Employee Engagement

8 great ways to recognize employees and boost engagement

It’s all too easy to focus on criticizing people for doing things badly or wrong, and far too convenient to forget to comment on the positive. For a happy, productive workforce, you really need a balance of both. That’s why it’s so important to find ways to recognize employees.

Employees will be happier and more productive going forward if you focus on celebrating the positives instead of criticizing them and homing in on the negatives. Focusing on those positives will build their confidence, making them better in their roles.

According to Harvard Business Review, employees need six pieces of positive feedback for every one piece of negative feedback. Low-performing teams were found to have been given an average of three negative comments for every positive comment.

Given that we often focus on the negatives, and that positive feedback triggers dopamine—AKA one of the happy hormones—in our brains, are these stats really that surprising?

Our culture isn’t wired to celebrate the positives, though. Unless you’re a very serious optimist, you may find it hard to come up with ways to recognize employees and show just how much you appreciate them.

So here are a few simple ways you can do just that.

Give them a shout out in meetings

This is one of the easiest ways to recognize employees, and sometimes it’s all you need.

Make sure whatever you comment on is specific. Don’t just say “great job;” explain why and how they did a great job.

Being specific will help both them and their teammates to understand why what that person did worked. It will then encourage that employee, along with their teammates, to approach related situations in a similar way going forward.

Tell them one-on-one

It’s sometimes nice to pull someone aside and give them a pat on the back in person (or via video). If your team member is quieter or shyer, they might prefer this to a shout out in a meeting. 

However, if you decide to do this and arrange the meeting in advance, make sure they know you want to talk to them about something positive. Otherwise, they may start to worry that they’ve done something wrong. Particularly if previous places they’ve worked at didn’t highlight the positives in this way.

You don’t have to plan the call in advance, though. You could send positive feedback in an email or Slack message instead.

Send them a present

Sending someone a present is a simple way to show them you appreciate them. It doesn’t have to be anything expensive. In fact, a thoughtful gift that shows you listen to them will mean much more than something generic.

For instance, if they’re into stationery, you could get them a pretty fountain pen, or if they’re into reading, a new book in a genre they like to read.

One thing you don’t want to do is send them something that has the company’s branding on it. This will feel generic, soulless, and like you’re only doing it to promote your own business.

Take them on a day out

A day out can be just what we need sometimes to feel refreshed and ready to take on the world. 

You could give them a voucher to go on a day out with their family or take them somewhere you think they’d enjoy. It doesn’t have to be work-related. Sometimes it’s better if it’s not, as it will offer a welcome break from the daily grind.

Pay for a training course

Your best employees are the ones you want to stick around. What better way to show them you appreciate them than investing in their future?

Ask them what skills they’d like to learn and find some courses that might help them build those capabilities.

Ask if they’d like to be a coach

Your best employees are often the best coaches because they can help others to develop the habits that made them so successful in their role. 

The more people who adopt the right mindset, the more benefits your business will experience.

If they’re unsure, you could send them on a coaching/leadership training program so that they understand what would be required from them before they get involved.

Reward the team

Most people couldn’t do their job without the awesome people around them. So why not reward everyone they work with for their win? 

It’ll encourage better teamwork and a greater sense of camaraderie. Their teammates will celebrate their win, too. When thinking about ways to recognize employees, it can be helpful to consider the larger group and not just one or two individuals.

Give them a shout out on social media

What you post on social media reflects your internal culture. So, if you take the time to celebrate your employees’ wins, it shows the rest of the world that you truly appreciate how hard your team members work for you. 

It reflects a positive, grateful culture that’s about so much more than turning a profit.

This will help to attract better candidates, shortening your hiring process and reducing the cost to hire. It’s a win for your employees and a win for you.


Recognizing employees doesn’t have to cost a fortune. It doesn’t have to cost anything! 

Most of us spend more time with our colleagues than we do our loved ones. Working remotely hasn’t changed this all that much, with many of us super-glued to our screens and sometimes working even longer hours than we did before the pandemic.

And let’s not forget—just because someone chooses to work for you now, that doesn’t mean they’re going to stay. Especially if their hours have increased and they have less time to spend with their loved ones, even though they’re working from home.

Showing a little appreciation for an employee’s hard work can go a long way to retaining them. After all, they’re choosing to spend their time and energy with you. That’s a privilege that shouldn’t be taken for granted.

If you’re looking for more ways to recognize employees and build a top-notch company culture, see if Workrowd’s employee experience platform might be a good fit. Our central hub for culture, engagement, and recognition makes it easy for team members to connect and support each other. Send us a note at to learn more.

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