Employee Recognition: Are You Really Seeing Your Employees?

The Great Resignation (or Great Reprioritization) and the suffering and after-effects of the Covid-19 global pandemic impacted both workplaces and employees’ lives. People reevaluated their jobs and choices—and one of the conclusions is increasingly people are looking to feel valued in the workplace. 

However, according to a Deloitte survey, one-third of employees say they do not feel valued at work. Are you truly “seeing” your employees and individuals and recognizing what they bring to your organization? Engaged employees and valued employees are more productive—and less likely to look elsewhere for a new job. 

I’ll give you an example of what doesn’t work. Too many companies utilize the “Employee of the Month” concept—and frankly, it’s a lousy approach. This concept has been around for decades—and it’s time to retire it. First of all, it recognizes only one person—but we all know that very often whole teams are responsible for successes in the workplace. It’s also not terribly exciting as far as recognition goes—it is a by-the-numbers approach. In addition, if an employee is passed over who works harder and does much more than the person who is recognized, that is demotivating. 

Recognition is not one-size-fits-all. It needs to be done by truly recognizing employees as individuals and offering incentives and rewards that suit them.

I will give a personal example. I had an employee who came through in the clutch on a major project. She worked eighty-five hour workweeks for a month or more to pull it off. This project occurred leading into the spring break time of year. I gave this employee a bonus for an all-expenses-paid vacation to Cancun for her and her husband.

But recognition does not need to be expensive—it just needs to reflect how you value your people. IPC also offers something called Kudos. It isn’t an idea I came up with—but resulted from team-building exercises with the whole company.

Kudos are employ recognition of things that are not in your job description. We ask the whole company via email if there is anyone they want to recognize along with a little story about what fantastic thing they did that was above and beyond so we can acknowledge them and say think you. The reason it works is it is real. It is not corporate. The individual who submitted the kudos is the one who shares the story with the group.

The point of these stories is you don’t have to send someone on a fancy vacation as a gesture of thanks. For one employee, it could be a gift card for dinner. For someone else, it might be a quiet word of sincere appreciation. Wellness days, extra days off, a paid “volunteer day,” luncheons or hosted picnics and events for employees and their families, tickets to sports and theatre events, the ideas for recognition are only limited by your imagination.

But they must be personal. Your people are the lifeblood of any organization. As we all crave connection and satisfaction in our lives, it’s time to abandon old ways of workplace recognition and instead offer deeper engagement so employees know: I am valued by my company.


1 Colleen Bordeaux et al., “What Is Belonging in the Workplace,” Deloitte.com, November 23, 2021, accessed June 14, 2023, https://www2.deloitte.com/us/en/blog/human-capital-blog/2021/what-is-belonging-in-the-workplace.html.