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How to Write an Award Letter to Recognize an Employee

how to write award certificate

By Susan M. Heathfield. Human Resources Expert

Susan Heathfield is a Human Resources expert. She is a management and organization development consultant who specializes in human resources issues and in management development to create forward thinking workplaces. Susan is also a professional facilitator, speaker, trainer, and writer.

Susan is a member of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). Susan contributes regularly to professional publications including a book chapter for ASTD and a recent article in the American Society for Quality 's Journal for Quality and Participation. This Web site is recommended as a resource by many colleges and universities including the ILR School Catherwood Library at Cornell University.

Susan has covered Human Resources for since 2000.

You can read more about Susan's current and past work on her Google Profile: Susan Heathfield .

The award letter is an opportunity to both thank a valued employee for his or her contribution and to reinforce the behaviors and actions for which the award is presented. The award letter doubles the impact of the recognition.

When the manager verbally presents the award, and then reinforces why the employee is receiving it in a letter, the award is powerful. Depending on the employee and his or her comfort level with public recognition, a  public recognition is also powerful.

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Organizations that hold periodic ceremonies or lunches to present awards are also effectively magnifying the impact of the award.

The meaningful award letter fulfills several purposes.

  • The award letter announces the award and describes the details of its amount / type and receipt options or details.
  • The manager uses the award letter as an opportunity to reinforce the behaviors that earned the employee the award.
  • The award letter differentiates the recipient’s performance so that the award has meaning to the employee who receives it.
  • The award letter thanks the recipient for his or her contribution that resulted in the award.
  • The award letter provides personal, special recognition for the recipient

    from the upper level manager who presents the award notification.

The award letter comes from the recipient’s department head or a higher level manager so that the employee understands that the award is a big deal.

The award is generally presented in a way that lets other employees know that their coworker received the award and why.

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This publicity provides the organization with the opportunity to demonstrate that recognition is available for positive contributors. This enhances employee morale and assures employees that good work is noticed and rewarded.

If you follow these guidelines for an employee award letter, you will magnify the employee's feeling of accomplishment. The employee will keep your award letter where he or she keeps treasured mementos.

What's In an Award Letter?

The award letter recognizes the employee for making a positive contribution at work. It should specifically detail why the employee is receiving the recognition and the impact of the contribution on the company.

The letter should thank the employee and detail any gift, monetary award, or certificate that  the employee is receiving as the recipient of the award. It should describe any function or ceremony that will be held to honor  awardees and provide attendance details.

Finally, the award letter is signed by the employee's manager, at least, or the president or CEO. If you go to the trouble of providing awards, recognize them for the big deal that they are for your employee recipients.

Make awards, recognition, and gratitude a regular feature of your workplace to recognize and retain your best employees.

The following sample letters provide a variety of approaches to reward, recognition, and saying thank you. Why not take a look?

Sample Employee Thank You and Recognition Letters

See additional examples of employee thank you and recognition letters.

Samples of Thank You Letters in the Workplace

More Sample Employer Letters

Use these sample employment related letters as guides for the letters that you write in your company or organization.

Category: Insurance

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