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10 Best Employee Recognition Award Ideas You Must Try

Are your employee recognition awards being done right? Here are some creative employee recognition award ideas for a prolific & happy workforce.

Rewards and Recognition
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10 Min read
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Last Updated on
March 24, 2021

Imagine this scenario: Your colleague Bob walks into the office on his 15-year work anniversary to find a “standard” office gift and a stick note that says “Happy Anniversary”. Realizing that the gift and the note were from his manager – but without a personal note, acknowledgement for his service, thank-you or congratulations – Bob just sighs out of disappointment and rolls his eyes. 

Haven’t we all seen this happen atleast once. While most companies run dedicated programs to give out employee recognition awards, most of them get a reaction just like that of Bob’s. More often than we think, employee recognition awards become just another checkbox for the management to tick instead of giving a meaningful sense of accomplishment to the employees.    

Some organizations go further out and design employee recognition awards programs that are cater to a specific niche - let’s say, like recognizing employees that have led important initiatives and projects and upheld the company values. While this can inspire a lot more employees to achieve the same, there can be a small crowd that can feel left out and overlooked. That is why, while designing employee recognition awards programs, it becomes extremely important to come up with out-of-the-box, creative employee award ideas, that will engage and inspire everyone in the organization. 

Through the course of this article, we take a deeper stab at why is it important for organizations to have employee recognition awards programs, some interesting examples of employee recognition awards and employee recognition award ideas. 

Let's start here

1. Importance of Employee Recognition Awards Programs

2. Employee Recognition Award Ideas

3. Examples of Employee Recognition Awards

4. Funny Employee Recognition Awards

Importance of Employee Recognition Awards Programs

"Brains, like hearts, go where they are appreciated." ~ Robert McNamara, Former. American Secretary of Defense

In order to become a truly successful manager / entrepreneur / business leader, it is extremely important to understand the role of employee recognition and rewards. 

Recognition makes employees feel appreciated, it makes them feel special and valued in the organization. Recognition has the power to drive productivity. Think about it, when school kids are awarded with those tiny little glittering stars for doing a good job, what impact does it have on them? It brings in a sense of enthusiasm to work even harder the next time and win another star. And who said this doesn’t work on grown-ups?  

Research shows that 69% of employees would work harder if they felt their efforts were better appreciated.

Employee recognition and appreciation not only impact the employees, but also have an impact on the organization as a whole. It helps creating a positive work culture while fostering a sense of loyalty in employees. A great employee recognition program has the power to boost productivity, increase employee morale, drive collaboration, and help you retain top talent.

And by saying all this, we mean more than the usual “employee of the month” or occasional gift cards and pizzas. You’ll need more creative employee award ideas that will truly stand out and leave an impression.

Are you wondering what are the best ways to recognize employees? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered! You are about to discover 10 creative employee recognition award ideas that your employees will love.

Employee Recognition Award Ideas

 Did you know, research shows that an average organization uses eight separate recognition programs. The most typical are length of service (72%) and above-and-beyond performance (62%). Programs to motivate specific behaviors or outputs such as customer service (34%), productivity (27%) and quality (27%) are also occasions for recognition.

While these are commonly used award ideas, let’s now take a look at some really creative ways of recognizing your employees. 

1. Social Shout-Out

Simply posting a picture of your employee or the team on the social media handles, and calling out their exemplary efforts and work can go a long way in driving the morale of employees. Social recognition makes the employees feel like they are truly making a difference to the company’s business growth and drives engagement, amongst many other benefits.

2. Special-day Off

“I don’t enjoy getting a day off” ~ said no one ever!

Be it an employee’s birthday, anniversary, or a large deal closure after months of effort – you can make the employee feel special by giving them a special day off. They can spend the day with family and friends, relaxing on their couch or by going out on a date with someone special. Basically, do anything they want to. They have earned it. 

3. Team off-sites and vacations

Sometimes, the phrase “old is gold” is what we need to tell ourselves. Recognizing the hard-working team’s effort by taking them on exclusive off-sites and vacations, where they can unwind and bond better their team mates bring back the energy to go miles further. 

4. Flag Bearer Rolling Trophy

Does your company also have a special award for “living the company values” ? You can have a rolling trophy that can be passed on from one employee to another, quarterly/ half-yearly/ yearly, recognizing their efforts to uphold company values. 

5. Special Treats for Special Efforts

Employees feel pride in celebrating their work achievements with their family and friends. That is why, sending a box of donuts or special treats home, for your achievers to share with their loved ones can prove to be very special. 

6. Build Strength @Work

Lack of professional development can be a huge demotivator for employees. Providing them learning opportunities by offering them to work on interesting new projects, encouraging them to take up online classes and courses can make them feel that you are truly invested in development. 

7. Peer Recognition Programs

Recognition doesn’t always have to come from the top. In fact, recognition from the peers is said to drive more employee happiness and engagement than the regular awards. A platform like Xoxoday Empuls can drive peer-to-peer recognition program like no other. 

8. Employee Recognition T-Shirts

Has anyone in your team done spectacular job or have they achieved something that no one ever has in your organization? Hand out specially designed t-shirts with some really creative designs that they can wear to office on Fridays. Everyone will want one, and it creates a healthy competition amongst employees.

9. Exclusive Parking Spots

Who doesn’t like to have a premium parking spot that is reserved in their name? Sometimes, offering the best parking spot to the employee who goes above and beyond expectations is enough of a motivation for everyone to compete. 

10. Recognize Work outside Office

Some of your employees might be achieving a great feat perusing their hobbies and interests. You might have employees who are winning talent shows or spending their weekends to making the world a better place with their service. Calling out their extraordinary work can be a great encouragement. 

Effective rewards and recognition programs can ignite purpose and potential in your team. With Empuls, you can start an RnR program that’s candid, social, frictionless & fun. Want to know more? Try Xoxoday Empuls now!
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Examples of Employee Recognition Awards

Now that we have seen what all awards can be handed out to employees, let’s check out some creative examples of employee recognition awards. 

1. Extraordinary Performer Awards

When asked what leaders could do more of to improve engagement, 58% of respondents replied “Give recognition.” (Psychometrics, A Study of Employee Engagement in the Canadian Workplace 2010)

Recognize your top performers with creative award names that truly sets them apart. 

  • President’s circle
  • Capital Achievement
  • Diamond Club
  • Circle of Excellence
  • Pinnacle Award
  • The Legend Maker

…and so on

2. Customer Service Awards

In one study, companies with engaged employees had 89% greater customer satisfaction and 50% higher customer loyalty than their disengaged counterparts. (Hay Group). We have all come across some exceptially calm support executives, who go that extra mile to make sure the customers are happy. Here are some award names to honor them

  • Calmer of Storms
  • Fire Fighter award
  • Chief-of Happiness Award
  • A1 service
  • Client Comforter Award

…and so on

3. Mentor/Leadership Recognition Award Names

Praise and commendation from managers was rated the top motivator for performance, beating out other noncash and financial incentives, by a majority of workers (67%) (McKinsey)

We have all had bosses / mentors who at some point of time or the other have changes our careers for good. Here are some great award titles to honor such bosses.

  • Galactic Gratitude
  • 3 Cheers
  • The Transformer
  • The Inspirer
  • Key Differentiator

…and so on 

4. The Peer-to-peer Awards

Did you know, peer-to-peer recognition is 36% more likely to yield financial employee recognition benefits than manager-only recognition.

Since we have already discussed why they are important, let’s now take a look at some examples of unique award names.

  • Sidekick Salute
  • High-five awards
  • Associate Appreciation
  • Round-of-applause
  • Thumbs-up

…and you get the drill. 

5. The Newbie Award

So, you have a new comes on the block who is proving to be quite a performer? Here are some titles that will make them feel welcomed

  • Rockstar Rookie
  • Our Bright Future
  • Fast Starter
  • Draft Pick
  • Bright Beginning

Etc. etc.…

6. Team Awards

There are those special teams that achieve great feats with the awesome team effort and bring great accolades to the organizations. Here are some titles to honor such team efforts

  • The Mountain Movers
  • The Movers and Shakers
  • The Difference Makers
  • The buzzing bees
  • World Changers

…and so on.

While we have explored some awards that mean business and recognize some of your most dedicated and hardworking employees who never fail to uphold tour values, there can be awards that tickle your nerves as well. 

Wondering what they can be? Let’s now take a look at some examples of employee recognition awards that are out-of-the-box and funny.


Funny Employee Recognition Awards

Drum roll please…

1. Walking Encyclopedia Award

For the employee who knows everything (or atleast thinks so 😉)

2. Office DJ Award

For the employee who is always on the headphones, listening to music. And is ready to be the in-house DJ for any office party.

3. Always in a Meeting Award

For the employee whose calendar is always full and is difficult to catch-up with. 

4. Office Parent Award

For the employee who remembers everyone’s birthdays, anniversaries, collects funds to celebrate occasions, has medicines that everyone need!

5. Wannabe MJ Award

For the employee who never hesitates to set the stage on fire with their incredible dance moves at any office party.

6. Super Snacker Award

For that employee who is always seen snacking, or has a desk draw full of snacks – ALL THE TIME!

7. The Captain Planet Award

For the employee whose desk if full of plants, and they never go dry!

8. The Wizard of Words

For the employee who knows and speaks all the buzzwords and corporate acronyms. 

9. The Office Masterchef 

For that employee who always cooks and brings the tastiest food in their lunch – and doesn’t hesitate to share it with others. 

10. The Just-not-in-time

For that employee who is never on time – be it to office or to meetings. 

The Ball is in Your Court Now!

Now that we have explored a whole lot of employee recognition award ideas, it’s time for you to get creative with the way you celebrate your employees and recognise them. 

Build a Culture of Appreciation with Empuls

An employee engagement, rewards and recognition platform like Xoxoday Empuls can help you build customised rewards and recognition program that is best suited for your organization. Empuls can make your RnR program fun, candid, social and frictionless. Want to know more? 
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Implementing a reward & recognition program: An HR guide


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