GREAT Recognition: 5 Key Ingredients to Events that Delight and Energize Teams

Recognition events! Regardless of your industry, you can probably agree that your staff and leaders are your most valuable asset. So why not let them know just how much they mean to you through an appreciation event!

Recognition events are a great way to show, actually better yet, to prove how appreciated and respected they are by their organization, peers, and the people they serve. (When done poorly though, there can be unintended consequences and the opposite impression be left.)

The key to success is finding the right balance between an event that’s both fun and practical – one that creates memorable experiences while also giving staff and leaders the tools and resources they need to grow and succeed. How do you leverage the best of both worlds? How do you ensure that all the time, energy and resources invested into this event are worthwhile? We have some tips for you! Check out our list of GREAT ways to get this appreciation party started!

G: Gratitude

An appreciation event is a perfect way to communicate just how much your people matter. The key is to make sure that those who are being appreciated actually hear and see the gratitude expressed by those closest to them. If you’re hosting an event for healthcare workers, for example, gather those stories of gratitude from patients and showcase those during recognition events. People want to hear how their own actions have impacted others. People don’t often take the time to step back and see just how much they’re valued and how important their work is – so let them see it!

R: Relevant

When it comes to celebrating your staff, you want to make sure you’re doing it with their best interests in mind. While a theme can be fun, don’t get carried away with the small details that take away from the core idea behind the celebration itself – what the people you’re celebrating need most right now. For example, during our Nurses Week event, we focused on resiliency as that’s what nurses needed most; from education content to celebrity videos to the prizes, it was all about self-care, busting burnout and resiliency rebooting. Themes, decorations and swag can all be fun additions to your event, but remember, it is not the focus. Listen to what the people you’re celebrating need most, and make sure that’s at the centre of your event.

E: Energy

Hosting a fun and enjoyable event is, of course, the goal, but in order to make it worthwhile for attendees, you need to give them something concrete to walk away with. You want people to leave feeling energized and inspired. You want to give people tools, strategies or resources they can use following the event to help kickstart some sort of change. Habits are formed slowly with one small change. Rah-rah is temporary; real is relevant long-term. Let your event give your people this one thing they need to help them take that small step forward.

A: Appreciate

use FROG tribute cards at recognition events for your teamPlanning an event can be challenging. It’s easy to get wrapped up in all the big things – the speeches, the logistics, marketing, which of course all matter, but it is often the small micro-moments of appreciation that people remember most. It’s things like the fun T-shirts that were handed out or the compliment cards that were being passed around that people most appreciate and remember the event by. It’s fine to have a certain vision of the event but remember; there’s a bigger picture to consider – why you’re doing this and who it’s for. In other words, don’t lose sight of the big picture and plan accordingly based on what really matters: the people!

T: Team Oriented

When planning focused appreciation events, we often worry about making others feel left out. One simple way to make sure everyone feels included? Be inclusive! Make your promotional messages a “we” and “us” kind of thing that indicates you’re all in this together. For example, during our Nurses Week appreciation event, we focused on inclusive messaging like “Come celebrate with your nurses” or “We are celebrating our nurses, and we can’t do it without you.” It maybe was during nurses’ week, but it was for everyone! By pushing a team-oriented message throughout all your planning, communications, and flow of the event, you can ensure everyone feels welcomed and included. Please consider this when deciding how to include part-time and casual folks or remote workers when you have on-site events; those you don’t include may get the message they are less important. And we know everyone is important to you! Most of the time, not everyone can come; however, everyone needs to feel they matter.

Done well, recognition events can be a wise investment; in our turnover tsunami, one might argue you can’t afford NOT to host recognition events. Appreciating and recognizing employees while giving them tools and strategies to move forward are great ways to increase satisfaction and retention. With GREAT tips, you’ll be one step closer to an appreciation event that will leave people feeling satisfied and valued.

Psst… healthcare friends – have you started planning your appreciation event for Nurses Week yet? Feel free to follow the GREAT formula above, or let us take planning off your plate. Reach out to to learn more.

Eradicating Bullying & Incivility Program with Renee Thompson

Last week I shared a conversation that I had about why bullying is even possible in professional environments with Renee Thompson, an internationally renowned expert in bullying and incivility. Renee has a course that could be helpful if bullying is out of control where you work. Check it out here.

“There is more hunger for love and appreciation in this world than for bread.”

– Mother Teresa

Deb Rakonjac

Organizational Development, Purolator Inc.

"Sarah nailed it!  She worked with the planning group to learn about the organization, the audience, the desired key messages and integrated it seamlessly into her keynote. Her energy was contagious! We received rave reviews of this portion of our event and Sarah was able to speak to all members of our organization in a way that motivated them to recognize others everyday. Our executives were extraordinarily pleased and integrated FROGging into their recent board meeting. Purolator is grateful to Sarah for dropping the pebble and we continue to see the ripples from this session across the organization. Working with Tami was phenomenal and the supports were easy to integrate to ensure the session went well. Thanks to you both!!"
Douglas D Swift

President & CEO, Swiftco Inc.

"I have had the Sarah experience in numerous settings: As a keynote, around a table with several other business owners, one on one over coffee, chatting with others at a conference reception, dining with a small group of colleagues. No matter the setting you always get the same Sarah: engaging, attentive, interested, inspiring, motivational, genuine. And always with an infectious smile. Do yourself, your company, your association a favour. Get the Greatness Magnified (Sarah) experience. The payback is priceless."
Judy Kucharuk

Director, Marketing and Special Events, Encana Events Centre

"Funny, full of energy and incredibly motivating – all words to use when describing Sarah and her passionate stage presence. We were fortunate to have Sarah join us as a speaker for Spark Women’s Leadership Conferences and her presentations about leveraging greatness hit the core of our objective at SPARK: “A rising tide lifts all boats”. I would not hesitate to recommend Sarah to other organizations that are searching for a well-prepared, well-organized, thoughtful and passionate storyteller."
Shelley VanVeen

Learning & Development Manager, Libro Credit Union

"Sarah brought so much energy and enthusiasm to our International Women’s Day event at Libro! Her message was uplifting, thought-provoking and truly appreciated by our team. Dealing with Sarah was wonderful – she was open, professional and willing to work with us to customize her message to incorporate our culture and connect to our topic and participants. During the session, she was a pro with a powerful message and a fantastic delivery. We had wonderful feedback from all that attended and can’t wait to have Sarah back for another session in the future!"
Sylvia D’Intino

Executive Director, Community Living Hamilton

"THANK YOU so very much for leading the engagement activities today! You’re a constant professional, with an amazing attitude and always seeing the great in everyone. I am grateful for how you have helped us this year to transform our in-person staff recognition events into virtual and on-location events. Our staff feel more inspired, appreciated and motivated after they hear you speak, and I know our amazing in-house team here looks forward to designing engaging appreciation events with your support."
Melissa Chaulk

Manager of Professional Development

Canadian Dental Hygienists Association

"We work hard at CDHA to give our members a wonderful conference experience, so we were thrilled to have received resoundingly positive feedback on Sarah's opening plenary keynote. It was the highest attended of the entire conference for both dates!"
Jamie Campbell

Director, The Center for People in Organizational Development, Sheridan College

"Smart, challenging, innovative, committed, dependable, and reliable, I highly recommend her for all your recognition needs. I have brought Sarah into my last two organizations to help build a culture of recognition and celebration. The focus on appreciation is more important now than ever."

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