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Ideas for Appreciation Award Wording

What is employee recognition all about? It goes deeper than a simple gift, and is more meaningful than a gift card or a trinket. It’s about making your employees feel respected and valued, and to do that you need the right appreciation award wording.

Jack Kerouac said, “One day I will find the right words, and they will be simple.” This perfectly sums up what you must do to create thoughtful, effective awards. The right words are the words that communicate not only the what, but the why: why do you appreciate this person so much? And the words must be simple enough to say what you mean in a limited amount of space.

Don’t have a way with words like Kerouac? You don’t need to be a novelist to create amazing appreciation award wording. You just need these pro tips.


Learn the Language of Appreciation

Employee appreciation isn’t just about awards ceremonies and events. It’s about making recognition part of your company culture and living it every day. When you learn the right language to use on a day-to-day basis, coming up with appreciation award wording will be even easier.

Make employee appreciation a part of your company culture by acknowledging at least one worker every day, either verbally or in writing. Start with an “I” or “you” phrase, then fill in the accomplishment or contribution. Don’t forget to add an appropriate adjective as a personal compliment.


“I” or “You” Phrases

Personal Compliments

I really appreciate…

problem solver

I value your…

team player

I admire your…

out-of-the-box thinker

You demonstrated…

energetic, enthusiastic

You helped me…

inspiring leader


When you show appreciation daily, you’ll improve communication on your team, boost employee morale and encourage productivity. Practice makes perfect – eventually, this type of wording will come naturally to you.


Appreciation Award Wording Basics

Now you’re ready to consider appreciation award wording specifically. Do you remember English class, when you learned the “5 Ws”? They’re who, what, where, when and why, and they sum up everything you need to have on your award.



Name of recipient and title


Reason for award


Name of your company or event


Date when award is being given


Detailed description of reason for the award


What if all that doesn’t fit on your award? It’s most important to include the who, what and where. You can remove the title of the recipient and try using your company logo in place of the company name to save some space. You can also shorten the reason for the award or give the award a title that sums up the reason. 

However, especially for employee appreciation award wording, we recommend choosing a surface that can fit all 5 Ws, like a plaque or a crystal award. It’s essential to personalize this type of award for maximum impact, and you’ll need the space to do that.


Our Favorite Ideas for Appreciation Award Wording

While your appreciation award wording should always include the 5 Ws, the exact message will depend on the occasion. The order that you put the Ws in can also change depending on what you want to emphasize. As an example, for sales awards and promotion recognition, we recommend putting the name of the award or accomplishment first for ultimate bragging rights. Check out the examples below for inspiration, then make them your own.


Length of Service Award

Presented to

[Employee Name]

Thank you for 5 years

of outstanding contributions

to [Company Name]

[Month, Day, Year]


Retirement Award

In recognition of your retirement

[Employee Name]

[Title and Company Name]

[Date range of employment]

Your dedication and loyalty

made a difference


Promotion Recognition

Congratulations on your promotion

[Employee Name]

[Company Name and New Employee Title]

[Month, Day, Year]

Your passion and drive inspire us all


Sales Award

Salesperson of the Year

[Employee Name]

[Company Name]


For demonstrating integrity while

accomplishing great things


Teamwork Award

[Company Name]

Team Player Award

Presented to

[Employee Name]

A key contributor to the

most effective team of



Leadership Award

Presented to

[Employee Name]

With deep appreciation for

your visionary leadership

at [Company Name]

[Month, Day, Year]


Beyond Appreciation Award Wording: The Ceremony

But you don’t need appreciation award wording only for the trophy or plaque you’re presenting. You need to say the right thing at the ceremony, too. Write down the following for each recipient:

  •        Name, hire date and presentation date
  •        Current job title and responsibilities
  •        Original job title
  •        Specific contributions to your company
  •        A few humorous stories about the recipient
  •        Hobbies while away from work
  •        Family information
  •        Information about the award
  •        Why the recipient deserves the award

You can draw on this information to create your award presentation speech. You don’t have to use every category for every recipient; choose the categories that are most interesting or engaging for that person. Someone might have an interesting hobby, for example, while someone else might have a funny story that’s become part of office lore. Just like your appreciation award wording, your presentation speech should be personalized and thoughtful. 

The right appreciation award wording will maximize the impact of your awards and make an impression that lasts forever in the minds of the recipients. With just a little effort, you can find your inner writer and create inspiring messages for any occasion. Get out your notebook and get started!