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Loyalty · 

8 minutes

6 Examples of Employee Recognition at Work - How Nike, Apple, E.On and more do it.

Cormac O'SullivanPiggy

The best employees deserve the best treatment. This article takes a look at employee recognition examples from leading companies around the world. Check out how you can start to reward great work on a day to day basis with an employee recognition system, or on a more isolated basis. Whether it's giving a word of thanks for a great job, recognizing an employee for going the extra mile, or ramping up your employee recognition program for increased productivity and employee engagement, we've got the tips you need to boost your employee experience.

We've put together a list of 6 companies with the brightest employee recognition ideas just for you. Look at short term strategies, long term strategies, individual and team-level strategies and beyond. Whether you're looking for ways that management can boost employee productivity and engagement, or ways for team members to give peer-to-peer recognition, take a look below to learn from the best and reap the benefits of employee recognition.

#1 - Mental Health Recognition - Nike’s Wellness Week

Many companies, small and large, are scrambling to recoup the damages from not including employee mental health in their employee recognition or wellness strategies. The number of mental health diagnoses has doubled in the last year, and it now accounts for almost half of long or short term disability claims. Mental health is an investment for companies now - if you want to talk return on investment, think 300-500%.

Not long ago, Nike closed their corporate offices for a week to allow their employees to rest, relax and recharge. The response to this employee recognition strategy was varied, with many people criticizing the fact that the week off only applied to corporate workers, with other people viewing it as a galvanizing force in a corporate working revolution.

While Nike’s strategy wasn’t exactly perfect, one clear message sticks out: forcing employees to spend the bulk of their lives stressing over work is not the way forward.

The idea is that taking care of employees’ mental health and giving them recognition is better for the business as a whole, which nobody can really disagree with. However, it’s how you work this into your overall employment strategy that matters, and consistency is key. Smaller gestures on a more regular basis, such as mental health days once every few months, are a great way to get this up and running.

#2 - Peer to Peer Rewards - Zappos

Incorporating peer to peer employee recognition and rewards is a great way of fostering a strong working culture and team spirit within your company. It’s all in the numbers, and research shows that peer-to-peer employee recognition is 35.7% more likely to have a positive financial impact in comparison to managerial recognition.

Zappos, the footwear subsidiary of Amazon, has a multi-layered employee rewards and recognition program, and we can’t help but give them a round of applause for it. Within the program, employees can nominate and reward each other through submitting their reasons for nomination. Rewards come in different forms, with employees able to nominate each other for the best parking spots, give each other $50 “Zollar” bonuses every month, or nominate each other for HERO awards.

On top of this, employees can receive nominations for Zappos dollars for completing training, answering questions or giving a helping hand. “Zollars” can then be redeemed in the Zollar store, redeemed against movie tickets, or donated to charity - just when you thought it couldn’t get better.

This is a great example of how you can have a thought-out employee rewards and recognition program that’s contributing to your strategy and vision as a company.

#3 - A Thank You Note - E.On

Nobody said that recognizing or rewarding employees had to break the bank. Sometimes, all people want is a simple word of thanks. After all, 82% of employees said that they would be happier if they were recognized at work.

Can it really be as simple as writing a note? Well, yes. This example shows how a simple “buzz” in the form of a physical or digital recognition card can bring your workforce back to life. E.On identified this and incorporated personalized thank-you notes that can be written by peers or managers alike. The results? You guessed it: when surveyed, the amount of employees feeling valued had increased by ⅓, staff motivation had increased by 8 points to 69%, and employees' understanding of the business decision process was also increased by almost ⅓, growing from 57% to 75%.

#4 Round of applause - Typeform

Taking a varied approach to your rewards and recognition program always helps. This keeps motivation among your employees high, as there is always a reward to chase. Making sure that rewards and recognition are given regularly is key to success.

Your rewards program should be aligned with your greater strategy and culture as a company, and employees should be given recognition and/or rewards at least once a month. Not only does this increase subsequent performance, but it’s also a really efficient form of performance appraisal without all the time-consuming processes.

Typeform have identified a cost-free way to boost employee morale and motivation - employees are encouraged to show recognition and appreciation to their colleagues that have completed top class work by starting a spontaneous round of applause. Not only this, but there is also the opportunity for employees to earn “Typecoins” that can be redeemed when employees feel like giving themselves a little gift.

#5 - SWAG Time - Southwest Airlines

Ready for some SWAG? That’s right - Southwest Airlines Gratitude. Southwest Airlines look after their own, even going as far as to say that gratitude is a way of life for them.

Southwest Airlines are a prime example of how to tie your employee recognition and rewards program into your organizational goals. Within their program, Southwest Airlines coined the tagline “We Came. We Saw. We Kicked Tail.” - also known as the ‘Triple Crown’ for customer service.

It doesn’t stop there. Southwest have their own university, while they also reimburse employees up to $5,000/year for undergraduate and postgraduate studies. Beyond this, they also give employees the benefits of a 401K plan, profit sharing schemes, stock options, interdepartmental days to try out new professions, and rewards for partaking in charitable outreach programs organized by the company.

Every time an employee receives a Kick Tail, they’re in with a chance to win some SWAG points during that month. Employees can nominate peers for inclusion in exclusive points programs, recognition from senior management or even the CEO, and also send each other more personal cards.

With SWAG points, employees have the choice. The points act as somewhat of a flexible currency, with employees being able to exchange points for vouchers, flying member points, film or event tickets, or even merchandise - talk about being spoiled for choice.

#6 - Apple

After being named in the top 10 employers to work for by LinkedIn and in the top 20 by Indeed in the last 4 years, people are wondering what makes Apple so special to work for. While the award from Indeed was based on employee feedback and reviews, the award Apple received from LinkedIn was calculated based on some key metrics: job demand, engagement with the company, interest in employees, and retention.

Since the infamous email from Tim Cook to his employees in 2011 announcing 3 extra days of paid time off, Apple has been recognized as a galvanizing force in the realm of employee recognition and rewards. But what else do they do?

At Apple, employees can benefit from comprehensive medical care, large bonuses, even pet-sitting services. Not to mention, Apple also provides mental and wellbeing support, along with personal and professional development and an extra $25 for every hour employees spend engaging in charitable activities - guess that answers the question of what's so special about them.

Are you looking for a custom, on-brand employee recognition and rewards program? Sign up here for a demo and one of our experts will be in touch in no time.

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