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High-Value, Low-Cost Staff Recognition Tips, Tools and Techniques

  • Create a “Wall of Success” in your office, where you post good news about staff. For instance, letters from happy customers, positive news about work or personal accomplishments, and certificates of achievement. Add a “Wall of Success” to your website or Intranet. 

  • Whenever an individual or team achieves something special, that’s the right time to get together for a brief celebration. Have a prearranged signal (ringing a bell, blowing a whistle, a special PA announcement) that lets everyone know it’s time to get together for a special meeting.

  • Invite “stars” to accompany you to high-level meetings. This will introduce them to your bosses. Have them attend future meetings in your place. 

  • Let your boss know about employees’ contributions. Encourage him to send handwritten notes to your stars, invite them to lunch, or just drop by for a visit.

  • When talking about a project, credit staff members whose ideas and suggestions proved key to its successful completion.  

  • Inscribe a personal message of appreciation on a travel mug and present it to the deserving employee.  

  • Recognition does not have to end when you are “on the road.”  Practise your recognition skills while travelling. When you get great service in a restaurant, when you check-in to your hotel, or during your flight, say thank you.  Remember those back at the office.  Let them know they are appreciated with a phone call, email, voice-mail message, fax, postcard, text message, or thank-you note.

  • Take photos during awards ceremonies. Include these photos in staff newsletters. Post them on bulletin boards or on your Intranet.  

  • Pay for an employee’s membership in a professional association or for a subscription to a trade journal. Every time information comes from the association or the magazine arrives, the employee is reminded of your gratitude for what she does. 

  • Double the impact of the positive, face-to-face feedback you provide by following up with a brief, handwritten note. 

  • When you observe a staff member doing a new task well, invite her to mentor co-workers in the technique. A caution:  not all people feel comfortable in a mentor’s role. Forcing someone to mentor others may be seen by some as a being punished for success. 

  • Take someone who has performed well out to lunch. Allow him to invite a co-worker to join you. 

  • Add a special logo to the business cards or name badges of staff members who have met important goals or reached a significant milestone in their careers. 

  • Keep a recognition box on your desk. When it is time for spontaneous recognition, invite a staff member to reach in and draw out her prize— a gift card, movie tickets, permission to take an extended coffee or lunch break, a coupon for a movie rental, etc. 

  • Is recognition an important component of an organization’s culture?  If it is—and it should be—remember to recognize those whom you witness recognizing others. Always recognize behaviour that you want to see more often. Recognize the recognizers. 

  • Encourage employees to collect “Tokens of Appreciation.”  Every time you observe or hear about behaviour that you value, present a token. When an employee collects enough tokens, present him with a list of possible rewards. He can exchange the tokens for something from the list.

  • No matter how great the job, there is always at least one small, unappealing task associated with it that needs to be done. To demonstrate genuine appreciation for a staff member’s contributions or achievements, offer to do this task for her.

  • Rather than simply leaving paycheques in employees’ mailboxes, hand-deliver them personally, along with a few words of thanks. Occasionally, attach a handwritten thank-you note to the paycheque.

  • When a staff member has done a good job on a project, present her with a list of potential projects and allow her to select which one she would like to work on next.

  • Collect testimonials from co-workers and present them to an employee on the anniversary of his first day on the job with your organization.

  • Write a note of appreciation on the back of your business card and leave it on the staff member’s desk.

  • Honour a long-time employee by naming a meeting room after her . . . the “Joan Smith Room.”

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