How to Give Credit Publicly Without Embarrassing or Humiliating Anyone

We have all been in a restaurant when all of a sudden the entire waitstaff marches out of the kitchen in celebratory song to acknowledge someone’s birthday. In this situation, the person being recognized is likely to have one of two reactions. Either they will laugh and play along or they will turn bright red with embarrassment. That’s because not everyone reacts the same way to having all of the attention focused on them. The same is true when it comes to publicly recognizing an employee in the workplace. While the idea of recognizing their accomplishment in front of the entire team may sound like a great idea, some people might find this public recognition to be humiliating. For this reason, it’s important for managers to consider how individual employees might perceive public recognition in the workplace and plan accordingly. 


Determine the Employee’s Recognition Preference

Recognition is all about letting that person know how much you appreciate and value their efforts. With this goal in mind, it can be achieved through either public or private recognition. It is important to be respectful of your employees’ preferences regarding public acknowledgement and you can find out by asking a few simple questions. A simple questionnaire can help you find out how your employees like to receive recognition. You can ask questions such as:

  • What kind of recognition is meaningful to you?
  • Are you comfortable with public praise?
  • From whom do you prefer to receive recognition?


These simple questions can help you get to know your employees so you can adjust your recognition accordingly. 


How to Give Public Praise

For many workplaces, public praise is encouraged because it helps to create a positive and engaging environment and it can help motivate the entire team. It also demonstrates employee expectations while also encouraging employees to support one another. Celebrating the individual contributions of team members can be very motivating, but it doesn’t have to be over the top. Here are a few examples of how managers can publicly recognize an employee without embarrassing them. 


  • Recognition on a digital wall such as Workplace Rewards
  • Honoring an individual at a luncheon or workplace event
  • Placing a “shout-out” in the company newsletter
  • Expressing appreciation during a team meeting
  • Posting accomplishments on a company “Wall of Fame” board 
  • Highlighting individual accomplishments through the company’s social media platforms


The key to public recognition is not humiliating the employee with an over-the-top gestire or behavior. Keep things simple, straightforward, and genuine. While spontaneous praise can be motivating and help build a positive energy, not everyone wants or needs such public recognition. In some cases, it might be beneficial to let the employee know in advance that you will be mentioning them during the next meeting or luncheon.