Recognizing employees underscores the human side of an organization. Workers feel appreciated and develop an emotional commitment to their companies' goals when management acknowledges their efforts. This increased employee engagement translates into higher levels of productivity and customer satisfaction and lower turnover, accident and quality rejection rates. The awards you choose to incorporate into your employee benefits package honor behavior you want to encourage: loyalty, innovation, teamwork and dedicated service.

Service Recognition

Publicly acknowledging an employee's service milestone, be it one year or 25 years, demonstrates that your organization values loyalty. Length of service recognition is the most common recognition program among respondents to World of Work's annual Trends in Employee Recognition surveys. Service recognition programs often use five years as the increment for award eligibility, as exemplified by the University of Colorado. Use the opportunity to also recognize employees' contributions across their careers with you.

Meritorious Performance

Commonly known as Employee of the Month, this award recognizes the efforts a worker makes to go above and beyond her job description and exemplify organizational values for customer service, innovation or achievement. For example, the law firm Morgan, Brown & Joy encourages merit awards to recognize performance in areas such as cost reduction, sales or profit.

Merit awards can be given at the corporate, divisional and departmental levels. This category offers a lot of flexibility to honor behavior that supports your company's values and mission. Supervisors or peers can nominate colleagues for a merit award that should be presented soon after the action that led to the nomination.

Peer-to-Peer Recognition

Recognition from fellow employees can carry a lot of significance for honored individuals. This type of employee recognition award ranked third in popularity on the 2013 World at Work survey. Peer-to-peer programs can be annual presentations, allowing a special committee to select the winners from employee nominations submitted throughout the year. They also can be ongoing, with colleagues sending e-cards that feed into an internal website for everyone in the organization to see, according to the Society for Human Resource Management. Categories for which awards may be considered include attendance, discovering a potentially damaging discrepancy, leading a new venture, winning a new client or account and serving as a mentor.

Community Service Recognition

If your organization has an employee volunteer program or encourages your workforce to perform charitable services, a volunteer award can underscore commitment to corporate citizenship. You can schedule distribution to coincide with National Volunteer Week every April.

Northrup Grumman's employee volunteer recognition program asks nonprofits to nominate an employee who has volunteered with them at least 12 months. Under the company's guidelines, nominated volunteers must have made an impact in the organization or the community through innovation or extraordinary dedication and demonstrate dedication to making a difference.

Safety Recognition

A safety recognition award program can work in conjunction with your company's injury and illness prevention program to instill safe work habits. Such a program can have formal and informal elements, according to Occupational Health & Safety Online. The informal aspect allows supervisors and plant managers to award employees on the spot when they are seen wearing proper personal protection equipment or following safety procedures. Or, as Sodexo Motivation Solutions suggests, recognize employees for safety suggestions that proved to be successful. The formal program honors the entire plant, individuals, shifts or teams at perhaps an annual event.

Formal recognition can use measurable criteria tied to company safety goals, on corporate, departmental and individual levels. The Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation recommends organizational criteria such as reduction in lost-time injuries or incident rates, hours worked without a lost-time injury, outstanding safety audit score and injury-free project completion, while individual qualifications might include number of hours, days, weeks or years worked without a lost-time injury, or serving as a safety committee or safety project member.