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4 min read

Here’s a simple fact - employees feel more motivated when they receive a simple thank you.  Surprised? Of course not, for as human beings gratitude is something we crave. And why not, think of how you feel when someone thanks you. Doesn’t it make you light up? Feel like you’re walking on a cloud? You get what I mean…

But it’s not just me, or you, that feels this way.  

According to Reward Gateway’s recent survey, 70% of employees said a simple thank you would make them feel more motivated and help build morale. 

Read more of the survey results here.

Then why don’t we just do it? If we know recognition will motivate and engage our employees, which in turn will help our companies, what’s stopping us? Well, I’ve worked for my share of companies over the years, so I know that sometimes it’s not always the easiest thing to do for a variety of reasons, which could include:

  • Managers don’t understand how to recognise
  • You don’t have a recognition budget
  • You don’t know where to start

To help you overcome these, let me share with you a programme I’ve used at a few companies.  It ticks all the boxes — it gives your manager tools to easily recognise, doesn’t cost much, and gives you a starting point.  What is it?  

It’s a simple deck of cards.  

employee recognition ideas

Can employee recognition be that easy? Let's find out ... 

Take your deck of cards, and write employee recognition ideas on each and every one of them (you decide the number in the deck!). These ideas should range from those that have no cost to those that cost very little, you decide what will work for you. That’s the best part of this.

Learn more low-budget ways to build moments of recognition with our template  »

Next, give each manager a deck, and either they pick one and hand it to an employee or they let the employee randomly pick one. Whichever way, it not only recognises but creates a bit of fun along the way. As for how often to draw cards, that’s up to you as well. Make it a part of Friday fun, or a way to liven up that Monday morning meeting. Here are some examples:


So if you like this idea and want to create your own recognition deck of cards, here are a few things to consider:

  • Create cards that fit your company’s culture and values - aligning with these will have more impact and engagement.
  • Get input from your workforce on the cards - it not only helps you come up with ideas but creates buy-in.
  • Find a way to keep track of cards given - you’ll want to track how it’s used (and not used) to determine its effectiveness.

Now keep in mind that as I mentioned earlier, this can be the beginning of your recognition journey (or could even slot into an existing strategy).  To have a truly effective recognition programme it’s important to have a variety of recognition plans, working together to deliver your objectives and align with your strategy, culture and values.  

Examples of other common employee recognition programmes are eCards, award vouchers, and employee of the month/quarter/year to name a few.  Whatever you decide, find ways to recognise your employees so that they all feel valued, appreciated and engaged.

Interested in starting your own recognition initiative? Reach out to one of my colleagues to see how we can help. 

Talk to an Engagement Consultant

Debra Corey

Debra Corey is an author, world-class speaker and HR consultant, paying it forward by inspiring and helping others around the world to bring out their inner rebel and drive strategic and meaningful people and business change as the Chief Pay it Forward Officer at DebCo HR. Her career spans 20+ years developing and delivering HR strategies in a rebellious way, pushing the boundaries and challenging the status quo to truly drive employee engagement.

Reward Gateway Advisor

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