How To Write a Recognition Letter with Guides and Templates

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 29 November 2022

Published 30 November 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Recognition letters give you the opportunity to show employees that you value their hard work and appreciate their efforts. When employees feel recognised, managers can benefit from increased employee engagement and retention. It's important that you know how to write an effective recognition letter tailored to different employee achievements and milestones. In this article, we discuss what a recognition letter is, why it's important and how to write one.

What is a recognition letter?

A recognition letter is a message from a manager to employees that acknowledges achievements or exceptional work they've performed on behalf of the company. It's an expression of appreciation that's intended to motivate employees and make them feel valued. Managers may write a recognition letter to:

  • thank an employee

  • acknowledge a recent achievement

  • congratulate an employee

  • welcome new team members

  • award staff

Related: What is work culture? (Definition, elements and benefits)

Why are recognition letters important?

There are several reasons why recognition letters are important. It's an easy and cost-effective way to show employees that you care without having an elaborate scheme in place. Other reasons may include:

  • allow managers to build strong relationships with employees

  • help employees feel good about their hard work and efforts

  • reinforce desired employee behaviour

  • strengthen loyalty in the workplace

  • motivate employees to work harder

  • emphasis that hard work doesn't go unnoticed

  • foster a healthy company culture

  • ensure that employees are consistent in their work efforts

  • Inspire other team members to do better

  • can improve retention rates

Related: The importance of feedback (With types and examples)

How to write a letter of recognition

Before writing your letter of recognition, try understanding why you're writing it and how their work has contributed to the workplace. Here are steps to help you write an effective letter for a recipient:

1. Choose the correct format

The formality of a recognition letter fluctuates according to the reason you're writing. If you're the manager of a professional business that has a formal culture, then print your letter out. This is especially the case if you're congratulating a major achievement. If business relations are more casual and the employee is celebrating a minor accomplishment, then maybe opt for an email. In all instances, ensure your prose remains formal.

Related: Letter format: tips and template

2. Add contact information

Printed letters display your contact details displayed in the upper left-hand corner. This means the employee knows who it's from before reading on. You can include your first and last name, along with your address and contact details. For email recognition letters, you can ignore this step and simply give a brief reference to why you're writing in the subject line.

3. Add a greeting

Formality in greetings for recognition of the employee is important. Try using greetings such as 'Dear', and other similar titles, followed by the employee's first name. This initiates a professional opening to the letter that continues throughout the body. If you don't know the employee by name, reference their surname instead.

Related: What Are Letter Salutations and How Do You Write One?

4. Write out the main message

Always start the main body with a sentence that directly references why you're writing this letter. This includes expressing thanks or congratulating the employee on their recent accomplishment. Be sure to go into as much detail as possible regarding the situation. Give specific examples of their contributions to the workplace or, with a long-standing employee, reference how many years they've worked for the company and some of their most recognisable achievements over the years.

Ensure that you believe what you're writing in the main body so that it remains sincere. You can always give your opinion on the employee's recent project, such as why you thought it was good or how it demonstrated innovation, to showcase your genuine interest.

5. Summarise with a conclusion

Reiterate the main points of your letter in the conclusion with a summative statement. The first line of your conclusion needs to reiterate the very first sentence of the recognition letter. If you plan to reward the employee further, the conclusion is a good place to disclose this information. Make sure this section of your letter is brief and to the point.

6. Add a closing phrase

There are several closing phrases to choose from when writing a recognition letter, and which one you choose depends on the level of formality. For example, a more formal letter usually ends with 'Sincerely' whilst casual email formats might finish with “Thanks again.” Disclose your name and signature underneath the closing phrase, followed by your job title.

Related: How to End a Letter

7. Proofread the letter

Before sending your email or letter, make sure that you give it a thorough proofread. Look for any typing errors or grammatical mistakes and correct any syntax or structural issues that undermine the letter's clarity. Make sure that your tone remains professional throughout and that your message comes across well. A proofread letter that's free from any mistakes further indicates to employees that you care enough to put time and effort into your appreciation.

Recognition letter template

Employee recognition letters vary according to the purpose and formality of the situation. For email recognition letters, remove your and the employee's address and contact information from the top of the letter. A recognition letter template for hand-written messages may look like this:

[Name of employee]

[Employee address]

[Employee phone number]

[Employee email address]

[Today's date]

[Your name]

[Company name]

[Company address]

Dear [employee name], I'm writing to let you know how much I valued your hard work and the dedication you expressed towards the [event/project]. [Reference specific details regarding the employee's contribution and your appreciation]. I'd like to say thank you once again for your hard work and I look forward to seeing what you achieve next. Sincerely,

[Your name]

[Your signature] [Your title]

Recognition letter examples

Here are two examples you can use when congratulating or welcoming a new employee:

Recognition letter to congratulate an employee

Dear Lara,

Congratulations on your promotion as a retail department manager. I'd like to express my gratitude for all your hard work and successes that contributed to this promotion. Retail department managers play a huge role within our company and you've done more than prove your competence for the position. You have been the top-producing salesperson for Candles R Us since you joined us a year ago – selling five per cent more than your colleagues. You also performed exceptionally well at the retail convention last month, where your expert knowledge of our products contributed immensely towards customer loyalty records and positioned us as a top competitor within the sales industry. Thank you once again for all your hard work and I look forward to seeing what you accomplish in your new role.

To your future success,

Peter

Related: How to show recognition for employees (Examples and tips)

Recognition letter to welcome a new employee

Dear Sarah,

I'd like to welcome you to Production 101 and let you know that I'm already seeing the positive impact you have on our business. You completed your training a week early due to your tremendous aptitude and initiative and have managed your new responsibilities well. You seem to have settled into your new position comfortably, as demonstrated by your excellent contribution to yesterday's team conference. Your attitude is something we value, as I've noticed new employees coming to you with their queries and admire your positive response. If there's anything I can do to help you progress in your new role over the coming months, please let me know. Otherwise, I look forward to seeing what you achieve.

Sincerely,

Michael

Related: How to write a welcome letter to a new employee

Tips to write a successful letter of recognition

Irrespective of what the purpose of your recognition letter is, there are some rules to keep in mind. These tips help you retain professionalism and ensure employees feel motivated upon receiving their letter of recognition:

Believe in your words

Create a letter that you believe in and is truthful about the recipient's achievements. Show you care about their successes by sharing well wishes in the letter. Also, consider writing an enthusiastic letter that is unique and thoughtful to help demonstrate how proud you are of them.

Related: How To Congratulate a Colleague on a Promotion (Steps and Examples)

Be specific

Write a letter that does more than simply congratulate an individual. Highlight specific achievements or milestones that contributed to the employee's success, like reaching individual goals for the month. This shows that you pay attention to their smaller wins alongside their significant successes.

Award character

Employees feel special when managers recognise their unique skills and attributes that make them good at their job. Whether an employee has a positive attitude, good problem-solving skills or always arrives at work with a smile, be sure to recognise this in your letter. This makes your recognition letter personable.

The model shown is for illustration purposes only, and may require additional formatting to meet accepted standards.

Related:

  • What is an employee recognition platform? (With examples)


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