Susan Snipes

Business Owner. Author. Purveyor of HR Business Solutions. Compliance Consultant Extraordinaire. Mother, Wife and Schnoodle Enthusiast.

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We all know how much your team values positive employee feedback and recognition for their work. While you might think that your employees dread receiving constructive feedback, there are some surprising statistics that say otherwise. According to research compiled by Zippia,

60% of employees reported wanting feedback on a daily or weekly basis [and] 80% of employees want feedback at the moment rather than receiving aggregated feedback in an annual or bi-annual review.


28% of employees receive meaningful feedback at least once a week. Another 28% receive feedback a few times a year and 19% receive feedback once a year or less.

Why do we fear these much-needed conversations, and why don’t we give them the priority they deserve?

As an HR consulting professional, I regularly mediate disagreements and coach managers on how to deliver difficult news. So I can tell you from personal experience: it doesn’t matter how many tough conversations you’ve had, giving constructive employee feedback is hard.

I’ve managed all kinds of hard conversations, from company closures and terminations to performance improvement plans, but sometimes, they cover topics as simple as personality clashes and misunderstandings. In this article, I’ll share the insights I’ve gained through years of coaching.

Conflict can be a good thing

Per Merriam-Webster, conflict can be defined as "a mental struggle resulting from incompatible or opposing needs, drives, wishes or external or internal demands.”

…and it can also present a wonderful opportunity! Overcoming conflict helps us grow, learn, and change for the better. We need conflict in order to become our best selves, even in the workplace. Conflict has many purposes at work, and when it’s handled appropriately, conflict can strengthen interpersonal relationships within teams.


Improves employee and manager performance

Conflict is often caused by unmet expectations and other misunderstandings stemming from ineffective communication. Addressing conflict in appropriate ways helps people know, meet, and exceed expectations.

It’s amazing how well we can perform once we understand what is expected of us. Setting clear and realistic expectations for our coworkers, direct reports and managers sets us all up for success.

Improves relationships

Disagreements, handled with the proper care, can actually bring people closer together. Opening up to coworkers about a concern shows vulnerability, trust, and transparency.

Giving employees feedback shows that we care enough about them to help steer them in the right direction. It also establishes healthy, needed boundaries and limits on behaviors we are willing to accept. You and your team members can learn more about one another and come to a deeper understanding through healthy conflict resolution.


Giving and receiving feedback in the workplace: know your audience

It’s critically important that you understand how the person on the receiving end of your feedback will react and respond to you. Depending on your respective communication styles, the feedback may need to be delivered in a modified way.

Many assessments exist to help us identify our communication styles. DISC and Myers-Briggs are two of the most widely recognized assessments, but there are also other similar tests out there, some of which are free. By having your whole team take a communication style assessment, you can better understand how to interact with each other and how to best provide feedback. Plus, it can be a fun team bonding activity. 💖

Most of these assessments break communication styles into four main categories. The names for the categories differ slightly from test to test, but they tend to share similar traits across the board.

The authors of the book How to Deal with Annoying People: What to Do When You Can’t Avoid Them do a particularly thorough job of explaining these categories and what they mean for providing effective feedback.

For simplicity, these are the communication styles I'll cover:

  • Driver
  • Expressive
  • Analytical
  • Amiable

Let's dive into each of these personality types, their strengths and weaknesses, and how to best approach giving them feedback.


Be sure to check out our employee feedback examples article for more inspiration!


People with an analytical communication style respect competence and expect accuracy from others. They care about the details, even seemingly irrelevant ones, and they expect you to as well. They cross their Ts and dot their Is, and their attention often pays off in the quality of their work.

However, their standards can be too high or unrealistic. They often suffer from “paralysis by analysis” and have trouble making decisions and starting projects. Analyticals tend to prefer the analyzing and planning phase over performing the actual work, and they often take a long time ultimately declare a project complete.

It’d make an analytical person very uncomfortable if you try to pressure them into making a rushed decision without providing supporting evidence as to why your idea is a good one. This, of course, can come across as highly offensive to Amiables and Expressives who value relationships and make decisions based on emotion. It also annoys Drivers who just want to check the item off their list and move on.

When giving feedback to an Analytical, make sure you support whatever you’re saying with documented evidence and specific examples. Do not expect an Analytical to change behaviors simply because what they’re doing makes you unhappy or uncomfortable. Analyticals understand their own working styles best and can see your suggestions as a roadblock. Instead, focus on how what they’re doing fails to meet established expectations, and provide the specific criteria for that expectation. Support observations with facts and figures whenever possible. 📊

Employee feedback example for an Analytical:

“In our review of your formal job description, we discussed the requirement to communicate effectively with other staff. In your recent peer review, 25% of your peers reported that your criticisms of their work made them less engaged and productive and even resulted in them making worse mistakes. When asked how you could improve your approach, they all reported that privately asking them for clarification when you have a question about their work would be the best approach. Moving forward, let’s follow this approach and not directly point out your coworkers’ mistakes, especially in front of other people.”


Drivers are dynamic, goal-oriented individuals who are often found in leadership positions. They are highly productive, strong-willed, and exude confidence, but they can also make rash, impulsive decisions.

Drivers prefer to delegate work, particularly if they find it tedious. They hate getting bogged down with details and instead prefer to receive a high-level overview. Someone who is a Driver may be perceived as bossy, manipulative, rude, or short-sighted. This communication style particularly affronts Analyticals, who dislike recklessness, and Amiables, who don’t enjoy being pushed to do things.

If you need to provide feedback to a Driver, follow this simple directive: Be quick, be smart, be gone! Say what you need to see happen, provide a brief but meaningful reason for why they should adjust, and then let them get on with their day.

Employee feedback example for a Driver:

“I’ve noticed several typos on the last three client proposals you submitted. I need you to slow down and double check your work before submitting it. Your performance review will be more favorable, and you’ll be eligible for a bigger bonus percentage, if you turn this around right now and I see very few mistakes moving forward.”


If you have a coworker who is easy-going, good-natured, and supportive, you work with an Amiable. Amiables don’t like to rock the boat and are generally content with their day-to-day routines. They perform well under pressure and are often seen as stabilizing forces on teams. Although you might love working with an Amiable teammate, if you’re any other communication style, the Amiable probably finds you to be difficult to work with. 😝

One of the most important things to remember when providing feedback to someone with an amiable communication style is that they are typically emotionally sensitive. They are the most likely to take feedback personally and see it as a personal failure. It’s important to take extra steps when providing feedback to Amiables to avoid them feeling hurt or offended.

Showing that you care about their personal growth and are providing feedback to help them be successful is the most productive way to give Amiables feedback. They are collaborative personalities, so suggest check-ins as they work on solutions to their problems.

Employee feedback example for an Amiable:

“Thanks so much for meeting with me. I have enjoyed working with you these past few months, and I am so glad we are able to connect. Since I envision you becoming one of our strongest support reps, I want to make sure you’re equipped with the tools to get there. Currently, the time it takes you to close out an open ticket is averaging 5-hours longer than the goal we established. We need to fulfill our commitment to customers to completely resolve their issues in 24 hours or less. If you follow the SOPs that I shared with you step-by-step, every time, I am confident that you will achieve this goal.”


Expressives are everything their name implies. They love to talk and tell stories, and they have tons of energy. Expressives are creative and inspirational, so they make great public speakers.

Their spontaneity and regular shift in focus, however, often result in poor planning, and they are often late to meetings. While Expressives always seem happy, they can be perceived as being “fake”. They also annoy others by not letting them get a word in edgewise. Drivers particularly dislike being held captive by long-winded, meandering Expressives, and their energy levels can completely exhaust Analyticals and Amiables.

Because Expressives need to feel heard, it’s important to include questions in your feedback to allow them to tell you what they think their opportunities for improvement are. It’s also important to not let them go off on a tangent or change the subject, so you may need to redirect them back to the issue at hand at least once.

Employee feedback example for an Expressive:

“Thanks for meeting with me! I wanted to hear from you on how you’ve been doing and what areas for improvement you’ve identified. (...) Great, thanks for sharing that with me. I agree that you could focus more on closing sales. What can I do to best support you with this? (...) I can do that. What can I expect to see from you moving forward? (...) Great! Thanks so much for discussing this with me.

Tips for effectively giving employees feedback

In his world-renowned book How to Win Friends and Influence People, Dale Carnegie explains how to give constructive criticism without alienating people. While his model certainly keeps the likeability of the person giving feedback intact, it has a few major drawbacks:

  • It’s not direct enough to effectively address the issues for Drivers.
  • It’s not specific enough to address issues with Analyticals.
  • Anyone, regardless of their communication style, might walk away from receiving feedback not understanding the consequences of unchanged behavior.

For these reasons, I've learned to blend Carnegie's trusted approach with the feedback formula proposed by Shari Harley in How to Say Anything to Anyone. The following steps outline the ultimate effective feedback approach, and like her book says, this isn’t strictly for supervisors—these are also great tips for peer-to-peer, interpersonal communications.

  1. Meet privately: Address the recipient of the feedback one-on-one. Privacy helps prevent embarrassment, and it also eliminates distractions.
  2. Begin with appreciation, humility, and empathy: Thank the person for meeting with you, and explain that you know how difficult the issue at hand can be. Praise anything that can be praised before moving into the criticism. Explain the issue that is of concern and, if applicable, admit to any fault that you might share in the issue.
  3. Use specific examples of unacceptable behavior: The feedback recipient should be reminded of a recent, specific example of behavior that was not acceptable.
  4. Focus on the impact of the actions: Make sure that the person receiving the feedback understands why she needs to change her behavior (e.g. because it’s losing the company money, because it negatively impacts other peoples’ work, etc.). Explain how the behavior makes you feel.
  5. State your expectations moving forward: Communicate the changes you expect to see moving forward. It can be helpful to brainstorm potential solutions together or ask how you specifically can help them achieve their goals.
  6. State your consequences: Let them know what could happen if the behavior continues. For example, someone’s brusque tone could alienate other team members or even how customers think about the company.
  7. Allow the other person to save face: Be gentle and empathetic—it’s hard to receive criticism! Leave the meeting with a smile and no indication to anyone else as to the topic of the meeting, and allow them to take the lead on addressing the issue with other team members or if they want to work on it privately.
  8. Praise any and all improvements: Be sure to communicate when you observe positive changes. This shows your team member that their hard work is seen and that you’re paying attention!

Receiving feedback

Just as important as giving great feedback is receiving feedback correctly. John Ford, Founder and Principal Mediator at the HR Mediation Academy, shared his thoughts with us on accepting feedback:

Feedback is vital for the well being of any important relationship, yet fraught with difficulty, especially in the receiving, because of our propensity to perceive it as an attack. When you remember that the purpose behind feedback is learning (not to embarrass or humiliate) it's easier to receive it non-defensively and assume that the person giving it has a positive intention. As with all key conversations, it's always a good idea to summarize at the end to confirm your understanding of the feedback given.
–John Ford, HR Mediation Academy

While this approach to receiving feedback can be broadly applied to all workforce members, there are a few additional considerations based on your role.

Supervisors, for example, should be especially sensitive to the fact that they have a certain degree of power over their subordinates. Supervisors should recognize that it’s extremely difficult and even scary for their team members to provide critical feedback if they fear retaliation. 🤐

For this reason, supervisors should actively solicit feedback and let their staff know that it’s okay for them to voice their concerns. Then, regardless of the content of the feedback they’ve received, supervisors should show gratitude and encouragement for teams’ transparent communication.

On an organization-wide level, consider implementing pulse surveys—whether anonymous or not—to get frequent, timely feedback from your employees.

How we make giving feedback a regular practice at Bonusly

At Bonusly, we believe that radical candor is instrumental in being an excellent teammate (one of our core values). We practice delivering positive feedback frequently with the use of our employee recognition program. Providing regular positive feedback makes it much easier to deliver constructive feedback when the time comes.


We also share peer feedback with one another twice per year. The way this works is that employees ask two of their colleagues to share feedback about their performance when it comes to both strengths and areas for growth.

Last but not least, our manager-employee one-on-one meetings are structured in a way that prioritizes regular positive and constructive feedback that goes in both directions. There's a shared understanding that both managers and employees will benefit and ultimately grow as a result of consistent positive and constructive feedback.

Download our free one-on-one meeting agenda template to make positive and constructive feedback a habit with your employees!



By providing a psychologically safe workplace and a culture of constructive feedback in their departments, teams can capitalize on valuable learning opportunities and chances to improve.

In the end, my best advice is to always assume the best intentions! Unless you’re working on improving a toxic workplace, chances are that everyone on your team wants the best for the company. Listen—giving and receiving feedback is hard! But, the payoff includes better team communication and even more opportunities to recognize hard work.

While you're here, check out our other Best Practice resources! ⬇️

For more best practices on how to effectively recognize and engage employees, check out our Guide to Modern Employee Recognition!

Get The Guide to Modern Employee Recognition

Originally published on September 28, 2022 → Last updated September 28, 2022

Have you ever read a company-wide, game-changing email and thought, “Why was this sent out now?”

Yup. 👋 Timing is everything.

When it comes to HR, public relations is actually one of the most important skills to master. Here’s why.

Public relations and employee relations require the same skills

If you have any doubt about the similarities between PR and HR, just take a look at typical HR Manager and PR Manager job advertisements. You will see that effective human resources managers and public relations managers share many traits and have very similar job duties.


Necessary traits for both roles include:

  • being likeable and approachable
  • being excellent writers, listeners, and communicators

Job duties most often shared by PR and HR professionals include:

  • handling information requests,
  • disseminating important information to appropriate audiences
  • planning events
  • scheduling interviews
  • presenting ideas and strategies to leadership

Even the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) emphasizes the importance of communication, relationship management, and consultation in their competency models for their HR certifications.

Additionally, HR Certification Institute (HRCI) describes how HR professionals effectively manage people’s perceptions by being “credible activists.” Much like PR professionals, credible activists are expected to:

  • frame complex ideas in simple and useful ways
  • demonstrate personal integrity and ethics
  • earn trust with key internal and external stakeholders
  • show a genuine interest in other
  • act with an appropriate balance of humility and confidence
  • persist through adverse circumstances
  • have a history of delivering results

Many well-known employers, such as Boeing Defense, Space and Security and SunTrust Banks, have already made the connection, and include these behavioral competencies and skills in HR job descriptions.

So, how exactly does HR put these skills into action?


HR maximizes the employee experience by managing the company’s image

The employee experience is largely informed by an employees’ perception of the company and how they fit into the company’s vision, mission and goals. That perception must be managed effectively throughout team members’ employment lifecycles to ensure the best employment experience and related business outcomes.

“Human resources is at the center of attracting and retaining talent, communicating internally to all members of any successful organization regarding policies and programs, as well as training, planning events and a host of additional responsibilities.”
Roger Roeser,

He points out that, in some small businesses, HR doubles as the PR department – something many people don't know when they're learning how to become an HR manager.

Professionals trained in traditional HR can effectively manage their company’s brand by effectively managing perception. This is achieved through careful planning and delicate handling of multifaceted, sometimes political situations that involve multiple stakeholders. Diplomacy, tact, inclusion, and positive energy are needed from the recruiting processes all the way through to an employee’s last day.


How HR impacts candidate and employee perception

Employees decide whether they can really fit in as soon as they see evidence of a company’s culture. This is communicated by HR internally through policies, procedures, programs and special events and is communicated externally by how HR:

  • manages the company’s careers website, job boards and social media
  • responds to positive and negative online employment reviews with tact
  • encourages engaged employees to provide online reviews of the company and share job posts with qualified people in their networks

As another Bonusly article notes, companies with negative employer brands can expect to pay at least 10% more to hire candidates than those companies with stellar or even neutral reputations.

Many companies depend on in-house recruiters to effectively manage their employment brand and help them reduce related costs. These recruiters should have excellent company knowledge and communication skills—they’re often the first point-of-contact for job candidates, and it’s crucial for them to maintain a positive company image for external parties.


Recruiters should embody your company’s culture and values, since a negative application or interview process can seriously hurt your company’s recruiting efforts.

HR and recruiters have the unique role of selecting best-fit candidates—and by doing so, they’re also reinforcing to the larger organization how current employees should behave on the job.

Policies can help influence employee experience

Throughout each employee’s journey, HR recommends, creates, implements and enforces the company policies that impact:

  • how valued employees feel
  • how open and approachable or closed off and distant leadership seems
  • how efficient processes are

Employee handbooks are used by HR to communicate policy, culture, values and employment-related procedures. When evaluating the effectiveness of your HR handbook, ask yourself: Does the handbook convey trust and accountability, or does it read as more punitive and restrictive? Does it convey clear expectations, or is it vague and contradictory in places?


Experienced HR consultants and labor attorneys can work with the marketing team to ensure that the company brand is reinforced in a way that does not put the company at risk. HR can even create separate internal marketing documents that highlight benefits and culture, but refer back to the complete handbook and official plan documents.

Check out Bonusly’s open-source Employee Un-Handbook here.

Elements of an effective HR communication

PR-minded HR professionals understand the factors that shape the way a message is received, since this can hugely impact how that message is received. HR staff should carefully consider such elements as timing, audience, and impact. They should ask themselves the following questions prior to composing and sending any internal or external communication:

  • Timing:
  • What other competing announcements and projects are happening, and how can HR time their message to not get lost in the shuffle?
  • Has anything happened recently or is something about to happen that might undermine, contradict or confuse the message HR is about to send?
  • Who needs to hear the message first? The manager? The whole team?
  • When is the best time to make an announcement to make the best impact?
  • Audience
  • Who is directly or indirectly impacted?
  • Who will feel offended or left out if not included?
  • Who will be annoyed that you blew up their email with irrelevant correspondence?
  • Who needs to know?
  • Who does not need to know?
  • Weight or Impact
  • How important is the communication and who does it affect?
  • What is HR doing to differentiate one type of communication from a more significant one?
  • How will HR manage the outcome? How will they ensure that the intended message is received and the right result is achieved?

There are many resources available to help HR professionals craft effective, creative messages to promote their employer brand.


Actions speak louder than legalese

The daily actions of HR personnel also reflect directly on the organization and company leadership in the eyes of employees and applicants. Does HR take a consultative or business partner approach when supporting managers?

It is important for HR professionals to go beyond the rules to understand why the rules exist in the first place, and never place a blind acceptance of those rules over the best interests of the organization.

Cultures, paradigms, and “established” norms—these all can change. Your mediation, active listening, and radical candor skills, however, will always be valuable.

HR personnel should lead with their PR brains in matters of everyday company culture, and reserve their compliance brains for the major risk factors with serious business and legal implications wherever possible.

Next steps

Employers, professional organizations, and marketing experts alike all agree that human resources personnel must possess a PR skill set. Through effectively managing employee and applicant perception and through creating positive people experiences, HR professionals can build and strengthen employer brands.

If you want more tips on building your unique employer brand, check out this resource:

No matter what industry and employee population, we all recognize the need to engage, appreciate, and motivate our workforce. Fortunately, there are plenty of creative solutions to engage employees, encourage both peer and management recognition, and deliver rewards.

Not all recognition occurs in offices or startups, either. Construction, mining, manufacturing, and energy are a few industries with similar limitations around employee appreciation. These limitations are mainly tied to logistics and demographics. If you are an HR professional or line manager in one of these industries, you may think that technology-based employee appreciation solutions are not a fit for your company. However, you might be surprised by how effectively you can leverage the right technology to increase engagement, boost morale, and improve productivity.


Traditional rewards

In a previous article, we identified a number of creative ways to recognize employees. However, not all rewards make the most sense for all employee populations. Research shows that blue collar and white collar employees value certain aspects of their employment differently.

For example, white collar employees mainly gain job satisfaction from the nature of their work, a sense of achievement, and a feeling of being appreciated. Blue collar workers are more motivated by salary, peer relations, working conditions, and job security. Both white collar and blue collar employees need to feel appreciated, but understanding what motivates them helps to create the best possible, most relevant, and well-received rewards.

Tangible rewards

Traditionally, blue collar employees have received many types of rewards that are physically tangible; things they can have physically handed to them, like gift baskets and company branded gear. Many team members enjoy engraved tools and embroidered safety vests. Handwritten notes and gift cards are also very popular.

Trophies can be a fun reward that spark conversation and participation. For example, one manufacturing company I supported had a golden safety award trophy and the “broom of doom.” The trophy went to the department with the best safety audit score, and the broom of doom (a regular broom that was painted black) went to the department with the worst safety audit score. The employees in the winning department got their photo taken with the trophy, and the losing department had to display the broom of doom until the next audit.

Monetary rewards

Raises, as well as safety and performance bonuses, are the main traditional monetary rewards issued to blue collar employees. Other monetary-related awards include paid lunches, floating holidays, gift cards to their favorite store or restaurant, and company store voucher. Poll your team to understand what they will appreciate most.

Experience rewards

Blue collar employees also enjoy rewards they can experience. Rewards like eating lunch with the CEO or attending a company-sponsored event are usually very well received. Some companies even offer fully or partly-paid vacations as prizes for their top performers. Construction company David Weekley Homes offers their employees a 4-week paid sabbatical to employees who have worked for the company at least 10 years.

Workers may also get the opportunity to attend a special training to further their careers. I organized an off-site supervisor training for a mining company I supported, and the team leads who attended the event loved it. They really enjoyed getting away from the worksite for a day, bonding as a team, getting special attention from the GM and learning the skills they needed to get promoted to Supervisor.

Verbal rewards

Then there is the age-old reward of praise. Verbally acknowledging someone’s accomplishments makes them feel appreciated because you have taken the time to single them out in a positive way. It shows that you know them and their specific contributions. Praise may come from line managers, executives, or peers. Since blue collar workers tend to care more about their relationships with their coworkers than with their supervisors, facilitating a culture of peer-to-peer recognition makes the most sense.


Typical hurdles to leveraging technology

Most HR professionals and line managers who work at the site or plant level understand that there are some very real hurdles to overcome when introducing new technology to their teams. By addressing these hurdles, we can engage and appreciate our blue collar cohorts.

Technical literacy

Employees who don’t primarily sit in front of a laptop might find it difficult to adopt a computer and internet-based solution. Online employee recognition platforms rely on internet connectivity and access to a computer, tablet, or smartphone. Blue collar workers who have not been required to use email for work and are not used to standard digital user interfaces will need need help getting ramped up. Many blue collar employees do not even have email accounts because they have never needed one.

Training, orientation, and setup

Like me, many of my HR colleagues have personally helped blue collar employees create email accounts and download apps to their phones. They have trained the workforce on how to enroll in benefits online from their smartphones with increasing success. While it takes extra time, special attention, and care, training employees on these solutions pays off in the long run. Ultimately, they are able to enjoy more benefits and programs at the facility level due to the built-in cost savings (e.g. fewer support staff needed to administer the programs, fewer supplies needed, etc.).

New hire orientation is a great opportunity to give a complete overview of how an employee appreciation program works. Weekly safety meetings and quarterly department meetings are also key points where you could make a brief appearance to remind employees about rewards programs and training resources.


Preferred communication vehicles

Many blue collar workers prefer SMS notifications and paper mail to email. They may also prefer phone calls and face-to-face interactions to email. Pretty much anything but email!

This is partly to do with the graying blue collar workforce, but it is also a result of these employees not being exposed to regular digital communication. Literacy and language barriers can also play a role in email aversion. Before implementing a program, be sure to identify challenges to adoption and have a plan to overcome them as a team.

Where and how the work is performed

Most blue collar work is performed in the field, at a plant, or on a warehouse floor. Cell signal and internet service may be weak or nonexistent, depending on the location. Additionally, employees operating machinery or heavy equipment are not permitted to access their phones outside of lunch breaks. Even if mobile devices are permitted, they can be lost, broken or stolen if taken out or left out while performing manual labor. Identify the constraints in which your recognition program will operate, and plan around them.

Technology to engage your workforce

Despite the aforementioned barriers to technology use, there are several highly effective ways to leverage technology for blue collar employees.

Mobile apps and SMS

While blue collar employees may dislike or struggle with email use, almost all of them have and regularly use cell phones. According to the Pew Research Center, in 2018, 95% of adults living in the US own some kind of cellphone. And 77% of adults living in the US own smartphones, with an even higher percentage of smartphone ownership in the working population.

SMS notifications and push notifications are two ways you can reach your entire workforce by sending alerts, reminders and announcements to their phones. SMS notifications allow employees to reply and do not require employees to download an app. SMS can also be sent to phones that are not smartphones, while push notifications require the internet to work properly. Both options allow you to customize your employee appreciation content. With either solution, you can share anniversary, birthday and promotion announcements. One drawback of these types of communication is that they are either one way or two way, but they do not allow for group participation or peer-to-peer recognition.

Mobile employee appreciation programs have the major benefit of working well on a number of devices in flexible ways. For employees who do not have cell phones, they can use a company-provided computer kiosk to recognize their peers and access their rewards. Many applications are offered in a number of languages to accommodate non-English-speaking employees.

Mobile applications can be used to stream reward announcements on TV monitors in break rooms, or they can be downloaded directly to employees’ smartphones. With so many great options, you are sure to be able to design the best employee recognition program for your amazing team!


Computer kiosks

Many manufacturing companies leverage computer kiosks to provide employees a free resource to participate in company sponsored programs. They are used for safety training, ordering uniforms, and, of course, employee appreciation.

Andrew Schrader, HR Manager at Chobani shared his experience with computer kiosks with us:

Since our employees can’t have their phones on the factory floor, we worked with the Bonusly team to add the platform to kiosks in our break rooms. With access to those kiosks and the Bonusly mobile app, everyone can easily give each other bonuses.
-Andrew Schrader, Chobani

By allowing all employees to see and participate actively in the recognition program, Chobani is more effectively engaging their workforce.

TV monitors

One popular way to share news with blue collar workers is through displaying important announcements on TV monitors in the break rooms. These break room monitors are attention grabbing without being distracting. This reduces safety and productivity concerns around technology use. The monitors can be hooked up to devices that contain the announcement materials.

Custom employee appreciation announcements can easily be made by the on-site administrative, HR or IT professional using PowerPoint or Google Slides. The company’s marketing team could provide the template so that the presentation is branded correctly and look sharp. Alternatively support staff could share recorded video announcements streamed from the company’s YouTube account. Video interviews with individual employees can highlight their contributions and create a sense of belonging.

One of the simplest, most effective things the local support staff can do to leverage TV monitors is to let the Bonusly Dashboard cycle through recent shoutouts and bonuses. They can even set the bonuses and shout outs to appear in multiple languages, which is great for workforces that primarily converse in or prefer languages other than English.




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Happy Launch Day! 🚀💫 @cebroker_culture just started using Bonusly (and displaying the Bonusly Dashboard) today! 💚 . .. . Team member Bonnie says, “We have been LOVING the constant stream of praise, kudos, and of course GIFs from The Office. 😉” . .. . #Bonusly #cebroker #RecognitionWorks #customersuccess #corporateculture #employeeengagement #officelife #employeerecognition #jaxjobs #jacksonville #cebculture

A post shared by Bonusly (@bonuslyhq) on Jul 31, 2018 at 11:44am PDT

Message boards

Programmable message boards are often used at outdoor worksites because they are highly portable and weather resistant. They are also easy to program, and line managers or foremen can update the messages themselves as frequently as they’d like. These are very eye-catching and are great for shoutouts and announcements.


In conclusion

Introducing employee appreciation solutions have been proven to help improve engagement, reduce turnover, and increase productivity. Even workplaces that don’t revolve around always-connected internet communication can take advantage of their benefits, and introducing these programs your organization doesn’t have to be a hassle. Think about how your own organization can take advantage of employee appreciation.

How have you shown appreciation to your blue collar workforce? Share in our comments below:

Implementing a successful employee recognition program can give your organization a decisive competitive advantage. Employee recognition has been shown to improve engagement, reduce turnover, increase productivity, and more. You want a recognition program, but where do you start?


When you enthusiastically announce to your leadership team, “We need an employee recognition program”, you are likely to encounter one of two typical responses:

The business outcomes response. In this scenario, the leadership team acknowledges that a recognition program would be “nice”, but they want to see a cost-benefits analysis before allocating resources to such an undertaking. They want to know how the program will further the company’s short and long-term goals and overall mission.

This means more work for you, and you might wonder how you can prove that a formal recognition program will work for your organization. This is actually a great opportunity to flex your business acumen muscles. By leveraging the right resources, you can show that you are a true partner who understands what the organization needs. And all the data you need to support your case is readily available...if you know where to look.

The gut-feel response. Not all leaders are driven by data. In this scenario, the leadership team immediately says, “Yes, agreed! Go ahead and put one together for us” with no questions asked. Someone from the leadership team may have even approached you first about creating a program.

The executive who assigned you this project may or may not have any clear expectation of what the program should look like, and you may get sent back to the drawing board repeatedly. And the high level of enthusiasm and energy around the project may fizzle out if quick progress is not seen. Lacking clear direction can be extremely frustrating and dejecting, and it can end up taking you more time than if you had done a full analysis and presented options upfront.

Either type of response requires you dig deep and really evaluate why your organization needs a recognition program, what types of recognition make the most sense, and how to successfully implement the program.


Establish your business case for recognition.

One of the best ways to establish a business case is to tie your expected project outcomes to desired business outcomes. Ask yourself: What problems might an employee recognition program solve, and how does solving those problems further the company’s business objectives? How do I show that the benefits outweigh the costs?

A great employee recognition program generates employee engagement and is likely to solve problems like high turnover, low morale, and performance plateaus.

Turn around turnover.

When employees leave, the cost of replacing them can noticeably damage a business’s bottom line. You must consider not only the recruiting costs but the cost to train and recover lost knowledge and efficiency. Then there are the hidden costs like the negative impact on morale when an employee leaves.

Depending on the industry and position needing to be filled, turnover can cost anywhere from 16% to 213% of an employees’ annual salary. Specific costs associated with replacing an employee include an increased unemployment tax rate, writing and posting a job description, interviewing candidates, paying referral bonuses, increasing the workload of existing employees while a position is open, and training new hires.

There are several tools and resources available to help you calculate the true cost of employee turnover for your organization.

One proven way to retain valued employees and reduce costs is to recognize employees for their contributions. Research by Josh Bersin showed that the companies that scored the highest in building a recognition-rich culture had 31% less voluntary turnover than those with lower recognition scores. This is likely because employees who don’t feel recognized are twice as likely to quit within a year. And 83% of respondents in a study featured in Psychology Today stated that being recognized for their contributions was more fulfilling than monetary rewards alone.


Consider engagement.

Recognition effectively solves these common business problems because it is directly linked to employee engagement. Engagement (inclusive of but not the same as “happiness”) is the increased participation and enthusiasm level of an employee towards work. An engaged employee takes positive action to further the company’s goals and reputation.

Unmotivated, detached employees show less dedication to their work than incentivized, engaged individuals. When employees are unhappy at work, their productivity suffers due to increased absenteeism, disorganized workspaces, conflicts with coworkers and insubordination. Key competencies required for employees to succeed like creativity and self-directedness also suffer. This results in workers getting caught in a low morale loop due to poor performance and the resulting lack of recognition.

Research supports the position that your new employee recognition program will increase engagement. 58% of professionals feel that leaders could do more to improve engagement through giving recognition. And Willis Towers Watson found that recognition increases employee engagement up to 60%.

With the strong link between productivity and engagement, it is clear that employees require recognition to perform their best. By providing your leadership team with estimated costs of morale-related downtime, you can make a strong business case for recognition.

Compare benefits with costs.

We’ve established the potential benefits of recognition programs, but how much does a good recognition program cost to administer? It may surprise you to learn that recognition programs do not have to be expensive to be effective. 

Many companies, particularly smaller ones, can use existing resources that are already in the budget for employee recognition. Larger companies may need to take a closer look at budget flexibility, since having more employees could warrant a dedicated Employee Engagement Specialist.

To reduce the labor cost to program quality ratio, affordable employee recognition tools can be leveraged. These tools typically charge a small per-employee fee, include automated functionality, and use a built-in framework to increase the likelihood of program success.

You must also account for the costs of any awards or prizes with monetary value. Such awards can be augmented with other non-monetary types of recognition to maximize impact without maximizing expenses.


Assemble a team of program champions.

You’ve received leadership buy-in from the financial and cultural viewpoint, and you are ready to start putting together the actual program. Before implementation comes planning, and, in order to plan effectively, you will need help. Seek out several champions to help conceptualize, promote, communicate, implement, and reinforce your recognition program. These champions should ideally:

  • be interested in participating (no mandatory fun, please)
  • be in front-line leadership positions
  • understand how the program benefits employees and the business
  • understand what motivates people on their team
  • be willing and able to make the program a priority
  • be exemplary employees (no performance or conduct issues)

Program champions with the above characteristics will be closest to the heartbeat of the organization and will provide the most helpful insights. They will also be in the best position to ensure program success.


Choose the right rewards.

Align rewards with company culture and core values.

Every company has its own unique vibe based on its leadership, employee population, and industry (among other things). This “personality” is one component of a company’s culture. Many companies adopt core values to explain what individuals need to believe, do, or be to enjoy success.

Rewards and recognition should support these values to promote and reinforce the right company outcomes. If your company values individual empowerment, you might consider letting employees to select their own rewards from a pre-approved list of options. If your company values fairness, then the rewards might need to be more standardized, equitable and closely monitored to avoid too many payouts to the same people.

Offer a variety of rewards that cater to individual preference.

Different people enjoy different types of rewards. A points system where employees rack up recognition bucks to spend on a variety of prizes is one great way to accommodate personal preference. Prizes can include cash, gift cards, items, PTO, or all-expense-paid vacations. You can even let employees save up their bucks and combine prizes for the ultimate reward. Of course any extrinsic rewards should be accompanied by intrinsic rewards like public praise and personalized thank you notes.

Don't forget to discuss rewards around work anniversaries, birthdays, and other important epiphany moments.


Understand effective recognition.

Appreciate thoughtfully.

Before starting any employee recognition program, make sure that your team understands how to thoughtfully appreciate one another. Remember that there's often a difference between how people give recognition and how people want to be given recognition.

Recognition should be specific, timely, frequent, visible, values-based, and inclusive. Remember that any recognition isn’t measured at your own mouth but at the ears of the recipient. That means you’ll want to regularly appreciate others as soon as possible, tying praise to purpose.



It may take some time, but you’ll see the “Great job in that meeting!” turn into “Wow, the case study research you shared during today’s meeting made a huge difference in convincing the our customer to adopt our solution. We’re so glad you’re a part of the team!“ Of course, you’ll want to share this kind of praise right after the action takes place instead of hearing about it at next quarter’s review.

Use the Situation, Behavior, Impact model.

Originally developed by the Center for Creative Leadership, the Situation, Behavior, Impact is a framework to give feedback in a way that strengthens trust and foster understanding between parties. It’s often referenced in advice for giving constructive feedback and can also be used to share effective recognition.


Allow for manager and peer recognition.

There are many competencies and behaviors that you may want to reward that go unnoticed by some. A payroll specialist who always goes the extra mile to help managers get correct employee time in before payroll is run might get high praise from her internal customers. The same accomplishment might be ignored or underappreciated by her boss or department head. By allowing positive peer feedback, you increase the likelihood that everyone will get recognized for their meaningful contributions.

Have a plan to avoid incorrect or under recognition.

Identify recognition best practices for rewarding team members. Do not focus on individual people when designing the reward system. Instead, focus on the accomplishments and behaviors you want to recognize and share guidelines on how to give great recognition.

The company’s main focus may shift over time based on their current pain points. For example, collaboration might be a main focus one month. In this case, emphasizing your teamwork bonus might be most appropriate. Another month, creativity could be suffering, so promoting your innovation bonus would make more sense.

It is also important to ensure that the rewards are going to the right people. Even if they are going to the right people, certain patterns of reward issuance may look suspicious or unfair to others. Since perception is reality, you want to design your program to avoid even perceived favoritism. Some recognition programs will automatically flag suspicious behavior.

Keep constructive or critical feedback separate.

The employee recognition program is strictly an opportunity to reward and recognize good results and actions. It is not appropriate to use a recognition platform to point out people’s shortcomings and opportunities for improvement. Those constructive conversations are also critical to an employee's success and should definitely occur, just not when delivering praise and rewards.

The mixed message combining praise with criticism sends (You’re great at X, but we don’t really care that much because you’re also bad at Y) defeats the purpose of recognition and can tank your program.

 For more on recognition best practices, take a look at The Guide to Modern Employee Recognition and The Art and Science of Recognition: 5 Best Practices for Employee Recognition Programs.


Prepare and roll out your program.

Consider all-in-one recognition platforms for easy program implementation and management.

Complicated tracking and ongoing program maintenance isn’t for everyone. If you prefer using one login to track and issue rewards, send and store program-related communications, surface employee accomplishments, then a platform like Bonusly may be right for you and your organization.

“But I already have to login to our HRIS, ATS, IM, email and about a million other systems every day.” Perfect—Bonusly integrates with all these types of systems. You can manage everything from a platform you already use with either single-sign-on or with separate sign-ons to systems that automatically update each other. Either way, you save valuable time that can be reallocated towards making your recognition program successful.

Focus on timing and delivery.

Timing a delivery may decide the success or failure of your program. You need to find the best vehicles to communicate with employees about the new recognition initiative. Different types of workforces tend to prefer different methods of communication. For example, front line employees at a manufacturing plant may prefer recognition updates via SMS or use specialized kiosks, while administrative and managerial staff at an accounting firm might prefer email. Employees at a tech startup might prefer a smartphone app or a collaboration tool like Slack.

More than one method of communication should always be used. All-hands meetings may work for small to mid-sized organizations. And face-to-face, one-on-one time with employees is critical regardless of the industry or position type. Managers should also communicate with their teams in smaller team meetings about the program and show their support for the initiative. Since not all teams or individuals work in the same location, managers should include remote workers via video conferencing to share program information when needed.

Whatever you do, do not be afraid to “over communicate” about the program. Change is difficult for organizations, and employees should be reminded of the program rewards and requirements regularly. A bi-weekly reminder about the program that also highlights the rewards received by those who are actively participating helps increase participation levels and overall program awareness.

In addition to frequently communicating about the program, you’ll need to announce employees’ rewards and accomplishments. By issuing bonuses and other rewards and recognition as soon as possible, you address accomplishments while they are most relevant. Rewarding and recognizing people promptly also maximizes the behavioral impact by giving employees more time to associate the reward with the desired behavior.


Revisit and revise regularly.

No program is perfect, and even really great programs need to be well-maintained to remain effective. Soliciting program feedback quarterly can help you determine whether or not employees still value the types of rewards they are receiving. Managers’ and Directors’ feedback will provide further insight into whether or not the program is impacting job performance and business outcomes in a meaningful way.

In addition to evaluating the program, you should understand which outcomes are needed most. An annual engagement survey will help you identify the company’s primary opportunities for improvement based on your company’s ever changing employee population.

Once you’ve collected actionable data, make the improvements you can. For any desired improvements that you are unable to make, be sure to explain why (e.g. timing, cost, redundant to other initiatives, etc.).

Employee recognition is a powerful way for any organization to succeed, and using a specially-designed recognition program can be an extremely effective way for teams to feel valued, perform better, stay engaged, and more.

Ready to test out the top-rated employee recognition program for your team? Try Bonusly for free or request a demo today to learn more! 


What do you remember about the last company event you attended? Were you more excited about the cheesy prizes or your coworkers’ endless speeches? Maybe it was the drive out to the middle of nowhere.

Editor's Note: In 2020, we likely won't be driving to an in-person holiday party! 😅 If you're looking for ideas for a remote holiday party, click here

A poorly-planned holiday party is a very expensive missed opportunity for an organization. These kind of ill-fated events can actually leave employees feeling underwhelmed at best and completely unappreciated at worst.

In contrast, a well-planned and skillfully executed company event shows employees that they are valued. Effective holiday parties are fun, company-culture appropriate, convenient, and inclusive. These kind of events set the stage for the next few months, offer opportunities to appreciate employees, and also instill traditions for years to come. In this article, I share the absolute most important considerations for your upcoming employee events.

Make the planning collaborative

Employee buy-in is critical to the success of your event. You can throw a holiday party with all the bells and whistles but no feedback and seriously miss the mark. I have personally found that a planning committee consisting of employees at all levels from every department ensures proper representation and company-wide support.

Ask employees what has worked well in the past, either at your company or at a previous company. Share the budget with them so that they have visibility into any limitations. If any suggestions cannot be incorporated, make sure everyone understands why. Karen from legal might have a different perspective on an open bar than Jim from Business Development.

Compromises may need to be struck, but everyone can still come away feeling like they were heard. Collaborative planning ensures that your event includes as many desired elements as possible, and employees will feel invested in the process.


Consider the timing and venue carefully

Holiday parties should be timed to be the most convenient for the staff. Kevin Kelly, the CEO and Co-Founder of Rhabit, says that they always schedule their holiday parties before the actual holidays so that the maximum number of people can attend.

The venue should be someplace other than the office or warehouse where people perform work. Staff need to feel unplugged as well as excited about the chance to experience someplace new. Trendy event spots, nice restaurants, local establishments like breweries, iconic buildings, or historically significant structures are a few popular choices that tend to play well with most employees.

It’s important to understand that perception is reality when it comes to how employees view your choice of venue. Be conscious of the fact that employees will equate the quality of the event setting to how much the company thinks they are worth.

One Cornell University study conducted by the Center for Advanced Human Resource Studies showed that “When employees perceive that HR practices are based on controlling costs, they have more negative attitudes”, but “when employees perceive that HR practices reflect a commitment to quality, and are based on seeing employees as assets, they have higher [levels of] commitment and satisfaction.”

Selecting a nice venue also gives employees the chance to take their families somewhere special. Now, nice means different things to different people, so keep your population and culture in mind.

Additionally, make sure the location is convenient for most staff. Leverage internal data to map out the areas where the majority of staff live or to which they might easily commute.


Include family and friends

Believe it or not, people actually do not want to hang out with only their coworkers outside of work. Why? Because it feels like more work. Employees have lives and families, and they want to include their families in what they do.

This is especially true for employees over age 25, and the likelihood that employees will hang out with coworkers outside of work significantly decreases as employees get older. One study done by Comparably shows that 65% of employees between the ages of 18 and 25 hang out with their coworkers at least once a month, while only 31% of employees age 56 to 60 hang out with coworkers at least once a month.

Allow staff to share their whole, real selves by opening up the event to family and/or friends. Cater to employees’ guests. If the event is held at a kid-friendly venue, there should be plenty of fun activities for the kiddos. This will increase the likelihood that employees will attend and have a good time.

Celebrate accomplishments

A 2017 Office Team survey found that two-thirds of employees would quit their jobs if they did not feel appreciated. When asked about the best forms of recognition they had received, the responses primarily included tangible tokens of thanks and verbal or written praise. A company party can be a great venue for such awards and recognition.

You might briefly thank each department and call out their contributions to the company’s overall success. If the company is small enough, company leaders might even be able to thank each individual and share specific details about their contributions. The trick is making sure everyone feels appreciated without leaving anyone out.

Apart from the highly effective pat on the back, employees love the gift of... well... gifts! Great food, cash prizes, and freebies are well-received by staff. Provide awards that are functional, like engraved pens, embroidered shirts or caps, branded coffee mugs, or other creative employee reward ideas. Nothing says thank you like a gift you can actually use! I have also seen CEOs at several companies use this opportunity to announce surprise holiday bonuses.


Promote giving thoughtfully

Holidays can be expensive and stressful enough without your employer pressuring you to buy gifts or make donations. As one study conducted by Greenberg Quilan Rosner Research found, most people in the US feel more stressed during the holiday times due to obligatory gift giving, financial constraints, and commercial pressure.

Competitive games like white elephant gift exchanges make employees feel obligated to spend money. Instead, consider an optional Secret Santa-type gift exchange. Services like Elfster make anonymous gift giving possible for employees regardless of their geographic location. This allows more employees to participate, but only if that want to. Spending limits (minimum and maximum) are also recommended to avoid inequity or embarrassment.

Even asking employees to donate to a charitable cause can be problematic. Rather than pressuring employees to spend more money, you can announce that the company will be making a donation on behalf the employees. Marissa McCauley, an Employee Engagement Specialist with Source America shared how their company handled charitable giving at their holiday party:

SourceAmerica made a donation to Homeward Trails Animal Rescue and they brought real puppies that were up for adoption to our event! It was great – one puppy even got adopted as a result of our party. We had a photo booth set up in the room, so people came in and had pictures taken with the puppies. The event had a North Pole theme, so we made signs proclaiming, “sleigh dogs in training.”

The company can also provide an indirect form of support to charities. Many employees are happy to donate their time to a cause they support. You can use the holiday event as an opportunity to connect employees with meaningful volunteering opportunities. Volunteering provides employees with a plethora of benefits including better health, professional growth, and greater socialization.

Wrapping it up

A holiday party is your chance to show your employees that they are valued. This year, you can pull off a highly successful holiday party by providing the venue, gifts, appreciation, togetherness and inclusion that your people crave. With a well-executed holiday party, you’ll remind your staff why they should stick with you for seasons to come.

Want to appreciate your employees all year long? Check out Bonusly, the top employee recognition and rewards platform.

And if you'd like more tips for engaging your employees in meaningful ways, read this:

As we pointed out in our Guide to Modern Employee Recognition, many organizations are failing to engage their employees. In fact, 68% of US employees are either not engaged or actively disengaged.

What’s the solution? When asked how to improve engagement, 58% of professionals pointed to recognition.

While most organizations try to recognize their employees in some way, poor implementation or shaky strategy can foil well-intentioned attempts at appreciation. Recognition delivery methods must be chosen appropriately to be effective.

In this article, I’ll explain the pros and cons of some of the most popular recognition methods and provide specific examples to support your recognition-related goals, including a sample letter of appreciation.

Types of Recognition

In-person praise


If I were to ask you if in-person recognition is important, you would probably reply with a resounding, “Yes, of course.” But what makes it so important?

One of the most significant benefits of in-person praise is its face-to-face nature. When thanking others in person, that praise is often more effective and quicker than adding specifics in written form, and it can better convey your true sincerity, according to Kim Scott of Radical Candor.

Mina Chang, CEO of Linking the World International, prioritizes these kind of personal interactions when working with her team across the globe, as outlined in this Forbes article:

These face-to-face interactions built trust, understanding, and a real sense of a shared mission, and this has made all the difference in the world.

In his article on the psychology of verbal communication, Professor Robert M. Krauss tells us that when people have a verbal conversation, meaning is derived from the interaction's context and the collaboration between individuals. In-person communication is especially engaging for all parties involved compared to other methods.

The Australian Institute of Business notes that non-verbal cues in face-to-face interactions are just as important as verbal ones, meaning that body language and facial expressions add much more depth and nuance to communication. In his book Silent Messages, Dr. Albert Mehrabian found that 38% of communication is conveyed through vocal elements like tone and 55% through nonverbal elements like posture and facial expressions.

When delivered well, nonverbal communication can deepen praise in a uniquely human way, bringing together words and actions of appreciation.


I’m guessing that you probably don’t record yourself delivering in-person recognition. While this kind of praise is great, it can be temporary. The recipient can remember and reflect on what was said, but she has nothing tangible to show that the conversation took place. One solution is to include a written form of recognition with in-person praise that can be referenced long after the conversation.

Another drawback of in-person recognition is that it requires all involved parties to be in the same location, which can be impractical for those with busy schedules or when individuals work in different areas.



Email recognition can be a simple and flexible method of recognition. A research paper produced by the Institute for Employment Studies on the effects of non-financial recognition observed that effective recognition “becomes more formal and public commensurate with perceived value of the action.” Email is less formal than a recognition letter but more formal than a quick “thank you” in the hallway. It's an adaptable medium that can include as many or as few people as needed.

Email feedback should be specific, timely, clear, and concise. I personally love emails that close out a project or issue with positive feedback. You include everyone involved and give special thanks to those who moved the project forward while including stakeholders.


Emails do not always accurately express emotion or intent and can even be misread as sarcastic or insincere. By pairing emails with another form of praise, you can usually prevent misconceptions. Email may also be overly formal for some situations, where using a company collaboration tool like Slack would suffice. (Here are quick useful tips on how to get started with Slack.)

Informal Handwritten Note


Handwritten notes have unique qualities that set them apart from electronic communication. They can’t be buried in inboxes, and they convey a special level of sentiment. Writing thank-you notes can not only show appreciation but make you a happier individual.

As someone who has kept every thank you card I’ve ever received from coworkers and candidates, I can tell you that each note makes a difference. I’ve even completely turned a dicey relationship with a coworker around with a handwritten thank you card.

Leslie Schreiber, culture consultant and author of Cultivating Culture, had the following to say on the subject:

I think people underestimate the message that a handwritten note can send on multiple levels. It says that I have taken the time out of my busy schedule to think about what to write to you and actually write it down. I encourage my clients to take this extra time because it’s much more significant than an email or quick comment in a meeting. I think this is especially relevant for employees who have grown up with digital media at their fingertips, with instant gratification and immediate access to information.


For managers with large distributed teams, this method of recognition would be a daunting undertaking. Handwritten notes are almost universally appreciated but can’t be sent or created as easily as electronic communication. Sharing public recognition through another channel along with handwritten notes can be a useful strategy to amplify appreciation.

Additionally, handwritten notes can work well for small projects but may be too informal for other occasions.

Formal letter of appreciation


Letters of appreciation show care and consideration when written successfully. They take time to write and require the writer to stop and think carefully about the content. For many employees, this kind of formal and specific recognition is fitting. Written letters of appreciation, like notes, also give employees something tangible to keep.

When individuals go above and beyond in a big way, letters of appreciation are a great way to include details on quantifiable results. These letters are also a great format to share what accomplishments mean to you, the organization, and its stakeholders in detail.

While a handwritten note might include a few sentences of praise on warm stationary, formal letters of appreciation are longer, more detailed, and more ceremonial.

Below is an example of what this kind of letter can look like:

Diego Gavin

1348 First Street

New York, NY 10065


Dear Diego:

I would like to thank you for the significant contributions you have made to our organization over the past quarter. In only three months, your efforts helped decrease our total costs by 20%. This has allowed us to hire two new sales reps, who should significantly increase revenue for us next quarter. The additions to the sales team will greatly support the Sales Director and allow her to focus on the overall strategy of her department. Without your diligent efforts this would not have been possible.

Beyond this accomplishment, I want you to know that we have all seen you go the extra mile and take initiative to identify new opportunities for the company to operate more efficiently. You also continually provide guidance to less senior team members, and you make timely deliverables for other departments a priority. The example you set through dedication and teamwork reinforces and improves upon our existing culture. You are a true asset to this organization, and I look forward to watching you continue to excel.


Philip McWilliams

Chief Operating Officer


In my experience, very few companies go the route of issuing formal recognition letters. Unfortunately, the reasons that make them effective tools also make them impractical. Leaders tend to be focused on other operationally critical initiatives and often feel like they do not have the time or resources to write these letters.

For some organizations, formal letters of appreciation can be countercultural, overly formal, or bureaucratic. If mass-produced, delivered inconsistently, or written impersonally, they can actually make people feel worse.

Since these letters aren’t well-suited for public sharing, pairing formal letters of appreciation with another more public method can be helpful.

Collaboration platforms


In recent years, I’ve seen tools like Slack become extremely popular across all sizes and stages of companies. Collaborations platforms are easy to use and often include integrations with other platforms.

Employees use them to quickly express emotion through text and other media like emoji, video, and GIFs. This method of employee recognition allows an instant, public “Congrats!” that can include digital confetti or three e-thumbs up.

According to TalentCulture CEO Meghan Biro, effective praise must happen in the moment. It must occur when the desired behavior occurs or desired outcome is reached. Collaboration platforms provide the most timely form of communication in most instances—these messages are delivered right away and are usually opened before emails or other electronic communication.

Rob Warner, CEO of Google Premiere Partner InvisiblePPC, agrees. He shared his experience with collaboration platform recognition:

We have a Slack channel where anyone can praise anyone, with visibility to the whole business. It can be top-down, peer-to-peer, or customer led. The key point is that it’s public and in the moment. Then, every Friday on our TGIF call, we run through them and add any extras that didn’t make the channel for any reason. We actively encourage participation in it. For a remote team, we find it’s a really nice way to share and recognize those little things that otherwise go unnoticed.

For those who want to supercharge their appreciation efforts, consider recognition platforms like Bonusly that allow everyone in an organization to publicly recognize each other through small bonuses that add up to meaningful rewards. With these tools, recognition is even more impactful since praise is connected to organizations' core values and real-world rewards.

With Bonusly, everyone can share recognition using fun messages with points that can be redeemed at more than 150 partners including Amazon, PayPal, and the American Red Cross. It also makes evaluating recognition trends in your organization easy by allowing users to learn where team members excel with the help of detailed analytics and reporting.

Bonusly integrates with collaboration tools platforms like Slack, Hangouts Chat, Microsoft Teams, and others. In 2018, 75% of Bonusly customers integrated the platform with their chat tools.


Sometimes the instant nature of collaboration platforms means that messages aren’t crafted as thoughtfully as possible. I have seen a company leader very casually announce someone’s promotion in a channel intended for general business. The message seemed like a quick afterthought before he forgot to mention it.

For some kinds of praise, collaboration platforms may be too informal. Team meetings may be more appropriate settings for announcing important events like promotions or service awards.


Communicating recognition should be done with care. It's a key driver of employee engagement and helps employees find purpose at work. In many cases, combining different methods of recognition can increase the impact of recognition.

Effective recognition should generally be:

  • Shared in a timely manner
  • Performed on a consistent and frequent basis
  • Relevant and specific to the action
  • Given in a public setting depending on individual preferences
  • Commensurate to the level and type of achievement
  • Appropriate for your company’s culture

Think about which methods are most appropriate for your organization and the individuals involved and be aware of the appreciation gap, the difference between how people give recognition and how people want to be given recognition.

Want to learn more about employee recognition? Read our Guide to Modern Employee Recognition:

Download The Guide to Modern Employee Recognition

Originally published on August 08, 2018 → Last updated May 12, 2022

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