Employee Recognition

10 Culture-First Employee Recognition Award Ideas

For many companies, the end of the year is awards season! A time to roll out the red carpet and celebrate some of your achievements, as well as the employees who helped make them happen.

This tradition endures at many organizations for good reason. The end of the year is the perfect time to reflect on what your company has achieved, and the recognition that comes with winning an award can really resonate with employees. 

It’s also simple enough to translate into a remote or hybrid environment. Awards can easily be announced through a video meeting, with virtual gifts replacing traditional awards trophies.

However, one problem with these ceremonies is what the awards themselves are given for. Many companies tend to focus purely on recognizing performance, offering prizes for the top salesperson, perfect attendance, and other tangible achievements. 

While there’s nothing necessarily wrong with celebrating employees in this way, it feels like a bit of a missed opportunity. At Guusto, we’re big believers in using recognition as a tool to reinforce your core values and shape your company culture, and an end-of-year awards show is a great chance to do that.

By being more creative with your categories, you can recognize employees for the overall contribution they make to your work environment, rather than just rewarding those who post the best numbers. 

With that in mind, we’ve come up with 10 employee award ideas that truly recognize cultural impact. 

1. The Helping Hand Award

Who is the first person everyone at your company goes to when they have questions or problems? The person who always seems to make time to help someone else out, regardless of how busy they are? Who always works with the collective good of the team in mind, instead of just looking after their own responsibilities?

A lot of companies have at least one person who fits this description, and end-of-year employee recognition awards are the perfect time to let them know just how much you value them. 

2. The Good Listener Award

Listening is one of our core values at Guusto. We believe that it's vitally important that each and every one of our team members actively works to understand problems, seeks and embraces feedback, and respects different viewpoints. 

Unfortunately, good listeners can often go under the radar, as those more inclined to take in other viewpoints can be drowned out by more assertive voices. This category gives you the opportunity to make them feel heard. 

3. The Radical Curiosity Award

Is there someone in your team who is always pushing themselves to learn new things? They might be constantly reading new books or articles, taking professional development courses, or just seeking knowledge from their teammates.

These kinds of people are huge assets to any organization, and they should be celebrated whenever you have the chance. Creating an employee appreciation award to do just that could be a great move.

4. The Risk-Taker Award

Another of our core values at Guusto is to ‘Leap’. That means we push to get a little better every day, and a big part of that is not being afraid to take risks.

While a cautious and considered approach can be helpful in certain situations, it doesn’t always pay to play it safe. We’ve found that team members who are willing to try new things help us drive innovation, even if they fail sometimes.

Rewarding and recognizing this behavior in your company will push other employees to take this approach in their own work, and could lead to more creative ideas, new approaches, and growth. 

5. The Mentor Award

One of the most important contributions management and senior staff can make to your culture is developing others. With that in mind, you could create an awards category which recognizes leaders with exceptional coaching and mentoring skills. This award will likely be appreciated both by the recipient and those who have benefited from working with them.

6. The Project Leader Award

Another leadership category (though not one that needs to be exclusive to senior staff), this employee recognition award idea salutes people who take ownership of projects and drive your team forward. 

These people show initiative, embrace responsibility, and relish challenges. They are vital to your company’s growth, and to pushing everyone on your team to accomplish your goals.

7. The Game Changer Award

Is there something someone at your company did over the past year that had a truly transformative effect on your work? It might have been a strategy they implemented, a creative approach to solving a problem, or even just a software program they introduced which helped you work more efficiently. 

Whatever it might be, this award category gives you the opportunity to acknowledge the impact of their contribution, and show them just how much you appreciate what they did for your team.

8. The Giver Award

Among Millennials and Generation Z, working for a company with purpose is a top priority. And with these two demographics now making up a large majority of the workforce, social responsibility and impact are becoming an increasingly important part of many organizations’ missions.

This is undoubtedly something to celebrate, and the people who are making it happen deserve celebration, too, which is why this is one of our favorite employee awards ideas. 

Nominees for this category could include somebody who introduced a charitable initiative, raised awareness about an issue, or anything else that contributed to your company making a positive impact on the wider world.

9. The Recognizer Award

Ironically, one thing that many companies fail to give employees recognition for is recognition itself. 

If you’re using an employee recognition program like Guusto, have a look at who is leading the charge in sending gifts and making nominations. Employees who regularly take time to appreciate their colleagues are helping to shape a more positive culture for everyone at your company, and their contribution shouldn’t go unnoticed.

10. The Culture Champion Award 

This last employee appreciation award idea is a big one, as it’s meant for the people who best embody your company culture. These are the people who show your core values every day in everything they do, and do the most to make your company a great place to work for everyone.

The award could be given to one person or to several recipients, depending on how many people you feel are deserving of it. The winners can serve as examples for others to follow, and really drive home the importance of your culture to the team as a whole.

Employee Recognition Isn’t Just for the End of the Year

While year-end recognition is important, employee recognition is at its most effective when it’s consistent. With Guusto, you can create a scalable, real-time recognition program that rewards your employees and reinforces your culture every single day.

Whether its employee recognition awards, gifts, or even your holiday party, the 2023 Employee Holiday Gifting Playbook from Guusto has insights and tips for every aspect of your year-end recognition plans. Get your copy today!

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Conor Moloney

Written by Conor Moloney

Conor is a Content Marketing Specialist at Guusto. He loves creating articles and other resources to help HR leaders build better cultures within their companies.

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