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Recognition in The Real World
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Creative Ideas Abound as Recognition Day 2017 Approaches

Posted By Jess Myers, RPI, Friday, January 27, 2017

It was a really simple idea at its conception in 1995. Bob Nelson, a renowned speaker on the importance of employee recognition developed the notion of Recognition Day offering a designated spot on the calendar to celebrate the individuals whose accomplishments benefit organizations and companies.

Scheduled for the first Friday in March, the 2017 version of Recognition Day is coming up on March 3. Recognition Professionals International experts recently held an informative webinar to discuss ideas for making sure employees feel valued, not just on the first Friday in March but all year.

Presenters Theresa Harkins and Barbara Ruddy noted that the goal of Recognition Day, and of employee recognition in general, is to create a culture of encouragement in the workplace. Done right, these efforts can not only improve the atmosphere in any organization, they can lead to measurable results in areas like retention and productivity.

Among the ideas Harkins and Ruddy presented for Recognition Day activities included:

Food – Everyone loves free food, be it a simple snack, a sweet treat, or a full meal, and there’s something special about an employee being served a meal by their supervisor that reinforces the notion of value and recognition. Everything from food truck appearances to ice cream socials are encouraged as a way to recognize employees through food.

Team activities – Getting out of the office is imperative to the mental health of employees; even if it’s just to the parking lot for a group stretch.  Team activities can be a valuable way to recognize employees and foster a team spirit among members of your organization. Make the office feel different for a day. Some workplaces practice theme days, where workers dress in the colors of their favorite sports team, or emulate their favorite superhero. Games like Jenga contests or a video game setup can bring a spirit of friendly competition to the workplace as well.

Wellness – Some workplaces provide healthy snacks or energy-boosting foods to give employees a needed jumpstart, especially in the afternoons. A popular wellness activity is to bring in massage professionals to provide back and neck rubs a day or two each year.

Other ideas

  • Create a workplace cookbook, with each employee contributing their favorite recipe, and each of them getting a “book” featuring all of the foods. 
  • Remember off-site and “virtual” employees and find ways to include them, so they feel as recognized and valued as on-site employees.
  • Whatever you do, start small and build gradually, with more activities and edibles as the employee recognition culture grows within your organization.

For other webinars and a wealth of information on Recognition Day, please visit the RPI website at

Tags:  recognition  recognition day 

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