Three easy ways to recognize employees

As leaders, it’s up to us to create a workplace where people feel appreciated and respected. Sometimes it’s the little things that can have the biggest impact. In my experience, customizing recognition is just one simple way to do that.

Two incidents impacted the way I communicate with employees. In my earlier days, I took on a difficult project — one that had never been done before and required new ways of thinking. Afterward, the CEO sent me a handwritten note complimenting my effort. It touched me.

Later in life, after a significant promotion, I received a form letter from the CEO. That’s it, a form letter.

As you build out your company’s reward and recognition programs, consider how you can create positivity and loyalty through personalization — and bring an emotional element to being a leader.

Phone calls

On milestone anniversaries or awards, don’t just rely on a letter. Take the time to make a phone call. You’ll be surprised by the reaction you get. Many tell me that the call made their day, as they’re not typically expecting to hear from the CEO.

A few minutes chatting about their day or their accomplishment helps build a new level of trust and camaraderie.

Handwritten notes

When sending out letters to employees who have earned awards or experienced an important life event such as retirement or getting married, add a personalized handwritten note to the letter. Based on my experience, I decided long ago that nothing with my signature goes out without adding a note — except, I often joked, the paycheck.

In a time when computers and smartphones rule communications, it’s refreshing to see a nice handwritten word.

Personal visits

This is the fun part of our jobs. Interacting with our people. As often as I can, I visit our field offices to interact with employees across the country. It’s an opportunity for them to see the leader as a real person.

It’s important to visit employees without an agenda. Just go and listen with open ears — and naturally, follow-up with a handwritten note to thank them for their time.


While they seem like insignificant actions, I am humbled by the very genuine feedback I receive. As a result, these types of efforts are spreading throughout the company.

In fact, we’re in the process of introducing an updated reward and recognition program that will make it easy for leaders to personalize their messages to employees.

Through an online system, leaders and peers will be able to submit photos and customized letters that will be incorporated into a branded booklet to recognize milestone anniversaries. This is a system we’re excited about as we continue our journey to be a truly great place to work.

Perhaps former GE leader Jack Welch says it best: “You’ve got to constantly show appreciation. You will only grow from the reflected glory of their efforts.”


Tom Feeney is the President and CEO of Safelite AutoGlass®. In his 28 years with Safelite Group Inc., Tom has been instrumental in establishing Safelite AutoGlass® as a nationally well-known brand. Since 2008, he has set the course for doubling Safelite’s business through two core principles: People Powered and Customer Driven.