Best Employee Recognition Ideas

10 Best Employee Recognition and Appreciation ideas for startups

Employee recognition and appreciation form an integral part of employee engagement activities that most organizations undertake. Many organizations in their inception phase view employee recognition programs as an unnecessary investment and see it as a start up pain point. However, this is far from true. Staff appreciation programs are vital to a company’s growth. Especially for startups, where small close- knit teams take care of almost all operations. It is important for the management to constantly appreciate their efforts to keep them motivated to contribute in multiple capacities. A popular myth around best employee recognition ideas is that they are super expensive. Well, that’s not the case. Rather, some of the greatest employee appreciation activities often cost peanuts; they just require a personal touch and genuine recognition. But, don’t simply go by our word, consider the following employee appreciation ideas-

Work with the team to validate Best Employee Recognition Ideas

One of the best employee recognition ideas is to recognize employees as important stakeholders in business decisions. Recognizing and posing confidence in their ideas and agency can be an effective employee engagement practice. When employees feel that their voice also matters in company decisions, they are likely to feel appreciated on their own. Additionally, when employees begin to recognize themselves as equal partners in decision making, they tend to take greater ownership of responsibility. This simple approach to collaboration will not cost you a dime, but will become an effective staff appreciation program.

Recognize. Appreciate. Reward

Staff appreciation programs do not necessarily require expensive rewards. Mostly, words of appreciation do the trick. You may not find yourself in a state to monetarily reward a particular employee, but you may be highly impressed by their work. Express it. Recognize the work and engage in oral or written appreciation. Put small admiration notes on your employee desks to reflect that you recognize their efforts. Employee recognition ideas are not about writing cheques or gifting vouchers, it is more about the appreciation that actually motivates the employees. Nevertheless, rewards are always welcome. Reward the top performers and encourage others to follow their lead.

Do not delay

The joy of instant recognition and appreciation is unmatched by anything. If you feel the need to recognize or appreciate an employee and wait for the right moment, do it there and then. There is no wrong moment to appreciate someone. If you feel an employee has presented you with an extra ordinary idea, give them a pat on the back instantly, they deserve it. While you may want to reserve some recognition for team meetings, others do not need to wait so long. This is true especially for the small achievements that need to be appreciated at the moment.

Edible Appreciation

As the management of a company, you may not want to present a physical reward for your employee.  But appreciation meals never hurt anyone. Recognizing the work of your employees by treating them to a nice team lunch will definitely sing an appreciation tale. Additionally, team lunches can become the sight of networking and employee engagement activities. Taking your team out for food will definitely cost you less than presenting them with gifts, and will also have a better impact. The memories employees will make at team lunches will remind them of the appreciation that came along.

Say Thank You

Thank you are two magical words that can show your appreciation in a giffy. You may think that these are mere words. But, trust us, express gratitude to your employees and that will be the best employee recognition idea you can come up with. Especially for daily achievements, saying thank you will go a long way in keeping you close- knit team together. Additionally, if you show your gratitude, your employees will keenly take on greater responsibility, because they know you will recognize even their smallest efforts. Thank you notes are the sweetest way to express your recognition for an employee’s efforts.

Rejoice the small moments

Who says that you can only appreciate or recognize your employees for completing big tasks and projects? In fact, greater happiness lies in recognizing the small efforts that they expect to go unnoticed. Appreciate an employee who stays half an hour late just to complete a task in hand without cribbing or someone who takes ownership of their co workers’ task if they call in sick. Such actions may look small, but invariably go a long way in ensuring the operational efficiency of a company. Therefore, staff appreciation programs that celebrate the small and the big have a greater success rate.

Celebrate Together

What can be a better employee engagement activity than celebrating the happy occasions together? Commemorate not just your company milestones together, but also personal days. Birthdays and anniversaries are the best way to get all the employees together. Get some cake and indulge in some staff appreciation. You can also experiment with creative ways to make the employee feel special by making small cards/ notes from all other co workers appreciating the effort he/ she puts in. this exercise will have a multiplier effect on your employee on their special day. Also, cake or other things sweet are a great motivator and appreciation agent in itself. When in doubt on how to appreciate, order cake.

Publicize the appreciation

You may have fund constraints to monetarily reward your employees, but you can always appreciate them on social media. Whenever you feel proud with an employee’s achievement, why not make a social media post and let the world know? This way not only the employees, but their entire social media networks will see your appreciation and recognition. Publicizing your appreciation is one of the best employee recognition ideas.

Go beyond the work goals

Most startups that have a closed knit team know about the beyond work achievements of their employees. The close network allows you to have a deeper relationship with your employees. Therefore, it would be a good idea to acknowledge any achievement of your employees beyond the work place. For instance, if an employee is doing an additional course to hone greater skills, appreciate them and encourage them to take it further. Beyond work recognition will instil greater respect within your employees.

Keep it going

Finally, concluding this list of best employee recognition ideas stands the thought that staff appreciation programs are a constant need. You cannot appreciate your employees once a year and expect them to be content throughout. Appreciation needs to be reinforced constantly. Employee engagement activities need to be conducted at regular intervals as it is an ongoing process. You need to understand that this small investment in recognizing and appreciating your workforce will go a long way in building their loyalty and commitment towards your company.

To cut a long story short, the best employee recognition ideas are cost effective, efficient and can act as a great motivator for the workforce, especially in startups. Employee engagement activities will not only keep your workforce motivated, but will also become a great tool to ensure employee retention. At Recro, we undertake a wide array of staff appreciation programs which makes our employees love the way we work and engage.


At Recro we combine Design Thinking, Lean and Agile to help you achieve market-leading  performance.

We partner with our clients with the aim to transform their business challenges into growth opportunities.