They don’t necessarily want more pay or better perks. More than anything, workers want to feel like they belong.
For employees, being valued by their organization and managers is the most important factor when they decide to stay at a company.
Thankfully, appreciating the humanity of your employee base doesn’t have to be complicated or costly.
A simple way to acknowledge the value individuals bring to your organization is through employee spotlights.
Spotlights show workers’ contributions to your company, improving employee engagement and attracting future employees.
We created this mega guide to employee spotlights to help employers show off the core values of their organizations (their people or human resources).
So join us as we cover how to show your workforce’s skills with best practices, real-life examples, and a handy employee spotlight template to take with you.
An employee spotlight is a recognition program that celebrates individual employees’ achievements, contributions, and talents.
Employee spotlights tell employee stories and take many forms, including:
Social media posts
Typically, an employee spotlight displays a specific employee’s background, skills, and accomplishments in the workplace. It can also include the employee’s interests, hobbies, and career goals.
The bottom line is that by shining a light on individual employees’ unique talents and strengths, a company can build a culture of recognition that helps boost employee morale and improve overall employee engagement.
Employee spotlights foster deeper connections between workers and their companies in ways that benefit the individuals and the broader organization.
Let’s take a look at some of the advantages employers and employees gain as a result of employee spotlights.
Here’s what happens when you validate high achievers and their career accomplishments with employee spotlights.
You facilitate their professional development
You increase their visibility within the organization
You open doors for their career mobility internally
You magnify their motivation and commitment to your company
Employee spotlights reward talented individuals for their efforts and ensure the continued success of your business.
Employee spotlights support positive employer branding in a couple of critical ways.
Firstly, the spotlight is a valuable marketing asset you can share internally and externally across different media channels.
But, more importantly, employee spotlights speak to your value proposition as an employer and help candidates and coworkers understand why your company is a great place to work.
Increasing your value can help your reputation and market share.
Employee spotlights are also an effective recruitment strategy to attract talent.
Workers want to see that they can thrive in a company before joining, and spotlights give insight that is hard to gain by reading a simple job description.
Insights into the business let candidates experience the benefits of working at your company in a more tangible way than employer ratings or recruiter conversations can provide.
And it can help you onboard employees faster because they’ve already self-selected into your positive work culture and expectations.
When current employees share the joys of working at your company, it can be a powerful advertisement for future candidates.
Employee spotlights play a significant role in creating cohesive company cultures and infuse workplaces with exceptional qualities such as:
Appreciation: By recognizing employees, spotlights foster a supportive culture where motivated employees are encouraged to excel.
Engagement: Workers with a platform to share their employee experience and expertise feel they have an active voice in their company’s culture.
Inspiration: Elevating stories of success and contribution provide role models for other employees to aspire to.
Collaboration: Spotlights can also emphasize teamwork by recognizing employees who have excelled in cross-functional or team-based projects and encouraging others to work together and support each other.
Learning: Sharing knowledge and best practices through employee spotlights creates communal professional growth and development opportunities.
Overall, employee spotlights create a team culture and a sense of pride among employees, leading to a more vibrant and effective work environment.
Remote work isn’t going away anytime soon. In 2021, Upwork estimated almost 28% of workers will be fully remote in the next five years.
Employee spotlights, however, are a simple way to create connections and open internal communication channels among your remote or hybrid employee base.
Spotlights enable workers to get to know their colleagues meaningfully by learning about their vulnerabilities and achievements.
One counterintuitive benefit of employee spotlights is their impact on the external marketplace.
Although the primary audience for employee recognition programs is current workers and passive candidates, the truth is potential customers are watching too.
Research shows that more than one in four buyers consider how a company treats its employees before buying their products.
Employee spotlights can help your company sell more products or services to clients that stumble across the positive acknowledgment you share on social media platforms or other channels.
Employee turnover is a pain to businesses for many reasons:
It disrupts workflows and projects, leading to delays
It requires cross-training other employees to pick up the slack
It leads to skill gaps that take time to fill
It requires time and money to backfill the position
Although we’ve written extensively about strategies to improve employee retention, the concept also deserves a place in this article.
Employee spotlights are a great way to boost retention and retain your most talented employees.
Research routinely shows that a lack of appreciation is one of the primary causes of attrition.
For example, one study reported that almost half of respondents who left a job did so because they felt unappreciated.
Instead of implementing complicated recognition programs, tell your employees how you feel directly and display your admiration in an employee spotlight.
If you search for “employee spotlights” online, you quickly realize that companies take many different approaches.
Some write short biographies of their employees, and others record hour-long interviews. Although there is no “right” way, certain results can work better than others.
Before we get to a handful of spotlights worth emulating, let’s talk about some best practices for creating employee spotlights, regardless of the format.
If you’re ready to start using spotlights but short on time, take a glance at our recommendations for creating compelling employee spotlights below.
Employee spotlight suggestions
What this means in practice
1. Pick one individual and one style
Focus your spotlight on one employee and one main idea.
2. Include all levels and functions
Vary the type of employee you recognize to resonate with different audiences.
3. Embrace and celebrate differences
Lean into the diversity of your workforce.
4. Make the message relatable
Don’t sound “corporate.” Sound human.
5. Magnify your reach with marketing
Make the most of your employee spotlight by sharing it widely.
6. Emphasize employee skills
Share what attributes and capabilities make employees an impactful part of your company.
Employee spotlights are most effective when they underscore the talents and contributions of a single individual.
It’s easier for people to relate to one person, and by focusing on a single employee, your spotlight can dive deeper into their point of view.
The medium for your spotlight (article, video, podcast) is one consideration, but another decision is which topic to explore.
For example, you can create an employee spotlight that focuses on:
A new hire’s story about how and why they’re working for your company
A work anniversary or important career milestone
A seemingly impossible job challenge and how the employee overcame it
The impact that an HR initiative, like a development program or educational support, had on an individual
Telling one intimate story is more compelling than talking about generalized experiences.
The choice of who to include in an employee spotlight depends on the effect your company aims to achieve.
Let’s bring this to life with a few examples.
Type of person in the spotlight
Early stage employee
Create stories that resonate with other young candidates.
Share the struggles of a senior leader to attract your next executive hire.
Creative position (like a
Shift the perception of your company as a top destination for
applicants and increase the talent pool of
Regardless of whom you pick, ensure to choose different departments and vary the seniority of your spotlights to reach a wider audience.
Employee spotlights are the perfect time for employers to acknowledge the diversity of their workplace.
Spotlights that display diverse talent or non-traditional backgrounds can help you stand out as an inclusive employer.
You can show off how your company accommodates individuals with disabilities to help them thrive.
When you take this route, employee spotlights contribute to a sense of community and belonging for current employees and potential candidates.
A stuffy, corporate-sounding employee spotlight is not relatable to those inside and outside your company.
Ditch bland and robotic spotlights in favor of humor and personality.
If you want a great example, check out the third spotlight in the following section.
A high-quality employee spotlight takes time to plan, create, and edit.
Rather than letting these efforts go to waste by sharing the output once, leverage your spotlights across many internal and external channels.
For example, consider posting an employee’s recognition across all of your company’s social media channels and include it in an internal newsletter.
If you find a message that generates lots of interest, consider promoting it with paid marketing.
Using marketing can be a great way to simultaneously elevate your employees and the benefits they bring to your company.
Something that should be a part of every employee spotlight is a discussion of the skills and talents that enable the worker to be effective in their job.
This validation is extremely rewarding to the employee and educates the audience about the skills needed to succeed at your company.
This emphasis helps interested candidates determine whether they are suitable for the role.
Discussing skills in a positive light reinforces that you are a skills-first employer that cares about talent over an employee’s history.
To inspire you, we’ve collected some of the best examples of employee spotlights from around the world.
Check out these spotlights from various industries that use multiple formats to tell their story.
What works well in this spotlight: StellarFi’s spotlight is excellent because it shows one individual with a clear photo and an interesting quote from the employee.
Employee spotlight posts on LinkedIn are a great format because employers can leverage hashtags to expand the message’s reach and encourage readers to click through to the company’s career page to apply for open roles.
Anyone interested in learning more about Luis and his contributions can also read a longer article that explores intriguing questions about his role and personal life.
This approach shows readers that the company cares about the human side of its employee base.
What works well in this spotlight: This post is a great example of tailoring an employee spotlight to the marketing channel you post it to.
This company created a bold, scroll-stopping image that elevates its brand and embraces the individual employee at the center of it.
The organization also uses the space Instagram provides for comments to share more about its employee and encourage readers to click through to its team page to learn more about the company culture.
What works well in this spotlight: Tootsie Roll nails humor in this spotlight, introducing “Terry Tootsie Fingers,” a new character who promotes its product.
Although it’s certainly not a traditional employee spotlight, the video is highly effective, garnering hundreds of comments and thousands of impressions.
Creative employee spotlights like these can cut through the corporate noise and make a significant impression on the community.
Plus, they can help employers meet potential employees where they are most engaged on social media – on TikTok.
What works well in this spotlight: Using videos for your employee spotlights like this example works for a variety of reasons:
They provide deeper insights and can lead to meaningful conversations
They reveal the employee’s experiences in their own words
They show the physical or virtual working environment to the audience
In these ways, this video spotlight helps viewers appreciate the company and the employee in more detail.
The company also introduces us to a series of employee spotlights that interested candidates can spend more time exploring.
What works well in this spotlight: In the era of TikTok and social media posts, it can be easy to forget the power of the written word, but WordStream is here to remind us about it with this excellent blog-based employee spotlight.
What’s great about a blog is that it gives ample time to dive deep into one employee’s experience. For example, this post covers more than a dozen interview questions, from career aspirations to personal life stories.
You can also repurpose a written employee spotlight into other formats – by grabbing great sound bites for short-form content or including it in other company materials.
It’s helpful to treat the spotlights like an interview to get the most out of them.
Preparing questions can aid the discussion with your employees and ensure you cover a full breadth of topics.
Check out some of our favorite questions to ask employees to elicit interesting and inspirational details for your next spotlight.
Great questions to ask
What can you tell us about your background and how you got to where you are now in your career?What does your day typically look like?How does your current job compare with past jobs?
How have you grown since starting work with us?What do you enjoy most about your role and the company you work for?What are some of your proudest accomplishments or achievements while working here?
What are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced in your role, and how have you overcome them?How do you approach problem-solving and decision-making in your role?How do you stay motivated and inspired at work?
What’s your best advice for someone who wants a job with us?Can you share any tips or tricks that have helped you succeed in your role?What advice would you give someone just starting in your field?
After interviewing the employee, you can format the answers into this simple employee spotlight template and post it to your company’s website.
The template captures all the necessary details for an engaging employee spotlight, from images to quotes to career recollections.
Here’s a simple outline to create and post your next employee spotlight.
Years employed at the company
Inspirational quote from the employee
My career journey
How I got started
A day in the life
What I enjoy most
Advice for others
Network and affinity involvement
Why I love working here
Link to relevant company page (career page, open positions, about us, etc.)
Employee spotlights are an excellent way for companies to show appreciation for their workforce and generate buzz about their culture to potential candidates and clients.
By celebrating the accomplishments and talents of individual employees within an organization, businesses provide what employees want – a sense of belonging on a deeper level.
Employers wanting to be a top destination for talent can use our employee spotlight template and examples to share captivating career stories with a broad audience.
At TestGorilla, we recognize that our team members are our greatest strengths to adapt and succeed.
With that in mind, we’re a fan of employee spotlights and believe they go hand-in-hand with our skills-based hiring practices.
So, the next time you’re looking for a community manager to create compelling employee spotlights and testimonials for the outside world, we hope you assess their skills objectively and give them the recognition they deserve.
De Smet, Aaron, et al. (September 8, 2021). “‘Great Attrition’ or ‘Great Attraction’? The choice is yours”. McKinsey&Company. Retrieved on May 30, 2023. https://www.mckinsey.com/capabilities/people-and-organizational-performance/our-insights/great-attrition-or-great-attraction-the-choice-is-yours
To address its increased recruitment needs and influx of applicants for roles that include customer support and leadership, Dyninno Group implemented TestGorilla. See how the Dyninno Group of companies improved candidate screening and recruitment productivity by 400%.
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