The amount of people working from home has tripled the last couple of years and it often feels as though there is a disconnect between the work employees do and how often they are recognized and commended for it.  

It’s vital that you show your employees how much they mean to your organization. A great way to do that is through an Employee Recognition Form (ERF). 

An ERF allows people from a workplace (either employer or employees) to nominate a worker who they believe has performed exceptionally to some degree. These are usually held over a certain period of time: for example, “Employee of the Month/Year Award”. 

But how do you go about setting it up? What do you need? And why is recognition important in the first place?

If you’re just here for the template, click here to view and download.

3 cartoon employees celebrating one of them being awarded employee of the month.


Why is Recognition Important?

Recognition and appreciation is one of the largest drivers of employee motivation and satisfaction. It is a fantastic way to highlight outstanding work, or exceptional behavior in the workplace. 

A survey conducted by The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) found that:

  1. Employee recognition programs helped over half of the companies surveyed improve retention rates by 68%
  2. Recognitions programs were more effective when tied to a company’s core values
  3. They helped to create a more positive work environment

Gallup and Workhuman partnered for an investigation that studied the effects of recognition in different industries. They reported:

    • Only 18% of healthcare workers reported being recognized in their organization

  1. If healthcare employees had been recognized and praised within the past seven days of work, there was a “significant decrease in patient safety issues”
  2. A meager 11% of manufacturing employees said that their place of work had a way of recognizing the efforts of their workers (which led to feelings of disconnect from the business, a lack of community, and a lack of “connection and collective work toward a common goal”)
  3. A major lack of recognition amongst retail employees led to higher turnover rates, lowered satisfaction, and a low feeling of fulfillment

Employee experience (89% surveyed agree) Employee relationships (87% agree) Organizational culture (86% agree) Engagement (84% agree) Humanity of the workplace (84% agree) Organizational values (82% agree) Happiness (82%)


Of course, managers aren’t always around to monitor everyone at every point of the day. And those who are about are often called micromanagers, which is something you want to avoid. Therefore, it’s important to get insight from those closest to an employee – their fellow co-workers and team members. 

Scheduling the frequency of your recognition awards allows your employees to submit their responses with advanced warning. Make sure that everyone you are responsible for is aware that award nomination forms are available, as well as what the criteria is for responses. After all, you don’t want a situation where only half of your workforce was made aware of the initiative and therefore people miss out on the opportunity.

Elements of a Recognition Form

Recognition or award forms can change shape depending on your company, what sector it’s in, and what aspects of an employee’s work you wish to highlight. Here is a list of commonly found features, but this is by no means exhaustive.

  1. Nominator’s name and department (this prevents people nominating several times)
  2. Who the nominee is (an individual or a team) and their department
  3. Award categories (reason they’re nominated)
  4. Their teamwork
  5. An innovative idea
  6. An action or significant contribution 
  7. Their behavior and ability to make the work environment a better place
  8. Something pertaining to a customer
  9. Something community or volunteer-oriented they orchestrated/were a part of
  10. Give specific examples of what they did in order to be nominated, so this can be checked against eligibility of entry
  11. How has this positively impacted the company? 

There are more selective details, such as if you use employee IDs, but below we have tried to create the most inclusive form possible that all companies can adopt. For companies where this data may be used in other situations, such as in marketing or analysis, make sure to include an enlightened consent form. Your employees should always know exactly what is being done with their data.

How to Get People Involved

Any company initiative needs the backings of employees behind it to get it off the ground. Get your workers involved with the scheme through actionable steps.

    1. Raise awareness through company emails and give people somewhere to contact with queries or inquiries. Remember to have communication in the forefront of your mind. 
    2. Showcase the effectiveness of similar policies from other companies. If you can demonstrate how successful these plans have been elsewhere, then your workers may be more inclined to adopt the same initiative.
    3. Set a clear deadline. That way, people can work around or towards it and it won’t come as a surprise. It would be gutting for people to realize that after all the hard work they’ve put in they have missed the deadline.
    4. Be realistic with your criteria and set clear parameters. No one appreciated unreasonable expectations – reward your employees for their current capabilities and reach and focus on how it is benefitting your company now. There’s always time to push for further greatness, but success and growth don’t come overnight.  

You need to be aware of the attitudes within your company, such as your previous levels of engagement. Make sure that this system is one that your employees will be enthusiastic about and will actively participate in. If you find that engagement as a whole is low in your workplace, you should look at helpful guides that offer structured advice for boosting engagement. 

29% of employees are actively engaged. 26% are actively disengaged. 45% are not engaged.


Things to Consider

You want to make sure that your employee recognition nomination forms maintain a high degree of accessibility. Everyone should have a fair and equal chance of being nominated for their efforts. It may be that the same few people are nominated over and over again. That’s alright, as long as you create an environment of equal opportunity, it is up to the employees themselves and their personal performances to decide the outcome. 

Although the process of selecting an award recipient should be fairly democratic, make sure that your staff members remain unbiased. If they are involved with the administrative roles of tallying forms then they should remain impartial. A dedicated employee recognition committee branch of HR would be a good idea.

Establish a set of criteria before nominations open that your employees can refer to. You don’t want to make this list overly strict, but you might be accused of sending mixed messages if an employee is simultaneously having disciplinary action taken against them whilst being nominated for an award.

Final Thoughts

Recognizing your workers doesn’t necessarily mean constantly praising them. You risk becoming inauthentic over time as a result. It can be found in the smaller things, such as celebrating an employee’s birthday, listening to concerns or advice and acting on it, or hosting end-of-year parties.

A large part of feeling recognized is feeling valued. A survey of 175 companies across the world found that 78% of employees think feeling valued and respected is the main reason why they love their workplace. 

78% of participants for this survey reported that a feeling of value and respect from those in the organization was the main reason why they love their workplace. 76% reported this was because the company lives the values and ethics it espouses.


Take the necessary steps to ensure that your employees know how much you value them, not only as workers, but also as individual people. Recognize their efforts for your company and reward that loyalty. Then you can foster a more enjoyable and supportive work environment for everyone to love.