There seem to be no shortages of themed ‘days’, but after the past year and a half we’ve had, I think the recent World Gratitude Day definitely has to be one of the good ones. We are more frequently taught to be grateful for everything we have instead of focusing on what we are lacking. But how nice is it when someone recognises you as someone they are particularly grateful for? Recognition has massive benefits.

What is employee recognition?

Employee recognition can be either formal or informal, but most importantly, it is the timely acknowledgement of a person’s behaviour or performance towards business goals and values, often above and beyond normal expectations.

According to Investors In People, implementing an employee recognition scheme can increase engagement, improve interpersonal dynamics, positively influence behavioural expectations and better align employee experience with business goals. However, employee recognition will only achieve such positive outcomes if carried out in a consistent and structured way.

How to identify where recognition is due

It can be tricky to identify who is performing over and above expectations if employees don’t have clearly defined objectives and goals to measure their performance against. Using a performance management system can help identify how each of your team members are progressing towards their own goals and contributing towards the overall business vision.

Our simple system combines OKRs (Objectives and Key Results) with our award-winning 1-3-5® business planning methodology to help CEOs cascade their business vision, objectives and goals throughout the entire business. Consequently, all teams and individuals have a clear and consistent plan of action and fully understand what is expected of them within a specific timeframe. Employees log their performance as they work through their tasks and milestones daily, providing full visibility of progress in real-time to their managers and peers. This allows employees to prioritise their work and focus their efforts in the right direction every single day. Find out more about this award-winning 1-3-5® planning methodology.

Such strategic execution and performance monitoring is assessed on outcomes, supporting an agile way of working where employees have more choice over their location and hours of work required to get the work done to the best of their ability.

The transparency of progress and achievements that you get from having well-cascaded OKRs communicates priorities and company values effectively whilst emphasising work ethics and inspiring employees to succeed. Working from a well-established plan avoids employees simply focusing their efforts in the wrong areas, choosing to focus on busyness instead of business.

How to give employee recognition

Once an employee has been identified as a high performer or has achieved a certain stretch goal, it’s important that this effort is recognised in a timely manner.

There are different types of recognition to consider, as follows:

Public Recognition - communicated to the whole company in the form of a business-wide newsletter, social media post or through any internal software systems

Private Recognition - communicated to the person directly via their 121 or a personal video message

Promotional Recognition - the employee in question could be given more responsibilities and an opportunity to step up, working on more high-profile projects.

Specific Reward-based Recognition - the employee could be offered some specific training to help them advance further or could be given a pay increase or an extra holiday day.

It’s worth considering what constitutes these recognition types to ensure you have a consistent framework and avoid any subconscious favouritism in the workplace. Some companies I work with have launched internal awards that align specifically with the company values and can therefore be won by those who demonstrate outstanding performance that supports one of those values. You could use a company like Perkbox to reward employees for their high performance and allow them to choose their reward from a range of options.

Whilst research carried out within the National Employee Research Survey revealed that 90% of employees feel recognition is important at work, a similar study carried out by Each Person identified that 48% of employees say a simple ‘thank you’ would suffice.

Peer to peer recognition

Having increased visibility of each team and individual objectives and goals (key results) allows peers to realise the work that someone is putting in, which can often act as a good influence on others. Sometimes people think recognition is given to those who are favoured or highly regarded with the ‘in crowd’, but once work achievements are openly communicated in the form of completed OKRs or completed goals within their 1-3-5® plan, people can then see for themselves and really understand why recognition has been given.

Long term effects of employee recognition

It’s no secret that employee recognition can have massive benefits if implemented correctly and consistently applied across all teams and levels of a business. Considerably increasing engagement, motivation, strengthening company values, encouraging trust, helping retain top talent, fully supporting high performance and creating a culture of personal development will always be hugely beneficial for any business.

It’s always better to be on the receiving end of recognition than any conversation about underperformance. No one wants to have those difficult conversations tackling such challenges (although if you do have to have them, check out our blog on Effective Performance Management - 4 steps to managing an underperforming team member).

If you are considering implementing OKRs in your business, check out our blog containing OKR examples to help you get started.

For more information on anything mentioned in this blog or to find out more about our 1-3-5® OKR software and expertise, please get in touch by emailing