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Employee Recognition Examples and Tips

Employee Experience5 min read

Welcome to How We Do at Kazoo, our series of actionable insider tips to make the workplace awesome. Today, we talked with Kazoo Implementation Manager Patty Williams about how to give great employee recognition. Stay tuned for employee recognition examples and tips!


Need employee recognition examples that will make a difference? Look no further than Kazoo’s Patty Williams. Patty is notorious at Kazoo for giving deeply felt recognition that creates lasting connection. Here are her top tips:

Giving employee recognition: top 3 takeaways

  1. Recognition can help you cross generational and geographical divides more effectively and immediately than nearly any other tool.
  2. The top 4 elements of winning recognition are timeliness, meaning, specificity, and clear tie to impact.
  3. Looking at recognition software? Choose one that integrates your company values into recognition to reinforce your company culture while building morale.

But we recognize that you want more. So let’s dive into Patty’s interview — or jump straight to her real-life employee recognition examples below.


Kazoo: Why is it important to give recognition in the workplace?

Patty: Human beings need the ability to express gratitude. It not only makes the recipient of the gratitude happier, healthier and more motivated — it makes the giver happier, too.

Showing gratitude builds bridges between generations, different departments, and geographies. Right now, we’re experiencing a weird time. Some people are working from an office, some people are working from home. Giving recognition can help cross that “remote work” divide, as well.


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So, the simple act of giving someone recognition strengthens company culture. And it creates a more connected, high-performing workforce. We spend so much time at work! Why wouldn’t we want to build relationships with the people we spend the most time with?


What is most important when giving recognition?

Patty: The advice I give the most, by far, is this. Just do it!

Many of us feel uncomfortable showing gratitude when we’re first building the habit. So it’s important to remember to be yourself. If you’re a highly emotive person, that’s great! Show your feelings! If you’re not, that’s great too. Just say what feels natural to you.

I like to send recognition when I believe people should know what someone else is doing. It’s only difficult if you think too hard about it.


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Okay, let’s get down to brass tacks. How do you give great recognition?

Patty: At Kazoo, we like to say there are 4 facets to giving good recognition:

1. Give recognition ASAP. If you don’t, the importance diminishes to you and you often neglect to give it at all. If giving recognition in real-time doesn’t work for you, try batching it at the end of each work day — but no later. 

2. Make recognition meaningful. Take a second to think about how the person you’re recognizing will feel when they receive the recognition. And remember to speak in your voice, not someone else’s.

3. Be specific. Give details so the recipient understands exactly what they did well. Rather than, “Great job today!” try saying something like, “You led that meeting so well today. We started on time, had a productive brainstorming session and all walked away energized!”

employee recognition example from Patty Williams, Kazoo's queen of recognition
Want to see that video? Check out our free online course on creating a company goals program!

4. Tie recognition to impact. Be clear about why someone’s behavior mattered to you. Did it make your day? Did it help a team member? Save your team time? Make sure your recognition includes the good thing happened because of that person’s action. (I’ll share examples below.)


How can technology support recognition?

Patty: When you use technology, you make it easy and fun for people to give each other recognition. For example, the Kazoo platform — which is, of course, what we use at Kazoo — prompts you with what to say. It also has the user align each piece of recognition to one of your company’s core values.

When we implement our technology with new customers, we usually find there’s some “pent-up gratitude.” It was there before, but without a good system backed by the right technology, it doesn’t always make it out of people’s mouths.

So with a platform like Kazoo, everything is in one place. What you give, what you receive, and even insights and data on the qualities being recognized in your unique workplace.


Employee recognition examples

Need to recognize an employee? Take a deep breath and channel Patty. Make it timely, meaningful, specific, and tied to impact. And then — just do it!

1. An employee recognition example that’s timely

employee recognition example from Patty Williams, Kazoo's queen of recognition

What it says: “I so loved our chat yesterday! Well, and you digging in and figuring our how logins work for different scenarios. It truly was wonderful, though, connecting on a human level outside of Slack!”

How it’s timely: Patty wrote and sent this recognition while the sentiment was still fresh — she and Alyssa met yesterday. And while their call was about logins, they shared a great human connection, which Patty celebrated.

Note: Each Kazoo recognition gets tagged with one of our company core values! Patty chose our value “In Good Company” for Alyssa.


2. An employee recognition example that’s meaningful

employee recognition example from Patty Williams, Kazoo's queen of recognition

What it says: “This recognition is so long overdue! You have been an amazing partner with our most recent shared customer. Bumpy is putting it lightly. You’ve held those reins and kept the cart steady as well as anyone could.

“Your ability to absorb feelings, replace them with logic and a straight path forward is amazing. I know this one is tough, but it’s not for lack of expertise on your part, that’s for sure.”

How it’s meaningful: Sometimes, greatness sneaks up on you. But even though we believe in real-time recognition, it’s never too late to throw sunshine on a coworker who’s blown you out of the water. Patty’s recognition for Zac is deeply meaningful, one of those rare compliments that lingers for years — when somebody tells you they truly, deeply see you, and are amazed by what they see.


3. An employee recognition example that’s specific

employee recognition example from Patty Williams, Kazoo's queen of recognition

What it says: “I’ve been watching the tickets you worked on (much of the weekend, too… sorry if that was a secret but I could see your updates) with the SSO/email links nightmare. My whole team was horrified to see the change from 5-13 points but we were not surprised.

“Thank you for taking on and slaying this beast. It looked sooooooo gross!”

How it’s specific: It’d be easy here to fire off a quick, “Thank you for working so hard!” But that could send the wrong message — would Ryan think Patty wanted him working on weekends? Might it come off as dismissive? Instead, Patty dives into the details to demonstrate how much she understands and appreciates the scope of Ryan’s work. (And as you can see, members of her team “high fived” this recognition to express their agreement.)


4. An employee recognition example that’s tied to impact

employee recognition example from Patty Williams, Kazoo's queen of recognition

What it says: “Holy cow, that demo of modules by groups was amazing!! I love that our product is becoming more useful and simpler all at the same time with this. Can’t wait to see the finished product!!”

How it’s tied to impact: Patty says not only what she liked (the demo Kelley and Tom did). She ties it to the larger impact — in this case, that their work is making the Kazoo product both more useful and simple to use, all at the same time.

Bonus: Recognizing a team. Team work makes the dream work! So celebrate it. With a tool like the Kazoo recognition platform, which allows you to recognize multiple people at once, you can throw sunshine on multiple folks, an entire team, or even coworkers across multiple teams. This highlights and supports a collaborative culture and helps break down silos. 

So, share group recognitions to celebrate not only the individuals who went above and beyond, but also the fact that they did it so well together.


Keep reading the How We Do at Kazoo series:


Take recognition to the next level

We hope these employee recognition examples and tips will help you connect and align your employees, no matter where they’re working.

Because at Kazoo, we’re passionate about bringing together all the tools you need to make work work better for everyone. That’s why the Kazoo Employee Experience Platform brings performance management and recognition and rewards — including Goals, Feedback, Conversations, Recognition, Incentives, and more — into one simple, easy-to-use platform.

If you’re ready to align, connect, and engage your workplace, check out our Kazoo overview. Or, schedule a personalized demo today.

Learn more