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“I consider my ability to arouse enthusiasm among my people the greatest asset I possess… If I like anything, I am hearty in my appreciation and lavish in my praise.”

Sam Walton, founder of Walmart


While the feeling of accomplishment in business—meeting a timeline, beating a budget, winning a sale—are all uplifting, this sensation is multiplied exponentially when others take notice.


Employee recognition is the open acknowledgment and praise of employee behavior or achievement.  Organizations use it to express appreciation, motivate employees, and reinforce desired behavior.

If you regularly give out authentic, deserved recognition to employees, you’ll be that much closer to unlocking their full potential.

Authentic recognition serves three greater purposes:

  1. Showcase Goal Achievement – All humans feel the need to be praised at some level. They want to know that their hard work and achievements aren’t unnoticed.  When a person achieves a goal, personal or work-related, they feel a rush of accomplishment.  That good feeling is amplified when others recognize and acknowledge the achievement.
  2. Motivate Effort – Recognition can be tied to more than just performance. Successful business leaders and entrepreneurs consistently celebrate this exceptional effort when employees go above and beyond.  This recognition helps them develop emotional connections to the workplace that fuel future performance.
  3. Reinforce Values – When we receive positive recognition for an action, we associate that action with a reward and try to achieve that feeling again in future efforts. So, recognizing specific actions can reinforce the values an organization wants in its culture.

Ways to recognize employees

Here are some ways to get you going with recognizing your employees’ hard work:

Employee Appreciation Events/ Days

It’s always better to praise your best employees in front of their co-workers because it can boost their self-esteem.  Not only that, your employees will do their best to get recognized, knowing that you’re an appreciative employer.

Bonus/ Treats

There are so many ways to treat your employees for doing a great job.  Here are some ideas:

  • Monetary bonuses will show them they are valued and make them feel their hard work is paying off and is greatly appreciated by the company.
    · Give away company-branded gift tees, sweatshirts, or tokens (like pens, bags, mugs, etc.) to employees who are doing great.
    · Who does not love food? So why not have free lunch once a month for everyone in the office?

Employee recognition wall

This is a board or wall where everyone at the office can fill with sticky notes that contain congratulatory messages to exemplary co-workers.

The Bible

Ephesians 6:5-6 says:

Bondservants, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, with a sincere heart, as you would Christ,  not by the way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart,

In first-century Judea, most workers were slaves or bondservants, and the bosses were the masters.  Here, the Apostle Paul is comparing to the Ephesians the difference between working for Christ and working the way of the prevailing culture.

Colossians 3:23-24 says:

Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward.  You are serving the Lord Christ.

Conversely, working the way of the culture was “the way of eye-service, as people-pleasers.”  Eye-Service is working only when the boss is watching.  When he turns his back, you quit working.  People-pleasing is apple polishing, playing office politics, and buttering up the boss.  Neither of these terms is project-focused or success-oriented.

Recognition of excellent performance combats eye-service and people-pleasing.

Identifying employees who focus on project success, work towards company values and goals, and make those around them better make the employees who don’t stand out.  Employees who work for Christ are the employee who understands the need to work for excellence and not the way of the culture.

            Recognize your best employees, and the rest will work hard to reach the same level.