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7 Best Employee Recognition Ideas For Labor Day

Motivate Your Team

Labor Day is more than just a day off work for office employees. It’s an annual tradition of employee recognition—a tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength and prosperity of our country. 

The U.S. Department of Labor says the day is “dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers.” While many people get to take the day off, frontline workers are the backbone of the labor force, and often spend Labor Day on the job.

Pro tip: Creating employee recognition programs have short term benefits of making employees feel great and long term outcomes like higher engagement and greater retention.

You might think that money is the best motivator, but often the best rewards and recognition come in other forms. Get creative and think of other employee recognition examples that will get your team to go above and beyond.

employee recognition

The Perks of Employee Recognition Programs

Work is so much more than showing up and checking items off a list. Today, people want more in their relationship with their careers. They look for employers who are supportive and appreciative.

In fact, 37% of workers say employee recognition is the most important action their manager can take to support them. 

Whether you turn the spotlight on a team member to celebrate a work milestone or a job well done, employee recognition delivers results like:

  • Increased productivity
  • Builds a workforce of self starters
  • Higher retention

Here are seven employee recognition ideas for your frontline employees to show your appreciation this Labor Day, and every day.

1. Publicize Achievements

Praising frontline employees costs nothing, yet goes a long way in showing your colleagues you appreciate their hard work. Did one of your colleagues exceed their sales goal this month? Make it company news and acknowledge their achievements publicly on a platform their peers can see, whether it’s a company newsletter or digital workplace app

Walt Disney World rolls out the red carpet for their employee recognition programs, literally. One award that recognizes employees involves a red carpet and awards ceremony. It’s a grand event for a simple gesture of employee recognition. 

Practice boosting morale with words of encouragement and by celebrating individuals in your company. Employees are used to hearing when things go wrong, but aren’t used to being praised regularly. Public recognition will instill a sense of pride and motivate them to continue their efforts.

employee recognition

2. “Thank You” Notes

As old-fashioned as this may sound, a simple “thank you” note can go a long way. In fact, 75% of employees said that hearing those two words would boost morale and motivation. 

The only cost is a few extra minutes to make a hand-written card to help your frontline employees feel recognized and special. Surprise your employees by writing an encouraging note and slip it in their lunch bag or in the break room. 

Another way is to create a recognition stream on your mobile workforce app. When an employee is recognized, have her or his colleagues chime in on the thread with specific examples of how that employee adds value to the team.

At the Fairmont Royal York Hotel in Toronto, keeping 1,200 employees connected and engaged is a big task for management. But once they established a digital internal communication network, they started to use the platform for immediate recognition of employees who go above and beyond to elevate the guest experience.

“We know that we take great care of our colleagues, they’ll take wonderful care of our guests, and business will take care of itself.”

-Edwin Frizzell, Regional VP & General Manager, Fairmont Royal York Hotel

3. Personalized Rewards

Rewards mean far more when they’re personalized for each employee. Consider having employees respond to a survey that covers little details like what their favorite snack is or what their hobbies are to learn the types of rewards will motivate your employees. 

While experiential incentives are a great idea, tickets to a baseball game may appeal to some, while others prefer a gift card to their favorite restaurant or bookstore. Collecting information to add that extra personal touch will make the experience memorable.

employee recognition

At Southwest Airlines, employees earn points for all sorts of fun reasons that other companies might overlook, like a high attendance record. They call them SWAG—Southwest Airlines Gratitude points and employees can cash them in through their intranet for rewards like gift cards and travel vouchers.  

4. Paid Time Off

Who doesn’t welcome a little PTO? Consider offering a floating holiday as a way to recognize your frontline employees. While it may be necessary to provide guidelines for when that day can be taken, let the employee choose when to use it. Maybe that extra day will let them take the family vacation they’ve always wanted. Just a little extra time off can make a huge difference in the happiness of your employees and their families.

5. Flexible Hours

While many companies offer flexible work hours, that isn’t always an option in some industries, like manufacturing

If flexible hours aren’t possible to provide on a weekly basis, offer them as a reward. Maybe an employee who excelled on a project could have flexible work hours for two weeks. Or perhaps rearrange working times to an extra hour the first part of the week in exchange for lesser hours the latter part of the week. 

Allowing high-performing employees to have the opportunity for some flex time is an excellent form of recognition and a great way to deepen employee loyalty.

6. Host a Recognition Lunch

Chances are your workers have a favorite restaurant nearby. When an employee deserves recognition, have a lunch in their honor. Let the employee choose where they’d like to eat and take them and their team out. Other fun ideas might include a food truck or an ice cream social. 

Set aside time to celebrate your workers.

7. Professional Development Opportunities

A worker who’s received a few employee recognition rewards might be someone you want to keep your eye on when you’ve got a management position opening up. When an employee has been a stand-out on your team more than once, consider rewarding them with professional training opportunities that can further their career development and strengthen your leadership team. 

Remember, Labor Day is the official holiday we celebrate workers, but you should have employee recognition policies in place year round. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box to reward your employees for a job well done!

Download Beekeeper’s “How the Employee Experience Affects Productivity?” white paper to learn how employee recognition programs can benefit your workforce.