How to Use Recognition to Boost Employee Engagement

In this article, we share 7 tried and tested methods of using recognition that motivate and engage your best performers:

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Who doesn’t like to be recognised and appreciated for their efforts? We all do, especially in our professional lives. A small incentive, such as a token of appreciation or even a pat on the back, can restore our vigour to work better.

A NectarHR survey revealed that recognition motivates 83% of employees to succeed at work, while 81.9% believe it improves engagement. But employee recognition can’t be sporadic or hasty if you want to drive tangible results. You need a strategic and holistic program that makes employees feel seen and appreciated.

So, here are 7 tried and tested methods of using recognition that motivate and engage your best performers:

7 Ways to Use Recognition to Boost Employee Engagement

1. Implement a peer-to-peer recognition program

Amid a busy workday, one of your peers took the time to thank you for helping with their recent project. That’s bound to make your day, right? Such is the power of peer-to-peer recognition.

Peer recognition boosts morale, strengthens workplace relations, and enhances collaboration. In fact, the Nectar report also found that peer feedback is the most important factor for 28% of employees.

The first step here is to lead by example. From CEOs to managers, the leadership must recognise the efforts of their peers and employees regularly. This creates a culture of mutual appreciation and nudges others to do the same. Build an environment where employees feel comfortable sharing their views with peers.

Organise seminars to communicate the value of peer-to-peer recognition. Show them how to give shoutouts to fellow workers on LinkedIn. You can also use a recognition platform where employees can send feedback, personalised appreciation notes, and recognition badges to colleagues.

Make peer-to-peer recognition fun with group activities. For example, you can organise weekly lunches where everyone must say something positive about each other’s work and contributions.

Ask your employees to avoid congratulating one peer for the effort of an entire team. It may make others feel left out and undervalued. Teach them to recognise each member’s effort and give credit to the whole team.

2. Offer personalised rewards and incentives

Incentives and rewards add material value to your recognition program and motivate employees to keep up the good work. They don’t have to be grand, but they can be personalised. Otherwise, employees may feel like it’s all for show.

Personalised rewards prove you know your employees and want them to enjoy their incentives.

Run recognition surveys with specific rewards-related questions. Did they like the earlier incentives? How do they want you to reward their achievements? Analyse employee profiles to understand their hobbies, ambitions, familial situations, etc.

For example, one of your employees produced phenomenal work and is a single parent. You can reward them with extra holidays or amusement park tickets to let them spend some quality time with their child.

Build a reward catalogue with gift cards, bonuses, experiences, extra vacation days, hampers courses, workshops, etc, and let the employees choose what they want. Personalise reward hampers with relevant brand swag and custom shirts for business. You can also create a points-based system where employees can redeem recognition points for personalised gifts.

3. Celebrate milestones and achievements publicly

Recognising efforts in 1:1 meetings is important. However, nothing offers more validation than being publicly appreciated for your efforts. Employees can proudly display award mementos and badges on their desks. In your company newsletter, save space to describe achievements and how that particular employee contributed to the company’s growth.

Give employees shoutouts on LinkedIn and other social media platforms every time they reach a career milestone.

You can also organise office parties and lunches to celebrate an employee or team’s phenomenal success and achievements.

4. Use digital recognition platforms

Leverage technology and go digital with your employee recognition program. Choose a recognition platform that promotes individual achievements for the entire workforce. It should have a suite of personalised rewards for better impact.

Digital recognition platforms let employees collect and redeem points from a catalogue of customisable gifts. Some let companies celebrate professional achievements and employees’ major life events.

Start an “Employee of the Week”, “Employee of the Month”, and “Best Performer” program on your recognition platform. Ensure everyone gets notifications and emails updating who received the accolades.

5. Design a mentoring program

Set employees up for success with mentorship programs. It lets high-performing employees hone their capabilities and develop additional skills for continuous success.

Mentorship programs also help struggling employees improve at their jobs, become more confident, and strive to achieve milestones. Besides sharing constructive feedback to overcome weaknesses, mentors also recognise their progress, building morale and improving employee engagement.

You can assign senior employees as mentors or hire external mentors to train your workforce. The key here is to match the right mentor to the right employee to help them realise their full potential.

Wondering how? Pushfar is here to help. Their mentorship platform offers mentor matching and finds the perfect mentor for every employee. Run a company-wide internal and external mentorship program on scale. It also lets you streamline feedback and track progress under one comprehensive platform.

6. Incorporate regular feedback sessions

Gallup data shows that 80% of employees who received meaningful feedback in the past week are fully engaged in their roles. Why? Because it shows that the company invests time in their professional development and their contribution gets noticed. So, make feedback delivery an intrinsic element of your organisational culture.

Some managers find feedback delivery nerve-racking in fear of displeasing the employee and creating conflict in the workplace. Use the “sandwich method” to overcome this. Here, you offer a piece of negative feedback “sandwiched” between two positive ones. It reduces the blow of the criticism, recognises their good work, and points out areas they need to work on.

Conduct monthly 1:1s and offer performance reviews. Ensure the feedback is constructive and the employee doesn’t feel attacked. Make it a two-way street and let them voice concerns and complaints during the meeting. You can also use performance tracking software to automate performance report sharing.

7. Recognise efforts, not just outcomes

Praising the effort rather than just the outcome inspires employees to persevere through challenges. It shows you noticed the employee’s hard work — and even though the outcome wasn’t what they wanted, you are rooting for their eventual success.

Be specific with your recognition. Instead of a generic “good job”, you can say, “We know how much time you have spent on this project and we appreciate your deduction.Create employee growth plans and recognise their progress.

Finally, don’t throw empty compliments around, and ensure your recognition is authentic.


Regular recognition builds an employee’s confidence. It shows their employer cheers them along their growth path, boosting morale and loyalty.

Make peer appreciation a norm in your company. Understand that the employees should offer relevant incentives that show your appreciation perfectly. Remember that feedback delivery shouldn’t be a monologue but a constructive dialog where you and the employee identify areas of improvement.

Finally, leverage technology to set up mentorship programs and help employees learn new skills. When they use these refined skill sets to grow the company, be prompt with your recognition.

Author Bio

Sanketee Kher (MA I/O Psychology, ex-HR) is a freelance content writer. She specialises in writing for B2B SaaS (HR-tech, Sales & Mar-tech, eComm-tech, and CRM) companies looking to incorporate personality into their brands.

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