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Recognizing your employees is as important as providing performance feedback. A simple “thank you” for a job well done is meaningful for everyone. At UT, our HR staff can offer suggestions on ways to recognize strong performance on a day-to-day basis. We also have recognition programs in place that help the campus recognize members of our community for length and quality of service.

Learn more about UT’s Service and Recognition programs.

10 Easy Ways to Recognize a Team Member

We all know that employee recognition is an important factor in employee retention and morale. Employees who feel their contributions are noted and appreciated will be more likely to go the extra mile on future projects. Encouraging excellent work that contributes to the department or office’s goals also sets clear expectations of the kind of work that needs to be happening.

How can a supervisor show this appreciation outside of handing out gift cards or gifts? Gifts with monetary values can be counterproductive at times. If an employee feels the gift is not commensurate to their effort or success the gesture can be misunderstood. Small but effective actions can let your employees know that their work is seen and known.

Here are 10 ways to thank your employees when they are contributing to their area in a significant way:

  1. Time is Money. Set aside 30 minutes each week to meet with an employee who has made a significant contribution or helped the area reach a goal. Give the employee an opportunity to share their ideas about processes, office needs, etc. and how to improve things.
  2. Welcome Back. When an employee returns from vacation or leave, instead of focusing on all the work they missed, take the opportunity to thank them for the work they do each and every day. Let your employee know that their work matters and that it is appreciated.
  3. Passing the Thanks Along. Print out a Thank You sign and laminate it. Take advantage of a work meeting to write someone’s name on it and share something they have done that you are thankful for. At the next work meeting, the employee you thanked would then select someone to thank, which adds a recognition aspect.
  4. Goal Scored. Select a prominent location in the office to post a picture of an employee and the attributes or accomplishments they contributed and how they scored a “goal” toward the office strategic plan or goals. This will not only recognize great work, but it will also provide an opportunity to reiterate the goals and needs of the department or office.
  5. Suggestions Box. The old idea of a suggestions box may seem cliché and outdated, but all that is old can be new again. Place a box in the office where employees can submit their ideas for streamlining processes, improving productivity, or making the office a better work environment. When ideas come along that support the goals of the office or have merit, share the idea in a meeting and give the employee credit.
  6. Post It. When you hear about an employee’s good work, write “Thank You!” on a sticky note, sign it, and place it on the employee’s desk or hand it to them. When possible, it is always good to follow up with a conversation explaining the work you for which you are thanking them.
  7. Big Orange Thank You. Create a Smokey’s All-Stars event to recognize employees or a Volunteer Award for employees who give their all to see the work group succeed. People come to work at UT because it is an institution with a history and an identity in our state.
  8. Recognize Everyone. The worst thing that can happen with employee recognition is that one employee is overlooked or seldom recognized. Keep a record of your recognition to prevent these kinds of issues. You may be the first supervisor to take time to thank this employee for their contribution. The effort will be well worth it.
  9. The Whole Puzzle. Set aside time in meetings for each employee to give a five minute summary of their role in the office, followed by the opportunity for the group to thank them for their contribution. As each employee shares his or her piece of the puzzle, the picture of how the office works will become clear.
  10. Up the Ladder. A way to bring an employee recognition beyond the office is to send a letter to your supervisor sharing the great work that your employee has contributed. Your employee will see that you value their skills and productivity and have given them an opportunity to receive attention from up the ladder.

As you can see, employee recognition can be carried out in many creative ways at little or no cost to you or the department and is worth making a higher priority. Investing the time with your employees and giving them the praise they deserve will boost employee morale and build the relationships that are needed for great work to occur.