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Use these principles for memorable employee recognition

01 Jun, 2020 Employee recognition

This article was originally published in 2015 and has been completely updated in 2020.

Recognition of employee achievements in the workplace is one of the most important things a team leader can do. It is low-cost and effective – but you have to do it right.

These principles, or employee recognition criteria, are essential to observe for the successful application of employee recognition in the workplace:

Seek out opportunities to praise

We’re conditioned to spend much of our time looking for issues and problems we can correct. Spend a little time trying to catch employees doing good things, too. It can be done quickly and spontaneously.

Don’t wait

The more time that passes between excellent performance and recognition, the lower the impact of the recognition. Immediately is never too soon.

Be sincere and genuine

Good leaders honestly know and feel that their business would not survive without the work and commitment of their people. This knowledge should be reflected in every policy, practice, principle and action that the leaders demonstrate. Sincere appreciation drives creativity, productivity and willingness to operate at the highest performance levels. Never praise just for the sake of praising. It is obvious to everyone, and you lessen the impact.

Be fair and consistent

Recognition programs need to have a fair process, contain fair outcomes, treat employees fairly (recipients and observers), and to provide fair explanation for each case (reasonableness, candor, thoroughness and timeliness).

Recognition loses its power and value if it is perceived as inequitable and inconsistently applied. Most recognition programs make management solely responsible for the initiation of recognition, and many managers simply don’t notice good work. Everyone in the workplace makes a contribution and each individual should have an equal opportunity to receive recognition. An organization should list the behaviors and activities that best serve achieving its business goals, then give everyone the responsibility of initiating recognition when these behaviors or activities occur.

Even better is for organizations to set up a program enabling employees to recognize each other in appropriate ways for achievements in the workplace.

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About the author Kim Harrison

Kim Harrison loves sharing actionable ideas and information about professional communication and business management. He has wide experience as a corporate affairs manager, consultant, author, lecturer, and CEO of a non-profit organization. Kim is a Fellow and former national board member of the Public Relations Institute of Australia, and he ran his State’s professional development program for 7 years, helping many practitioners to strengthen their communication skills. People from 115 countries benefit from the practical knowledge shared in his monthly newsletter and in the eBooks available from

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