Recognizing and rewarding your team members' contributions is essential for maintaining a motivated and engaged workforce. Some companies are skilled at weaving celebration into the fabric of the culture.
A market research company where I worked early in my career used many strategies to
foster close relationships and collaboration at work, like once we had an
in-office mini golf tournament where each department had to design a hole.
Events like this bring levity, but a clear focused mission for team members to
develop their communication skills and appreciation for each other’s unique
strengths. In addition, I had a leader who always made time for me and listened
to my ideas, no matter how unconventional. He always said “Thank you for the
suggestion. Let’s consider that at our next team meeting.” When employees feel
valued and appreciated, they are more likely to go above and beyond in their
Traditional recognition and rewards can become monotonous and lose their impact over time. To keep things fresh and exciting, here are 49 creative ways to recognize and reward your team members' contributions.
- Personalized thank-you notes: Write individualized thank-you notes highlighting specific contributions and expressing gratitude.
- Flexible work arrangements: Offer flexible work hours or remote work options as a reward for exceptional performance. Remote work is starting to become more standard, so make sure it is something beyond what they normally get today.
- Coffee or lunch with the boss: Arrange a casual one-on-one meeting with team members to recognize their efforts and build a stronger rapport.
- Office decorations: Decorate their workspace with balloons, streamers, or personalized items to celebrate accomplishments.
- Public recognition: Acknowledge team members' achievements during team meetings, town halls, or company-wide announcements.
- Training and development opportunities: Invest in professional development programs or workshops to enhance their skills and knowledge.
- Team outing: Organize a team-building activity or a fun outing as a way to reward their hard work.
- Donation in their name: Make a charitable donation in the name of the team member to a cause they care about.
- Spot awards: Give out surprise awards for exceptional performance on the spot.
- Team breakfast or lunch: Treat the team to a delicious breakfast or lunch as a way of saying thank you.
- Gamify recognition: Implement a recognition program where team members can earn points or badges for their achievements.
- Project ownership: Assign team members as project leads or provide them with opportunities to take charge of a specific initiative.
- Celebratory emails: Send out company-wide emails highlighting the contributions and accomplishments of team members.
- Personalized gifts: Give customized gifts that reflect individual interests or hobbies.
- Peer-to-peer recognition: Encourage team members to recognize and appreciate each other's efforts through a peer-to-peer recognition program.
- Extra time off: Grant additional paid time off or allow them to leave early as a reward for exceptional performance.
- Learning subscriptions: Provide access to online learning platforms or subscriptions to educational resources.
- Surprise desk treats: Leave a small treat or snack on their desk as a surprise recognition gesture. Make sure you are sensitive to dietary restrictions and allergies though!
- Employee of the month: Implement an employee of the month program and reward the selected team member with a special perk or recognition.
- Mentorship opportunities: Pair high-performing team members with senior leaders for mentorship and career guidance.
- Company swag: Give out branded merchandise or company swag items to recognize their contributions.
- Wall of fame: Create a dedicated wall or bulletin board where you showcase team members' achievements, kudos and milestones.
- Training budget: Allocate a budget for team members to attend conferences, workshops, or courses of their choice.
- Celebratory team photo: Arrange for a professional team photo to commemorate their success.
- Wellness perks: Provide wellness benefits like gym memberships, meditation apps, or yoga classes.
- Social media shout-outs: Recognize team members' accomplishments by sharing their achievements on social media platforms.
- Team building activities: Organize team-building activities during work hours spending time doing fun or creative things not directly related to their job will foster camaraderie and celebrate achievement.
- Personal development book club: Start a book club focused on personal and professional development and provide books to participants.
- Professional association memberships: Sponsor memberships to professional associations related to their field.
- Rock-star parking spot: Designate a prime parking spot for exceptional performers.
- Lunch with the CEO: Arrange a lunch or coffee meeting with the company's CEO to recognize outstanding contributions.
- Innovation challenges: Host innovation challenges where team members can showcase their creative ideas and compete for rewards.
- Wall of quotes: Create a wall of inspirational quotes contributed by team members to recognize their wisdom and insights.
- Public speaking opportunities: Offer chances to present their work or expertise at company-wide events, public lunch-and-learns or industry conferences.
- Cross-team collaboration opportunities: Provide opportunities for team members to collaborate with colleagues from other departments or teams.
- Team-led training sessions: Allow team members to lead training sessions on topics they excel in.
- Monthly recognition newsletters: Publish monthly newsletters highlighting team members' contributions and accomplishments.
- Customized trophies or plaques: Create personalized trophies or plaques recognizing individual achievements.
- Surprise team lunches: Organize surprise team lunches catered by their favorite local restaurants.
- Employee referral program: Implement a referral program and reward team members for recommending top talent.
- VIP parking pass: Provide a VIP parking pass for a designated period as a special recognition of achievement or efforts you want to encourage more of.
- Family recognition events: Host family-oriented events where team members' families can participate and celebrate their accomplishments.
- Learning circles: Facilitate learning circles where team members can share knowledge and learn from each other.
- Project showcases: Create opportunities for team members to showcase their projects or achievements to a wider audience.
- Customized playlists: Curate personalized playlists for team members based on their music preferences.
- Cross-training opportunities: Allow team members to learn new technical skills or shadow colleagues in different roles or lines of business.
- Surprise team awards: Introduce surprise team awards for outstanding collaboration or teamwork.
- Public testimonials: Collect testimonials from colleagues or clients about the outstanding contributions of team members and share them publicly.
- Bring-your-pet-to-work day: Organize a special day where team members can bring their furry friends to the office.
Remember, recognition and rewards should be tailored to individual preferences and aligned with the company's values. Some of these can become part of your culture, but others may not be appreciated by all team members. Knowing the individual motivations of team members will help you pick the right way, so they are glowing with pride and feel connected to the group.
When it comes to recognition and team engagement, there is no 'set it and forget it’ system. By implementing these creative approaches and tailoring them to your specific company and team style, you can foster a culture of appreciation and inspire your team members to excel in their work.
Carrie Tuttle is the lead coach, speaker and founder of Team Mojo, a firm that works to ignite energy and meaning into work for sales and marketing professionals.