Topic: Employee Recognition

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Creative Names for Employee Recognition Programs and Awards

Insights from
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Updated on 

February 12, 2024

Your company’s employee recognition program should look, feel, and sound like your organization. After all, your employee recognition program is an extension of your employee experience and company culture—of your employer brand.

There are many opportunities to get creative with your employee recognition programs and awards. Fun names, meaningful awards, and company-branded employee recognition create experiences employees will love and strive for.

At O.C. Tanner, we work with thousands of clients to deliver employee recognition experiences that elevate their brand and their people. Read on to see our ideas for program and award names, and get inspired by some great examples from companies like yours.

“Part of why it’s so important that we weave recognition and appreciation into the fabric of our culture and elevate the importance of its impact is because now, more than ever, we understand that recognition, just like compensation and benefits, is a fundamental part of the associates’ experience at work.”
NICK ROSENTHAL, SENIOR ASSOCIATE IN HR COMPENSATION, CAPITAL ONE

Peer-to-peer recognition programs and awards

Peer-to-peer employee recognition programs are the fundamental recognition experiences offered in platforms like Culture Cloud by O.C. Tanner. These programs encourage teammates and coworkers to share appreciation with each other through notes, eCards, and points to spend in an online award store.  

Make sure your peer-to-peer programs and awards mirror your company values and culture. Let’s take a look at some catchy peer-to peer-recognition program names.

  • Applause Express
  • Elevate Others
  • Celebrate Great
  • Elevate Excellence
  • Peak Performance
  • Thanks to You
  • Mark the Moment

Capital One, a leading financial company, named its peer-to-peer employee recognition program ONEderful to highlight its company culture fueled by personal and organizational success. Their program encourages connection among teams to create a ONEderful workplace.

Capital One's ONEderful employee recognition program powered by Culture Cloud

Above-and-beyond recognition programs and awards

When your employees do something that deserves a little more than a simple “thank you,” it’s time to use some above and beyond recognition awards. Nominations for these awards can come from peers, leaders, or cross-departmental teammates.  

Giving these awards a name is important: it highlights the accomplishment clearly and helps others understand the values, great work, and commitment that went into receiving the award. Here are some award names to inspire you as you name your own top-performer employee recognition program:

  • Excellence in Action Award
  • Went the Extra Mile Award
  • There When It Counts Award
  • Gold Heart Award
  • Champion of Others Award
  • Hero of the Year Award
  • Top Achiever Award
  • Early Bird Award
  • Night Owl Award

Don’t let the awards stop there. Your company likely has many other values you may want to highlight through your awards. Use this list as a baseline and get creative.

It can be hard to know when to give an above-and-beyond award nomination. Use this guide to purposeful appreciation to find out the best time to share appreciation and awards.  

Team recognition programs and awards  

When your employees achieve greatness together, present them with special, uniquely named awards. Here are some examples of names for team awards:

  • We Are the Champions Award
  • Tireless Teamwork Award
  • Come Together Award
  • Super Sales Squad Award
  • All Together Award
  • The Dream Team Award
  • Stronger Together Award
Employees with strong connections to their team are 10x more likely to thrive at work.
— GLOBAL CULTURE REPORT, O.C. TANNER INSTITUTE
Our surveys show that consistent recognition for above-and-beyond performance can add 3.5 years to an employee's tenure.

Career anniversary and years of service programs

You have top employees who have dedicated many years, sometimes their whole careers, to supporting your company.  

Make sure you mark employees’ special career anniversaries with a program that reflects the full scope of their impact. Here are some years of service program names to inspire you:

  • Creating History Program
  • Milestone Memories Program
  • Workiversary Celebrations Program
  • Your Journey Program
  • Years of Excellence Program
  • Past, Present, and Future Program

Career anniversary platforms like Culture Cloud by O.C. Tanner help your team automate years of service celebrations while still providing a personalized, meaningful touch to the experience.  

CIBC, a major banking corporation, created its Moment Makers program, powered by Culture Cloud, to celebrate employee anniversaries and every moment in between. This program allows CIBC’s HR team to track and plan for upcoming milestone employee anniversaries across its 45,000 employees.

Custom designed Yearbooks to celebrate career anniversaries and retirement

Don’t forget about employee retirement celebrations

Arguably, one of the most important milestones in an employee’s career is their retirement. Your career anniversary program can and should extend to celebrating your retiring employees with special awards, gifts, and personal comments and notes from leaders and peers.

Awards for completing company goals and initiatives

In addition to recognizing the little and big wins for individual employees and teams, it’s important to celebrate when you achieve major company goals and initiatives.  

Taking time to appreciate these achievements as a company builds unity across teams and departments that may not interact as often. Company-wide celebrations connect everyone to a shared sense of purpose and accomplishment.  

Encourage employees and teams to reach company goals by developing an inspiring award program. These programs can encompass initiatives like safety and wellness, or goals like manufacturing output and product launches. The variety is endless with these appreciation awards, so here are some program name ideas to get you started:

  • Safety Catch Program
  • Walking and Wellness Program
  • Crossed the Finish Line Program  
  • Ready. Set. Done. Program
  • Inclusion and Connection Program
  • Don’t Forget You Belong Program

Initiatives, powered by Culture Cloud, is your place to track goal progress and share awards for completing major milestones as a company. From finishing IT security training to volunteering as a team, Culture Cloud Initiatives gives your leaders the flexibility to reward employees for the activities that are important to your company.

Learn how Bluescope, an Australian manufacturing company, appreciated employees after reaching a huge financial goal for the year.  

Create a unique employee recognition program

Remember, the names you use for your recognition program should reflect your company culture. This will help your employees feel that you made an effort to create something special just for them. And it’s okay to be playful. Often, the more fun and personal your program names, the clearer it is that you took time and thought to create them. Just make sure the message of the award or program is always sincere.

Use these names, but even better, use them as inspiration to create your own names. The more you can tie your award and recognition program names to your company’s purpose, the more your employees will feel they are directly contributing to that purpose. Create programs that perfectly fit your company—and, more importantly, your people.

Learn more about the power of aligning your company’s purpose and employee recognition strategy to elevate your employee experience.

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