Newmeasures: Insights for an exceptional workforce


Recognizing employees for small, daily triumphs lets them know they are valued and appreciated.

What to Know

Recognizing people in a meaningful way depends on the individual. Rather than trying one-size fits all approach, be sure to customize how you recognize employees based on their personal preferences.


We often associate recognition with monetary rewards, but there are many ways to recognize great work in cost-effective ways. In fact, when we ask employees, they most often tell us they are simply looking for a “thank you” from managers, peers, or leadership for the small wins that happen on a day-to-day basis. Skill development opportunities or time off are also great ways of offering rewards.
What Managers Can Do

Offer just-in-time, on the spot recognition. Recognition that is unexpected or outside of “formal” channels can be even more meaningful.

Identify ways for peers to recognize peers and give them the tools to do so on an ongoing basis.

Never underestimate the value of sharing time and building a relationship with your employees. Make time for the employee to run ideas by you, talk about concerns, and just to get to know each other. Doing so will make it more authentic when you provide recognition and more effective when you need to provide constructive feedback.

What Employees Can Do

Thank someone when they recognize your hard efforts! This reinforces your supervisor or peers to continue recognizing you in the ways that are most meaningful.

Avoid comparing yourself to others. Good managers know we are all motivated by different things, so may recognize you differently than your team members. If your manager is missing the mark with how you like to be appreciated (i.e., you hate public attention but would love a personal pat on the back), think of ways you can gently request different forms of recognition.

If you’re aiming for a particular reward or benefit (e.g., promotion, award, bonus), have a conversation with your manager to explore what specific performance or results will lead to what potential benefits. This helps clarify expectations and is a great way to set effective goals.

What Leadership Can Do

Never underestimate the value of sharing time and building a relationship with your employees. Make time to be accessible — ask employees to share what they like about their work and what could be going better for them.

Model the importance of recognition by finding meaningful ways to recognize and celebrate the people who report to you. Modeling this practice will encourage your teams to also recognize, appreciate, and celebrate their own direct reports.


The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace: Empowering Organizations by Encouraging People by Gary Chapman and Paul Whilte

1501 Ways to Reward Employees by Bob Nelson Ph.D.

Carrots and Sticks Don’t Work: Build a Culture of Employee Engagement with the Principles of RESPECT By Paul L. Marciano