Checklist for Effective Employee Recognition

When used effectively, employee recognition is an incredibly powerful motivational tool.

  • The Cicero group has found that 53% of employees said their work relationships would improve if they were recognized more often.
  • Glassdoor found that 81% of employees said they were motivated to work harder when they get appreciation from their managers.
  • Recognition is a critical tool for helping employees feel valued. CareerBuilder has found that feeling valued is a top reason employees stay in jobs –- and not feeling valued is a key factor in dissatisfaction.

Not all employee recognition programs resonate with employees. Perhaps you’ve seen this for yourself. There’s the “Employee of the Month” program that feels more a statement of popularity than performance. Maybe you gave up multiple weekends for a project and 3 months later someone sends you a “thank you” pen. Or maybe you got a gift card for a steak restaurant and you’re a vegetarian.

Effective employee recognition programs exist. The Kazoo employee experience platform has enabled recognition at hundreds of customer sites, been adopted by hundreds of thousands of employees, and been used to send millions of pieces of employee recognition. The results? A third-party ROI study found that 100% of surveyed customers had seen their employee engagement go up after adopting the platform.

Employee Recognition Example

Employee Recognition Checklist

So, what does effective employee recognition look like? We’ve put together this checklist for effective recognition based on industry research, our collective expertise, and our experience with our customers.

  • Use a platform for public employee recognition. Having a single place for public recognition sets the foundation for embedding recognition and appreciation into your company culture. It also ensures that individual pieces of recognition will resonate with employees across the company.
  • Tie employee recognition to company core values. When an employee can see how their work directly supports company core values, – it adds meaning to day-to-day work. Additionally, it provides proof that the company is living out its core values. It turns out that this matters to employees –- a 2015 Society for Human Resource Management report showed that 86% of values-based employee recognition systems increase employee happiness.
  • Make employee recognition timely. Recognition given closer to an action will have more of an effect on an employee than weeks or months after the event.
  • Make employee recognition specific. Giving details of the action or behavior that you’re recognizing ensures that employees know exactly what they did that’s of value.
  • Make employee recognition authentic. Sending a personalized recognition makes recognition more meaningful.
  • Make employee recognition frequent. If managers and employees send recognition 1 to 3 times per week, employee recognition becomes an organic part of your company culture. It means employees are more likely to accept and respond to the recognition that they get.
  • State the impact. In our market research for the Employee Experienced Defined, we found that 94% of employees crave to know the impact that their work is having on the company. Detailing why a specific action matters shows employees how their daily work is moving the company forward.
  • Recognize the everyday. It’s easy to send recognition for heroic actions –- staying late to finish a project or working over the weekend to fix a bug. But what about the people who are performing well on a day-to-day basis? They often go unnoticed. Yet, double-checking work so that a product runs effectively before it’s released or being efficient on a day-to-day basis may be critical to long-term business performance. Recognizing important everyday actions reinforces them, motivates employees and builds overall performance.
  • Enable peer-to-peer employee recognition. Studies show that employees perform better when they can reward their peers. Plus, having regular, public peer-to-peer recognition shows managers the great work their employees are doing that they may not have noticed on their own.
  • Lead from the top. When managers either give recognition –- or even amplify recognition from a peer –- it reinforces the importance of the behavior that’s being recognized. And it encourages employees to recognize each other.

Effective employee recognition programs can transform companies. See a tour of Kazoo’s Employee Experience platform to see how you can build effective employee recognition into your culture.

About Kazoo
Kazoo is the employee experience platform powered by the science of motivation and the mission of improving the lives of employees everywhere, one company at a time. Founded in 2013, Kazoo grows company culture and improves bottom-line performance metrics through its robust engagement platform that delivers recognition, rewards, incentives, and team insights. Named to Entrepreneur Magazine’s list of Best Company Cultures in 2017, the Austin-based SaaS company and its technology platform are built on the four pillars of employee experience: connection, meaning, impact, and appreciation. To request a demo, visit