The Ultimate Cheat Sheet On Workplace Awards


Any employee would be in a good mood if they were just told that they did a great job. It makes them feel as if they achieved something significant enough to help the team—if not, the company—grow. But the best thing is that it won’t cost an employer an arm and a leg to do so.

An analysis by Gallup states that employee recognition is a low-cost, high-impact way to entice new potential and retain existing ones. Over a quarter of surveyed employees said they value the recognition from their immediate superior, while another quarter said praise from an executive or CEO is just as valuable. (1)

The survey also showed that money isn’t the most preferred means of recognition (though a raise for top performers still pays off). Most employees appreciate awards, positive reviews, and even promotions. Above all else, the recognition must be “honest, authentic, and individualized.” (1)

If you want to take compliments to your employees beyond “good job,” workplace awards are the way to go. Don’t worry if you have no idea how to start—this cheat sheet is for you.

Make high-stakes awards

There are a thousand ways to recognize an employee for something, but you’d want to stick to awards that are a big deal for your company. To determine what they are, ask yourself this key question: “What would the company be if this employee hadn’t gone the extra mile?”

Consider the following common examples:

  • Top Performer Award – This is typically an output-based award for employees who managed to get the most work done in a period, usually a month, quarter, or year.
  • Loyalty Award – This recognizes an employee’s long-time dedication to the company and its vision and mission, five years as the recommended minimum.
  • Leadership Award – Designed for managerial posts, this award recognizes one’s ability to inspire their team to produce satisfactory outputs.
  • Hall of Fame Award – Give this to employees who have consistently won many awards throughout their long service.

To get the high-stakes impression across, consider giving these awards as personalized award plaques. Nothing says “long-term recognition” better than one’s name and achievement printed or etched on a glass or acrylic surface. After all, the awardee will most likely put it on display at home or the workplace.

Establish the Right Criteria

For your awards to have significant meaning, your awards program must have several criteria. While an employee remaining with the company for several years is worthy of an accolade, an employee who does the same but consistently goes the extra mile is better.

The Society for Human Resource and Management established these seven essential criteria for a valuable workplace awards program:

  • Ensuring enough resources in evaluating candidates
  • Aligning awards with the company’s goals and values
  • Appropriate for the level or extent of work performed
  • Delivered while the employee’s accolade is still fresh
  • Giving recognition in a formal event (e.g., banquet or meeting)
  • Not too complicated to carry out
  • Post-awarding evaluation carried out regularly (2)

The quality of the plaque or award should also correspond with the level of recognition. Crystal awards for business and other workplaces effectively get the importance of any accolade across with their intricate designs carrying a specific symbolism.

No One Size Fits All

When developing your awards program, always keep in mind that one program will differ from another. There’s no need to draw up awards that don’t apply to your company, more so a specific department. For example, a loyalty award probably won’t have much meaning if the company’s only one or two years old.

In the end, empowering employees takes top priority, whether or not you can afford to hold an awarding ceremony. Consider the following factors in making sure your program is up to scale:

  • Size of the company
  • Corporate work ethic
  • Average age of the employee pool
  • Individual expertise of employees

For small businesses, gift cards and personalized items can achieve some empowerment without breaking the bank. Large corporations, however, should try to invest a bit more into their awards program with grander prizes like a monetary bonus or a vacation cruise. However, don’t attempt to give out rewards more than what your finances can afford. (3)


A suitable workplace awards program goes a long way in showing employees your appreciation for their contributions. Knowing that their efforts are appreciated, they’ll be more motivated to be more hardworking and innovative in their work in the future. Similarly, making these awards public is a good way to increase publicity and invite fresh talent into the company.


  1. “Employee Recognition: Low Cost, High Impact”,
  2. “Managing Employee Recognition Programs”,
  3. “12 Great Ways to Reward Awesome Employees Without Breaking the Bank”,


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