Employees said they’d work harder if recognized. These are the types of recognition they want

10 execs from CEOs to HR managers explain exactly what works to boost engagement and motivation.

Forget bonuses or traditional perks—leaders have discovered a thriving workforce comes from one simple act: appreciation. A Harvard Business Review report shows that 40% of team members would up their game once directors recognize their efforts. However, most businesses see an abundance of “thank you’s” and “good jobs” every day. So, what is the secret that creates this effect?

Below, our roster of experts discuss what was truly impactful in their sectors. Drawing from these ten professionals—from CEOs to HR managers—we’ve unlocked the magic that taps into human impact in each role. Uncover how weekly shout-outs can build early confidence, intimate conversations forge loyal bonds, and how public badges spark fresh career insights.

Ditch the generic approaches to approach, and eventually craft, an outstanding recognition program that boosts engagement, ignites motivation, and uplifts your employee satisfaction ratings. 


In my current company, recognition is delivered at the start of each week during the all-hands meeting. As I’m new to my organization, my manager has excelled in going out of her way to recognize my early accomplishments, even if minute in the grand scheme of my employment. This recognition helped dispel early anxiety I felt related to Impostor Syndrome (i.e., questioning my ability) and built confidence in myself. 

During our one-on-ones, I relayed my appreciation for that recognition both in front of leadership and during our check-ins. Her approach has helped lay a solid foundation, and I’ve felt more motivated earlier on in my employment.

Greg Holmes, employee engagement manager, Reve Consulting LLC


Following a particularly challenging case, where our client was awarded over $28 million, the firm acknowledged our dedication and organized a small ceremony, where colleagues and partners expressed genuine appreciation for the hard work put into the case. This recognition wasn’t just about the financial success; it emphasized the impact our work had on a client’s life. It highlighted the human side of the legal victories we pursue. 

The qualitative takeaway was a sense of fulfillment and purpose—knowing that our efforts made a tangible difference. Quantitatively, the acknowledgment translated into increased motivation and commitment. I recommend other businesses adopt similar initiatives, recognizing achievements not only for their monetary value but also for their positive impact on individuals’ lives. It fosters a culture of empathy, dedication, and a shared commitment to making a meaningful difference.

Riley Beam, managing attorney, Douglas R. Beam, P.A.


I was effectively recognized for my work at my current all-remote digital media company in the insurance industry shortly after transferring from research to content and making the most of my new manager’s open-door policy on suggesting ideas and improvements.

Having experience in writing and editing, as well as in project managing content processes, mentoring writers, and creating training materials, I pitched an idea on how to expand the guest-posting arm of the company.

My manager was so impressed that she promoted me to team lead, sent a special message to our guest-post writers, and announced my new role to all team members.

The qualitative takeaways included enhancing the quality of our guest posts and the engagement of not only myself but also the guest-post writers. The quantitative takeaways included additional compensation as well as a much higher number of articles available to our contacts.

I recommend other businesses pursue an open-door policy with their team members to maximize their strengths and talents to enhance employee engagement and improve the company as a whole.

Michelle Robbins, licensed insurance agent, Clearsurance.com


I have worked at my company for nearly nine years. After my first two years with the company, I was truly surprised and honored to receive a Special Achievement Award “In Recognition of Extraordinary Effort, Exemplary Performance, and Superior Dedication.” I still have the plaque I received displayed in my office, and I glance at it at least once or twice per week. What this award meant, and still means to me, is that for the first time in my professional career, I felt I was being rewarded for my hard work and that I can truly call the company ‘home.’

Even more striking to me is the way I’ve been treated since that time. My son has many special needs due to a rare genetic disorder and requires 24/7 care. As he has gotten bigger, it’s getting harder to lift and transfer him from his wheelchair. My company allows me to work from home in the afternoons to take him off the bus because no one else can physically handle that responsibility anymore, other than myself and my wife, who works in a hospital and doesn’t have a WFH option.

The fact that they show empathy and allow me to do this makes me work even harder and stay fiercely loyal. I knew I was in a great place after receiving that award seven years ago, and they continue to prove me right ever since.PRESENTED BY LENOVOFour ways that AI will make your next PC truly personalLenovo exec reveals how the company is tapping into the vast potential of AI to make PCs feel more like a natural and useful extension of ourselves.

Chris B., PR representative, Minuteman Press International



Working as a UX/UI designer, I was always focused on my technical tasks only. Everything changed once I joined Toptal. While Toptal is a great platform for tech specialists, it also provides its own ways for talent recognition. 

One recognition that I was lucky to get is the “Toptal Design Blog Author” badge, which is visible on my public Toptal profile. This badge changed my mindset and led me in a new design career direction. I joined Medium and wrote more and more. Within a couple of years, I became the top design writer on Medium and got 13,000+ followers. Designers reached out to me for advice, and I launched my own Facebook community, which is called the UX Designers Club. 

Within just one year, it grew from 0 to 1,000 members. But even this wasn’t enough for my new design career direction, and I became a top ADP List mentor where I provide design support. I was also honored as one of the ADP List’s 100 Most Impactful Mentors in 2022. All these happened just because I got my first writing recognition with a badge and loved something besides my technical UX/UI design tasks. It led me to the results I couldn’t have achieved with traditional design tasks. 

Today, almost all companies have their own blogs, but not all allow their employees to write for them because it’s the job of copywriters or marketers. My experience is a great example of why companies should give new opportunities to their employees by allowing them to write articles. This activity might lead to extremely new career results for employees and enhance their hard or soft skills.

Olha Bahaieva, lead UX&UI designer, Dish


The most meaningful recognition for me didn’t come from a public display but from a more intimate conversation over lunch. Some people prefer to be recognized in front of their peers, while others prefer a quieter one-on-one that allows you to dig into the project or particular success. 

I feel most valued when I have the opportunity to speak privately with leadership and turn it into a two-way discussion. However, some prefer to be shouted out on an employee intranet or at a big, team-wide meeting. That’s why recognition is the secret sauce of the office—you need to blend different elements together to have a range of recognition tactics to keep people happy.

Robert Kaskel, chief people officer, Checkr


At our company, we have a short segment in our meetings where different employees spotlight and appreciate other employees with whom they have either directly or indirectly collaborated. 

It was during one of these team meetings that I received a shout-out. I was acknowledged not only for the hard work and dedication I had put into my projects but also for specific instances where I had gone above and beyond. This recognition worked for me, as it made me feel valued and appreciated for my contributions, which motivated me to work even harder. 

From this experience came an increase in my performance ratings and a promotion within the company, but more importantly, the qualitative takeaway was the boost in my confidence and job satisfaction. This ultimately led to higher productivity, engagement, and a willingness to continue going above and beyond at work. 

This type of strategy is particularly good for businesses since it not only positively impacts the individual being recognized but also creates a culture of appreciation and recognition within the company. It is really important for employees to feel seen, valued, and appreciated, and this type of initiative can go a long way in achieving that. 

Acknowledging employee efforts can improve overall job satisfaction, retention rates, and ultimately contribute to the business’s success.

Elsie Achieng, director of Paid Media, Reactionpower


We were working on a demanding, extensive marketing campaign to increase our client’s brand awareness globally and boost their online presence. I was the lead project manager, and after a lot of brainstorming and planning, I decided to do a prescriptive analysis, which was not in the initial plan. This analysis provided valuable insights, which we used to fine-tune our campaign strategy. The client appreciated this proactive approach, which was key to the project’s success. 

Later that day, I noticed a LinkedIn recommendation from the manager praising the campaign’s success and recognizing my efforts. Unlike getting my name mentioned in a meeting, the recommendation was indefinite. It was, and remains, a public testament to my commitment to Promodo. 

Qualitatively, it built my confidence and appreciation for the company. Go beyond the cliché mentions and monetary awards, and try the power of LinkedIn recommendations—a blend of personal gratification and professional appreciation.

Valerie Lavska, CMO, Promodo


At a recent objectives and key results (OKR) meeting, I was presenting how we had successfully doubled the number of employees working with us. When my portion of the company updates was complete, all the employees I had helped onboard came up to award me with a fun T-shirt and a gift card to Office Mate and thanked me for making their roles successful. It was a nice gesture and showed how supportive our team is. To be recognized by leadership is one thing, but to be appreciated by peers is equally important.

Jarir Mallah, human resources manager, Ling App

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