Employee recognition. If you’re a manager, it’s an important part of your job.

Like many managers, you are probably busy with a million other things. Giving recognition to your employees can often fall to the bottom of your to-do list.

Suppose your company uses a recognition tool or software. In that case, this sense of obligation to offer recognition may be even greater because you know this initiative is important to your company.

You want to get involved and use the recognition platform more often, but you're unsure where to start. You have a lot of hesitation over questions like:

  • What should I say or write?
  • How often should I be giving recognition? 
  • What actions warrant recognition?
  • Will others feel left out?

Giving effective recognition is easy

It doesn't have to be this difficult!

You CAN give authentic, sincere recognition on a digital platform!

In this article, we'll help you with some concrete, actionable tips that will help you offer effective recognition using digital recognition tools or software like Applauz.

As a result, your employees will feel like your recognition is meaningful. Positive feelings will start flowing, and naturally, total involvement in the program will increase. Ultimately making both your employees and your HR team very happy.

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6 Simple Tips to Give Effective Recognition Using Recognition Software

Tip 1: Recognize your employees at least once per month

Dr. Paul White, the author of the book The Vibrant Workplace, is the employee recognition expert. If anyone understands exactly what makes for sincere, authentic recognition, it’s him. 

White’s best advice for managers is to make employee recognition a regular part of your life at work. Giving recognition regularly makes praise more sincere to your employees, rather than something you only do every so often as part of your managerial duties. 

You should make recognition a regular part of your work because it will make your recognition feel more sincere, but also because recognition is a bit of a double-edged sword.

Allow us to explain.

Sincere recognition is a powerful tool to boost employee happiness and motivation. However, the effects of recognition on an employee's mood and sentiment are short-lived. 

Think about it like this: you couldn’t expect to build a strong relationship because you planned a thoughtful birthday celebration for your spouse only one time. Strong relationships are cultivated with small but continuous positive habits, like expressing your appreciation and gratitude for each other regularly.

Similarly, for employee recognition to have a lasting effect, it needs to be continuous.

So how often should you be recognizing employees? Once per month seems to be the sweet spot to maintain engagement.

One particular study found that employees who are recognized at least once per month are 50% more engaged.

Giving monthly recognition may seem like a lot at first. But giving recognition on a digital platform only takes a few minutes. There’s no need to write a novel. Just a few words will mean a lot to a hard-working employee.

Tip 2: Use the platform for support and encouragement

Giving monthly recognition should be your goal. 

Now, I know what you're thinking: "My team isn't delivering recognition-worthy assignments once per month."

This may be true. Suppose you're working on a quarter-by-quarter basis. In that case, your employees might only be achieving large assignments by the end of each quarter.

This begs the question: What should you recognize employees for in between those big accomplishments. 

A good place to start is to remember not to limit yourself to giving performance-based recognition. In short, there are many reasons to give employees a shout-out. 

The beauty of a digital recognition tool is that you can use it to share spontaneous words of appreciation that go beyond talking about work.

For example:

  • You can say something nice. Yes, it's that easy! For instance, share something nice about an employee's character, like their sense of humour or curiosity, that makes them a great teammate.
  • Highlight an employee's accomplishments like running a marathon, a new baby, or buying a house.
  • Show support for an employee taking extra educational and learning efforts. (e.g. completing courses, training, or certifications)
  • Show support for employees who have great ideas or take on extra initiatives.
  • Recognize cooperation and teamwork.

Remember, with a recognition platform, you can be more casual and informal. In other words, it doesn't always have to be about a big work achievement. So be sure not to limit yourself to "formal" recognition and show general support and encouragement for your team as well!

Tip 3: Vary the number of Points you award employees

Many recognition software work with a Points system. If you’re using a Points system as part of your recognition program, make sure you are maximizing their impact.

To illustrate, imagine these scenarios:

  • Always receiving the same card and 50$ for your birthday.
  • Always receiving the same 3% raise at your yearly evaluation.

At first, the 3% raise or the 50$ might be nice. Yet, after receiving the same thing over and over, the gesture will surely start to feel lacklustre and lose meaning. 

There are a few reasons for this:

  • Variety is very engaging: Unexpected rewards grab our attention. While getting the same reward, at the same time, can feel, well, quite boring. That's why slot machines are designed to vary their payout. But this facet of the human mind can be used to your advantage in giving recognition! Varying the number of points you give makes your recognition not only more sincere (as it reflects the employee’s effort) but it will make the program more fun and engaging for your employees.

  • Points should reflect the employee's effort: A raise should reflect an employee's performance. To that end, the number of Points you award should reflect the value of the action you are recognizing. For example, you can recognize a small task with 25 points and a big accomplishment with 200 points. Doing this will make recognition more meaningful as it will be a true reflection of the employee's effort. As a result, your recognition will carry more weight and elicit more positive feelings.

Points systems are a great way to create a fun and exciting recognition program. Points give recognition more weight and create more meaning for both the giver and the receiver. So if you are using Points, make sure the Points you award match the value of the action you are recognizing. 

Tip 4: Follow PEP guidelines

Oftentimes, dragging your feet on giving recognition really boils down to one thing: not being sure what to say or write.

In other words, you don’t feel inspired, and the words are simply not coming to you. 

As a result, you stick to giving safe yet generic-sounding recognition, like saying “great job on X.” 

Obviously, giving some recognition is better than none.

But if you never make an effort to personalize your recognition, it will start to feel empty and inauthentic pretty fast. At best, your employees will feel happy to hear something. At worst, it will make them feel cynical and disengaged.

A simple solution is to always remember the acronym PEP: when giving recognition. We wrote an entire article on how to give more powerful recognition you can refer to here

To sum it up in a few words, PEP stand for personal, earned and process:

  • Personal: This means recognition should include words that highlight someone's unique character, personality, or skills. It also can mean recognizing the qualities you admire about them.

  • Earned: Recognition should be based on merit. Avoid giving recognition just to go through the motions.

  • Process: Ask yourself what this person did differently in the process. What was their unique contribution? What knowledge or skill did they apply?

With this simple framework, you can focus on saying the right things, and you'll be sure to give great recognition that makes employees feel valued and more engaged as a result.

Tip 5: Private vs. public praise

Most recognition tools offer the option of private or public praise. It’s a valuable tool for a purpose, as some employees might not feel comfortable receiving praise publicly.

If your team is smaller, you might already be aware of who those people are. Otherwise, you might want to consider asking people if they feel comfortable with public praise.

As a rule of thumb, most individuals do like public praise on a company’s social feed. Because it feels good to have their peers contribute to the positive feedback by liking or commenting on the post.

However, a smaller portion of people may not enjoy public recognition. Suppose you neglect to spot these people, and you give them public recognition anyways. In that case, your praise may be less effective, as the employee may feel misunderstood. It's always a good idea to quickly check in with your team before you start giving public shout-outs.

Tip 6: Inject personality and humour with images or videos

Giving recognition on a recognition software or platform is not supposed to be formal. This is not a yearly evaluation you are handing back to HR. 

A recognition platform is meant to be a social space for coworkers to share stories and support each other. 

To that end, giving effective recognition means adding a little personality to your message. You can add images, GIFs, or emojis. You can even record a video and upload it to the feed for a special occasion. That would mean a lot to a hard-working employee.

Final Thoughts

Recognition software is becoming more common, especially in this work-from-home era. If your company does not have a digital recognition system, chances are they will adopt one within the next few years.

That said, for managers new to giving recognition via a digital platform, it might feel strange at first. Perhaps a bit unnatural. But with these simple tips, you can learn to increase the frequency of recognition without compromising on the quality.

Remember, recognition does not have to be pages long to have an impact. Just a short, personalized message, at least once a month, is all it takes.

Michelle Cadieux
Michelle Cadieux

Michelle is the lead content writer at Applauz. She has a Psychology background and loves to read and write about human happiness, motivation and decision-making. She loves scary movies and cooking classic Italian food.

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