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Corporate culture

A guide to building a culture of praise and recognition

Ivana Markovic
August 21 ∙ 4 min read
A guide to building a culture of praise and recognition

One thing that has undeniably become a key part of our team culture at Osedea is all the praise and recognition our team gives and receives. We’ve worked hard to encourage a culture of praise (for reasons I’ll explain below), making it one of the things our employees say they love most about working here — because it helps them feel valued and appreciated.

And our internal data confirms it! Officevibe, a software tool that we use to collect honest feedback from our team members, says our top metric is “recognition”, and we also rank in the top 10% of all companies surveyed in terms of recognition. Not too shabby, right?

Updated: While dealing with the aftermath of COVID-19, our team was pushed to work fully remote for more than two months. This has driven us to even more on the strong Praise Culture we have built. Following the tips we share, can help you now more than ever.

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Why is recognition important?

When we decided to get serious about recognition at our company, our gut was telling us it was the right thing to do. It seems our hunch was correct, because recent articles from Officevibe and HBR cite the following stats:

  • 78% of employees say being recognized motivates them in their jobs
  • 70% of employees say they would work harder if they felt recognized
  • One of the top reasons people leave their jobs is that they don’t feel appreciated

Our approach

Two years ago, we started to be more proactive about recognition. Since then, we’ve put a few different initiatives in place to make it a priority at our office.

We also decided to focus on innovating around employee recognition, coming up with new ideas to take things further every year. We knew it would be important to plan for new recognition efforts if we wanted to avoid resting on the laurels of our past successes (and risk having our team members feel less valued than they actually are).

Below is a list of things we’re doing currently that you’re welcome to borrow from if you’re interested in encouraging a culture of praise where you work:

  • We created a #praise channel on Slack, the instant messaging tool we use internally, to provide a way to give team praise inside a communication medium we interact with daily. Since we created the channel about two years ago, over 750 teammate recognition messages have been posted.
  • Every Friday, our team meets for a Lunch and Learn or a workshop. At the end of the gathering, we open up the floor for people to praise their teammates.
  • We also have something we call “Mega Praise”, which involves recognizing a teammate’s outstanding or unique accomplishment with the presentation of a gift card for one of his or her favourite stores or restaurants. Team members nominate their coworkers for Mega Praise, and we generally give out about 30 gift cards per year.
  • On the anniversary date of their first day of work at Osedea, employees automatically get a special Praise Pack, consisting of a congratulatory message on Slack, a gift card, and verbal “props” from our company founder, shared in front of the whole team.
  • We launched Values Awards, which are given out during our quarterly meetings. These awards are given to individuals who have taken it upon themselves to do something special that exemplifies one of our five company values. The award is paired with a monetary prize, and all nominees receive a warm and fuzzy email explaining why they were nominated (with a fun Giphy inside), as well as public recognition of the nomination during our quarterly meeting.
  • New! During the work from home period of COVID-19, we launched a new initiative: Words of Appreciation. We recommended to every team member to submit a short virtual appreciation letter to 2–3 colleagues. On a Friday, everyone received their letters. Not only were the colleagues that received the appreciation happy, but everyone felt their energy and happiness boosted. We are happy to have put in practice this study from Harvard that showed how giving thanks to people around us makes us happier.

Five tips on how to get started

Hopefully by now you’re beginning to see the benefits of emphasizing recognition and appreciation at work. If you’re itching to take action, but aren’t sure where to begin, don’t worry — you can start small, and build from there. Recognition initiatives can be something that you gradually incorporate into your culture at the office.

Here are some suggestions to help you out with doing this:

  • Brainstorm ways to integrate recognition initiatives into your regular workflow. For us, the easiest way to do this was to make use of Slack and our weekly Lunch and Learns. Doing it this way will encourage a higher adoption rate.
  • If you’re the one leading the charge when it comes to building a culture of praise at work, don’t put all the pressure on yourself to make it a reality. Instead, plant the seeds needed to facilitate recognition across the organization, equipping every team member with the tools and processes they’ll need to easily express appreciation for their peers.
  • Promote your initiatives by creating visual reminders encouraging teams to recognize each other’s efforts. In our office, we have a poster promoting our praise initiatives hanging on the wall, and we display our #praise Slack channel on the TVs in our lunch/presentation room.
  • You can also use your usual communication channels to gently remind employees to praise their coworkers. For example, adding a line to your email signature inviting team members to reach out to you if they want to nominate someone for special recognition would be an easy way to do this.
  • Integrate employee recognition into events and processes that have different frequencies (daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly) to ensure that recognition and praise are always top-of-mind in your organization.

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Feel free to reach out to us if you have any questions, or to share ideas and suggestions of your own! Thanks for reading our story.