May 19, 2024

The average employee in the U.S. would like to receive $7,000 in recognition at work over the course of their career (according to Achievers). Yet only 23% of companies offer any form of recognition at all. What gives? While most incentives don’t cost an employer much money, they do require effort and creativity says Peter Decaprio. But this begs another question: why is it so hard for employers to motivate employees with simple gestures that show they’re valued?

For us at Vaamo, finding ways to motivate our people is paramount– not just for productivity but also because we understand how happy and fulfilled employees are more likely to stick around if given proper appreciation. After many experiments with different forms of compensation (in the form of cash, gifts and bonuses), we’ve realized that celebrating milestones (and encouraging small celebrations on a daily basis) is what works best.

That’s why here are 5 ways Vaamo tries to motivate its people through recognition:

1. Make an impactful statement at staff meetings or company gatherings

Whether you’re giving out awards, recognizing employees for their service or simply having the entire team share “hero moments” from the week, making an impactful statement during your company gatherings is one of the most powerful forms of employee recognition. For example, recently our business development manager Michael shared the fact that he was recognized by his daughter for being her number 1 role model. He said being a dad made feel more fulfilled than any other work he’s done in his life. He reminded us to not forget the most important work we do is at home with our loved ones. A simple but powerful statement like that one can make employees feel like they’re part of something more meaningful than just work hours on an invoice.

2. Give five-star ratings (and recognize two-star ratings)

Employee recognition doesn’t always have to be about giving out awards or promoting the “hero” in your company explains Peter Decaprio. It could simply be giving notes of appreciation, sending a quick email to say thanks for going above and beyond or sharing examples of great teamwork at the next company meeting. That’s why it’s important to note when nice things are said about you or your team members– whether it’s in the form of a kind email or a piece of feedback from a client. You never know which compliments could stick and be used as motivation for employees during low moments.

3. Celebrate milestones

The smallest milestones in your company should not be taken for granted when it comes to employee recognition. Because they celebrate accomplishments that eventually add up to bigger goals down the line. Whether you’re celebrating an anniversary with your company, acquiring new customers, getting 100% billable hours at work or simply launching a new product– all of these milestones deserve some form of recognition and praise. The more often we recognize that we’re growing and moving towards our goals, the better we become at staying motivated throughout any project we take on. Every team member is also a mini entrepreneur. They should feel valued and encouraged to grow along with the company’s goals.

4. Make a list of all the “little” things your employees do that go unnoticed

There are small things that happen throughout the day in an office environment. That doesn’t get recognized as often as they should be. Simply because everyone is so focused on getting stuff done quickly. Instead of stopping to reflect or keeping track of those nice gestures between one another says Peter Decaprio. In order to make an impactful statement at work. You need to first take note of those little things people from your team do from time to time. Whether it’s a simple smile or holding a door open for someone else. It doesn’t have to be anything major– it’s all about taking the time to say “thank you”. And let your employees know that those little things they do mean a lot.

5. Let employees hand out awards to one another

Having an employee recognition program at work doesn’t have to be limit by official policies or processes. Especially when you want it to remain personal and impactful for everyone involved. That’s why we let our team members give out awards like “Best Smiler” or “Most Helpful Person of the Week”. The best part is allowing employees to nominate someone who they feel deserves an award. Even if they’re not in management positions themselves. It’s always nice to hear what others think of you. No matter how small or trivial it may seem on paper.


Employee recognition doesn’t always have to be something big or grandiose says Peter Decaprio. It can simply involve thanking your employees for the work they do every day. Take note of what’s important to them, and compliment their personal character traits. That make them who they are as individuals.

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