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Using Tokens of Appreciation in an Employee Recognition Program

As part of our current blog series, tips and ideas for using our new recognition products, today is all about our newest signature day-to-day recognition product, Tokens of Appreciation. Hopefully you were able to attend my webisode today, too, where I talked about my ideas and answered your questions in our live video format. You can watch the webisode archive on Baudville.com or our Facebook page

How to Use Tokens of Appreciation for Recognition 

Because you can’t write a note on a token (there just isn’t enough room!), you need to express why someone is receiving recognition through public praise. Leaving a token on an employee’s desk with no explanation will not be motivating. You may choose to: 

– Stop by an employee’s desk to deliver a token in person;
– Share your recognition of a peer in an email to several managers, then give her a token later;
– Give a shout out to a co-worker in a meeting and give a token right then and there! 

You can incorporate Tokens of Appreciation into employee recognition programs in several different ways to make your recognition even more effective. I focused on three different employee recognition programs in my websiode that I’m going to share here. 

1. Save & Redeem Employee Recognition Program
When I showed the tokens to attendees at the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) Annual Conference, they immediately saw potential for tokens in a save and redeem employee recognition program. In a save and redeem program, employees collect tokens and turn them in to ”buy” recognition gifts predetermined by managers. It’s similar to an arcade where you collect tickets by playing games and then turn them in for various prizes. 

To get a save and redeem employee recognition program started at your organization, first create the system. Decide how many tokens employees need to redeem for each gift. Ask employees to weigh in on the recognition gift scale. If employees think the scale is too difficult, they may give up on the program before it’s even started. 

Be creative with your gifts, and get employee feedback. Your gifts don’t have to be expensive! I recommend casual days, snack or pop, small gift certificates (like $5 to Starbucks or Subway), travel mugs, extra time off, tickets to an event in town, or company wear (like our cool t-shirts). 

Once you have your system set-up, communicate with employees. Have a team meeting to introduce the new employee recognition program and answer any questions. Add a document to the intranet that includes the token-gift scale, email it to staff so they have a personal copy, and post it in a public place. You can never over communicate about an employee recognition program! 

Now it’s time to recognize! Have a collection of different themed Tokens of Appreciation ready, so you can recognize different situations with varying recognition sentiments. It’s wise to get a pack of Envelope Cards, too, and you can include a handwritten note with some of your tokens. 

You should constantly seek employee feedback in your program. Employees will have new ideas for recognition gifts, how to use the tokens, who can give tokens, etc. The more you can implement their ideas, the more support and enthusiasm you will have for the program! 

Token Magnetic Frame

2. Manager-to-Employee Recognition Program
Another exciting way to utilize the Tokens of Appreciation in an employee recognition program is by equipping your individual managers with their own personalized tokens. Managers should always carry tokens with them, and when they catch employees doing something great, they should present the token to the employee on the spot. Employees can then display the tokens on a Magnetic Photo Frame at their desk. 

This type of program is very popular and successful in the hospitality industry. One of our customers, Desert de Oro Foods, has a similar program using lapel pins . The employees try to collect a pin from each manager, and they proudly display them on their uniform. You can read more about Desert de Oro Food’s employee recognition program in the Case Study section of our Recognition Resource Center

This employee recognition program is simple to execute, yet you can add a more formal element, too. At the end of the month, quarter or year, present special awards to employees who collect the most tokens, who collect the most tokens from different managers, and to the manager who gave the most tokens. Since employees will be keeping and displaying their tokens, you should be able to determine winners relatively easily. Then, present them with a Desktop Display, like a mini-trophy, to acknowledge their accomplishment. 

3. Grassroots Employee Recognition Program
 Unfortunately, I often have customers tell me that their organization cannot afford an employee recognition program, so they purchase recognition products on their own. If you have a similar situation, you can use Tokens of Appreciation to start a grassroots employee recognition program in your organization. 

Consider Tokens of Appreciation your personal employee recognition tool. Select your favorite recognition theme, and personalize the back of the tokens with your name. Tokens of Appreciation come in packs of 10, so they’re affordable even for your personal use. Now, look for reasons to recognize! When you want to thank a co-worker or say “great job,” give one of your tokens away. Explain to the recipient that you wanted to do a little something extra to acknowledge their contribution.  You can do this in person or with our Envelope Cards

I guarantee that people will start to take notice of your recognition tactics! Recipients will talk about how cool it was to be recognized in such a personal way. Other managers and supervisors will want to get their own tokens as they notice how engaged and motivated your team has become. 

Keep track of the comments you receive from recipients and teammates. Record the difference in performance or attitude once you start practicing recognition. Then take your findings to your boss and get an employee recognition program in place for everyone! 

Those are the three employee recognition program ideas I have for the Tokens of Appreciation. I want to hear your ideas for Tokens of Appreciation and how you’re using them, too! Email me, comment on this entry, or post to our Facebook wall.  I’ll send you a free pack of tokens and token Envelope Cards as a thank you gift! 


Cori is Baudville’s in-house Recognitionista (she’s officially a Certified Recognition Professional, too)  and a member of the Millennial generation. Get her employee recognition tips and special discounts by liking Baudville on Facebook