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In the crusade for a great office culture, where productivity thrives and employees are satisfied, bosses often struggle to find the tools to ensure their teams are consistently rewarded and feel appreciated for their efforts.

Today, the team here at Corporate Essentials has lined up 25 simple things you can do as a boss to bolster employee recognition in your workplace. Think of it as a drip feed for the company culture you have worked to create – where good things go in, great things can be accomplished.

1. Create attainable goals

Start by setting goals you know people can achieve. There is a true art to setting attainable goals that still challenge your staff – and that is one of the things that separates a mediocre boss from an exceptional one. Being able to channel the strengths of your employees into a specific, measured, attainable goal within a designated timeframe gives you the opportunity to have something to celebrate with your staff in the not-too-distant future.

2. Offer both monetary and non-monetary rewards

Fiscal incentives are a great motivational tool, but there are other ways to reward your team members for their efforts. Consider acknowledgment schemes that reward achievement through recognition. Honors like a closer parking spot can be exceptionally popular – and cost nothing.

3. Reward using flex time or a reduced work week

Increasingly halo firms are moving toward work situations where flex time and reduced hour requirements for salaried staff are the norm. However, these are excellent perks to offer staff as incentives for completing career milestones, or even as employee recognition options for large projects.

4. Offer a longer lunch break

Sometimes, employees who bear the brunt of unpleasantness in the workplace just need extra time to decompress. So as the boss, encourage your staff to persevere through difficulties by offering extended break periods during those times. Bonus points if you throw in catering or have a mobile masseuse come into the office during those extended lunch hours.

5. Reward long-term employees

Even the best companies can struggle to retain staff over the long term in a competitive job market – so make sticking around worthwhile. Employee recognition for long-term staff can come in the form of traditional benefits, like increased vacation days or access to exclusive workplace clubs. But, in today’s companies, long-term employees are more likely to engage with the idea of providing mentorship or other support to junior employees.

Create an ambassador program that allows long-term workers to serve as mentors and tour guides for new team members – that is the sort of employee recognition scheme that rewards you just as much as the staff.

6. Invite outstanding employees for lunch with a higher up

While we are not suggesting your executive board needs to take the entire secretarial pool to lunch on a weekly basis, having an invitational lunch with the director of your specific division of the firm can be a huge boon.

This is a form of employee recognition that breeds excellent cultural benefits for your workplace, by showing “worker bees” that those in positions of ultimate power within the firm are not above eating sandwiches with the rest of the team. It gives higher-level managers a chance to get to know key workers and gives those workers something positive to share out to a wider network of people within the company.

7. Praise effort and hard work

Even if you have your dream job, sometimes work can be difficult. As a boss it is vital that you reward employee effort with praise whenever possible. Acknowledge the effort you see people putting in on special projects, along with the hard graft that may go into their daily tasks. When people hear “thank you” or “well done” more often, they are more likely to feel valued in the workplace. People who feel valued feed into the cycle of a positive company culture.

8. Give employees a shout out on social media

Not everyone uses social media – but increasingly, the social media sphere is a key conduit for information. Using your company’s Twitter, Facebook or Instagram feed to thank a handful of people who knuckled down to fill a big order is a great way to show the outside world that your employees are valued. It is also an excellent – and free – way to grab a little extra exposure for your firm. Tagging people organically grows your social media reach, after all.

9. Acknowledge employee progress on important tasks or projects

In addition to providing positive feedback and constructive criticism throughout the project process, great bosses make a point of acknowledging milestones employees complete along the way. It is equally important to make note of accomplishments on major projects, annual goals or professional development benchmarks. Again, the acknowledgment does not have to be huge – simply publishing an “accomplishment corner” as part of your monthly newsletter and listing the people who have reached their milestones is a great start.

10. Regularly pop into team meetings to show support

Effective bosses lead by example, and a great way to set an example is by showing up for meetings. Whether that means taking ten minutes out for the Monday Scrum or spending a few minutes in the planning meeting for the next phase of a project, sitting down to listen to what is going on with the people you manage shows a level of interest in their work that is vital for employees to feel understood, and ultimately valued.

11. Start and follow team traditions

One of the best ways you can build a sense of community is to establish “a thing” that you and your people do. Whether that is wearing Hawaiian shirts on Wednesday, listening to the same song together before you dash into that big pitch meeting, having something that is “your thing” gives everyone involved a sense of ownership and community. The idea that they can contribute to these traditions going forward gives them something to aspire to – and that contribution, eventually, becomes something for which an individual is remembered.

12. Create a recognition board in the lunch area

This is another fairly simple thing that any business with a break room can do for very little money. Set up a bulletin board where employees can recognize one another for acts of kindness, stellar collaboration, great insights, creative solutions or anything else that is noteworthy. Reserve an area on one end for super star employees, where you select some of the other suggestions and highlight the story behind their contribution to the wider team. This form of employee recognition is a great opportunity for staff to learn more about one another over a quick cup of coffee.

13. Allow a dress down day each week

Comfortable people are more likely to feel at home and more likely to relax – both of which have a positive impact on productivity in the workplace. This can be a particularly effective form of employee recognition if you are aiming to have your entire staff complete a training program, for example. Once a set percentage of staff completes the training, everyone can wear jeans on Friday for the rest of the year.

14. Allow pet-friendly days in the office

Another form of employee recognition that has the benefit of relaxing people and making them feel more at home is allowing people to bring their pet to work once in a while.  While there are obvious precautions that have to be taken, overall, allowing pets in the office on the second Thursday of each month is a great way to show your people you trust them and care about things they care about.

15. Create a traveling accomplishment trophy

Whether you are working toward a big organizational goal or just aiming to better support teams in meeting their targets, making a Company Cup that teams can win each week or month is a great way to stimulate both interaction and friendly competition. The Cup can become a point of pride for the team that gets to “host” it each period, and clearly shows recognition of the team’s accomplishments to all who see it.

16. Celebrate birthdays, anniversaries and other employee milestones

A monthly celebration to acknowledge all the birthdays, work-a-versaries and other key milestones is a form of employee recognition that everyone can enjoy. Some people may feel that reward schemes for employees are exclusive or difficult to participate in due to their personal circumstances – but everyone has a birthday, and as long as people keep working for your firm, they have a joining anniversary. So, this is your most universal opportunity to acknowledge the effort of literally every staff member you have.

17. Take a break together

Part of your effort to establish a solid company culture undoubtedly focuses on the break room in your office, so by all means use it! Take a moment every day and pick a person in your staff to sit down and enjoy a fresh beverage or quick healthy snack. Talk for a minute, see how things are both at and away from work. Making yourself available to people is one of the hallmarks of a great boss – one that shows your employees that you recognize and value their contribution.

18. Provide employees with training opportunities

Investing in the professional development of employees is one of the most traditional forms of employee recognition. The modern twist on this is to include personal development in the mix. Add on emotional intelligence training, encourage staff members to pursue training that may not be directly related to their role in your firm. This boosts the impact your training opportunities have on staff – showing you are invested in their interests and success as much as you are in the bottom line at work.

19. Encourage employees who are pursuing further education

On a similar note, talk to your local universities about offering sponsored courses toward degrees that your staff may be pursuing. Investing in higher degrees for your employees is a great way to boost staff morale and overall staff retention. Adding a recognition component to this perk is simple – have a company honor roll, throw graduation lunches for your staff as they complete their degrees or provide study group spaces.

20. Reward and highlight each department

Sometimes employee recognition is not about fanfare and celebrating product launches, but rather simply about looking at the work a team does on a daily basis. Use your intranet or company newsletter to highlight a team each month. Explain what they do, how it intersects with other departments and recognize key staff within that team for being the go-to team member for their respective areas of expertise. You might be surprised how many people are thrilled with the chance to explain what they do to others – and how many people never realized that someone in your business did a particular job.

21. Acknowledge effort as well as success

Not every pitch is a winner – but that does not mean the team that put the bid together failed to give it their all. Rather than focusing recognition efforts only on winners, make a point of highlighting the effort that went into a project, whatever the outcome. There is little more demoralizing than spending a month or more of your time invested in a project that ultimately gets panned – so thank the people who put that effort in for their time.

22. Give teams a chance to show off their hard work

Similarly, giving each team an opportunity to share information about jobs they are hammering together for the company is a great way to promote employee recognition. Again, this is something that has no real cost – just a few lines in the newsletter, or a designated “brag board” on the intranet. Giving teams a voice has a tremendous value in terms of overall company culture.

23. Have a staff appreciation day

Throw a BBQ, rent a roller rink or throw an in-office party – but make a point of showing your teams that you appreciate the work they do for your company. Bonus points if you make it something that people can bring their family along to enjoy or if you choose a program that rolls into the office and make everyone’s day hum along with more fun and ease than anyone previously imagined possible.

24. Hold regular staff parties

Everyone loves a party (which is why we have highlighted several opportunities for you to throw them already) – but you can always find more reasons to throw office parties. Coffee tastings, new employee inductions, long-term employee retirements, product launches and a whole slew of business-specific opportunities we cannot begin to fathom. The idea is that you should celebrate all things – but be sure that employees know the purpose of the party.

25. Take an interest in employees’ lives

We have touched on this a few times already: by allowing dress down days, encouraging further education, promoting personal development and even having bring a pet to work days, your firm shows an interest in the lives of your workers. Recognizing that your employees are people with lives outside the office, is one of the simplest – and most rewarding – forms of employee recognition.

26. Create a staff gallery

Your staff are amazing – so highlight some of them in a gallery each month. Choose professional headshots, ask staff to bring in their baby photos or have an on-site photo booth that staff can stop in and goof around with props for their moment of fame. Putting a face to the name is a great way to allow all the other staffers to take part in your employee recognition scheme.

27. Get feedback and suggestions from all employees

Asking for feedback is another great, cyclical part of employee recognition. Whether you have a suggestion box in the break room or have an online form for suggestions available at all times, giving everyone the chance to say they think the office coffee is great or that they wish there was a white board in the meeting room allows all voices to be heard. Taking suggestions is only one step, for this to truly impact your company culture, you need to be acting on the suggestions and acknowledging them.

28. Provide frequent opportunities to be recognized

Allow people to submit “caught ya” reports on their co-workers, highlighting good things that employees do for one another. Offer rewards for suggesting employee of the month candidates. Encourage teams to take part in friendly competitions. There are endless ways you can spur the employee recognition process forward and get people to engage with it.

29. Give immediate feedback

Bosses are busy people, but you should never be too busy to provide a response to questions you are asked by your employees. Whether this is feedback they need for a project, about an event or about their performance, giving a quick answer and setting a time for a follow-up discussion is an important component to making sure employees feel valued and encouraged.

30. Take everyone’s opinion into consideration

One of the most common criticisms of management staff is that they fail to take the opinion of people into consideration when making choices that directly impact those people. Employee recognition is more than parades and awards – it is also simple things like asking folks how your choices may affect their workflow and taking their opinions under advisement.

31. Be transparent

This is another thing we have touched on already, but it is worth explicitly stating: open communication is a huge part of employee recognition. If you are asked questions and answer them truthfully in the open, that is a mark of respect.

32. Always be genuine

There is no point in putting on a front in the workplace. For starters, it is exhausting to be one person in your office and another everywhere else. More importantly, people see through the thin veneer of whatever personality you may broadcast. This is another point that circles directly back to the respect you have for your employees.

33. Promote from within

One of the biggest assets any company has at any given time are the people who work in the building. From the custodial staff to the directors, the staff of your firm are hired for being a great fit with your corporate culture, and a great boss will do their utmost to keep those people onboard. One of the simplest opportunities for employee recognition is to promote those people into new vacancies that arise over time, as their skills develop. This helps the company, this encourages the staff and most importantly, this builds the future of your firm.

34. Remember to honor rewards

All of these ideas for practicing employee recognition are worthless without genuine delivery on the promises the company makes. So consider the perks and rewards your managers are going to promote and offer carefully. Be sure that they are deliverable, and make time for employees to take advantage of them. If people are given rewards that they are unable to make use of, eventually they will feel resentment for the program, and possibly for the company itself.

35. Just say thanks

Sometimes simply thanking people for the effort they have put in and the work they have done is good enough. All the bells and whistles that go along with employee recognition are fabulous – but starting with the easiest, and cheapest, option is well worthwhile.

If you are looking for new and exciting ways to add employee recognition opportunities to your company, reach out to our team here at Corporate Essentials. With 20 years of experience bringing all the best perks into break rooms for the nation’s top companies, we have plenty of insight as to which perks work well with different company cultures.

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Joe Simonovich

Joe has a strong background in marketing and a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP). The start to his career as a customer service representative has given him a unique foundation and different perspective on almost all business-related situations. Joe is now the Chief Growth Officer (and Director of Creating Awesomeness) at Corporate Essentials. He brings a unique skill set and a hands-on approach to any leadership role and believes that hustle is simply a way of life.