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Employee Recognition

Employee Recognition Template: A Tool for Managers

template for employee recognition

Something as simple as a note of recognition can make a big difference to your employees. In this guide, we’ll explore how you can put together an employee recognition template to make your people feel appreciated. 

Great leaders understand the power of employee recognition. It’s something that can do wonders for morale, boost engagement, skyrocket productivity and solve your retention issues. 

Sometimes all it takes is a simple “thank you.” But recognition can fall flat if you don’t get it right. 

While you may think that a quick email or a thumbs-up emoji is all it takes to make your employees feel appreciated, your efforts could fail to hit home. Or worse, do more harm than good by making your people feel disillusioned, or like their efforts don’t matter. 

This is where an effective employee recognition template comes in.

Not only does it help to standardize your employee appreciation, but it also ensures that best practices are followed so that your people feel recognized for a job well done. 

Table of Contents

What is an employee recognition template?

The impact of employee recognition

Why your managers need an employee recognition template 

Examples of great employee recognition templates

How to use recognition templates to create meaningful employee experiences

employees recognizing each other

What Is An Employee Recognition Template? 

An employee recognition template is a standardized outline for a message that you’ll send to your people to thank them for their efforts. 

These messages are a tool for managers to recognize employees not only for their hard work, but also their achievements. The aim is to show how much you appreciate their efforts, which then in turn will motivate them to continue to keep up the good work. 

Deciding on the exact format these messages will take will depend on the platform that you are using to recognize your employees, as well as what you are recognizing them for. For example, the approach you take to congratulate a whole team on your employee recognition platform would be very different from a personal letter to recognize an employee milestone. They could also be emails, social media posts or even handwritten notes. 

You also need to consider the frequency of your employee recognition. 

The vast majority (85%) of professionals want to receive daily recognition from their managers, and many of these (36% for women and 28% for men) want to receive that recognition in writing. Even if you’re not showing appreciation every day, your recognition efforts can still pile up. But by putting together a library of different employee recognition templates you can prepare ahead of time so that you can quickly and effectively show your appreciation to your employees. 

Nothing is more effective than sincere, accurate praise, and nothing is more lame than a cookie-cutter compliment.”

–  Bill Walsh

The Impact of Employee Recognition 

Think about the last time someone thanked you for something. Maybe you achieved a target, went above and beyond to deliver a project on time, or maybe it’s simply because you were a great colleague.

It felt pretty good didn’t it? It made you feel seen, like your efforts mattered and that you were contributing to your organization’s success. It probably also made you feel like working harder, putting in even more effort in order to achieve that same feeling of recognition. 

The reason why you felt all of that is because recognition is a basic human need, something that our brains are hardwired to respond to.

We won’t go too deeply into the science here, but the key thing you need to know is that receiving praise and recognition triggers the release of dopamine. Known as the “happy hormone” dopamine stimulates the part of the brain that deals with positive emotions like satisfaction, happiness and pride. This physical desire to be appreciated goes back to the earliest days of civilization when humans had to prove their value to the tribe – otherwise, they wouldn’t survive. 

Today, we’re no longer fighting for survival, but our reaction to recognition is still the same. That’s why leaders are so keen to harness the power of employee retention in the workplace. 

Get it right and your employees are 5x as likely to feel connected to company culture and up to 20x as likely to feel engaged in their roles. It can drive an 11.1% increase in employee performance. It can improve retention, as the majority of employees (79%) say they’re more likely to stay in their roles if they’re regularly recognized. And the benefits don’t stop there. Employee recognition can also lead to lower absenteeism, improved recruitment and lower turnover. Software like Bucketlist Rewards can help organizations cultivate a culture of recognition. Bucketlist offers an easy-to-use, accessible and engaging platform that helps organizations celebrate great work and boost employee engagement with meaningful peer and manager recognition. Bucketlist offers easy-to-use app and messaging integrations that meet employees where they already work making it easier than ever to engage employees in recognition. Bucketlist offers custom awards and personalized rewards, once-in-a-lifetime experiences and more that will inspire employees to bring their best to work, every day. Click here to learn more about what Bucketlist can do for you!

employee recognition and rewards software

Recognition may sound too good to be true. But here’s the thing – it isn’t. It’s an incredibly effective tool that some of the world’s best employers are already putting to work to unlock the potential of their teams.

Now it’s time for you to do the same. 

A boss wants to pay for results, an employee wants recognition for effort. If a boss recognizes effort, they will get even better results.

– Simon Sinek

Why Do Managers Need An Employee Retention Template?  

As we’ve already mentioned, recognition can be incredibly powerful. But get it wrong and you could end up having the opposite effect than you were hoping for.

Imagine a situation where your employee has gone above and beyond, investing extra time and effort to deliver a project that will help your organization achieve a key goal. Not only have they shown initiative, but they’ve also shown dedication and commitment to your ongoing success.

Now imagine that all they receive in return is a generic “thank you” message from their manager. 

It doesn’t feel right, does it? And for the employee, the experience can be overwhelmingly negative because they feel that despite their best efforts they have been underappreciated. All of which means they’re not going to be as likely to invest their energy in the future. 

If however, in this situation, the manager used an employee retention template to put together a message that followed best practices, the result would be entirely different.

With the right communication, the employee will feel appreciated and proud that their efforts have been recognized. They’ll also feel more motivated and will be more likely to demonstrate the same kind of behaviour in the future. 

It’s a hypothetical situation that encapsulates the importance of an employee retention template for managers. 

The benefits of employee recognition

💪 Elevate motivation.

💡 Improve engagement.

📈 Enhance productivity. 

💼 Reduce turnover.

🙌 Reinforce company culture.

🤩 Attract talent.

🎉 Raise morale.

💰 Boost your bottom line.

🧘 Improve worker wellbeing 

😶‍🌫️ Reduce absenteeism 

recognition template for appreciating employees

The Benefits Of An Employee Recognition Template

So what are some of the benefits of using an employee recognition template? We’ve already looked at how they impact employees, but for companies, there are also a number of ways employee recognition templates can help. 

Standardize recognition 

An employee recognition template is a central resource that all managers have access to. It’s a tool that means that no matter who the appreciation comes from, your employees are recognized in a consistent way. This means that everyone is pulling in the same direction when it comes to employee recognition and that employees at every level of your organization can enjoy the same experience. 

Ensure recognition is impactful 

Not all managers are the same. Some may be great motivators, while others are experts at processes or dealing with clients. The point is that recognition isn’t everyone’s strong suit. So to guarantee that your appreciation is effective you need to give your leaders the resources they need to do it right. Employee recognition templates are a great tool for this as they enable managers to personalize their approach while still ensuring that the overall message will be effective.

Save time

If you’re writing dozens, even hundreds of appreciation posts every week, it can quickly add up to a lot of time. Especially if written communication isn’t your strong suit. But by having a library of impactful employee recognition templates, you can cut down on some of the heavy lifting – enabling your managers to effectively appreciate employees without it impacting their own workload.

Reinforce company culture and values

The very best employee recognition programs tie their efforts to company values and cultures. By doing this they’re able to reinforce the kind of behaviours and interactions that they want from their employees. Because it has been centrally written with the input of HR teams and senior leaders, an employee recognition template will ensure that the messaging your managers are sharing with workers is on brand and reflects the company culture you are working to build. 

writing recognition with a template

How To Write An Employee Recognition Template 

Hopefully, you now understand why employee recognition is so important and how an employee recognition template can unlock the power of appreciation. 

Now it’s time to try and put one together. 

Don’t worry if you’re not a gifted wordsmith, you don’t need to be Shakespeare to create an effective employee recognition template. Instead, by following a few simple guidelines you can create employee recognition templates that are thoughtful, effective and above all, genuine. 

1. Make it personal

No one wants to be greeted with a generic greeting, so “Dear Sir / Madam” is a definite no-no. Start your employee recognition template with an informal greeting, addressing the employee by name to create a personal connection right off the bat. 

2. Be specific

Make room on your employee recognition template for specificity. By clearly identifying what you’re recognizing you add weight to your appreciation efforts and help employees to understand exactly what they’ve done right. 

3. Make it genuine

There is no room on an employee recognition template for corporate jargon or official-sounding language. Your appreciation should be warm and genuine so use real, heartfelt language to convey it. By conveying your gratitude with honest, approachable and emotional words you can help to show employees just how important it is to you. 

4. Share the bigger picture 

Your employee doesn’t just want to be another cog in a machine, they want their work to mean something. Purpose is crucial in the modern workplace and your employee recognition template provides you with a great opportunity to remind your people why they come to work every day. Make space on your employee recognition template to connect the dots between your worker’s actions and the impact they had on the business. This will help them to see the bigger picture and make your appreciation even more impactful. 

5. Connect it to your company culture

If your company has specific values, a mission statement, or a particular culture that it’s trying to build – make sure that is reflected and reinforced in your employee recognition template.

6. Make it positive

This is a celebration. It should be uplifting, engaging and exciting. You want your people to be proud of the recognition they receive so make sure to show them why it’s such a big deal. Positive, energetic and active language can help to convey this to the reader, ensuring your employee recognition template inspires them. 

7. Keep it concise

Recognition is vitally important, but no one wants to read an essay of appreciation, especially if they’re busy. So make sure your employee recognition template is as concise as possible. 

8. End it on a high

One of the key things your employee recognition template is aiming to achieve is to motivate your people. You want your appreciation to inspire them to go out and impress you again. So make sure you end your message on a high. 

I have always believed that the way you treat your employees is the way they will treat your customers, and that people flourish when they are praised.

– Sir Richard Branson

using an employee recognition template

4 Employee Recognition Templates For You To Use 

Now that you have some idea of what an effective employee recognition template looks like we want to take things a step further. Outlined below you’ll find four examples of employee recognition templates, each designed to tackle a different kind of appreciation. 

These are good examples to help you understand best practice, or to provide a starting point for your own employee recognition template. 

Employee Milestone 

When your employees reach a professional milestone, it’s a great opportunity to recognize them. This can help to acknowledge their hard work and remind people how much their accomplishments mean to your organization. 

You can write an employee recognition template to appreciate milestones like: 

  • Work anniversaries. 
  • Completing a big project.
  • Finishing a training course. 
  • Achieving a qualification.
  • Receiving a promotion. 

Milestone employee recognition template: 

Dear [Employee’s Name], 

I can’t believe how fast time flies!

Congratulations on [number of years] of dedication. 

Since your very first day you’ve been an asset to [company name] and we’re proud to call you our colleague. Your hard work, commitment and professionalism over the past [number of years] years has played a crucial role in our growth and success.  

As we share this special milestone I just wanted to take an opportunity to personally thank you for your contribution. On behalf of myself, the management and everyone here at [company name] I wanted to tell you how much we appreciate your efforts.

Thank you for your outstanding service and here’s to many more years to come. 

All the best, 

[Your name]

[Your title]

Exceptional Performance 

Exceptional performance is one of the best reasons to recognize your employees. By appreciating their efforts you can not only show them how much you appreciate their hard work but hold them up as examples for their peers to aspire to. 

Some examples of when you might use an employee recognition template for high performance include: 

  • Regularly exceeding performance metrics.
  • Receiving praise from a customer review or rating. 
  • Embodying the company culture. 

Exceptional performance employee recognition template:

Hi [employee name]

Well done on an exceptional job. Your efforts to [detail reason for recognition] are nothing short of inspirational.

You’re a rock star and everyone in the team recognizes the invaluable contribution you make to our organization.

We can never thank you enough for your outstanding contribution but hopefully this gift card will go a small way to showing you how much your efforts are appreciated. 

I look forward to seeing you so I can thank you in person! 

[Your name]

[Your title]

using a template to make employees feel appreciated

Going above and beyond

When your employees exceed expectations, it’s a great time to show them that their efforts are appreciated. Whether they’ve worked hard, adopted an innovative approach or developed new systems and work structures – this kind of initiative is something that you want to recognize. 

Some examples of when an an employee recognition template to appreciate an employee going above and beyond include: 

  • Exceeding targets.
  • Developing a new idea, concept, or process. 
  • Receiving excellent feedback from clients, customers or colleagues. 
  • Staying late, or putting in extra hours to achieve a difficult deadline. 

Going above and beyond employee recognition template:

Dear [employee name],

I just wanted to take this opportunity to recognize your exceptional efforts, going above and beyond all expectations for [reason for recognition]. 

We all appreciate your initiative, effort and dedication. It’s something that’s crucial to our company and appreciated at every level from your colleagues to the CEO. 

Your hard work hasn’t gone unnoticed and inspires all of us to be the best we can be.

Thank you for going above and beyond. On behalf of myself and everybody at [company name] I wanted to give you this small token of our appreciation to thank you for your efforts. 

Warm regards,

[Your name]

[Your title]

Team Collaboration

We all want teams that pull together to become greater than the sum of their parts. Not only is it good for business it’s also the building blocks of a great corporate culture. An employee recognition template can be useful to show your appreciation when your people demonstrate the kind of teamwork you want to encourage. 

You can write an employee recognition template to appreciate team collaboration like: 

  • Helping a colleague to get through a heavy workload.
  • Leading the way to improve communication and collaboration.
  • Breaking down silos within your organization. 
  • Being a good teammate and supporting peers and colleagues. 
  • Having a positive attitude or demonstrating the behaviours that your organization values. 

Team collaboration employee recognition template: 

Dear [employee name],

I’m thrilled to be writing this note to say “thank you” for being such a great team player. 

At [company name] we value teamwork and collaboration. Pulling together to work towards the same goal is a vital part of why we do what we do. Your efforts to [reference reason for recognition] are a prime example of what we represent at our best. 

Your continued effort to be a great colleague is truly appreciated by the entire team. Thank you for setting the standard to which we can all aspire. 

All the best,

[Your name]

[Your title]

employee recognition template

Best Practices For Employee Recognition 

Now that you’re equipped with a working knowledge of employee appreciation, its importance and advice on how to write your own employee recognition template – it’s time to put what you’ve learned into action. 

But before you get underway, it’s important to consider some best practices you can follow to make your employee recognition efforts 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

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

In this guide we’ve focused on how managers can effectively appreciate their employees. But what if, alongside your own efforts, you could ensure your employees recognized each other? 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. 

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 recognizing 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.

making recognition meaningful with templates


What is an employee recognition template? 

An employee recognition template is a document that standardizes your approach to employee appreciation, ensuring it is consistent and effective. 

Why do managers need an employee recognition template? 

Not all managers have the time or skillset to effectively appreciate their employees. An employee recognition template gives them the tools they need to make your organization’s efforts more impactful. 

How can an employee recognition template help an organization? 

A well-honed employee recognition template helps to standardize appreciation, ensure it is impactful, save managers time and help to keep your efforts consistent with your values and culture. 

How can employee recognition impact an organization? 

Employee recognition has a number of benefits including improved retention, employee engagement, productivity, wellbeing and motivation. It can also reduce turnover and absenteeism. 

The Bottom Line…

Recognition is vital not only for your employees but for your organization. 

You can unlock a whole host of benefits if you get your employee recognition right, and for many it’s the secret sauce behind their success as an employer.

However, making sure that your employee recognition is effective is easier said than done. In fact, it’s very easy to get it wrong. If you do the results can be disastrous, having the exact opposite effect that you set out to achieve. But by using an employee recognition template you can guarantee that your appreciation is impactful, helping you to unlock the benefits of this powerful tool. 

Of course, this is just one small part of a much bigger picture. If you want to truly unlock the power of employee recognition for your organization then it should be part of a wider mix that includes gifting, peer-to-peer programs and employee recognition and rewards platforms.  

But whatever approach you take, an employee recognition template will always be a key part of the mix and a key component of your appreciation efforts. 

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