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Topic: Appreciation

8 Non-Traditional Employee Recognition Ideas

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Research shows the best way to make employees feel appreciated, thrive, and want to stay is with frequent, timely, and specific recognition. Having a formal, meaningful recognition solution makes that easy. But if you already have an effective solution and want to go further, here are 8 new, non-traditional ways to make your people feel valued.

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Employee recognition is crucial to creating a workplace culture where employees thrive and do great work. When employees feel recognized at work, there is a:

20-point increase in employees’ sense of purpose
24-point increase in employees’ sense of opportunity
22-point increase in employees’ sense of success
16-point increase in employees’ sense of wellbeing
23-point increase in employees’ sense of leadership

When there is NO recognition, companies see a 71% decrease in feeling appreciated

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Revolutionary Recognition Idea #1: Make the employee the expert

We all feel a sense of pride and ownership when people come to us for advice and answers. When employees become SMEs (Subject Matter Experts) and have others in the organization come to them for help and guidance, they feel valued for their talents and empowered to lead on their own. Communicating that an employee is an expert in their area shows that you, and everyone else in the company, recognize their unique skills.

When people come to an employee for help/expertise, companies see a 40% increase in feelings of appreciation.

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Revolutionary Recognition Idea #2: Involve employees in special projects

Special projects are an underutilized employee recognition tool. Inviting an employee to participate in a special project shows you value him or her for their unique skills, talents, and point of view. Employees feel honored and excited to be involved in something no one else is working on, outside of their normal job scope, and will make a lasting impact on the organization.

Simply participating in special projects increases employees’ feelings of appreciation by 74%.

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Revolutionary Recognition Idea #3: Ask employees for their input

There’s nothing like asking someone for their opinion to make them feel valued. So, ask your people what they think about big topics. Involve them in important decisions. Seek their feedback. Give them a seat at the table and empower them to influence outcomes.

Only 52% of employees feel they have seat at the table, but those who feel they do are 30% more likely to believe they influence important decisions at work.

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Revolutionary Recognition Idea #4: Tell stories

When recognizing employees, don’t just say “thank you”. Connect their accomplishment back to what’s important–your organization’s purpose, its rich history, your mission, etc. Why does their work matter? Use storytelling to connect their work to a bigger picture and show how they make a difference.

Employees are 121% more motivated to do their best work when their contributions are tied to their organization’s purpose.

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Revolutionary Recognition Idea #5: Show them they belong

Employees who feel like they fit in and belong do their best work, feel appreciated, and stay. Show employees they belong in your organization. Encourage cross-departmental recognition, from both leaders AND peers. Get to know your people on a personal level. Help them connect with others: colleagues outside of their department and high level leaders they may not normally interact with. Connect employees to your organization’s purpose, a sense of accomplishment, and to one another.

Leaders who foster a sense of wellbeing and appreciation have employees who were 38% less likely to leave.

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Revolutionary Recognition Idea #6: Recognize during one-on-ones

Use one-on-ones for more than just improvement. Yes, one-on-ones should include check-ins on projects, and offer coaching, mentoring, and ways to grow and develop. But they should also be a time where the employee can showcase their work, and where managers take a moment to appreciate, in a specific, timely, and meaningful way, all the great work their people have done. Find tools, like O.C. Tanner’s Culture Cloud offering, to facilitate one-on-ones that incorporate time for recognizing accomplishments.

When leaders have trouble communicating accomplishments, employees are 70% less likely to feel appreciated. But when employees feel they are doing meaningful work, there is a:

·      42% increase in feeling their leader supports them

·      52% increase in feeling successful

·      61 point increase in Net Promoter Score

·      49% increase in motivation to contribute

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Revolutionary Recognition Idea #7: Make it public

Everyone should know how valuable your people are. So broadcast the recognition publicly: in town halls, beginning of meetings, in your company newsletter, emails, and other public communication vehicles. Use the Wall of Fame feature on your company’s recognition program to easily showcase when an employee is recognized. Not only will the recipient be delighted, but others will see what behaviors are important to the company and be inspired to do the same.

When recognition is not a priority, employees are 38% less likely to feel appreciated

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Revolutionary Recognition Idea #8: Be spontaneous

Often the best recognition moments are the ones that are not planned. Celebrate spontaneously. Surprise the recipient with a recognition moment before a meeting has ended, in the hallway, during a special pop-up recognition moment. Send an ecard with your recognition program in the middle of the day. Formal or informal, any meaningful moment of recognition can make the employee’s entire week.

Spontaneous praise leads to a 172% increase in feeling appreciated.



To learn more about the impact of employee recognition at work, read our 2018 Global Culture Report.

Check out the latest tools available to help employees feel valued

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