Retention through Recognition: How to express genuine appreciation for your employees

Amrita Bhogal

Retention strategies are important to evaluate in your organization. A pillar of retention is recognition. There are many forms of recognition, but the successful and meaningful delivery of it is the most important part in ensuring that it’s don’t correctly. Creating a program is the first step.

When was the last time you were recognized in your organization? Was it authentic and meaningful and did you feel it was provided in a way you would like to receive it? Is this only an annual occurrence during your performance review? These are important factors to consider when creating a recognition program.

We always remember to shine a light on professional milestones, however a holistic approach to recognition is to address personal milestones as well. You want to view your employees as a whole. The program should be built on diversity, inclusion, and equity to ensure recognition is fairly given and received among the organization.

The foundations of a successful program can be built on the following attributes:

  1. Equality – recognition given fairly among the team and in a timely manner
  2. Meaningful – be authentic in your delivery and ensure it is impactful
  3. Personalized – listen to your team and how they want to be recognized

The recognition program can be tied to monetary rewards and therefore building a budget for the program could be useful. However, let’s explore cost-effective or free strategies to get started.


Step 1: Identify what events receive a formal appreciation   

There are numerous ways in which recognition can be given and the following can help you identify which events make sense for your organizational culture.


Life milestonesProfessional milestones
·         Birthdays

·         Weddings

·         Growing family


·         Work anniversary

·         Acknowledging       accomplishments

·         Promotions

·         Giving credit for ideas



Step 2: How to deliver recognition in a meaningful way 

A great place to start is verbal messaging. Review your verbal phrases such as, “good job,” we hear this one a lot and as much as it gets the point across, let’s add more authenticity and impactful meaning that really connects to the reason you are providing such appreciation.

“Recognition is a reward in itself. Any form of appreciation, even a small word, is important.”

Actor, Vikrant Massey


Some examples can be:

  • Great work on _________
  • Your idea was spot on, let’s further discuss it
  • Thank you for _________

Other ways recognition can be delivered:

  • Emailing your expressed gratitude
  • Forwarding external recognition to your employee
  • Creating certificates or acknowledgement letters signed by manager or CEO
  • Mailing out handwritten cards
  • Inviting employees to share a meal with you or going out to lunch
  • Identifying staff in a newsletter or social media
  • Acknowledgement staff in a group setting
  • Giving out gift cards or other monetary bonuses


A great way to understand your team is to inquire via a survey about how they like to be recognized. This can help you accumulate additional ideas.


Step 3 Train your leadership team  

Once you have completed your recognition program, train your leadership team to help them understand what the purpose is and why this program is vital to implement for the organization. As your leadership team executes this program, the results will naturally show over time and if you’re looking for data, then a survey to your company can also share how the program is doing. Moreover, an annual audit of the program can further help pinpoint any strengths or gaps to review.

And the best advice is to just start no matter how small or big the program is.

“Motivating employees to work at their full potential is the main premise of successful management.” – Author, Eraldo Banovac

Amrita Bhogal is the 3rd generation at Sunrise Kitchens, with a focus on People and Culture. She is leading change through lean principles and continues to strengthen culture through values and behaviors. She inspires to mentor individuals and provide them tools to achieve a growth mindset. Amrita is engaged with her industry as the Vice President of the Canadian Kitchen Cabinet Association and a member of board of directors with Surrey Board of Trade. For her innovation, Amrita received the Wood Manufacturing Council’s Innovation in Human Resources Award in 2020. Her future involves an executive business coaching certificate to support other businesses in their organizational culture journey’s.

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