Skip to main content
Commsy creative stuff straight to your inbox


The Power of Employee Recognition and a Carrot Culture

< Blog home

The Power of Employee Recognition and a Carrot Culture

How do you create a team where almost is replaced by above and beyond?

Knowing what makes your people tick is a wise place to start.

It’s said that the biggest motivator for employees is being recognised for their contributions.

When people are motivated they’re fired up – inspired to do a great job, supporting their colleagues to smash their goals and propel the business forward.

The Carrot Principle is a book about how managers use recognition to motivate and engage employees, boost retention, enhance customer satisfaction and accelerate performance.

‘With breakthrough research of 200,000 people over 10 years, and massive new global data collected by Towers Perrin, The Carrot Principle demonstrates how constructive praise and meaningful rewards powerfully motivate employees to excel, engage, and bring their best to work every day.’
‘Using the Carrot Principle, it is possible to create a team where almost can be replaced by above and beyond.’

Carrot research reveals that 79% of people who leave their jobs cite a lack of appreciation as their reason for jumping ship. Yet a staggering 74% of  leaders worldwide still don’t practice recognition.

Internal comms teams who play a role in influencing management are perfectly placed to promote recognition programmes, sending incredibly powerful signals to employees and directly targeting specific business goals.


Whether you’re starting from scratch or refreshing existing strategies, stay focused on a few core goals, keep it simple and keep it genuine. Look up The Carrot Principle for 125 inspiring ideas split into 5 different categories – goal setting, communication, recognition, trust and accountability – and keep an eye on our blog for future posts where we’ll explore more of our own thoughts. In the meantime, here are 10 ideas we’ve come across that are being used to make employee recognition an everyday practice:

  1. Use feedback as positive reinforcement– When did you last review the way feedback is given to employees? Are managers still rolling out the old “praise sandwich” approach? Use feedback as a positive way to reinforce the right behaviours in your business in a transparent and meaningful way.
  2. Communicate the purpose– Take the time to explain to employees (especially new entrants) why they’re doing what they do. Explain what drives the organisation they’re a part of and how their individual efforts make the difference. Share the organisation’s purpose so they can believe in the Why.
  3. The Board of Thanks– Create a highly visual communal place to display memos, notes and photos, recognising progress and thanking individual employees for their efforts. Public recognition carries serious clout.
  4. Reading material– Thank an employee who has gone above and beyond with a magazine subscription – this could be work related or simply a subject you know they’re interested in.
  5. Presents for problem solvers– Thank employees who’ve solved particular problems by giving them a puzzle as a present – choose a theme you know they’re interested in.
  6. For your extroverts– Employees who are outgoing respond well to public recognition. Make an announcement to the department, or invite them on stage at the next company meeting. Getting recognition from coworkers can be highly gratifying and inspiring for others too.
  7. For your introverts– Recognise these employees in a more private way. Handwrite a thank-you note, or chat with them individually about their achievement. If they like the idea of public recognition without the worry of stage fright, suggest they write about their achievements in your internal newsletter.
  8. Employee Appreciation Day– Once a year, hold a ‘Thank You Day’ where managers show their gratitude and recognise the efforts of their teams by supplying, cooking and serving food and drinks.
  9. An audience with the CEO– Arrange for a team to personally present the results of their efforts to senior leaders or the CEO. Demonstrating appreciation by leaders taking the time to listen is a powerful motivator.
  10. Name check significant achievements– Acknowledge individual achievements by using the names and photos of employee’s when preparing regular performance updates or status reports.


Many of these will be reminders of ideas you’ve tried out before. Others will prompt you to think about new ways to build an open culture of employee recognition to engage employees and achieve objectives. As previously mentioned, focus on core goals, keep it genuine and build a strategy around what works best for your own employees.

Final thoughts

When it comes to employee recognition, it’s crucial that managers sustain their efforts, following up with frequent positive validation. Therefore it makes sense to be realistic about the methods you choose. Settle on the best ideas for your organisation and commit to them. Remember the importance of context too. Employees who know that their efforts are making a difference are far more likely to work toward accomplishing defined goals.

It’s an ongoing process – measure results periodically – what has been the impact on productivity? Employee retention rates? Engagement scores? Continually assess recognition efforts to determine what is working and what can be improved. Ensure managers are trained and provided with the tools they need.

Focus on business objectives and reward behaviour that directly impacts your overarching goals – and shout about the results!

Use the power of employee recognition to leave almost behind and reach above and beyond.

We’d love to hear about your own experiences and recognition ideas. Tweet us @Alivewithideas to share!

“The guys at Alive understand the complexities of our business which means we don’t need to explain the detail of every project or design piece – they’re already on it, which keeps things moving and delivers the results we need.”

Emily Stoten — Head of Marketing, Selecta

“I feel like they own and care for the project as much as we do! I would not use anyone else for my creative work and think Alive is ahead of the game.”

Jo Hobbs — Communications Manager

“Thanks for all your help. We are delighted with the campaign, both in terms of the creativity and messaging but also the thought taken over the rollout of the materials. All looks absolutely fabulous!”

Sarah Crowdy — Campaign and Media Officer Communications, South East Water

“We went to ‘Alive’ for ideas on how to run a specific employee program in Europe. Alan and his team were brilliant in coming up with fresh, creative and practical approaches. The team took charge and executed brilliantly. We are pleased with the progress made so far and hope to have the same level of partnership and commitment going forward.”

Sobha Varghese — Tata Consultancy Services

“We had the privilege to work with the Alive team. It was our first time to be involved in creating an animation for our patients within paediatrics. The team were approachable, friendly, creative and very accommodating. Your vision for what you want to create, is at all times acknowledged, appreciated and accommodated by the team. They worked effectively and with great passion towards our project and worked not only alongside health professionals but also our patients who really enjoyed the experience of working with the Alive team. It has given our team the confidence and inspiration to do further projects in the future. We highly recommend Alive and their exceptional team.”

DR ELENI ATHANASAKOS, Lead Paediatric Clinical Scientist — NHS Barts Health

“‘The short animation developed in co-production with clinicians and young people is outstanding! Informative, developmentally appropriate, vitally fun and engaging. We are really grateful for the expertise of the Alive with Ideas team for their innovative approach in building children’s health literacy.'”

Kath Evans — Director of Children’s Nursing at Barts Health

“Our mission was to update our brand visuals to better reflect our innovative and forward-thinking organisation. After receiving numerous pitches from different branding agencies, Alive stood out with their clear passion and understanding of our identity and goals. We thoroughly enjoyed working with the Alive Team to create an engaging new brand that we are immensely proud of.”

Lianne Springer — Communications and Engagement Lead

“Alive wowed us during the pitch process and they didn’t stop wowing us throughout the whole project. Every person we worked with at Alive were so friendly, knowledgeable and clearly passionate about what they do. They have worked with us to really understand what we do and have created a new brand and website that really stands out from our competitors. Thank you!”

Louise Burnard, Head of Marketing and Communications UK — Be | Shaping the Future

“I think the team have done such a brilliant job, particularly with responding to our requests. It's one of the best mental health videos I've ever seen. Very proud to be associated with your exemplary work. Thank you so much.”

Dr Anna Batho — Clinical Psychologist – Critical Care, UCLH

“We have worked with Alan, Caroline and the wider Alive With Ideas team for many years. In that time, they have provided a dedicated service that is second to none. We appreciate their attention to detail and creative approach to bringing our brand, communications and stories to life. And would recommend them to anyone looking for creative communications support.”

Georgia Beech — Internal Communications Specialist, Ocado Group

“This is brilliant. I wanted to give my heartfelt thanks to all of the team who worked on this. You all understood exactly what we wanted to communicate and why, and then managed to do it in a way that was far better than anything I could have imagined. I’m a bit choked up to be honest!”

Sarah Wright, Head of Communications and Campaigns — NEA

“Each time I work with the team, I am always stunned at the effort and creativity that goes into each detail and am always eager for the end result. The team is extremely accommodating and always provide a fresh approach to our projects that elevates our communications materials!”

Alana Khaytin, Communications Specialist — Braskem America

“What I really appreciate about Alive is that they work with us as partners, and care as much about getting it right for our patients as we do.”

Sara Langston, Patient Engagement & Marketing Manager — italk

“Alive are unique in how much they deeply listen and invest in you and your ideas. I have not come across a company that listens as much as they do to ensure your needs are understood and met (actually - they always exceed my needs and expectations). Everyone I recommend Alive to has an equally brilliant experience. When you work with Alive, you are not only getting some genius creativity brought into your life, you are also hanging out with some of the best examples of human beings I’ve ever known.”

Steph Tranter, Hybrid Exec Coach & Psychologist —

“Alive helped us create a video of our response to the floods of winter 2019. Our Chief Officer received messages from all round the country praising us for it and was really pleased with both the video and the response to it.”

Alexander Mills, Communications Manager — South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue

“Alive were professional, friendly and great to work with. Most importantly they were creative, helping us to bring an extremely important safety campaign to life.”

Jack Grasby — South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue

“The (Alive) team were able to creatively pull together and document (in just over 2minutes) everything our service has achieved over the last few months, from thousands of prescriptions deliveries to hundreds of phone calls made to the vulnerable. The final product was so powerful and reflective of what our service has and continues to achieve. It couldn’t have been better received within the service – thanks Alive for once again helping us to communicate our vision!’”

Emma Wright — South Yorkshire & Rescue

“We worked with the team at Alive to create our staff recognition video.
At a time like this, its never been more important to share the amazing work that our staff have done and continue to do on a daily basis under very difficult circumstances. We wanted to shout about this and recognise that when the time came, South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue stepped up to the plate. We didn’t want an ordinary thank you post on social media or a basic email sent out internally, we wanted something special. Enter Alive. ”

Emma Wright — South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue

“This looks amazing - brought a smile to my face scrolling through it :-)”

Jack Ford, Head of Marketing — streamGO

“Our company is fun, we have great brands, but most importantly we’re all about our people – and I wanted an agency who would understand that and help us bring it to life through our website and other comms. Straight away I felt that Alive ‘got’ us and provided the creative inspiration exactly where we needed it, as well as the technical expertise to deliver a well-functioning website.”

Keren McCarron, Head of Corporate Affairs & Communications — KP Snacks

Thank you so much. Incredible work done at incredible speed by incredible people.
Outstanding work as ever and what a turnaround. As for the concepts – wow. These are that good it would be an insult to describe them as just good. It’s a joke, quite frankly. This is exactly the Alive effect I was after. Right now I feel like I am living in an Alive With Ideas wonderland. Thank you!”

Jack Grasby, Campaigns Manager — SYFR

“If you are looking to improve creativity and build teamwork, I highly recommend a session like this for your team. No matter where you are in your creativity journey, a workshop like this can give your team a boost of energy and ideas to invigorate their creative thinking.”

Amy Lilja, IC Manager — Hennepin Healthcare

“Alive were there to help when we were working every hour to respond to the coronavirus outbreak. They gave us the creativity, ideas and support we needed to deliver campaigns which empowered our residents in the most difficult time most of us have ever seen, personally and professionally. The team understood what we needed, worked closely with us and delivered fast without any compromise on quality. Working with Alive has been a joy in the darkest of times and I have no doubt will have helped to save lives. Thanks team x”

Julie Odams, Assistant Director of Communications & Customers — Derbyshire County Council

“We got 'Alive' involved to help us shift mindsets across our organisation and they delivered! Using simple, clear and creative ideas the team have delivered us a campaign which has seen a dramatic increase in idea sharing and development. They’ve also played a significant role in creating a culture of shared success. I wouldn’t hesitate to work with again, in fact, we already are!”

Gavin Buckle — B&Q
Alive logo