employee recognition quotes

10 Free Ways to give Impactful Employee Recognition in 10 minutes or less

Written by: Summer Smith, Director of Community


In the last seven days, have you given or received recognition or praise for doing good work? If not, you, your organization, and the people within it are overlooking a proven strategy for improving company growth and employee productivity. But you’re not alone.

Recognition is an engagement driver that is often overlooked in today’s fast-paced workplace. There are high expectations for many of us and it can often feel like superior work is expected and rarely rewarded. But, don’t lose sight of the fact that recognition is an intrinsic need for us humans. We crave acknowledgment from one another and thrive off receiving sincere, consistent, timely, and specific recognition.


employee recognition gifts


The key is to find the recognition sweet spot. This is the spot that emulates sincerity and specificity, without taking so much time and effort that makes it impossible to be consistently sustained. Here are 10 employee recognition ideas that don’t take much time or any money.


1. Handwritten note.

As old-school as this seems, don’t underestimate the effect that a personalized note in your own handwriting has.


2. Create and hand out pay-it-forward cards to create a chain reaction of recognition.

Make a card focused around a core value or key behavior that’s important to your organization. Give it to a person who exemplifies that behavior, then ask them to pass it on to a person who they notice is doing the same.


3. Send an Email of praise “keep it up, you’re right on track.”

Put some positive news in someone’s inbox, and don’t forget to be specific about what they are doing right.


4. Make a tear-off-sheet of anonymous compliments.

You’re a rockstar. I appreciate all your opinions. Your mouse told me that you have very soft hands. Whatever the compliments are, have some fun with it and put it in a central place for all to find.


5. Review key responsibilities and share one good thing happening under each one.

Spend some time to focus on what’s going right. Sometimes, that’s just what a person needs in order to tackle what’s not going right.


employee recognition tips


6. Start your meetings with kudos.

Break the ice with some praise to grab attention early and set the tone for future work goals.


7. Ask your team about the best thing that happened this week.

Shift the source of recognition from yourself to your team. Self-reflection is a great way to activate intrinsic motivation.


8. Management by walking around (MBWA).

Steve Jobs was known to do this often. Get out from behind your desk and interact with your team. Invite suggestions for doing things better and don’t return to your desk until you find something to compliment.


9. Use company credit card points to purchase a gift for employees.

It could be gift cards for each employee or something nice for the whole office. Does anyone play ping pong around here?


10. Raise the bar meetings.

Set a little time aside each month for a meeting designed to reinforce and recognize great ideas. Show employees that their voice really matters and they’ll likely continue to formulate great ideas and feel pretty good about themselves at the same time.


employee recognition programs


A Culture of Bliss

Creating a culture that values recognition offers employees a stronger sense of confidence in their work and their peer relationships. So, forget about simply saying “well-done” and moving on. Take a little more time to provide meaningful feedback and enjoy the rewards of higher productivity and plain old happiness. After all, full-time employees spend over 2,000 hours a year at work, why not make it as enjoyable as possible?


For more on employee recognition, check out our post: 5 Reasons why your Employee Recognition is Falling Flat (and how to fix it).


  1. Kirsten Wennerstrom on November 7, 2018 at 10:38 am

    Great ideas Summer!!! Thank you!!

  2. blog on November 7, 2018 at 4:16 pm

    Glad you found these tips helpful, Kirsten. Thanks for reading!

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