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The Art of Giving Recognition at Work

8 min read
Last Updated on 25 February, 2021
The Art of Giving Recognition at Work

Workplaces are going through a dynamic transformation. Adapting itself with the changing norms of work culture is the only way for businesses to survive, sustain and thrive. One such major transformation is seen for most organizations in the employee recognition space.

The power of recognition at work cannot be over-emphasized. Employee recognition is a psychologically proven way to spur motivation and development among employees. It is the primary ingredient for building an engaged workforce and creating a holistic employee experience.

Companies now are finally acknowledging the importance of rewards and recognition in the workplace.

But the catch here is that are these companies doing it the right way or just following the trend blindly?

Do your employee recognition efforts live up to the expectations of the employees?

The idea of offering some sort of recognition at work is nothing new. Getting a watch on certain years of tenure, a turkey on thanksgiving or a gift card on Christmas are a few early examples of recognition at work.

But are these occasional, once-in-a-blue-moon gestures enough to keep employees motivated? Of course not.

Employee recognition, like every other concept, has evolved massively. Take a look at this video on the transformation of Rewards and Recognition in the workplace.

Employees now have huge expectations from their employers. To meet with the changing needs of the people and match the expectations of the new generations in the workplace, it only makes sense to constantly re-evaluate the rewards and recognition efforts of the organization.

The entire job market scenario has changed over the last few years. The war for talent is real, employees are now choosing their employers (not the other way round).

Not surprisingly, the current dominating forces (Millennial & GenZers) in the workforce are extremely hard to please. They don’t see recognition as a special affair. In fact, they feel they are entitled to receive recognition for a job well done. Giving recognition in a manner that would appeal to them is a necessity to attract, retain and satisfy them.

If all the above-mentioned points aren’t enough to cement the importance of rewards and recognition at work, here are a few statistics for you:

  • 23% of employers offered additional recognition programs in order to stay competitive in attracting and retaining talent. (SunTrust)

  • 26% of employees ranked recognition for their work in their top three factors for staying with their current employer. 17% said their manager/employer was horrible – they never recognized their work. 43% ranked their manager/employer as just okay – recognizing them annually or quarterly at least. (Achievers)

  • About 50% of senior managers view recognition as an investment. (Maritz & WorldatWork)

  • About 85% of professionals prefer a simple “thank you” as recognition for their day-to-day work. (Deloitte)

Related: 32 Rewards and Recognition Ideas to Boost Employee Recognition [2019 Updated]

Presenting 5 Distinct Ways that employees (actually) prefer to receive recognition at work:

1. Boost Peer to peer recognition

We, humans, are essentially social beings. We have an inherent need to be appreciated and treated well by the people in our surroundings.

In the work environment, your people spend a substantial amount of time with their colleagues. They have better interpersonal relations with their peers than say, managers and employers.

Also, modern workplaces are transforming from being competitive to collaborative in nature. Teams collaborate rigorously on a daily basis to get the best results.

In such a situation where peer interactions are high and teamwork a necessity, peer recognition is something that companies must promote. Employees naturally feel recognition is meaningful when it comes from someone from their peer group.

Moreover, when the organization promotes a culture of gratitude and appreciation, internal communication becomes better and there are lesser chances of stress and conflict.


To sum up, employees share stronger bonds with their peers than their managers. They also feel that sometimes appreciation from managers is forced and not genuine. On the other hand, when recognition comes from peers it is considered more meaningful. Companies should facilitate a culture where peer recognition becomes frequent and natural.

2. Leverage Social media

Why social media, you ask? Because everyone’s doing it.

For the current generations, nothing actually is considered to have happened unless it’s on social media.

There’s something really powerful about being recognised on social media from a company that has tens of thousands of followers. Social media recognition gives your employees the feeling of being truly in the limelight. Also, flaunting hard-earned appreciation on their good work becomes easier on these platforms.

For example, even the “employee of the week” or similar recognition ritual will immediately become more meaningful when you post a picture of them on the company’s social media handle.

A big plus about going to social media for recognition is gamification. Employees can nominate or vote among themselves for important awards and recognition. You can reward the team or department that shows great achievement in social media together. It encourages employees to work together as a team and not just as an individual all the time.

Another great way of recognizing employees is through cloud-based internal employee recognition programs. Companies now have their own R&R platforms that can act as a mini social media where employees can indulge in staff recognition, exchanging good wishes on birthdays and work anniversaries, on-the-spot compliments and more. Also, it becomes easier to integrate reward points in such platforms. Managers can make the whole recognition process more effective by adding incentives and recognition leaderboard.


Some other employee recognition ideas that work in social media can be:

A Letter of excellence by a leader/ team members/ managers on special achievements and milestones.

A monthly online newsletter with special mentions and shout-outs to all the monthly award winners.

A virtual wall-of-fame for the recognition-worthy mentions every week.

3. The Era of Instant gratification

There has been a profound shift in our society in the past few decades. The millennials and the GenZers are dominating the workforce and they are rightly termed as “impatient” and “fast-paced”. They want to get their job done quickly and they expect instant recognition for the same. Delayed recognition is as good as denied recognition for today’s multigenerational workforce.

Applying good encouragement tactics is crucial for any organization. Sincerity and timeliness of feedback and appreciation might seem like a trivial matter but it makes a lot of difference. When we talk about making recognition an innate part of the company culture, we must make recognition as regular and instant as possible.


Recognizing achievements in real-time or trying to schedule it as close to the actions you’re rewarding, reinforces the behaviours you want to encourage. Also, as a result, employees become aligned with broader company goals.

When employees know that they will be praised and their efforts wouldn’t go unnoticed, they are more likely to take up challenges and continue growing. It empowers them by giving them the extra boost of confidence.

Additionally, expressing interest in their professional development, sending them emails about their progress and assisting them in their journey helps you reach the broader company goals faster. It is a definite win-win situation for both employer and employees.

4. Gift of “Time-off”

Striking the perfect balance between work, career, family and having fun has been the biggest challenge for employees. Work schedules are getting busier and personal time is getting shorter.

Naturally, a healthy work-life balance in terms of flexible timing and time-off is the top-seeking benefit for employees everywhere.

Giving a bit of extra time-off not only shows your appreciation but it is something employees really want at the end of the day.

To make recognition truly meaningful you must break off from traditional practices and adopt modern ones. When an employee goes above and beyond to get a particular piece of work done, you can give them an extra day or two off or a short paid-holiday, just to show them that they truly deserve a pat on the back. Doing so will boost their motivation and at the same time present a caring image of the company.


Offering time-off is definitely a good gesture but apart from that, it also is great from the company’s perspective. When employees do not take time off to rest, it wears their bodies down. Burn-outs become more common and they are more susceptible to illness and other health conditions. These often lead to high absenteeism, low productivity and more company health costs.

Flexible work timings is an initiative that all companies will be bound to adopt in the very near future, so why not make it a way to recognize your employees?

5. Power of Personalization in rewards and recognition

Personalization is not a trend, it’s a marketing tsunami. – Avi Dan

Rewarding employees do not have a one-size-fits-all solution. Everybody loves a personalized approach. Employees have different expectations and different goals that they want to achieve in their career trajectory. If you want to acknowledge your employees’ hard work, it’s important to get to know them personally and understand what motivates and drives them.

One of the main reason behind recognizing employees is to encourage them to deliver similar results in the future. For this, employees must have the freedom to choose an award that’s relevant to their personal lives.

Impersonal rewards are perceived as hollow and often does more harm than good.
But the question is how to personalize rewards? How to find out what they would like to have?

The first solution to that would be by asking them through surveys and emails. A quick survey before the recognition program can help you learn a lot about their preferences. You can also provide them with a plethora of reward options to choose from.

The next solution that I would like to mention here is Point-based rewarding system.

When you are having trouble discovering a gift that suits a particular person, a point-based rewarding system can come to your rescue.

In a point-based rewarding system, each employee is part of an employee rewards program where the management can allot points to their employees as gifts or rewards. The employees can redeem these points earned by them and use it to buy goods/services of brands from different categories – like merchandise, travel, lifestyle etc – available on the platform.

You can leverage such an appreciation program for the employee that shows positive qualities at the workplace. Points could be awarded to the employee for simple tasks like assisting their colleagues to their punctuality or any other qualities.

Vantage Circle offers such a unique employee recognition program, Vantage Rewards.

Take advantage of this flexible, personalized recognition platform through which employees can choose from thousands of gift card options for popular, local stores, restaurants, entertainment or travel outlets, and even charitable organizations.

Rewards credit can be used by the employee to redeem gift cards for diverse brands and organizations like Apple and Amazon, delivering exactly what millennials want in the workplace: creative and personalized recognition.

Final words:

Traditional recognition programs breed cynicism and apathy and come across as a one-size-fits-all approach(mostly done to make the organization look good). But the modern workforce expects their workplace recognition to be tailored to them, given for something that matters, and not always the same thing. I hope this article helped you in understanding the upcoming trending in employee recognition practices. If you have any more suggestions and inputs, do let us know in the comment section below. I’m excited to hear from you!

This article is written by Darshana Dutta. She works as a Content Creator and Digital Marketer at Vantage Circle. She writes extensively on trends around employee engagement and transforming company culture. For any related queries, contact