13 Employee Recognition Tips to Create a Positive Work Culture

August 4, 2011

If you want to create a positive work culture, employee recognition is key! Recognizing individuals and their accomplishments will create a more creative, friendly, and welcoming environment. You can improve employee recognition and work culture at your organization by sharing these 13 employee recognition tips with your entire team.

A great way to use these employee recognition tips is to kick off each week with a quick a 10-minute team meeting. Select one of the employee recognition tips and together brainstorm specific ways to bring the tip to life. Write your tips on the board or flip chart. At nine minutes, everyone initials an activity to try in the coming week.

At next week’s meeting, review the employee recognition tip aloud. Go around the room, reporting on the activity you tried. Give brief positive recognition after each report. Plan for next week by selecting a new tip and following the steps used in meeting one.

These employee recognition tips are from our 52 Ways to a Positive Work Culture eBook.


1. Recognize progress, not just results.

Sample ways:
• Say, “I can see you’re really working to get this done.”
• Say, “With this kind of improvement, we’ll make our goal for sure!”


2. Ask your co-workers to share their skills.
Sample ways:
• Ask, “How do you manage your time so well?”
• Accept what you hear with respect and appreciation, and end the conversation. No judgments, comparisons, or “Wouldn’t work for me!”
• Ask, “What’s the secret of your success with picky customers?”


3. Listen actively.

Sample ways:
• Ask, “Tell me how you pulled off that huge project on time!” Don’t offer a different way she could’ve done it.
• When you realize a colleague is talking about something he’s obviously proud of, turn away from your papers or computer so you won’t be tempted to glance at them.


4. Return to the scene.
Sample ways:
• A week after a celebration’s hoopla is over, stop by a co-worker’s work area and make a positive comment, reminding her of that accomplishment.
• Make a funny sign: “Scene of Success.” Post it in a co-worker’s space.


5. Personalize recognition.

Sample ways:
• For a co-worker who doesn’t like public recognition, write a note or e-mail, or tell her privately in person what you like about her work.
• For a “ham,” arrange to have his name mentioned at a meeting.


6. Tattle to a supervisor.

Sample ways:
• When someone does something you value, thank him in an e-mail, and copy his supervisor.
• Say to your boss, “Just thought you should know how helpful Heather was on this project. She saved us a lot of time.”


7. Encourage “loud and proud.”

Sample ways:
• Ask, “Tell me some things you’ve done this year that you’re proud of.”
• Open a meeting with, “First, let’s talk about what we’ve done well this month (or week).”


8. Praise. Close mouth. Smile.
Sample ways:
• After you’ve said, “Nice job with that order,” resist the temptation to add, “By the way, the XYZ report is overdue.”
• Handle other requests or projects at a later time.


9. Hand out nicknames.

Sample ways:
• Say, “I dub thee ‘Cool-hand Carol’ for your calm under fire.”
• Say, “I’m going to call you ‘Stan the Man’ for always getting it done.”
• Say, “You are hereby named ‘Her Excel-lency” for teaching me to use this confounded spread sheet.”


10. Let us hear your body talk.
Sample ways:
• Give a discreet thumbs-up to a co-worker immediately after his presentation.
• After a colleague makes a valuable comment, look at her face for two extra seconds as you let her words sink in.


11. Wander.
Sample ways:
• Take five minutes to walk around your department and look for behaviors to recognize. Pause with a comment and a smile.
• Take a tour of graphs, memos, or reports on bulletin boards. Use a colorful pen to write positive comments and sign them.


12. Share the credit.

Sample ways:
• Say, “Nate’s experience showed us ….”
• Say, “This phase was turned around in no time thanks to Sherri.”
• Say, “As Lynne pointed out earlier, ….”


13. Give people reputations.

Sample ways:
• Say, “Sam always comes prepared.”
• Say, “Cindy always goes the extra mile to make us all look good.”
• Earn a reputation for giving reputations.

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