In the last article about establishing a carrot culture in the workplace, providing adequate and effective recognition of your employees was revealed as a key aspect. If you think an annual employee appreciation day is enough, then you’ve got you work cut out for you. In their book The Carrot Principle: How the Best Managers Use Recognition to Engage Their People, Retain Talent, and Accelerate Performance, Gostick and Elton note how there are four different kinds of recognition to activate. You’ll find them listed below, along with tips and tactics for making the most of them.


Employee Recognition

Employee Recognition

Day-to-day recognition. These include all those small, frequent, yet highly impactful ways you can show how much you appreciate each employee’s contributions to your organization. Try these on for size:

  1. Off-the-cuff comment: “By the way, thanks for what you did to [insert specifics]. That’s just the kind of thing I look for from my best employees, and you delivered. Thanks!”
  2. Pat on the back: If you want to add an even more impactful delivery of an ad hoc comment, combine it with an appropriate physical touch. This could literally be a pat on the back, a handshake, or a light squeeze-of-the-arm kind of gesture.
  3. Thank you note: In a digital world, thank you notes are becoming an endangered species. But if you take the time to write a simple thank you card to recognize an employee for a job well done, don’t be surprised if you see it pinned above their desk for months.


Above-and-beyond recognition. Hopefully you have at least a few employees who go the extra mile in delivering the results you need. In this case, your approach to recognition should be a little more formal and celebratory. Try some of the following:

  1. Flexible hours: Nothing shows an employee how valued they are as giving them the flexibility to set their own schedule. It can be a real game-changer for some employees, but do keep an eye in productivity to make sure the change is in the right direction!
  2. Reserved parking: When people really go over and above the call of duty, reward them with their own reserved parking space. Sounds old-school, but it’s one every commuter appreciates.
  3. Paid day off: Everyone loves a day off, and even more so when they get to choose the day and still get paid for it.


Career recognition. Does your organization recognize employees for how long they’ve been with you? For too many companies, this is an underutilized chance to show your appreciation to the ones who have stuck with you through thick and thin. Here are some ways to do this:

  1. Certificate/pin: Lots of companies hand out certificates of some kind or another to recognize years of service, but upping the style goes a long ways. Print the certificate on stylish paper and have it framed, and create a nice company lapel pin marking the anniversary as well.
  2. Drive in style: When an employee reaches a significant milestone, rent a fancy car for a week and let them drive it. They’ll love you forever.
  3. Free class pass: Offer to pay for a class of the employee’s choosing at whatever institution of higher education they want.


Celebration events. There are all kinds of milestones that can be celebrated, whether by team, project, or organization-wide. Here’s how you can make it happen:

  1. Pizza party: Once again this sounds more like something you would have done back in grade school, but there’s no getting around it – everyone loves pizza, and rewarding people in this way makes them feel great.
  2. Summer barbecue: This one is more effective if you don’t already have a big company-wide summertime event. Include families and games to make it fun.
  3. Company dance: You’d be surprised how many of your employees would love the chance to cut a rug with their peers. Hire a great band and throw a party, whether on-site or off.


As you can see, the sky’s the limit on ways to recognize your employees and make them feel like they are valued members of your company’s team. Yes, doing this right does require both effort and resources, but the impact it can have on overall morale will pay you back many times over.

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