Cold Connection

10 Employee Recognition Ideas to Try in 2015
Author: Laura Poko

Employee recognition is increasingly important for engagement levels as well as business outcomes. How can you implement recognition practices into your company? What ideas are others utilizing that you could as well?


The Global Cold Chain Alliance recently hosted a training program in Omaha, Nebraska. The topic: employee engagement. There were a lot of great discussions from the general managers in attendance about how to engage and recognize employees.


Here were their top 10 employee recognition ideas:

  1. Create a "team member of the month" program. Recognize one team member per month. How do you choose the person to recognize? You could have everyone at the facility vote on who should be the team member of the month. Or, have the general manager choose who to recognize. Or, base the award on performance metrics and benchmarks. Host a lunch for the entire facility in honor of the team member of the month.
  2. Celebrate birthdays and work anniversaries. Bring in donuts, balloons, or coffee in the morning. Bring in lunch, punch, iced tea, healthy snacks, or cake. The possibilities are limitless. It doesn't matter what you bring, it's the recognition that counts.
  3. Recognize that different people like to receive recognition differently. Are you the type that prefers public praise, or private? How do you prefer to be recognized - by a kind note from a supervisor, or a gift card to your favorite restaurant, or even additional time off for an exceptional job well done? Each person enjoys receiving recognition differently. As a supervisor, get to know your employees and what makes them feel most appreciated.
  4. It's as simple as "hello." It's the small things like saying "Hello" at the beginning of a shift or "See you tomorrow!" at the end that make people feel that they are a valuable part of the team and that you, as their supervisor, see them and notice their contributions. Simple, but impactful!
  5. Be present. One of the participants suggested, "As a general manager, if you go down on the dock and everyone appears surprised that you're there - that's a problem." Recognition of employees requires you to be present, so that you can reward positive behavior.
  6. Provide development opportunities. Do you promote from within? Offer your employees the ability to take online courses to enhance their knowledge of the cold storage industry? Do you offer tuition reimbursement credits? And, even more important - do you showcase these great benefits? Make sure you make everyone aware of the opportunities you do offer. Employee engagement research shows that even if people don't take advantage of the development opportunities, just the fact that their company offers them, makes them feel valued.
  7. Listen to understand. Employee recognition is all about being heard, being seen, and feeling that you contribute to the company. One way to do that is to listen. When an employee brings a concern to you, listen intently to understand their concern, and act accordingly. Follow up on all concerns and then let the employee know what has been done to correct the issue.
  8. Give low cost/no cost gifts. Some of the best ideas from the group? A hand-written thank you note, a subscription to a magazine, a book from their favorite author, gift card to local restaurant, gas card, movie tickets, recognize a new employee by creating a "Welcome" sign for their first day. Recognition doesn't have to be expensive, it needs to be intentional.
  9. Get to know your team. Ask your team how they are doing, how their family is doing. Investing in building relationships so that your team feels like you support them, and they can come to you with questions and concerns.
  10. Make it purposeful. No matter what recognition tool you employ,  make it purposeful. Don't just hold a staff lunch. Use that opportunity during a staff lunch to share how your team contributed to the company that month using specific examples. The general manager should share performance metrics, celebrate safety, and encourage the team. So, the lunch isn't just for the sake of recognition, there's purpose behind it.

What other ideas do you have for recognition? E-mail them to me at and you could be featured in our next blog post.

March 25, 2015



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