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Employee Recognition

Awards and Recognition Examples to Inspire Your Employee Recognition Program


Are you struggling to brainstorm ideas for your employee recognition program? If you’re looking for ways to motivate and inspire your people, we’ve come up with some awards and recognition examples to get you started. 

Your people are the lifeblood of your organization. Above anything else, it’s their efforts that will make the difference between success and failure. 

So how do you recognize and reward them for their hard work? 

A simple “thank you” can go a long way. However, the world’s most successful organizations understand that if you want to truly motivate your people, you need to implement an employee recognition program to celebrate their efforts.

Get it right and your recognition program could help to motivate your employees to reach new heights. But creating an employee recognition program that’s authentic and effective is no easy task. That’s why we’re here to help with some awards and recognition examples to help inspire your employees. 

Table of Contents

Why does employee recognition matter? 

What are the benefits of employee recognition?

Best practices for employee recognition and rewards 

How to refresh your recognition program. 

13 awards and recognition examples to inspire your team.

awards and recognition examples

Why Does Employee Recognition Matter?

Think about the last time someone congratulated you for a job well done. It felt pretty good right? It probably encouraged you to work even harder, didn’t it? 

That, in essence, is the secret power behind employee recognition. 

It’s simple really. When you proactively take the time to show your employees that you appreciate their hard work, those employees will feel good about themselves and their efforts. When you show them the role they play in your success, they’ll feel like active stakeholders in it. And when you recognize them for embracing the kind of actions and behaviours that you want to be inherent to your organization’s culture, they’ll amplify those behaviours, setting a positive example for others to follow.

It’s not just hearsay either. The psychological evidence shows us that from engagement and retention to productivity and even profits, employee recognition can have a significant impact on every aspect of your organization. 

The Benefits of Employee Recognition 

Just some of the ways that effective employee recognition can help your organization include…

Does Your Employee Recognition Program Need a Refresh? 

Right about now you’re probably thinking to yourself: “I already recognize my employees, so do I really need to do anything more?” 

It’s a good question. And while most businesses hopefully have some kind of plan for thanking their employees for their work, there’s a difference between recognition being a tick box exercise and an effective strategy. 

That’s especially true in the modern workplace. 

The world has changed. Employees are no longer gathered together in centralized company headquarters. Instead, teams are spread across the world, working in remote and hybrid settings. Not only does this create challenges when it comes to communication and collaboration, but it also makes recognition harder too. 

How do you recognize your people when you don’t share the same office? How do you ensure your digital communications hit as hard as an in-person conversation would? And how do you replace physical awards without losing their impact? These are all the kinds of questions that organizations are being forced to ask themselves.

But it’s not just the art of recognition that’s changed, the people we’re trying to recognize have changed too. 

Today’s employees don’t just want an impressive job title and a healthy paycheck. In fact, cash isn’t anywhere near the incentive that it once was. Instead, your people are looking for something more tangible, more authentic and altogether more personal. They also want their work to mean something. Purpose is a key part of the modern workplace, as is company culture. Your people need to feel like they belong and that their work matters – and if your current recognition program isn’t helping to deliver that then it’s time for a refresh using these creative awards and recognition examples.

awards and recognition examples

Best Practices for Employee Recognition and Rewards 

Before we dive into some excellent awards and recognition examples, it’s important to consider some best practices that you can follow to make your program as effective as possible. By following these simple guidelines you can turbocharge your recognition and rewards, helping to unlock the benefits for your organization. 

Frequent Recognition:

Think of recognition and you probably think of Employee of the Month awards or shout-outs at your annual Christmas party. While they may have served their purpose in the past, these outdated ideas no longer hit the spot when it comes to employee recognition. Frequency matters. More than half of employees admit they want more recognition for their work, so instead of waiting for milestones or anniversaries make sure that appreciation is an everyday activity. And don’t worry about overdoing it. According to the experts, there’s no such thing as too much recognition, as long as it is honest and genuine. 

Make it Public:

A simple thank you can go a long way to making an employee feel appreciated. But if you really want to emphasize that recognition make sure that you do it in a public forum. Public recognition helps to put your people center stage, ensuring that their efforts are celebrated by everyone and not just their manager. 

Peer Recognition is Important:

At work, we’re used to receiving recognition in a very structured way and typically it’s our managers who are tasked with making sure our efforts are appreciated. But what if instead of being recognized by your managers you were recognized by your colleagues? That’s where peer recognition comes in. 

Peer-to-peer recognition is a program where employees at any level can acknowledge or thank each other for their efforts. Instead of the top-down approach, it encourages everyone to take responsibility to recognize each other’s achievements and efforts. This democratic approach empowers everyone to do their bit, creating a culture of recognition that’s even more effective than traditional programs. 

Make it personal:

It’s not just how you recognize your employees that matters, it’s what you recognize them with. Should you give them a trophy? A gift card? A mention on the company Slack channel? 

It’s a tough decision, but the key is to make it as personal as possible. The true impact of your recognition and rewards is not the cash value but the memory it creates. The feeling that your people have when they are rewarded will stick with them for longer if you’ve put some effort into making it extra special. As the old adage goes: “It’s the thought that counts” so put a little extra effort into coming up with appreciation awards that are truly memorable. 

Align everything with your company culture:

If you truly want your employee recognition program to be effective then you need to align it with your company culture, your values and the kind of environment you want to create. By recognising and rewarding key values you’re not only telling your people how much you appreciate them, you’re creating a virtuous cycle that constantly encourages and reinforces those behaviors. 

Make it fun:

Making your recognition and rewards fun will help to make it truly memorable. So instead of a gift card and company swag, try to think of rewards that money can’t buy. One of our favourite examples comes from one of our clients who runs a regular competition where a top performer can win the chance to have the company CEO come and wash their car for them. It’s an example of the kind of out-of-the-box thinking that can make your recognition and rewards live long in your employees’ memory. 

Now, let’s dive into creative awards and recognition examples to help you cultivate a culture of recognition and appreciation!

awards and recognition examples

13 Awards and Recognition Examples 

If you’re looking to kickstart your program, here are 13 awards and recognition examples to help inspire your employees. This list will offer some inspiration to help you decide what you should reward and how you should do it. We’ve also included a few fun name suggestions to help inject some personality into your program. 

1.Tenure Awards

Celebrating employee milestones is incredibly important. Your people’s years of service are a mark of their commitment to your company and an example of the kind of loyalty you want to shout about. You don’t just have to celebrate the landmark occasions either. While 5, 10, or even 20 years of service is a cause for celebration, you can also recognize your people for every year they spend in their roles. 

Award name ideas

  • Outstanding service award
  • Anniversary awards
  • Milestone heroes
  • Ruby award (or other precious metals / stones related to years of service)

This award can elevate your recognition program by…

Increasing engagement. Recognizing the dedication and loyalty of your employees will not only help them to feel valued but also showcase how good you are as an employer. 

2. Company Values Award

Today, organizations understand how important a strong culture is to their success. But how do you inspire your employees to demonstrate the kind of values that are intrinsic to the culture you want to create? This is where recognition comes in. 

Award name ideas

  • Difference maker
  • Culture champ
  • High five hero
  • Company legend

This award can elevate your recognition program by…

Tying your employee rewards to company culture creates a virtuous cycle that constantly reinforces the kind of behavior and attitude that you want to see throughout your organization. 

3. Safety Awards

Workplace safety is a key concern for all of us, but it’s especially important if you work in an industry like manufacturing or construction. Protecting your people isn’t just about your safety plans, however, it’s about creating a culture where safety is celebrated. 

Award name ideas

  • Silver shield 
  • Safety superhero
  • Workplace Avenger 
  • Protector in chief

This award can elevate your recognition program by…

Celebrating safety and ingraining it into your employees’ everyday lives. Whether you offer monthly prizes or on-the-spot awards for singular acts, this is your chance to encourage participation in your initiatives. 

4. Performance Awards

Encouraging your people to perform at their best is one of the oldest tricks in the management handbook. And for good reason. Whether it’s bonuses or incentive schemes, there are time-honored techniques that you can employ to up performance levels. But just because they’re already established, doesn’t mean you can’t get creative with your performance awards. A little imagination can go a long way to revitalizing their impact, especially if you celebrate all of your employees’ contributions and not just those of your top performers.

Award name ideas

  • President’s award
  • Consider it done award
  • MVP
  • Hall of fame

This award can elevate your recognition program by…

Creating a culture where going the extra mile is celebrated. Whether they show up early, stay late, or take on tasks that fall outside of their job description – recognizing the people within your organization who go the extra mile will not only help them feel valued, but encourage their colleagues to follow their example. 

awards and recognition examples

5. Innovation Awards

Innovation is the lifeblood of your organization. New ideas, processes and technologies can help give you the edge in an ever-more competitive world. Implementing a dedicated innovation award is a great way of inspiring your employees to put their thinking caps on. 

Award name ideas

  • Bright spark 
  • Brainiac
  • Einstein award 
  • Chief ideas officer

This award can elevate your recognition program by…

Encouraging everyone to bring their best ideas to the table. Companies like Google, for example, have unlocked priceless new innovations by creating a culture where ideas are not only celebrated but actively rewarded. 

6. Teamwork Awards

Behind every great team is a great team player. They’re the glue that holds everyone together, the ones who champion collaboration and ensure that everyone communicates effectively. Despite their importance, they may not get the accolades they deserve, which is even more reason why you should take the time to recognize their efforts. 

Award name ideas

  • Positive participator
  • Top teammate 
  • Award for awesomeness 
  • Helping hand hero
  • This award can elevate your recognition program by…

Reminding everyone how important teamwork is, and why working well with others is something to be proud of. 

7. Customer Service Awards

If you work in a customer-facing industry then you’ll no doubt know how important service is to your continued success. But ensuring that levels of customer service remain high can be challenging, especially if people are dealing with complaints or handling situations where emotions are running high. 

Award name ideas

  • Five-star service
  • Review hero
  • Customer champion 
  • Service superstar
  • Client whisperer

This award can elevate your recognition program by…

Celebrating great customer service. If you showcase how important service levels are to your business you encourage your employees to give excellent customer service. 

8. New Hire Awards

Employee retention has become a key battleground for organizations that are struggling to hold onto top talent during the current hiring climate. One way to make your new hires feel valued is to start celebrating them from day one. It’s a great way of embedding them within your company culture and helping them to get through that awkward transition that comes with any new role. 

Award name ideas

  • Rising star award
  • Amazing addition
  • Rockstar rookie
  • Rookie of the year

This award can elevate your recognition program by…

Making everyone feel like they are part of the process.  By involving your new hires from the get-go you will not only onboard them quicker, but help them to overcome any of those early wobbles that naturally occur when starting a new role. 

9. Peer Awards

Sometimes it’s the little things that make the big difference. Maybe it’s that team member who always makes the coffee, the office DJ who always picks the right tune or someone who makes sure that the meeting room is clean after they’ve used it. 

Award name ideas

  • People’s choice award
  • Superstar salute
  • Props 
  • Three cheers
  • Trendsetter

This award can elevate your recognition program by…

Peer awards are a great chance for your people to recognize the kind of behavior that they value the most, even if it doesn’t have its own dedicated awards category.

10. Meeting Awards

Meetings are a fact of life, but there’s a big difference between the good ones and the bad ones. If you’re trying to encourage your employees to be more conscious about their meetings then this is an award that can help. It could celebrate someone who goes the extra mile to prepare or those people who make their meetings extra engaging, either way, it’s a great opportunity to recognize their efforts.  

Award name ideas

  • Meeting master
  • Engagement ace
  • The Motivator
  • Presenter of the year

This award can elevate your recognition program by…

Recognizing those people who make meetings more rewarding, and encouraging a culture where people are conscious about how they invest their time. 

11. Leadership Awards

Your leaders have an important role to play in motivating and inspiring your employees, so don’t forget about them when it comes to planning your recognition and rewards program. It doesn’t matter what level people are at, you should always recognize their efforts to inspire others. If you want to make your recognition hit home why not focus on mentorship, as this is a crucial consideration that can have a real impact on your employees. 

Award name ideas

  • Inspiration award
  • Mentor of the month 
  • Leadership legend

This award can elevate your recognition program by…

Recognizing those who give their time and energy to help others. It’s a great way of creating a trickle-down effect that inspires others to follow their example. 

12. Personal Achievement Awards

Your people are much more than just what they do during office hours. That’s why organizations are increasingly considering the whole human to ensure their employees are as engaged as possible. Rewards can be a great tool here. After all, you don’t just have to celebrate people’s achievements inside of work, you can also celebrate their success in their personal lives. Perhaps they’ve got a new addition to their family, completed a fitness challenge or celebrated a birthday – whatever you choose there are countless opportunities to show how much you care. 

Award name ideas

  • Crushing it award
  • Fitness first
  • Outstanding achievement award
  • Birthday shoutout

This award can elevate your recognition program by…

Showing how much you care about your people as human beings and not just employees. Not only will this boost engagement but it will also help your people to feel more valued. 

13. Attendance Award

Recognizing individuals who are consistent, reliable and always on time is just as important as celebrating those staff members who top the sales charts or come up with new ideas. These people help to set the tone for your whole organization and their efforts deserve to be appreciated. 

Award name ideas

  • Ironman award
  • Perfect presence
  • Ace employee
  • Everyday hero

This award can elevate your recognition program by…

Showing how much you value your employees’ commitment to their roles. By creating a culture where attendance and effort are celebrated you’ll help to reduce absenteeism and ultimately make your teams more productive. 

awards and recognition examples

Integrating Awards and Recognition Examples Into Your Organization 

Now that you’re armed with some awards and recognition examples to inspire your employees, you’re going to want to put your ideas into action.

Establishing a new rewards and recognition program can be a challenge in itself, but there are a few best practices you can follow to make sure that your rollout goes as smoothly as possible. 

Communication is key:

How you announce your new recognition and rewards program is going to be crucial. Your people will want to know what is changing, but also why you’re changing it. So make sure you share as much information as possible. 

Ask HR:

If you want to know how you can up your rewards and recognition game, there’s only one place you should start. Your HR team is best placed to understand not only what your employees want but what your organization needs. They will also play a key role in getting buy-in for your new program so make sure that you engage them early so they can have as much impact as possible. 

Ask your people:

Alongside your HR team, don’t be afraid to ask your employees what they want directly. Questionnaires and employee engagement surveys are great tools for encouraging your people to share their feedback on everything – including your recognition and rewards program. With some targeted questions you can very quickly find out how your current program is performing, where it can be improved and what ideas your employees have for making it better. 

Get some help:

Thankfully there are a host of employee rewards and recognition platforms that can help you to establish your program. At Bucketlist, our employee rewards platform is fully customizable to your business, making it easy and fun for managers to recognize and reward your people’s milestones, achievements and hard work. It also makes it easier than ever to integrate our awards and recognition examples into your workplace culture!

awards and recognition examples

Pulling It All Together

Hopefully by now we’ve convinced you of the impact that recognition and rewards can have on your organization. Not only will it help your people to feel appreciated, but it can also boost retention, increase innovation, supercharge creativity and ultimately boost your bottom line. 

Of course, recognizing and rewarding your people is nothing new. But today’s employees are looking for more than a pat on the back and a few words of encouragement. By following the awards and recognition examples we’ve shared here, you’ll be well on your way to building a culture where your people feel appreciated, engaged and inspired to perform at their best. 

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