What's the best compliment you've ever received at work?
Chances are, it wasn't just 'great job'.
As important as it is to recognize people regularly, how you do it also matters. While employees will always appreciate being rewarded for their efforts, the real power of recognition comes in showing them that you really understand the value they bring to your company.
Finding the right words to recognize someone is just as important as how frequently you do it, or how you reward them. If all of your recognition messages are just generic one-liners, it will feel a bit hollow, regardless of your intentions.
Below, you'll find a few tips for how to write a great recognition message, as well as a list of 75 examples of powerful words of recognition for your employees or fellow colleagues to inspire you. Enjoy!
A simple formula for finding the right words to recognize someone
Before we dive into some examples of inspiring employee recognition words, we thought we'd share a simple formula we encourage our team here at Guusto to use when recognizing each other.
When crafting their messages, we always advise our team to include 4 crucial elements- the Situation, the Behaviour, the Impact, and genuine Gratitude for their colleague's actions.
This helps our team to frame their words of recognition in a way that is much more specific to their colleague's actions, resulting in more personalized, meaningful messages.
Describe the situation
If you're going to recognize someone, you should make sure they know why you are thanking them! State the specifics of the situation you were facing. Were you understaffed? Did you have a surge in customer inquiries? Did something go wrong with your systems?
This adds context to your message, reminding your colleague why what they did was above and beyond their regular duties.
Highlight their behaviour
Next, talk about the actions you saw your colleague taking . Maybe they kept a cool head in a stressful situation, or demonstrated their exceptional knowledge and expertise, or showed patience and understanding.
Pinpointing what you appreciate about the person makes them feel seen, and encourages them to keep working in the right direction.
Acknowledge the impact
They know why you appreciate them, but what impact does their work have? Did they help you land a big client? Or reach a revenue target? Maybe they just made life easier for the rest of your team?
Employees strongly value working with a purpose, and knowing their work makes an impact helps motivate them to do their best. This is especially important for managers and leaders who are recognizing staff. Often, entry-level employees can lose sight of how their work contributes to larger organization goals, so reminding them whenever possible is always a good thing.
Finally, don't forget to say thank you! Once you've followed the previous steps to make your message specific and impactful, you can work on the tone of it. You want your sentiments to come across as genuine, rather than making the message feel forced or transactional.
Think about how your colleague's work makes you feel, and how much you value having them on your team. Then make sure that comes across in your message.
Of course, this isn't easy for everyone. To get your creative juices flowing, the next few sections include several examples of words of recognition for employees that you can use in different situations. Let’s dive in!
Employee recognition words for Individuals
From celebrating wins to acknowledging skills or improvements, it's important to show support for your rockstar employees and highlight their individual accomplishments regularly.
Whether they've been working hard to upskill and grow, burning the midnight oil to get through an important project, or just crushing it consistently on a daily basis, letting them know that you notice and appreciate their effort helps keep their morale high, and reinforces the behaviours you want to see.
Use these examples of recognition words as a starting point, and personalize them using the formula in the previous section to make them more specific and impactful. You'll find examples for recognizing new hires, thanking employees for completing projects, celebrating specific milestones, and even showing your appreciation to your leaders and managers.
Each step of your hard work helps us go the extra mile. Thank you for your efforts!
Your dedication on this project helped us achieve our goal. We couldn’t have done it without you.
I noticed you worked hard to complete this deliverable. Well done! Enjoy a coffee on me.
You took the reins and drove this initiative to success! You are truly an exemplary leader.
Your attention to detail goes a long way. Your diligence ensured that this project went smoothly!
I appreciate your thoughtful efforts to check in with our team during this difficult period. Thank you for looking out for us and creating a culture of community.
I knew from the minute I hired you that you would be an amazing addition, and you have worked hard to learn more skills!
Great job on your performance and I look forward to growing further with you at our company.
I know our recent workflow changes have been a huge adjustment for everyone lately. Thank you for being such an adaptable all-star!
Thank you for your many years of dedication at our company. You and your meaningful contributions have always shone bright at our company. We value you and your hard work.
Your ambition inspires me. Thank you for helping our organization reach new frontiers.
It is employees like you that make us successful. We value you and your great team work.
Learning remotely is always a challenge for us all. Your communication and determination make you a wonderful employee. Keep up the good work!
Your knack to consistently encourage the team is truly commendable. Thank you for being inclusive of others and championing for their voices to be heard.
We truly value you at this company. Thank you for always going above and beyond.
From start to finish, your initiative exceeded all expectations. We appreciate your hard work and dedication.
I appreciate how solutions-oriented you are! Thank you for your creative strategies to achieve our goals.
Your ability to take every task seriously and execute them with great detail is spectacular.
Fantastic job with owning this challenge and learning this new skill! We appreciate your initiative and resourcefulness.
Has anyone told you how great you are to work with? Thank you for being a great part of the team!
You are an invaluable employee to this organization. Thank you for your hard work.
I am proud of you for voicing your opinions during our meeting. Your comments were very insightful and made me reflect on our work. Thank you for sharing!
Thank you for creating a positive environment at our organization. You are a true role model for our corporate values.
Thank you for helping us pivot to an online workplace! We couldn’t have transitioned without stellar employees like you.
I recognize how much effort you have spent on this project. Thank you for your valuable contributions.
Peer-to-peer recognition words
A peer-to-peer recognition program is a great way to make recognition more impactful and inclusive. Giving each and every one of your employees the ability to send recognition gives them a voice, and valuable outlet for showing appreciation to teammates they might not otherwise have.
The flipside is that it's often even harder for individual contributors to find the words to recognize someone. Unlike leaders and managers, they're not always used ot giving feedback regularly, and might be nervous about striking the right tone when thanking a colleague. Here's a few examples that you can share with your team to make it easier.
26. I am grateful to have you on my team. Kudos for always having great communication!
27. Thank you for making our team such a positive environment! Your optimism inspires me.
28. Your skills are mind-bogglingly advanced! Thank you for being a great role model, I enjoy learning from you.
29. Thank you for helping me with this project. I appreciate that you took the time out of your busy day to explain the process to me.
30. Thank you for showing interest in my initiative. You honestly made me feel like my ideas are valuable and worthy.
31. Your hard work is unbeatable. Thank you for leading by example and motivating me.
32. I am proud to work in such an accomplished team. Thank you for your wealth of knowledge, I have learned more than you will ever know from working with you.
33. I appreciate you for always believing in my abilities. I am grateful for our encouragement through easy and difficult times.
34. From the moment I started working for the company, I knew I was in the right place! Thank you for welcoming me as a new addition. I look forward to working with you.
35. Your communication and responsiveness makes working with you a true pleasure to work with you. This goes a long way while we work from home.
36. From your professionalism to your personality, thank you for being a wonderful person to work with.
37. Thanks for making this organization a fun place to be. Your enthusiasm and easygoing nature makes all the difference!
38. I am lucky to call you a colleague and friend. Thank you for all your support.
39. I appreciate your can-do attitude and motivating spirit. With you on our team, I am confident we can achieve anything.
40. I appreciate how diplomatic you are when we brainstorm new initiatives as a group. Thank you for taking time to listen to everyone.
41. Thank you for always offering unique and thoughtful perspectives during our meetings. I often find myself reflecting on your ideas.
42. Your attention to detail is incredible, thank you for your work on this project.
43. Implementing something new can be intimidating. Thank you for supporting this project and tackling the unknown with enthusiasm!
44. Thank you for checking in on me as we work from home. I am grateful to know that you care how I am doing.
45. Your skills and work ethic are outstanding! I have a lot to learn from you in this field.
46. Working with you has made me even more motivated to tackle new challenges. You are truly a pleasure to work with! Thank you for being a great teammate.
47. Your continuous support and encouragement is a large factor in why I love working here. I feel empowered to take on any challenge with you on my side.
48. I am so grateful for your expertise on this issue. Not only did you explain it well, but you empowered me to problem solve better in the future! Thank you.
49. Thank you for listening to my feedback in our last meeting. I could tell that you honestly respect my perspectives.
50. Thank you for collaborating with me on this project. Your ability to listen and treat our team with respect helped make the process enjoyable. I look forward to working with you again!
Team recognition words
Of course, sometimes it isn’t any one person on your team who deserves some words of recognition, but everyone! After all, teamwork makes the dreamwork, and it’s especially good for morale to recognize wins that come as a result of collaboration. Highlighting the impact of your people working together will help to solidify connections and encourage a more aligned and collective approach to their work.
Recognition platforms like Guusto make it easy to recognize multiple people in a single message, so here’s a few examples of team recognition words for some different scenarios:
51. That was an awesome brainstorming session! I’m loving the energy and creativity, and it made me really excited about our strategy and direction for next quarter.
52. Mission accomplished! I know this project has been a big lift for all of you over the last few months, and I appreciate your efforts to get it over the line.
53. Thanks to everyone for staying late to solve this issue last Wednesday. I appreciate your dedication and understanding.
54. Saturday was a whirlwind, but we got through it! I appreciate how much pressure busy days like this put on you, but thanks to everyone for working so hard.
55. We finally reached our revenue goal for the year! Everyone played their part in this success, and I’m grateful to all of you. I couldn’t ask for a more talented team.
56. I know all of you have had to take on a lot of extra work since Alexandra left, and I appreciate you hustling to keep everything moving while we look for a replacement.
57. Thank you all for your honest and direct feedback during yesterday’s meeting. I value your opinions and constructive suggestions for how to improve things.
58. I’ve been blown away by our productivity this month. You’ve all really stepped things up a notch, and we’ve seen some really encouraging results so far. Keep up the good work!
59. I’m beyond impressed by your first collaboration together and how well your skills complement each other. The two of you make a really awesome team!
60. Thank you all for holding the fort while I was on vacation! It’s really great to know that I can take time off and know that our team’s work is in safe hands.
61. Thanks for working with our department on this project! It’s amazing to see the collaborative spirit of everyone at this company.
62. Our team relies on your department so much. I hope you all know how valuable your work is and how much it helps us reach our goals. We’d be lost without you!
63. Thanks to everyone for diving into Monday’s training session with such enthusiasm! I’m so proud to see you all grow and develop new skills.
64. I know our results haven’t been what we’d hoped recently, but I appreciate how our team is rising to the challenge. If anyone can turn things around, we can!
65. Changes are always difficult, but I’ve been really impressed with how well you’ve all adapted recently. Thank you for your patience and understanding while we figure things out.
66. What a presentation! The entire management team was blown away by how well thought-out and researched your plans are, and we’re excited to see your team lead this initiative.
67. Thanks for an awesome two years! I couldn’t have asked for a more talented team.
68. Inbox zero! Thanks to everyone for their hard work in getting through our backlog over the last few months.
69. Our team has consistently met our targets every month for the last year! Thank you all for continuing to knock it out of the park every day.
70. Thanks to everyone for your kind words and support during this difficult time for me. You’re the best.
71. What a fun team day! Thanks to everyone for taking the time for some team-building.
72. And that’s a wrap for our busy season! Thanks to everyone for their hard work and extra effort. Enjoy a little something on me.
73. I hope you all appreciate just what a huge win this project is for our company. Thanks again for your hard work. We did it!
74. Every time we have a team meeting, I’m in awe of how much talent there is in one room. Thanks for being so awesome!
75. I’m truly blessed to have you all in my life. You’re not just great colleagues, you’re great friends.
Beyond words: The power of recognition to shape culture
Words of recognition don’t just make your team feel more appreciated. They inspire productivity, creativity, and leadership, and help to drive performance and results.
In Culture is the Ultimate Advantage, we explore the transformational potential of recognition in more depth, and demonstrate how it can be used to align, connect, and empower your people. Enter your email in the form below to get your free guide today.
**Editors note: This post was originally published in August 2020, but has been updated to include additional examples, best practices, and insights.