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101 Top Employee Recognition Ideas

A feed of employee recognitions

The Recognize Team interviewed customers, researched strategies, surveyed the public, and used stories from our lives to produce 101 Top Employee Recognition Ideas. It was so important to us, we needed something more flexible than the blog to host it. So we put it on the main website.

To see the employee recognition ideas, go here.

Employee Nominations the Smart Way

A tree

We are staying true to the goal of using psychology principles instead of profit as our north star in Recognize’s product roadmap. We want your staff to be motivated intrinsically, and not just by monetary rewards. That’s why our nomination system doesn’t incorporate any cash value. Companies can choose to add monetary rewards for employees who are nominated or awarded, but that is for them to decide, not us.

How does Recognize employee nominations work?

The nomination system makes it really easy to democratically decide who is to be awarded for special mention. Staff can secretly vote on who deserves any award.

+ Employee of the month
+ Employee of the year
+ Safety Award for construction companies
+ Innovation Award for consulting companies

Choosing a nomination badge

Choosing a nomination badge

Sending a nomination for employee of the month

It is a lot like sending a social recognition

The admins go into the Company Dashboard to see who has been voted the most times for a nomination and the reasons employees gave for that nomination. Since staff are voting, it is easy to see runner-ups to whomever you choose as the winner.

Viewing nominations in Admin Dashboard

Viewing employee of the year votes
Viewing reasons for nominations

Viewing reasons for nominations

To set up a nomination, it is as easy as creating a badge. Go into the Custom Badges and enable “nominations” on a badge. That’s it!

You should also change the sending limit. Typically you will want to allow someone to nominate once a quarter. So change it to once and a quarter. And make the points worth zero

Creating a nomination badge

Creating a nomination badge

You may want to also create a badge that is the award version of the nomination. When you decide on a winner and award them in the dashboard, you can send a recognition for that accomplishment only the CEO or an admin can send.

Creating custom roles

Creating custom roles

Now it will be easy to see who deserves recognition at your quarterly and yearly ceremonies. Admins and leaders will simply login to Recognize, see the nominations that occurred all year, and make decisions on who to mention and why. No more favoritism, no more last minute illogical decisions. Recognize is helping companies recognize and award their employees in ways grounded in science and not solely gift card profits.

Contact us to learn more

How to make a new homepage

A repost from Planet’s blog

Funny to think that Recognize’s first homepage was designed before the app existed. Martin Karasek did a great job designing our initial homepage. It focused on the sign up form and to visually represent the badges. Ten months later, it was time for a redesign.

In this post, I will try to provide advice as to how to launch a successful homepage redesign.

Start from scratch

We are often attached to our current design or our current code base. Designers will use current designs as base rates for future design. Programmers will comment out code to be used later. Detach from your old work and free your homepage to new possibilities. Delete commented out code and use your company’s current and future business strategy as your design base.

For Recognize, we now have a full product and marketing vernacular. Our old homepage didn’t dive deep enough into our product. It didn’t explain our business as a fully functional employee recognition platform. Here’s a screenshot of our old homepage.

Old homepage

When I started the new homepage, I literally deleted everything in our homepage CSS file and deleted all the HTML in the homepage partial. With a clean plate I was able to think clearly and produce something completely new.

Right at the top show a product

Let the world know your company is actively producing something of value. It can be anything you produce, such as a product, community, or service. For instance, if your company produces shoes, you can display a sponsored marathon at the top of the homepage. Showcasing a product or byproduct at the top allows the user to immediately connect your company with a tangible object.

People more likely to scroll than click

It isn’t easy convincing people to use your website. That’s why it is important to show the gist of your business above the fold, or generally the top 600px of the homepage. For content beyond the first 600px, don’t make users click to find it. Make your homepage long enough to explain everything important. Flickr’s homepage redesign is a good example of a nice scrolling experience.

Screen Shot 2013-06-10 at 1.01.51 PM

A scrolling homepages tell a story

Write a story in a half dozen sentences, and use each sentence as a section on your homepage. Think of your homepage as an extension of your elevator pitch. For instance, “We build websites for socially responsible companies. We work with brands like Patagonia and Whole Foods. We are community-driven, recently we hosted a hackathon focused on environmentalism. Let us help your business translate its social responsibility into web experiences.” Each one of those sentences can be a complete section on your homepage. Use a graphic or a photograph to visually explain your point. You’ll find users will get a better understanding of your business.

Appeal to logic and to emotion

In your graphics and your copywriting, think of two groups of people: logical people and emotional people. Emotion-driven people are compelled by abstract marketing copywriting and strong imagery. Apple’s slogin “Think Different” is a great example of emotion-driven marketing speak. Whereas listing product specifications is more attractive to logic-driven people. You’ll hit a homerun if you can appeal to both.

For Recognize’s new homepage, the headlines are emotion-driven, such as “Track success” or “Motivate the workplace.” Then, we provide details for our product, such as “Edit and delete recognitions.” The facts help back up the headlines, and that ties your messaging together.

Learn more about different types of people according to Myers Briggs at Wikipedia –

Show photographs of people

Pictures of real people can double homepage conversion. Learn more about that here. If you have customers who use your product, ask them permission to show their profile.

Recognize homepage showing people

It is 2013: think responsive layouts

If your homepage doesn’t respond to different screen widths and device sizes, then your homepage is outdated. Make sure your designer and developer build different versions of the homepage to display well on mobile, tablet, laptop, and large desktops.

  1. Check your analytics and determine the most used screen resolutions by your users.
  2. Make designs that work well with your most used resolutions.
  3. Use a responsive layout framework, such as Boostrap to easily manage mobile and tablet screen resolutions.
  4. Ensure you aren’t loading large images on mobile and tablet. Use the correct image sizes for your user’s screen dimensions.

Watch analytics

Watch your analytics, and see if you can increase your homepage conversion with a fresh new homepage. It is a fun game when your conversion rate goes up.

Post-mortem pitching to GE, Pepsi, & Home Depot

Pitching to household brands is a major opportunity for any new technology company. A deal with a big name can take a startup over the tipping point. I was lucky, I sit next to the Pop17 team at Runway. They asked me to pitch in their SXSW event, called BubbleTank. We bought plane tickets to Austin, and prepared a presentation.

I organized the pitch from what I learned at Launch Festival the previous week. In the first 30 seconds present who you are, what you are, and the analytics. Then relate to the audience, demonstrate the core feature of the app with a concrete example, and close with how the idea will grow.

Screen shot of twitter quote, 'Lessons from #launch2013 for pitching: 1. Show ways the idea will grow into a bigger idea. 2. Provide concrete examples. 3. Show analytics.'

I related to the audience, and showed the core pages of the app.

More granular, after I introduced Recognize and presented the stats, I asked everyone to remember when they were appreciated for their good work. I wanted the audience and the judges to relive how it feels to be motivated. I brought it full circle by asking them to imagine what it is like to have that kind of recognition on a daily basis via your mobile device and everyone in their company could see it.

At this point I transitioned and I jumped into the demo. I showed the stream page with all the recognitions for a company; we showed the recognition detail view and how it can be shared on major social networks.

Returning to the powerpoint, I showcased where we can go with social employee appreciation with two ideas. First, cross company recognitions, or the ability to recognize any employee at any company. But more importantly, I presented the idea of  public company recognition reports. I asked the audience and judges to imagine the ability to hand pick the very best content from their Recognize account. They could publicly show the best moments and all the successes of their company.

Public Company Recognition Report showcases a company’s best work

Public company recognition report

Finally, I closed quoting Forbes predicting 2013 as the year of social HR and social employee recognition.

Non-tech savvy staff

In summary, the response from Home Depot, GE, and Pepsi were concerns for security, non-tech savvy staff, and internal HR bureaucracy. While the audience gave a healthy applause, the judges looked stale.

The gentleman from GE responded with a comment, “A significant part of our workforce is not tech savvy. The usage of your app at GE would be lopsided” I didn’t have an opportunity respond to this comment, the woman from Pepsi added, “I echo his concern, with our large HR departments and our non-tech savvy staff, your challenge is adoption of your product.”

Enterprise SASS must pass the HR “Sniff Test.”

After all the pitching was over I spoke with the woman from Pepsi. “What advice can you offer us?” I asked her. She said, “I really like your app, but you need to partner with large HR company’s to pass the HR ‘sniff test’.” That was really good advice, and something one of my advisors recently said to me.

Integration is everything

That’s why integration is key. For any new startup integrating into app stores, integrating with any major Single Sign On (SSO), and adding partnership with large names is vital to startup success. That’s why Recognize is moving towards partnerships with all the major players. We are close to launching Yammer integration, and that’s just the beginning.

Understanding your judges when pitching

To step beyond integration concerns, why did the judges seem uncomfortable with Recognize? During the pitch the judges said nothing positive. No one said, “I really like the idea, but…” or “The design is very nice, but…” The way the judges responded seemed on the defensive. After we sat down one of the audience members came up to us, and said, “Don’t listen to those guys, your idea is great. They are only out to protect themselves and their brands.”

The reason we failed was because we didn’t understand the biggest brand’s concerns. I should have positioned Recognize as a way to protect brands. By using Recognize, we encourage only a specific kind of sharing. The user can’t say anything negative through our channel. Allow Recognize in your organization, and your corporate social media is filtered through doing good, not bad. Maybe that would have resulted in a different response. Too bad we can’t A/B test pitches.