Cerkl Broadcast
Cerkl Broadcast

Employee Spotlight: The Best Engagement and Recognition Tool

An employee spotlight program is an excellent way to recognize the contribution of employees and increase engagement. Here’s the lowdown on why and how.
Written by: Penny Swift
employee spotlight cover image
Published: June 24, 2024
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Feeling unappreciated at work can be a major demotivator for employees in all industries. But what if there was a program that could publicly acknowledge their achievements, boost their morale, and connect them with their colleagues? A program that could bolster employee engagement, and shield employees from burnout?

Employee recognition is the key. 

A Gallup/Workhuman report, Empowering Workplace Culture Through Recognition, shows how “One of the best ways to engage and inspire employees is to recognize them.” It states that:

  • 70% of employees who strongly agree that recognition is an important part of their culture, strongly agree that they feel connected to their organization’s culture.
  • 72% of employees who have great recognition experiences say that performance on “little things” is commonly recognized at their organization.
  • Employees who receive great recognition are 20 times as likely to be engaged as employees who receive poor recognition.

“A strong culture acts both as a catalyst to generate engagement and as a road map to channel that engagement in a way that best serves an organization’s goals and mission. Recognition stands uniquely as an element of culture in and of itself, while also wielding the power and flexibility to reinforce other elements of how work gets done in an organization.”

Gallup/Workhuman report

The question is, what’s the best way to recognize your employees and increase engagement

Employee spotlights are a fantastic way to celebrate the amazing people who drive your company’s success – and it isn’t just about feel-good recognition. The employee spotlight is a powerful tool for boosting employee engagement, fostering a positive work environment, and attracting top talent. 

In this post, we’ll explore the benefits and best practices of implementing an employee spotlight program and discover how this simple yet strategic tool can be a game-changer for employee engagement and retention.

What is an Employee Spotlight?

An employee spotlight is a recognition program where an organization highlights and showcases the achievements, contributions, and personalities of its employees. It’s an excellent way to recognize and celebrate the hard work, dedication, and commitment of employees. Doing so can have a significant impact on employee engagement, motivation, and retention.

Why is Recognition So Important?

The Gallup/Workhuman report highlights the value of recognition as a pivotal tool for building a strong company culture. It also shows how a culture boosted by recognition can drive employee engagement and produce other tangible results.

Similarly, the Achievers Workforce Institute’s 2023 State of Recognition: The gratitude gap report states that employees who are recognized at least monthly are more engaged, more productive, and less likely to job hunt. They also say that when they feel recognized this helps to outweigh a heavy workload, layoffs, and a salary that is below expectations. 

According to the report:

  • 73% feel that being recognized would inspire them to be more productive
  • 64% admit it would reduce their desire to job hunt
  • 54% say it would reduce the impact of having a salary below their expectations
employee recognition importance

A report by Reward Gateway and Edenred, Workplace Wellbeing: Where to focus in 2024, states that employee reward and recognition are among the top five strategies that employers should focus on in the next year. The report lists the top five ways managers could recognize people better, according to employees:

  • 45% would like to see more tangible rewards including bonuses and gifts
  • 34% want more verbal praise
  • 31% are looking for more opportunities for professional growth
  • 30% encourage managers to provide regular constructive feedback and mentorship
  • 27% would appreciate their achievements being acknowledged publicly — which an employee spotlight will do

“Recognizing good work is often overlooked as a motivator, but it can play a pivotal role in retention and productivity. For 78% of employees, it’s a way to make them more likely to stay at the company. And for 76%, it’s a motivation to work harder. Recognition is a superpower, and so affordable.”

Reward Gateway/Edenred report

Why Use Employee Spotlights for Recognition?

There is no doubt that unlocking the full potential of your employee base requires deliberate effort. But the return on investment (ROI) is undeniable. By investing in social recognition and continuous performance development platforms, you can infuse your organization with a culture of gratitude and growth. 

Providing timely praise and feedback, rather than waiting six months for an annual or even quarterly review, is crucial for any organization seeking to boost engagement and retention. By recognizing and rewarding employees in real-time, you can foster a positive work environment, drive employee satisfaction, and ultimately, achieve a higher ROI on your most valuable asset – your people.

Focus on Employees

The very term employee spotlight indicates that the program focuses on employees. 

An employee spotlight is a powerful way to recognize and reward employees in real time because it offers personalized acknowledgment that goes beyond traditional rewards. 

Employee spotlights boost morale and make employees feel valued. Seeing their contributions recognized publicly can be a great motivator. They also improve employee engagement and increase job satisfaction. Employee spotlights facilitate better communication within the organization, promoting a sense of community and connection among employees. 

As you can see, even though the focus is on employees, ultimately, the organization benefits.   

Company Benefits

Because an employee spotlight has the power to boost morale and motivation, typically, it leads to increased productivity and better work quality. This, in turn, improves talent retention, at the same time saving the company time and resources.

Employee spotlights can also demonstrate leadership’s commitment to recognizing and rewarding employees. Their commitment promotes a positive company culture and showcases its values to potential recruits.

Employee spotlights foster a sense of community and shared success. Employees get to know each other better, which strengthens collaboration and teamwork. Employee spotlights also provide valuable insights into employee performance, helping companies make data-driven decisions to improve employee engagement and retention.

Employee spotlights can also enhance a company’s employer brand by showcasing its people, culture, and values, making it a more attractive place to work. Furthermore, employees who are recognized can become brand ambassadors, promoting the company and its values to others. When they refer top talent to the company — friends, acquaintances, or simply people they recognize — they can reduce recruitment costs and improve the quality of new hires.

Companies that recognize and reward their employees can differentiate themselves from competitors, attracting top talent and improving their reputation. Ultimately, by recognizing and rewarding employees, companies can improve business outcomes, such as increased sales, improved customer satisfaction, and enhanced reputation.

Basically, it’s an ongoing circle that has the potential to increase success all round. 

why use employee spotlights

Employee Spotlight Ideas 

There are endless possibilities when it comes to employee spotlights. Here are 10 ideas to spark your creativity. 

#1 Employee of the Month Feature

Highlight an employee’s achievements, skills, and contributions to the organization. Achievements could be anything from creating a challenging project within budget to exceeding a sales target for the quarter. Skills might range from proficiency in multiple software programs and languages to excellent communication and interpersonal skills. Possible contributions might include someone who mentored and trained new employees to improve team performance.

#2 Spotlight on Success Series

Share stories of employees who have achieved significant milestones, such as completing a challenging project or receiving a promotion. Just remember that success means different things to different people. So, success for a new employee will be a totally different story from someone who has been with the company for decades. 

#3 Employee of the Quarter Award

Recognize employees who have demonstrated exceptional performance, teamwork, or leadership skills.

#4 Rookie of the Year Award

Recognize new employees who have made a significant impact in their first year. Whatever they have done, it’s important that the recognition is specific and sincere, and highlights the employee’s achievements and impact on the organization. It also acknowledges their hard work, dedication, and commitment to their role.

#5 Innovator of the Month

Not every employee is going to be innovative, but it’s great to recognize those who are. This employee spotlight can recognize employees who have introduced innovative ideas, solutions, or products. They may, of course, be in any field and at any level. 

#6 Community Champion

Highlight employees who have made a positive impact in their community through volunteer work or charitable initiatives. This kind of initiative can say wonders about the company, not only the individual. Recognition is invaluable. 

#7 Cross-Functional Collaboration

Highlight employees who have worked across departments or teams to achieve a common goal. These are people who can help to fix the problems by communication silos within an organization. 

#8 Customer Service Feature

Recognize employees who have provided exceptional customer service (CS), exceeding customer expectations with an employee spotlight. Customer reviews or satisfaction surveys might alert leadership to successful CS employees. Alternatively, the organization might receive frequent compliments and positive feedback from customers through reviews, emails, or phone calls. 

Additionally, employees who excel in customer service may also demonstrate a deep understanding of the company’s products or services. It may be evident that they respond promptly to customer inquiries, and consistently resolve customer issues in a professional and courteous manner.

#9 Behind the Scenes Feature

Not everyone has the same opportunities to succeed at a level that attracts immediate recognition. Here’s a great way to include those who are, quite literally, behind the scenes. They may work in IT or HR, or they may be administrative staff. Their success needs to be recognized as much as anyone else’s. Often, these are the people who support the innovators, champions, and successful salespeople who the spotlights usually focus on. 

#10 Long Service Employee Feature

Highlight employees who have been with the organization for 5, 10, 15, or more than 20 years. Their stories can have any focus. You could ask them for career highlights, or you could ask them why they have stuck with the company for so long. 

employee spotlight ideas

Options for Employee Spotlight Formats

There are various formats that you can use for an employee spotlight — written, visual, or interactive. Within these options, you choose from typical types including blog posts, social media, spotlight newsletters, or video clips. Of course, you can also combine one or two together. Here are some examples.

Written Formats

  • An employee profile is a classic format that features a biographical blurb about the employee. This highlights their achievements, skills, and hobbies, and may include a fun fact. It’s informative and allows employees to showcase their personalities.
  • A question-and-answer style interview with an employee allows for a more in-depth exploration of their work, experiences, and perspectives. It is, though, usually produced in a written format.
  • A dedicated blog post can offer a longer-form employee spotlight that details the employee’s journey within the company, their biggest contributions, and their future aspirations.

All of these are commonly published with at least one photograph of the employee.

Visual Formats

  • A simple yet effective format features a professional photo of the employee alongside a motivational quote or a short blurb about their work. 
  • Another option is to create an infographic employee spotlight to showcase the employee’s accomplishments and contributions using data visualizations, charts, or icons.
  • A short video employee spotlight can be a highly engaging format. It allows employees to introduce themselves, discuss their work, and even share a behind-the-scenes glimpse of their role.

Interactive Formats

Interactive formats can be intriguing. For example:

  • Let the featured employee take over a company’s social media account for a day, allowing them to share their work experiences and connect with followers directly.
  • Host a live Q&A session for an employee spotlight, allowing colleagues to ask them questions about their work and get to know them better. 

Employee Spotlight Channels

Once you’ve come up with ideas and created one or more employee spotlights, you’ll need to find the optimum channels to share them. The best channel for your employee spotlight depends on your goals and target audience. They include:

  • Internal communication channels: Company newsletters, intranet posts, and mobile apps are great for reaching the entire workforce.
  • Social media: Use platforms like LinkedIn and Twitter to showcase your company culture and attract new talent.
  • Company website: Feature employee spotlights on your careers page to showcase your employer brand and reinforce company culture.
  • Company LinkedIn page: Share employee spotlights on your page to recognize employees and to build a strong employer brand and attract top talent.

Inspiring Employee Spotlight Examples

There are so many examples from multiple companies, that we have chosen a small cross-section for variety, to inspire you. 

Lexington Police Department Employee Spotlight – Social Media Post

Lexington Police Department Employee Spotlight

Monroe County Hospital Employee Spotlight – Social Media Post

Monroe County Hospital Employee Spotlight

Cision Employee Spotlight – Newsletter Spotlight

Cision Employee Spotlight

Cognism Employee Spotlight – Video

Cognism Employee Spotlight

Cerkl Employee Spotlight – Video

Cerkl Employee Spotlight

Engaging Employee Spotlight Questions

A good way to create super-engaging employee spotlights is to interview your employees. Alternatively, you can provide them with a list of employee spotlight questions that they can respond to verbally or in writing. The options are endless.  

Here are some possible questions to get the conversation flowing in your employee spotlights. 

  • What made you want to join the company?
  • What positions have you held?
  • What’s the most rewarding part of your job?
  • What have been your biggest challenges in your job?
  • What advice would you give to your younger self?
  • What’s a hidden talent you possess?
  • What’s your favorite company tradition?
  • Do you have any ideas to share on how to motivate oneself?

Ideally, you will want to make employee spotlight questions relevant to the employee you are going to feature. For example, there’s no point in asking a rookie how many positions they’ve held. 

4-Step Strategy to Develop and Implement Your Employee Spotlight Program

A strategy for employee spotlights should follow a logical process. While some elements may change — like format or layout — most steps remain the same. The order isn’t critical.

Since we’re talking about a program here and not one-off employee spotlights, you’ll need to schedule regular spotlights to maintain momentum.

Once the program is in place, track its results to see what resonates with your audience. 

1. Choose an Employee to Feature

Employee spotlights should be varied in terms of gender, age, tenure, department, and role. Individuals with interesting stories or achievements can be inspirational. But it’s important to ignore those with more mundane stories to tell. Everyone needs recognition. Involve employees in the nomination process.

Nevertheless, it makes sense to highlight employees who exemplify your company’s values

2. Craft a Compelling Spotlight

This is likely to be your most lengthy step, though it is one that you can outsource to your content writer. It might start with information from your HR department. Then whoever is crafting the spotlight will need to ask employee spotlight questions and determine what visuals are needed. 

When it comes to writing, it’s good to focus on storytelling. That way you can capture attention with a personal narrative. When you opt for written employee spotlights, use visuals. Include a high-quality image or short video to grab attention. A video, of course, can stand on its own. 

Either way, keep your employee spotlights concise and engaging. People are busy, so get to the point quickly. You want to keep them engaged. 

3. Determine a Format for Your Spotlight

The examples provided above will show you how these can vary. Your program doesn’t have to be cast in stone. For example, some employee spotlights can be videos while others can be text-based and shared in newsletters or on social media.  

4. Showcase Your Spotlight

Choose the right platform and tailor the spotlight to the audience on each channel. Then promote your spotlight effectively. Use social media, internal announcements, and email blasts.

Encourage employee engagement by asking colleagues to like, share, and comment on all the employee spotlights.

steps to develop employee spotlight program

Improve Your Employee Spotlights with Efficient Internal Communications

A key element of a successful employee spotlight program is clear and consistent internal communication. Make sure everyone in the company knows about the program, how nominations (if you use them) work, and where to find employee spotlights once they’ve been published.

You can use Cerkl Broadcast to distribute employee spotlights in email blasts. Broadcast enables you to target specific groups or teams with relevant employee spotlights, ensuring that the right information reaches the right people. You can share employee spotlights in real time, ensuring that employees receive timely recognition and appreciation for their achievements. 

With Cerkl Broadcast’s analytics, you can measure the impact of employee spotlights on engagement, morale, and productivity, helping you refine your recognition strategy over time.

What’s Next?

Ultimately, the value of employee spotlights lies within a good internal communications strategy. To help you get on top of the game, we have prepared a white paper, The Importance of Internal Communication, that we are offering you free of charge. Download it now. And if you want personalized guidance on how Cerkl Broadcast can help your organization, contact us.


What is an example of an employee spotlight?

Two examples are “Employee of the Month” or a social media post highlighting contributions, like “Meet Jane, our top sales performer of Q2!”

What is the employee spotlight strategy

This is a recognition program that showcases employees’ achievements, skills, and personalities to boost morale, engagement, and retention while humanizing the organization’s brand.

How to create an employee spotlight?

Gather information about an employee, write a compelling story or summary, add visuals like photos or videos, and share it through internal communications, social media, or a company blog.

What questions to ask for an employee spotlight?

Here are four questions you might want to ask: 
1. What inspired you to pursue your current role? 
2. What’s your proudest accomplishment? 
3. What do you like to do outside of work? 
4. What’s one thing people might not know about you?

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