Six easy-to-implement employee recognition initiatives

It’s not what is inside the gift box that matters, but what it represents: Your genuine appreciation.

Peer-to-peer recognition is among an employer’s most powerful and cost-effective tools for engaging employees. When employees are actively encouraged to notice and appreciate the behaviours of their colleagues who contribute to the company’s success, you as a leader will create an environment that is guaranteed to excite and inspire your team to give their best every day. Being nice doesn’t mean being a wishy-washy pushover or chronic people-pleaser. It does mean acknowledging the contributions of others and taking a little extra time and effort to show people that you care.

Thank you cards are an excellent, low cost form of employee recognition.

Before you automatically rush out to invest in promotional products or incentive awards, here are six easy-to-implement ideas to show your appreciation to the people who help you succeed every day:

  1. Be specific in your appreciation – “Thank you for ensuring our deadline was met.” “Thank you for staying late to finish the proposal – the client loves it.” The message shows that you noticed and care and the person knows what you value and can repeat the action for you!
  2. Thank immediately – Make it easy for yourself by having a few “Thank-you” cards on hand. The few minutes it takes sign and send a card speak volumes more about your appreciation than a quickly drafted email.
  3. Share the news – If you do use email to show appreciation, be sure to c.c. the CEO, or manager, outlining how the employee’s effort helped the company. Again, you will be seen as a team player.
  4. Smile – It’s easy (and free!) to do – just makes sure it’s genuine. And don’t forget to add eye contact.
  5. Make it personal – Today, visit face-to-face all the people who report to you. Tell them one great thing they do to make your job easier. When you see a colleague who looks confused or overwhelmed, don’t walk by. Engage them. Ask how you can help.
  6. Cultivate kindness – Start a daily “Act of Kindness” campaign either just for yourself, or better yet with your team, or entire organization. Track the results in a journal, blog or online community.

As a leader you must first look at your own behavior. Show your daily appreciation and watch your team environment become stronger as people happily and enthusiastically carry out your goals. Recognition done right doesn’t have to take a lot of money – it takes listening, creativity, and the ability to say: Thank You.

Janet Helm can be reached on twitter (@JanetMHelm), Facebook and LinkedIn and online at

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