Does Workplace Appreciation Actually Work?

In recent studies, companies have found that perks and bonuses are not sufficient to keep employees feeling fulfilled. Through continuously offering monetary bonuses for every “job-well-done” employee expectations will continue to rise, and if companies can’t keep up (especially salary-wise), employees will not be happy and will continue to be disappointed. This leads to less employee satisfaction and lower quality of work. As a recent Gloat article states, investing in employee development and recognition is the best motivator. 

What is Staff Recognition?

In the last decade, there has been a huge shift in the company culture. Many companies are now trying to create more positive work environments to help employee retention, otherwise known as “sticky appreciation.” Many employees are seeking employment opportunities in companies that are family-oriented, have awesome perks, and most importantly, where they will feel appreciated and recognized for the work they put in. 

With these changes, many employers are also including more workplace recognition as a company standard. Staff recognition is defined by any way that a company or organization shows appreciation for its employees’ efforts.

Recognition can be shown in many forms and can be done in many circumstances. For example, employers might show recognition during the following circumstances: 

  • Performance reviews 
  • Milestones
  • Exceeding expectations
  • Exhibiting desired behavior

25 Workplace Appreciation Ideas that Really Work

Why is Recognition Important?

Workplace recognition is important because it helps employees recognize they are valued and boosts employee morale.  McGraw Hill Professional has an excellent article explaining the reasons why there needs to be more humanity in the workplace. People are not just machines designed to work—employees need to be heard and seen. They need to be recognized for the hard work they put in. 

“In this environment, where the stakes are the highest they’ve ever been for employee retention, companies need to be very deliberate in the culture they create. We need new ways to foster and strengthen the emotional connections that attract and retain top talent. We need to be more human at work. “ 

Eric Mosely

By showing employees that they matter and their work is essential to the company, they will work harder and more efficiently. The workplace will have a more positive feel, and employees will be happier. 

What are the Benefits of Staff Recognition?

Of course, recognition in the workplace has many benefits. These don’t only impact the employee, but the employers as well. 

  • Positive company culture. Companies that have a consistent practice of using a recognition program are more likely to have a positive environment and culture. Focusing on constructive praise and recognition helps foster happier employees and leads to less employee turnover. 
  • Improved productivity. Employees who feel appreciated will be more likely to work harder. 
  • Increased customer referrals. Customers can often get the vibe of a workplace, and no one likes dealing with grumpy employees. If the employees are happy, the customers are happy. 
  • Nurtures trust between employees and employers. Positive employers who praise their employees frequently foster more trust. If employees trust their employers, they are more likely to be engaged.  
  • Reinforces company values. If employers are consistently recognizing their employees for their good work, it becomes a habit and part of the company culture. 

According to O.C. Tanner, 53% of employees surveyed said they would stay at their jobs longer if their employers showed them more appreciation. 

Forms of Workplace Recognition

Before a company should start a recognition program, it should first think about what motivates the employee. This can be done through surveys or just by observing what increases engagement at work when implementing different recognition styles. It is important to remember that while tangible rewards are helpful, businesses need to keep in mind what they will be able to keep up with. Verbal recognition is often easier to start a consistent practice of because it is free and helps intrinsically motivate employees.


  • Formal recognition from leadership. This can be as simple as praising the employee in a team meeting. 
  • Informal recognition. Personal praise can be done in many settings, such as performance reviews. Even just a simple high five and thank you in the hallway for a job well-done counts. 
  • Peer to peer recognition. In everyday settings, showing more gratitude for your team members helps them feel a sense of belonging. It fosters a positive work environment, which is essential to employee retention. 


  • Employee incentives for various accomplishments. 
  • Gift cards and Bonuses. 
  • Prime parking spot. 
  • Buy everyone donuts or another sweet treat. 

Team Recognition Ideas


For more ideas, check out this post about staff appreciation day.  

Genuine Recognition 

For any recognition program to work, the strategies used have to be genuine. Employees will be able to tell if the recognition given is not authentic. Not appearing truly thankful, makes the gesture empty, as though the company just wanted to improve morale to boost productivity and not because it cares about the employees. Below are four tips that can help your employees feel genuine appreciation. 

1. Be Timely 

In order for recognition to feel authentic, it should happen in the moment. If someone has done something truly spectacular, like staying late to finish a big project, let them know as soon as possible that their contribution mattered. 

2. Be Consistent 

In order for recognition to have a lasting effect on employees, it should be consistent and happen often. The more often recognition and appreciation are shown, the more likely employees will reciprocate with the desired productivity. 

3. Be Sincere

Show real enthusiasm for a job well done, do not participate in fake flattery. Also, don’t go overboard with enthusiasm if the situation or effort doesn’t match. 

4. Make it Personal 

Be sure that whatever form of workplace appreciation program your company chooses, it suits the employee and matches company values. Perhaps an employee responds well to informal recognition and doesn’t like formal or public shout-outs. It would be appropriate to avoid praising them in public as doing so too often could lead to less engagement at work from that team member.

3 Recognition Mistakes to Avoid

1. Not recognizing employees in a timely manner.

Instead of waiting to recognize an employee’s efforts, make sure to do it in real-time so the employee knows that you’re invested in their work. 

2. Only recognizing achievement. 

When companies only recognize goal achievement and monetary success, they are missing an opportunity to grow their employees’ intrinsic motivation. By recognizing the long hours put into a project, taking on a heavier workload, and other desired behaviors, the employee will be more likely to put in the desired efforts again. 

3. Not incorporating recognition into performance conversations. 

When companies ignore recognizing employees in regular performance meetings, they are losing out on an opportunity. By using these opportunities to recognize employees for their efforts, managers are enforcing a culture of appreciation and recognition in their company. This also helps to solidify trust between the employees and their leaders. 

Workplace Appreciation Works

Overall, it is clear that workplace recognition matters. Genuine recognition improves morale, creates a positive work environment, improves customer experiences, and improves productivity. Companies should help employees feel recognized through genuine and timely recognition and by doing so, they will see happier and more productive employees. 

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