How to Create a Workplace Culture Around Employee Recognition


Lillie VogtContent Creator at Collato

Tuesday, September 13, 2022

In a competitive landscape for recruiting and retaining talented employees, companies are searching for strategies to attract top talent while maintaining business growth. But in pursuing new ideas, leaders may be glossing over a simple execution method: To create a workplace culture around employee recognition.

Article 5 Minutes
How to Create a Workplace Culture Around Employee Recognition
  • Home
  • HR
  • Leadership
  • How to Create a Workplace Culture Around Employee Recognition

If you’re looking for a way to foster strong company culture and a closer, happier, and more motivated organization, read on to uncover why celebrating wins may be the answer you’re looking for.

What is company culture?

Company culture is shared values, practices, and behaviors that characterize an organization. It guides how employees feel about their work and how they interact with each other. Culture develops over time and influences all aspects of work-life.

The benefits of a positive company culture

  • A company culture identifies its values: It describes the organization's core. What the business does, what kinds of customers it serves, and how it goes about reaching its goals. A positive workplace atmosphere shapes employee and customer perceptions of your brand.
  • A harmonious organizational culture helps retain the top talent: Every employee wants to feel a sense of belonging at work. People who feel comfortable and appreciated are likelier to stay with a company. In fact, 79% of people who quit their jobs claimed that lack of recognition was the primary reason for their decision to leave. Positive cultures put policies in place that make employees feel connected to the company and each other, decreasing retention rates. 
  • A supportive workplace culture boosts productivity: Productivity stems from a workforce that feels supported, valued and appreciated. When you have a positive culture that gives employees the tools they need to succeed, they will be inspired to produce their best work. 

What does leadership have to do with culture?

Leadership and culture are closely linked. Executives and managers often set new cultures in motion, implanting values and beliefs through their leadership styles. For example, if a founder prioritizes a healthy work-life balance, the company would implement a culture that supports hybrid or remote working, flexible working arrangements and family-friendly policies. Leaders establish the values, mission and operating norms of a company, therefore they’re the backbone of organizational culture.

Why leaders should celebrate success for a better company culture

To best stimulate a workplace culture that aligns with organizational objectives, practicing individualized recognition and celebrating successes that align with the company is imperative. 

Your employees care what you think

A large factor of effective recognition is by making it memorable, which usually means thinking about who is giving praise. According to a Gallup survey, employees were asked who gave them their most memorable recognition. The results showed that the most notable instances came from managers (28%), high-level leaders (24%), the manager’s manager (12%), a customer (10%) and peers (9%).

What’s significant about these findings is that employees feel the most acknowledged when managers and leaders positively recognize their work. In other words, even a small amount of high-level recognition will positively influence an employee, leading to higher motivation and engagement. Employees value what leaders think about them, so be generous with your praise!

Practice individualized and strategic praise

Remember that everyone has a different preference for recognition. More private employees may value a more personal approach like a certificate, a commendation, or a confidential evaluation. Praise should be thoughtful and individualized for the best results. Additionally, Gallup suggests that managers celebrate small successes every seven days. It should also be well deserved and honest. That way, employees are reminded of the value of their work and how it contributes to the company values.

The reasons for recognition should be strategic, meaning that actions should reflect the culture you want to encourage. For instance, Google celebrates employees whenever they “break” a project (basically making a product fail) because it facilitates their culture of innovation and experimentation. A “breaking method” may not work for your organization, but there are other ways to creatively recognize employees for aligning with company values; celebrating first wins, actions that helped other team members and exceptional work are also suitable examples.

Individualized recognition and celebrated successes based on company values are two proven ways leaders can mold an ideal workplace culture.

How to celebrate successes in the workplace

The connection between culture and leadership is apparent, and the importance of employee recognition in that relationship is even more crucial. But the question becomes, how should leaders actually celebrate success?

When you celebrate exceptional work, a bonus or raise is probably the first to come to mind. But recognizing employees for the little things doesn’t always have to include financial compensation, but something smaller that your team sees more often. Here are some ideas to celebrate small wins:

  • Write a card or sticky note to put on their desk
  • Schedule a short 1-1 meeting meant for recognition
  • Mention their hard work in a company-wide email or slack channel
  • Present a small present, like a gift card or candy
  • Give a shout-out on social media or an endorsement on LinkedIn
  • Provide an extra paid vacation day
  • Offer a chance to work on a new project or take on a different responsibility
  • Throw an office party or BBQ
  • Plan a team workcation

Celebrating success is a little trickier when the individual is working remotely, but it doesn’t mean they have to miss out on the recognition. These ideas just need to be adjusted to fit the circumstances. In doing so, you’ll see even better asynchronous collaboration, cross-functional teams and hybrid teams.

Final thoughts

No matter how solid your strategy is, it will fail if your culture doesn’t nurture the people executing your plan. That’s why it’s important to understand your company's human factor: engagement, passion and implementation that leads to organizational growth. As a leader, it’s your responsibility to cultivate a positive workplace culture that keeps your team motivated towards organizational growth and common goals. Celebrating wins is a great way to start that journey.

Lillie Vogt

Content Creator at Collato

From California, Lillie is passionate about personal development and the Future of Work. She enjoys writing about New Work concepts, leadership solutions, and productivity hacks, all with a sprinkle of quirky humor. Lillie is a content creator for Collato, a strategy management platform dedicated to helping people reach their full potential at work.


Join the conversation...

13/09/2022 Catherine
The best workplace culture is one that values employees! Such great tips in here
13/09/2022 Maria
I agree with this article! Even the best strategy won't work if the company culture doesn't support the people carrying it out.