branded merchandise, to larger incentives, such as cash bonuses or travel vouchers.

Best practices:

Aligning rewards with employee preferences: Customizing recognitions and knowing your employees are two points we’ve highlighted before on this list. Tangible rewards should be aligned with the preferences and interests of the employees receiving them. This can be achieved by understanding the individual preferences of employees through surveys or conversations and tailoring the rewards accordingly.

  • Example: If an employee is an avid reader, a gift card to a bookstore might be more meaningful than a generic gift card.

Making the rewards meaningful and memorable: Tangible rewards should be meaningful and memorable to create a lasting impact on employees. When we use the word tangible while describing employee recognition, we mean something that the individual can look back upon with fondness in years to come.

  • Example: A personalized plaque or trophy engraved with the employee’s name and achievement can be a cherished memento.

Communicating the significance of the reward: Your rewards should be accompanied by clear communication that conveys the significance of the reward and the reasons why the employee is receiving it. Your recognition can have all the meaning in the world if you put enough effort into conveying that meaning to the receiving party.

Using Recognition Software

Now that we’ve covered the “What?” when it comes to types of employee recognition, we believe it is time to discuss the “How?”. There are many different ways of exchanging recognition in the workplace as there are different types of employee recognition.

That being said, no matter which one you prefer of all the types of employee recognition we cover today, the best way to practice employee recognition is through using employee recognition software. In a previous list, we highlighted some of the best employee praise software in of 2023. You can find it right here: Top 10 Recognition Software

If you are using Microsoft Teams on a daily basis, then the best employee recognition tool for you is Teamflect. Teamflect is an all-in-one performance management system that also brings with it the strongest employee recognition module available to Microsoft Teams users.

Types of employee recognition teamflect recognition module screen with customizable badges inside microsoft teams

Being a Microsoft partner, Teamflect has flawless Microsoft Teams integration and lets its users exchange recognitions, set goals, create tasks, and use feedback templates without ever having to leave Microsoft Teams chat, let alone the Teams app.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is employee recognition in HRM?

Employee recognition in human resource management is all about acknowledging and celebrating the efforts and achievements of employees within an organization. It involves various forms of recognition, such as verbal praise, written acknowledgments, tangible rewards, social media shout-outs, and experiential incentives, to boost employee morale, engagement, and motivation.

Written by Emre Ok

Emre is a content writer at Teamflect who aims to share fun and unique insight into the world of performance management.

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