How to create an employee recognition program

Samantha Mikos

A successful employee recognition program is crucial to your organization’s growth, but how do you create one? This isn’t taught like math or science, yet recognition is so essential to fulfilling careers and lives.

At Cristaux, we strongly believe in the positive impact of meaningful recognition. We’ll walk you through the definition, purpose, benefits, creation process, and examples for employee recognition programs. You’ll come away with so many ideas to begin developing your own unique and strategic plan.

What is an employee recognition program?

An employee recognition program is any strategy used to celebrate the achievements of your employees. Examples include years of service and special accomplishments. The purpose of these programs is to help build a positive company culture and make employees happy. In short, your recognition program is designed to retain your employees. Show them you care, and they’ll show you the same.

Ideas and examples for a successful employee recognition program

There are countless routes for your employee recognition program to take. To make your program strategic and effective, consider the following incentives for employees.


Monetary motivation can quickly amp up your recognition program. However, you should only humor the following ideas if they are in your budget.

  • Custom awards and gifts
  • Bonuses
  • Additional paid time off
  • Paid vacations
  • Donations in your employees’ names


A limited budget does not limit the success of your recognition efforts. In fact, many employees prefer nonmonetary options like the ones below.

  • Hand-written letters
  • Shout outs
  • Choice of new project or responsibility


Verbal recognition is a quick and effective way to show appreciation for those we like to hear how well they’re doing. Imagine how your recipient may respond to the following ideas.

  • Casual or spontaneous compliments
  • Speeches or toasts at formal events


Written recognition can be used by those who prefer to write out their thoughts. This way, you can make sure you express your complete gratitude for your employees. Consider the following examples.

  • Personal thank-you notes
  • Feature in the company newsletter
  • Digital message through office communication channels


Public recognition is the go-to for making your recognition efforts known and inspiring others to work harder. Imagine your recognition program coming to life with the following examples.

  • Events, celebrations, and award shows
  • Meetings
  • Social media content


Perfect for anyone who does not want public acknowledgment, a private form of recognition still packs a punch. Often, private recognition feels much more personal and meaningful than public displays. Consider the following for your employees.

  • One-on-one lunch
  • Direct online communication (email, messaging, etc.)

Additional Ideas

At Cristaux, we’ve helped create a great array of programs with diverse purposes. Consider the following ideas for your own team.

Crystal desk piece with years of service, logo, and graphics sand etched on frontside and colorfilled gold and black.


Show your team how much you value their work with a recognition piece that renews those special memories for lifetime.

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Benefits of an employee recognition program

There are countless benefits of an employee recognition program. Consider the few listed below.

Greater Productivity

When people are recognized for their hard work, they feel more appreciated. From there, we work harder for those who appreciate us and make us feel valued. When employees and their accomplishments are valued, they work harder and are more engaged to achieve greater goals and honors.

Increased Employee Retention

When you put in the effort to recognize your employees in meaningful ways, they are more motivated to stay with you and your mission. When you like who you work for, you’re more likely to keep working with them. Recognition programs done well and with heart help grow long-lasting and happy teams.

More Positive Work Environment

Recognition programs spread positivity throughout your work environment. Small and big gestures celebrating your employees inspire more smiles, greater well-being, and more feelings of belonging. From personal thank-you notes to public event awards, recognition sparks kindness and happiness.

Inspiration for Others to Work Hard

When one employee is publicly celebrated for their achievements, others watching are inspired to work harder. For example, you recognize your top-performing salespeople for reaching the one-million-dollar mark in transactions. Now motivated, other team members want to receive the same sales award.

Stronger Employee-Employer Relations

By recognizing someone for their accomplishments, you are practicing positive communication. This fosters more positive relationships between you and your employees. Their jobs are not just about meeting deadlines and fulfilling requirements, but about working with those they trust and appreciate.

crystal panel with fingerprint company value digital print personalization

How to build an employee recognition program: Guidelines

To create an employee recognition program, follow the proceeding steps.

  1. Identify what you’d like to improve or recognize. What is the purpose of your program? For example, if you want to increase how long employees stay at your company, then begin a years of service award program. This encourages employees to stay with your company for the long run.
  2. Brainstorm and decide how you will carry out this program. How do you imagine the program? What will it look or feel like? How will you celebrate your honorees?
  3. Organize your program. Consult with a recognition vendor to determine the details of your program. Choose when it will happen, who you will recognize, and how you will recognize them. This is the time for you to figure out the logistics of any custom awards or gifts that need to be designed, produced, and shipped.
  4. Name your program. Your employee recognition program name must reflect the purpose of the program. If you are creating recognition awards, then make sure the award name is concise yet meaningful for your team.
  5. Execute your program. With the help of your recognition partner, you will fulfill each stage of your program and reap the benefits.

Elevate your employee recognition program

Although recognition isn’t widely taught, you can still develop a successful employee recognition program for your deserving team. Now that you know the basic what and how of programs, you’re ready to create your own. For extra help, seek out a recognition vendor to help you through the process. With them, you can discover what is possible and how to bring your vision to life.

Contact Cristaux to share your program idea with our team today.

Corporate years of service award made from EDM Wire cut metal numbers.

FAQs: employee recognition program

You may have some questions that need answers, so we’ve provided information on frequent questions from people like you. If you can’t find what you’re looking for below, visit our FAQ page or contact our team.

What is a good employee recognition program?

A good employee recognition program includes recognizing the accomplishments of employees that achieved great success in your company or celebrate a major milestone. Gift ideas can be anniversary celebrations, company outings, etc.

What are good employee recognition program names?

Good employee recognition award names are clear and concise. They easily convey the purpose of the program. Read this article for ideas on recognition award names and wording.

What are employee service awards?

Employee service awards celebrate employees’ major work anniversaries. These awards are also known as years of service awards. Specific awards may celebrate 5, 10, 15, and more years of service.