Employee recognition

A guide to giving employee recognition like a pro

Vanessa Kahn
January 5, 2022
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Is your 2022 intention to prioritize employee recognition to build stronger and more effective teams? If yes, keep reading. 📚

Using Bonusly is a step towards modernizing and optimizing your employee recognition program. Once in Bonusly, there are even more steps you can take to ensure you and your team are giving recognition like pros. You may already know, effective recognition is timely, specific, visible, inclusive, and values-based. We’ll use these principles as a guide for giving effective recognition. 



Let’s get started!


Let’s start at the very beginning: when should you give recognition to team members? The answer is, as close to “in the moment” as possible. Effective recognition is timely! Don’t wait until a performance review or the end of the month to give recognition, the closer the recognition is to the behavior you’d like to incentivize, the stronger the connection between the two events. If your day is full of meetings, block time at the end of each day to take 5 minutes to reflect on the positive events of the day. Not only will your recognized team members feel appreciated, but you’ll feel a boost in gratitude which can help you build stronger relationships and improve health and wellbeing.  


Just like constructive feedback, positive feedback should be specific! An employee should have a clear understanding of which behavior they’re being rewarded for so they can repeat it in the future. Let’s look at some examples of how to make recognition specific. 

First, let’s compare two different versions of recognition for the same scenario to see which is more effective: 

Recognition version 1:

Recognition Version 1

Recognition version 2: 


This is not a trick question, the second version clearly communicates the desired and rewarded behavior not only to Sally, but to the rest of the organization. 

Another great way to show off the team’s work is to include imagery of the project. If you’re rewarding team members for an excellent website revamp, try attaching an image to the recognition to show the visual improvements. 


Including a link to the work folks are being rewarded for is an effective way to add specificity to recognition. For instance, if you’re appreciating a new landing page, blog post, or even the way a sales call was handled, share links to improve cross-organizational visibility.


Bonus tip: If a team member made a great speech or a good presentation, consider including a memorable quote to highlight in your recognition. 



If you use Bonusly alongside a messaging platform like Slack or Microsoft Teams, bring the two worlds together by integrating the tools. That way, employees won’t have to have the Bonuly website open at all times in order to give and see recognition in real time. Integrating Bonusly with tools employees already use and love is a great way to boost participation. 📈

You can also try tagging team members for visibility in recognition, like when a new deal closes, or if you’d like to include the recipient’s boss for visibility of the great job they’re doing. Tagging a user in Bonusly will notify them of the recognition without awarding them any points. 



Part of building an intentional, engaging company culture is making sure everyone in your organization feels comfortable and valued and recognition is key to building an inclusive culture.

A powerful way to ensure more folks are recognized is to diversify the parties responsible for giving recognition. That’s why we always recommend that anyone on the team has the ability to give and receive recognition. Recognition from all levels provides more opportunities for contributions to be appreciated and seen. Bonusly’s app makes inclusive recognition easy by allowing users to recognize colleagues in any country and connecting recognition back to a value of inclusivity. 

Bonus tip: Try incentivizing inclusive behaviors like new team members linking up with a tenured employee or attending a new inclusivity training. There are many ways to encourage these types of behavior like allowing team members to expense food when attending this type of event or creating Claimable Awards for desirable behaviors.

Help the whole team adopt a gratitude practice at work with this Gratitude bingo


Promote a culture of fun with gifs and emojis! At Bonusly, we love using gifs in our recognition! After all, if a picture is worth a thousand words then a GIF must be worth a million! You can always sprinkle in a few tasteful emojis, as well. At Bonusly, we love the green heart and use it often in recognition. 💚



Bonusly makes it easy to associate company values with recognition through our value hashtags. Over time, these small recognitions add up to big company culture and help People leaders identify cultural leaders within the organization. Linking recognition with company values helps communicate to the team that everyone is working towards the same goal. 

We hope this article has encouraged you to try something new with your employee recognition program to see the strong effects an effective recognition program has on company culture.

Want to see how Bonusly could help improve company culture at your organization? Schedule time to speak with one of our employee recognition experts. 



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