How to introduce employee recognition into your onboarding process

Appical Team
Khrystyna Fedoruk
February 22, 2024
min read
Table of Contents
Feeling valued is a basic human need, and this extends to the professional sphere. When employees receive acknowledgment for their work through rewards and recognition, it not only motivates your new hires but also encourages them to strive for better results. Regular employee recognition can enhance performance, boost job satisfaction, and improve company loyalty, leading to better retention. In this blog, we dive into the subject of employee recognition during the process of onboarding. Learn all about the ways you can incorporate a healthy working environment from the get-go.

What is the difference between rewards and recognition?

Introducing an effective system hinges on understanding the difference between employee recognition and rewards. Primarily, rewards are transactional, whereas recognition is relational (BambooHR).

A reward usually refers to a tangible gift received by an employee from their manager or the executive team, acknowledging a particular accomplishment - such as a small personalized gift for reaching a set company goal. 

On the other hand, recognition entails personal praise or gratitude for good work. It can be offered by anyone in the company at any time and take various forms, from a shout-out during your monthly company meeting to a personal email or merely a thank-you card.

“78% of employees said being recognized motivates them in their job.” ~ Workleap

The importance of employee recognition 

All employees desire to feel valued, and recognition can make a world of difference. While successful sales may reflect well on a company, individual employees often don't get enough credit for their work. Creating a workplace where people are often recognized for their hard work can affect employees' performance and their connection to the company. This in turn leads to higher job satisfaction and better retention rates.

Research shows that companies with formal employee recognition programs have 31% less voluntary turnover than those without (QuantumWorkplace). This highlights the importance of making regular recognition part of a company's DNA. 

Here are some other advantages of receiving recognition for your employees:

  • Increased productivity and engagement
  • Greater employee satisfaction and enjoyment of work
  • Improved team culture
  • Higher loyalty and satisfaction scores from customers
  • Increased retention of quality employees
  • Decreased stress and absenteeism


In the following section, you will learn more about how to provide recognition to your employees at different stages of the onboarding process. However, remember that recognition is not a one-size-fits-all approach, especially in the onboarding phase when you are still getting to know your employee. Therefore, it is important to try different approaches.

Learn more about the 3 phases of employee recognition that can be helpful for your organization during different onboarding phases.

1. Initiating connection: Warm welcome and company introductions

The recognition process starts right at the onboarding stage as it's important to make your employee feel part of the team even before their first day. Ensure that they feel valued and recognized even before coming to the office. Consider introducing an onboarding platform, a valuable tool for getting your employee ready for their first day and recognizing their achievements quickly. On our Appical platform we include features like milestones and checklists, helping track progress and empower employee confidence even before their first day at the office.

[.callout-small] Learn more about Appical’s platform. [.callout-small]

Smooth out your new hire's first day by ensuring they have everything they need - ready-to-use laptop, handover documents, essential apps, passwords, or a safe space for self-introduction; each aspect ensures a stress-free first-day experience. Make sure to add a bit of a personal touch to show your corporate culture  - a hand-signed welcome card or consider sprucing up their workspace with company-themed items like hoodies, notebooks, and balloons. This contributes to a festive atmosphere and will make your employees feel recognized, leaving your new hire feeling appreciated and at home on their very first day.

2. Celebrating early milestones: Recognition of achievements

It is important to ensure that employees feel appreciated for the right causes - both for their personal motivation and for the company. Studies reveal that 71% of employees prefer recognition linked to performance or role accomplishments, 44% for their substantial organizational value, and 43% appreciate recognition for teamwork or collaborative efforts (QuantumWorkplace). 

One of the ways to combine all of the preferred ways of recognition is by implementing a 30-60-90 day plan. This roadmap outlines the initial 90 days of a new team member's journey, acquainting them with company procedures, teamwork dynamics, and goals. Such an action plan helps new hires mark off key tasks as they adapt to their new workplace, and helps you keep track of achievements.

You can use various forms of project management tools or dashboards for this. This can even come in the form of a written document that they can look back to. One of the easiest ways to make it both interactive and informative is by using an onboarding platform. Ensure that your company provides clear and achievable targets and align them with both personal and team goals. Throughout this period, be sure to schedule regular feedback sessions to assess your new hire's comfort level and progress.

As the 90-day mark approaches, create a fun way to celebrate it. This could range from a simple congratulatory message or certificate to a nice lunch or informal get-together. Remember to express your appreciation for their accomplishments and reaffirm your commitment to their ongoing success.

[.callout-small] Learn more about the 30-60-90 plan by downloading our e-book. [.callout-small]

3. Professional development: Investing in your employee's growth

Your employee journey should not be simply about the impact they create for the company, but it should also include professional development. This is another form of recognition, as you sympathize with your employee’s need to grow. Providing continuous learning opportunities is crucial for cultivating progression and development within your team. Encouraging your employees to take part in these initiatives can lead to significant benefits. 

Mixing different learning styles and celebrating employee achievements can really lift up the work environment. Think about handing out certificates when they finish courses or giving them a shoutout during team meetings. A personal touch, like a handwritten thank-you note or a quick thank-you chat - can go a long way too. All these gestures show how much you care about their growth and success. 

Additionally, there are also nice additional recognition techniques that can make your program even more special.

Enhancing your recognition program

Adding creative elements to your recognition program can further boost employee morale and build a sense of belonging. Here are a few impactful techniques:

Customized welcome packages

To show appreciation to new employees, it is not always necessary for them to have achieved great accomplishments. They need to know, that the fact that they are joining the company is already wonderful! This makes them feel like an important part of the team from the very start. Customize these packages to fit not only the needs and preferences of your new hire but also to show your company culture. Ideas for a welcome package could include:

  • Branded merchandise (pens, mugs, tote bags, hoodies, socks)
  • Inspirational books related to their field
  • Small plants or desk decorations
  • Company discounts or coupons (based on their interests)

Present the package on the employee's first day or send it to their home shortly before.

Tip to make the first day even more special: ask what your new hires like to eat during lunch and prepare this on their first day

Peer-to-Peer Recognition

An important aspect of employee recognition is not only recognition from their management team but also the acknowledgment of their colleagues. Here's how to facilitate this:

  • Set up a physical or digital "shout-out" board for positive messages
  • Coordinate a monthly "Employee Spotlight" feature during team meetings
  • Hold regular team-building activities to promote bonding and appreciation
  • Introduce a system of compliment cards around the office to make it easier for your employees to appreciate their co-workers. 

Integrating recognition into the onboarding process lays a strong foundation for a culture that celebrates each employee’s contributions, fostering a sense of loyalty from the very start. To ensure that your recognition program suits your employees - incorporate frequent feedback sessions, as at the end of the day, you need to make sure that the steps you take are beneficial for your employees. An engaged and appreciated workforce not only elevates productivity and innovation but also secures your organization’s success for the future.

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