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Rock How You Recognize Colleagues in Your Workplace

Rock How You Recognize Colleagues in Your Workplace

You need not wait for the next National Employee Appreciation Day to recognize the great work of your colleagues. The research indicates that when people feel valued and appreciated on the job it enhances their satisfaction, productivity, and organizational morale.

According to Annamarie Mann and Nate Dvorak from Gallup Business Journal:

“In today's war for talent, organizations and leaders are looking for strategies to attract and retain their top performers while increasing organic growth and employee productivity. From offering new perks to designing flexible workplaces, company efforts to optimize the workplace are as strong as ever.”

Don’t let your colleagues, direct reports, or your boss feel unvalued. Authentic recognition is a tool for personal reward and an opportunity to boost optimism and steward a positive culture in any organization.

Here are some meaningful ways to recognize good work that won’t break the departmental budget.

Hand Written Notes

In this technology driven era, a hand written note is a rare occurrence. Break out the stationary or clever greeting card and share a thoughtful note to make a lasting impact on someone who has done great work.

Receiving a note in your company mail slot or at your workstation is a wonderful surprise but you get bonus points for using snail mail to send your note of thanks via post. Remember to be specific in your written recognition since detail is more personal and meaningful than a generic “good job” message.

Public vs. Private Recognition

To create a true culture of recognition in your company, begin with conversations amongst your colleagues to ask how they would like to be recognized. Not everyone will be comfortable with public recognition, for example. Some will appreciate more subtle gestures and others may value different forms of recognition.

I recently read The Five Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace by Gary Chapman and Paul White. This resource opened my eyes to the importance of customizing recognition to honor the unique values of each recipient.

The Gift of Time

The Vodafone Global Survey indicated that most working adults prioritize flexibility as a top workplace value.

If granting flex schedules, additional time off, or virtual work opportunities are not within your jurisdiction, consider additional ways to share the gift of time.

Offer an opportunity for unstructured time to work on a pet project or something that really interests your direct report that is not part of their job description. This special project time shows the colleague that you trust them and appreciate how working on something off-topic from their usual work can invigorate them and be personally rewarding.

Social Media Shout-Out

Utilize your company social media channels to share photos and shout-outs about extraordinary accomplishments by your colleagues. This virtual recognition is a great way to break down silos and share good news beyond your department.

Social media recognition is also a great way to show prospective employees that you value recognition.

Rock Your Profile

With 500 million members and counting, savvy professionals are using LinkedIn to showcase their professional brand and accomplishments as well as to look for new opportunities.

Innovative companies are initiating Rock Your Profile LinkedIn campaigns and providing professional photography sessions for profile photos. Talent development leaders understand that an individual’s LinkedIn profile is a reflection of the company for whom they work. Employees serve as ambassadors for an organization and the first impression often happens via LinkedIn.

In addition to offering professional photographers and coaches to ramp up staff LinkedIn profile content, consider writing a brief recommendation for those with whom you work or supervise. Current recommendations are impactful for advancement and recognition. Be specific and speak to why the colleague is exceptional.

Crush-It Calls

SnackNation is an innovative company that delivers custom snacks to your workplace. They believe that healthy snacks at a reasonable cost will enhance productivity and increase happiness amongst employees.

While you may wish to order SnackNation treats for your team to recognize their great work, I also cited them because of a time-honored tradition they do that is worth sharing. Each Friday afternoon, the entire SnackNation team gathers to share two things:

  • “Crush” someone on the team whose work they want to recognize and why
  • Something you are grateful for

It’s a great chance to recognize each other and bring that person’s hard work to the attention of the full team. The cross-communication opportunity allows for breaking down departmental silos and cultivates camaraderie and company pride. Check out this video of the Crush It Call.

Channel the SnackNation culture and share a crush-it call with someone whose work you want to recognize in your company.

Tokens of Appreciation

Some people value a gift instead of verbal praise as a form of recognition. Create a recognition treasure box of small treats that won’t break the company budget. In addition to the ubiquitous Starbucks cards, consider other vouchers like movie tickets, car wash coupons or Open Table restaurant cards. Let the employee pick an item from the recognition treasure box that resonates.

Include your team in the conversation when stocking the treasure box to ensure that it’s filled with treats they find meaningful.

Mix Up Your Staff Meetings

Death by meeting is a problem for most workplaces. As a simple way to show your team that you value them, consider occasional offsite meetings. Find a local coffee shop, restaurant or even a building lobby with comfortable seating to provide a change of scenery to get the creative juices flowing.

Plan for celebratory meetings at special offsite locations and gather buy-in from colleagues to use these working meetings as a way to celebrate great work while accomplishing great work in a different location.

Be sure to include your remote employees since they can’t join you in-person. Send them a coffee shop gift card if you hold your staff meeting in a local café so they can enjoy a similar treat in their location.

Don’t Forget Your Boss

It can be lonely at the top so don’t forget to recognize your boss or supervisor if they have earned your respect with great work or advocacy on your behalf. You need not gift their recognition but a note of thanks sharing specifics will go a long way.

Sharing your genuine gratitude and recognition for colleagues and the good work that they do is infectious.Say-it-forward andcreate a culture where people recognize others and you will create a compelling work culture that enhances recruitment, retention, and top-notch work.


Caroline Dowd-Higgins authored the book "This Is Not the Career I Ordered" now in the 2nd edition, and maintains the career reinvention blog of the same name. She is Executive Director of Career & Professional Development at the Indiana University Alumni Association and contributes to: MediumHuffington Post, Thrive Global, Ellevate Network, and The Chronicle newspaper in Indiana. She hosts and produces an online show:Thrive! about career & life empowerment for women on YouTube. Caroline also hosts the international podcast series Your Working Life- on iTunes and SoundCloud. Follow her on Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, and Twitter.

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