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Almost everyone loves the standard employee recognition, the verbal praise, the gift cards, the written 'thank you.' But sometimes to have a true impact on employees, the status quo is not always enough. That’s why it's important to consider the unique individuals that work for your establishment and show them recognition that is thoughtful and personalised and a step away from their usual day to day.

How to create employee recognition that is outside the norm

It is well known that proper recognition improves employee productivity, lowers turnover, improves employee engagement, and overall helps organisations be more profitable. And since 90% of HR workers agree that an effective employee recognition programme drives business, it is important to not only reward in the traditional ways but to take time and energy into creating recognition that accommodates the individual employee.

happy RG employeesTo do this, the first step is to be willing to explore options that are out there.

Breaking away from what everyone else is doing gives you freedom to address the uniqueness of your specific industry.

Think about who the people who work for you are, and what might appeal to them. Are they healthcare providers? Are they drivers and in charge of delivery? Are their duties high stress? Do they work long hours?

Once it is established who they are, then you can begin to research what individual rewards would matter most to your employees beyond the standard. Consider some of these ideas:

1. Have flowers or a living plant delivered

Think about how it feels to receive flowers. You feel special. Employees receiving flowers at their work area can experience a brightened day. Even plants can accomplish the same good feelings. Gifting a live plant that can be nurtured gives the employee a continued reminder that the company and their leaders appreciate all their hard work. 

2. Gift them office or home decorating

Most people like their work environment to be special and personalised. As a way to show appreciation, giving the employee the special picture, lamp, bookshelf or item that they have been talking about for months not only shows that you are listening to them but that you want them to enjoy their working hours for the company.

flowers on desk3. Surprise them with new equipment for their office or workstation

To go along with the special item to decorate the workspace, granting them new equipment is another out of the box way to show appreciation. If they have been complaining about their old printer or the electrical stapler that jams all the time or even their chair they sit at, gifting them with a replacement item is a personal and appreciated way to show recognition.

Learn more about how Employee Reward and Recognition can support your unique  business goals Learn more

4. Go digital to extend a special moment

While a handwritten thank you note can be a very prized possession for a hard worker, making a recognition moment digital makes it more visible to the rest of the business, which can be something your employees crave. This is where an employee recognition platform can help organisations transition manual, time-consuming 'thank yous,' to more frequent and continuous recognition through a social recognition wall of eCards. Allow others to 'join in' on the celebratory moment by adding comments or reactions to extend the recognition far beyond the postage it took to post a card. 

raffle concept5. Create an employee 24-hour raffle

To address employees that are not working the same hours as many of the company’s 9-to-5ers, a 24-hour raffle gives out praise, every hour on the hour. This can target talent that works late shifts or odd hour shifts.

An example of this would be for every eCard of recognition received or sent, the employee would be put in the raffle to win a prize.

6. Gift them with special seasonal and shift specific kits

For those living in colder areas or working the late shift, recognition kits can be presented to them as appreciation for coming to the workplace during extreme weather or late at night. These kits can include items that make getting to work easier such as car cleaning/safety kits or morning kits. You can include in these kits ice scrapers, hand warmers, coffee, or morning snacks.

7. Offer to clean their vehicle

For those that travel for the job or commute in a time where many can work remotely, a way to show appreciation for the sacrifice they are making is by having their car detailed or giving them passes to their local car wash.

communicate with others8. Take time out of your day

By just taking time out of your day to show some attention to the employee is not only unique, but low cost. There are multiple ways to do this. Ask what they feel proud of to ensure you know the projects and accomplishments that may not be seen by others. You can call or just sit down and chat. You can introduce the employee to influential people. You can invite them to your social gatherings. The bonus perk to this, is you get to know them more deeply.

9. Grant permission for special project 

Though it might appear counterproductive to give an employee more work as a reward, granting the employee permission to take time out of their workday to get started on a project that they have been excited about but has been on the back burner not only shows appreciation, but also trust. To ensure the appreciation is felt, announce their new role, and the reason they are the perfect fit for the work, in company-wide communications.

10. Involve their family

If you have an employee who appears to have everything they need, consider offering a reward to their family. Send a gift hamper with games for the kids or goodies for the spouse. You can include a gift card to the family’s favourite restaurant. Or send an invitation for the family to visit the office, with a lunchtime visit from the CEO!

Final thought

Since 37% of employees view recognition as important for their success, it is smart to create recognition that your employees want.  If you are still not certain what would make your employees happy, giving them the choice in what they want might be your best decision yet. Our Reward Marketplace offers a transparent and seamless reward experience for your people, whether they want to buy something off of Amazon or use their reward points towards booking a new holiday or company apparel.


Showing your employees you appreciate them is one thing that will never go out of style. If you’re ready to take your reward and recognition initiatives to the next level, contact us to get started. 

Talk to an Engagement Consultant »

Alexandra Powell

Alexandra Powell, Director of Client Cultural Insights, not only knows American Sign Language, but uses it to secretly communicate with her husband and kids at parties. Alex is a highly experienced employee engagement consultant, trainer and speaker. For over 20 years she has helped HR and business leaders implement strategies that drive true culture change.

Director of Client Cultural Insights

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