How to master the art of employee recognition

This is a guest blog by Vantage Circle.

Employee recognition helps strengthen workplace relationships by acting as validation for individual and team efforts. It creates space for employees to work more effectively, regardless of the industry or organization they’re a part of. It also helps boost employee morale and engagement by fostering a culture of mutual respect and trust. Acknowledgment and appreciation are ways to tell employees how much they are valued, so having a strong recognition system will naturally boost an organization’s employer brand. Job seekers will be attracted to the gratitude that the company shows for its employees.

What makes employee recognition so important today?

Employee recognition is one of the most fundamental tasks for any business. It’s crucial to reaffirm employees and eliminate any negativity that may be permeating the organization. This is why employee recognition programs have become a standard throughout the business world. Unfortunately, not everyone is aware of the psychological effects of recognition and how it can impact your bottom line. As Dale Carnegie put it, “People work for money but go the extra mile for recognition, praise, and rewards.”

Recognizing employees has never been more important than now. The ongoing pandemic has altered work culture globally. The uncertainty has only added more stress and anxiety to the mental health of employees. The biggest challenge of HR professionals during this time is to keep their workforce happy and satisfied. Implementing recognition programs to build internal trust and relationships with management is the key to helping employees stay engaged and productive. 

Employee recognition: how to do it right  

 Employee recognition does not have to be difficult, and it can be an incredibly rewarding process. In order to recognize your employees effectively, you need to understand and follow some basic principles. Vantage Circle has developed an AIRe Framework for employee recognition. The framework is built with years of experience and expertise behind it to provide organizations with the best recognition initiatives.

AIRe stands for Appreciation, Incentivization, Reinforcement, and Emotional Connect—the key tenets of employee recognition. Let’s explore how the AIRe framework can help you master the art of employee recognition.


Appreciation greatly contributes to our sense of belonging and growth as individuals. In Stephen R. Covey’s words, “Next to physical survival, the greatest need of a human being is psychological survival, to be understood, affirmed, validated, and appreciated.”

Employees and managers who appreciate their fellow peers create a sense of belonging and care in the workplace. Since appreciation appeals to a fundamental human need, it must be practiced regularly. Your employees deserve appreciation for all their accomplishments, not just when they reach big milestones. It’s important to keep in mind that appreciation can be given any time you want, and no method of appreciation holds a higher value than the other. Your colleague helped you complete a project? A simple thank-you note builds on that camaraderie and leads to even more productive partnerships in the future.


When we think about incentivization, we naturally link it to performance-based bonuses or salary increments. But incentivization cuts across many aspects of employee rewards and recognition. Awards that are either monetary or non-monetary can act as incentives that help employees stay motivated. Generally, appraisals and other bonuses are given to employees after a year or achieving big milestones. On the other hand, incentivizing employees through regular recognition based on excellent performance or a strong demonstration of organizational values will also help keep your top performers engaged.


The act of reinforcement helps employees understand what key behaviors are encouraged and appreciated in the workplace. Reinforcement involves positive messaging and feedback when your employees or peers exhibit these key behaviors. For example, if your teammate is doing great work or showing an outstanding work ethic, appreciating them will reinforce those traits. This type of recognition is normally thought to be the job of managers, but it’s just as important that peers reinforce these behaviors as well to keep team dynamics strong. If you are in a management position, however, try showing appreciation in a more public way so that others can emulate. Social media or internal forum posts are great tools for this.

Emotional Connect

Humans are emotional beings, and we can often sense the emotional intelligence of the person we are talking to. Therefore, while appreciating or recognizing your employees, make sure you do it sincerely. Face-to-face interactions are best for this, but you can also express your appreciation via email or phone call. Keep in mind that written communication can come across as cold if not properly thought out. Whichever method you choose, try to draw upon your communication strengths. If phone calls make you uncomfortable, try approaching a coworker during a break. If you prefer written communication, but email feels too formal, try a simple thank you through your internal chat system. How you convey your feelings is more important than what you do when it comes to recognizing employees.

 A few key points to keep in mind    
  • Employee recognition must be authentic and impactful. Recognizing employees merely for the sake of doing so or just to keep the recognition program going could be counterproductive.

  • Encourage peer-to-peer appreciation to build trust and healthy work relationships among employees.

  • Recognition delayed is recognition denied. Always try to recognize your employees on the spot and practice it continuously.

  • Be thoughtful and specific when you recognize your employees.

  • Socially validate employees by celebrating their accomplishments, birthdays, and anniversaries.

  • To provide employees with the best employee experience, make sure you run your recognition program authentically and keep evaluating the process from time to time with continuous feedback.

 Final note

The benefits of employee recognition are innumerable. From increased job satisfaction to reducing unscheduled absenteeism, recognition motivates employees, increases engagement, and makes your company a better place to work. With hybrid and remote work environments rising in popularity, effective employee rewards and recognition programs have become even more crucial. If you’re a growing business, developing a solid recognition program is a chance to set yourself apart from your competitors.

Author Bio

This article was written by Braja Deepon Roy. He is a Senior Content Marketing Specialist at Vantage Circle. He actively participates in the growth of corporate culture and keeps himself updated in this space.

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