Now that you have the tools you need to build a culture of appreciation, it's time to get started.
It's not always easy to come up with creative ways to recognize and reward your teammates for their great work, so we put together a list of unique examples from some of our favorite companies across the globe.
Just like the people and contributions they're celebrating, these recognition techniques are unique. Most of these examples are not complete strategies in themselves—they're part of a larger strategy incorporating the key characteristics of effective employee recognition:
Everyone gets caught up in their day-to-day work, which is why it’s great to have Bonusly. Feedback and instant gratification never get old.
When I receive a bonus and I wasn’t expecting one, I get all cheesy about it. There’s this thought that runs through my head: “Oh, wow, I implemented this project and I bug everyone to participate, so of course I know it’s important, but it still feels good to receive a bonus!”
Having the ability to recognize someone immediately is the most valuable part of Bonusly. Whether you have 20 employees or 2,000, it doesn’t matter. More than 75% of Chobani employees actively use Bonusly.
Bonusly has definitely had a measurable impact on our Great Places to Work® survey results. Just a few months after we launched Bonusly, our score in the recognition category had the biggest improvement!
We send a “This Month on Bonusly!” email to managers to promote an ongoing culture of recognition and encourage them to continue recognizing their direct reports. Everyone’s participation is meaningful.
Each person on our team believes in and cares about why we do what we’re doing – and, just as importantly, how we go about doing it. We’re making it easier for camps to make positive impact, and we do it in a way that’s aligned with a set of core values rooted in the camp experience: Put Team First, Find a Better Way, Be Admirable, Own It, Give Joy, and Wonder. All of the company’s people-related processes – how we hire, promote, reward, and recognize team members – are based on these values, creating a culture where “performance” is synonymous with living our values.
Because these values are so central to our culture, we reinforce their meaning by encouraging a culture of recognition. During our monthly Last Thursday meeting (our version of an All Hands meeting) each team member has the opportunity to recognize another team members for embodying CampMinder’s core values by presenting a “Love Leaf.” Love Leafs are then added to a customized tree decal to create a visual repository of team members’ commitment to CampMinder’s core values. At the end of a calendar year, Love Leafs are collected and entered into a drawing, with the winner eligible for a prize, customized to that particular person's interests and goals. We sent last year's winner on a bucket list trip to Peru! On top of the Love Leaf program, we encourage employees to recognize each other spontaneously and organically, either face-to-face or via Slack.
I’ve always appreciated how our CEO recognizes every single member of our team. Whether it’s a work anniversary or a birthday, I can guarantee he’ll take the time to write a hand-written note thanking us for our hard work and highlighting our recent achievements. Hand-written notes are a lost art, but they feel more personal than an email or a text and when he does it, you can tell he means what he says.
When I took my fiance to Cabo to propose, he even had a bottle of Dom Perignon champagne waiting for us in our suite with a hand-written note that he mailed over. While he spent a pretty penny on the Dom Perignon, my lasting impression came from the thought and time he spent on the gesture. It goes back to a saying that I think holds true for your employees: It’s not about what you do, it’s about how you make them feel.
Our team gets together every Friday afternoon to recognize each member’s hard work during that week. We take turns saying who we want to “Crush,” along with something we’re deeply grateful for.
This tradition has managed to keep our spirits high, which has been crucial for us as we’ve added new team members. When your company is a little more than 30 people strong, you have an idea of what everyone else is working on. But that 100-person mark is kind of a tipping point where you have to make a real effort to stay in sync and connected.
The “Crush It Call” keeps all of our departments incredibly close and continues to energize the newer and the older employees alike by giving all of us a chance to share our progress, insights, and the genuine joy we have for our work. Without these calls (like this one), I don’t know how else we would have stayed so aligned as we scaled.
Over at Soapbox, we run on 2-week sprints. At the end of every sprint, we have a company-wide demo day where every team is expected to share all of the work they’ve done and shipped, from launching new marketing campaigns to releasing new features.
At the end of each team’s demo day presentation is a dedicated time to give shoutouts and recognition, from bringing in cookies (when we were an onsite team), to helping a coworker out.
This has been an uplifting and impactful way for peer and cross-departmental recognition to happen across the company. It’s also helped break down typical silos that many companies struggle with.
My colleague Audra introduced a practice called “Values in Action.” She sends out a company-wide polly ahead of every all-hands calling for peers to nominate one another for embodying core values. She crafts original presentations featuring nominees and their contributions, then runs through them while the nominators (optionally) speak to the team about why they appreciate the nominees, what they did that stood out, and celebrate their impact on the team. Lots of cheering, then Polly makes donations to causes of the nominees’ choices!
As a fully-remote team, we've had fun getting creative with how we recognize achievements, accomplishments, and when someone goes the extra mile to help someone out. We integrated Bonusly with Slack, which makes it super easy for us to give bonuses and keep recognition visible, but it's really the personal touches that make recognition all the more meaningful and effective. We love creating extra-special rewards that are specific to our team's unique culture. For instance, we use Cameo to get celebrity shout-outs for our teammates that are funny, unexpected, and memorable—Rebecca Black, Sean Astin, and Flavor Flav have all made appearances at team meetings in the past year!
We host a "core value call-out" in our all team meetings. Managers identify one outstanding employee that exhibited one of our four core values then tell the story in the all team meeting, and that person is rewarded with a $20 gift card, in addition to public recognition for how they embodied the core value.
We also focus each quarter on one of the particular core values and repeat the same workflow at the end of the quarter, where one individual is recognized for best exhibiting that core value in our quarterly review then awarded a larger prize.
At Typeform, we have a kind of internal play book with a list of values and guiding attributes we try and follow. It helps us maintain a humble, friendly, and ultimately more human environment.
One of the things on the list is to "celebrate with spontaneous applause". It sounds a little cheesy and sales-y but it's actually a nice Typeform tradition.
Whenever someone does something noteworthy—however big or small—anyone can start a round of applause. The whole office joins in. The beauty is that most people have no idea why they're applauding, but the person receiving the applause does. It's a nice, momentary break for celebration.
Everyone wants recognition for their contributions to the company, but not everyone feels recognized in the same way. At Button, we have each new employee fill out an orientation survey on their first day.
One of the questions we ask is, tell us about a time you felt appreciated for your work. This provides the management team with insight into how to make sure all Buttonians are able to be recognized in ways that they feel appreciated.
Based on this information we have implemented different manners of recognizing our team, some very public and others more private.
“Nemonations” is our large format, company-wide recognition for going above and beyond expectations.
Each Friday at demos, team members can “nemonate” their deserving colleagues who went the extra mile that week and we pass around a stuffed Nemo (of Disney’s Finding Nemo fame) to the recipients.
For smaller, everyday props, we have a kudos system focused on our company values. Team members are encouraged to recognize their colleagues who exemplify the values in practice. Kudos are distributed in Slack and are also announced at Demos at the end of each week.
Button is a collection of people who thoroughly enjoy a challenge. Competition is often our most successful motivator for voluntary tasks, like recruiting.
To recognize Buttonians for helping to build our team, we have a quarterly competition known as The Ultimate Hiring Challenge.
We have one winner each quarter and the prize is individually tailored to their passions—be it a month’s supply of unlimited burritos or Hamilton-themed SoulCycle sessions, we make sure the winner feels appreciated for her contributions.
At Culture Amp, People Scientist Chris Barrell came up with the idea of creating a Slack “props bot” from scratch for peer-to-peer recognition. He says, “The idea for the Props Bot arose from wanting to publicly thank and recognize some of my colleagues. We already had a public slack channel for kudos but it was more customer orientated. When you wanted to give thanks and recognition to a fellow employee, where did you do it?” He realized that there was an opportunity to create a system for documenting and sharing employee recognition and praise. Chris and a small group of Campers created the Culture Amp Props Bot, which has given over 3,000 props since its inception in 2015.
With those examples in mind, consider how to implement your own unique and creative employee recognition ideas, and start building a recognition-rich organizational culture!
At Bonusly, we use peer recognition to celebrate success, engage our team, and show appreciation for our teammates' contributions.
Every month, users get a Bonusly allowance, and with that allowance, users can give small bonuses to their peers, direct reports, and managers to recognize their contributions in real time.
Employees can redeem the points they've earned in our extensive digital reward catalog.
The catalog is full of rewards options like gift cards and charitable donations, but it's completely customizable. You can add unique rewards like extra PTO, company-branded gear, or lunch with the CEO.
Each time someone is recognized by a colleague for doing something valuable, the whole team is notified and is given a chance to join in on the celebration.