Skip to content

Employee Recognition by the Enneagram

There’s a new topic in social psychology, and you’re probably familiar with it already thanks to Instagram. The Enneagram has become known in recent years as a modern-day Myers-Briggs. Based on the theory of nine distinct personality types, the Enneagram offers a new look at how different personalities respond to situations, interact with one another, and vary based on their positive and negative attributes. 

While Enneagram memes can entertain for hours, there is also a strong scientific backing to this theory, and there are big benefits to understanding the various types. So what does this mean for the workforce? Thanks to recent research, we now have another way to understand what makes each of our employees tick, and how to best recognize them for the best possible employee experience.

 Listed below is a short description of each of the types, and how recognition plays into their personality. We’ve also included a personal quote about recognition from an employee of each type. The descriptions were adapted from The Enneagram Institute, and more information about each type can be found on their website. Not sure which type you are? Start here by taking a free test!


Type 1 – The Reformer

Type 1s are perfectionists. They genuinely enjoy the work they do, the process of refining their skills, and the ability to produce a worthwhile product. Ones often have a strong moral compass and are known as the organizers & planners on their teams. Their recognition style is similar – these employees love to be recognized for a job well done! Complimenting their strategic planning, attention to detail, and hard work ethic makes any recognition more meaningful. 

“Recognition means more to me than just knowing that I was able to help; I enjoy knowing whether my efforts make a difference, whether on a personal level or as a whole.” (Danielle M.)



Type 2 – The Helper

Type 2s are the whole-hearted helpers. They love to work with others and share their emotions. You will often find them working with people in fields that “make a difference.” To Twos, recognition is about making an impact in a meaningful way. Recognition will be most beneficial when showing your genuine appreciation for how they were able to help you, brighten your day, or calm a stressful situation. 


“I get a full feeling knowing that I was able to successfully help someone. I am happiest when I am helping!” (Amanda W.)



Type 3 – The Achiever

Type 3s are the do-ers of the world. Goal-oriented, focused, and with an eye on the prize, these Achievers are known as some of the best CEOs and world leaders. You’ll often see your Type 3s implementing new processes to better an outdated system, and offering advice to younger employees on their way up. Recognition for hard work is especially important to this type, as they are often image-conscious and enjoy knowing they are doing well. 

“It means so much to be recognized for a job well done at the completion of a project or for accomplishing goals! Since my enneagram type thrives off praise and achieving things, I’m learning to pat myself on the back for doing a good job if more ‘formal’ recognition isn’t received. I also think my millennial shows because I crave instant feedback on my work.”  (Ashley H.)



Type 4 – The Individualist

Type 4s are intuitive, choosing to focus their time and energy looking inward to learn more about themselves and their emotions. In the workplace, fours are creative and uniquely talented, but can also find it difficult to work in teams. They are individuals to their core – and their recognition style is no different, tending to prefer simple compliments for a job well done and reinforcement that they are providing adequate work and (hopefully) exceeding expectations. 

“I’m not great at accepting praise or recognition. But I feel like it’s best communicated when giving me compliments and privilege rewards.” (Delaney D.)



Type 5 – The Investigator 

Type 5s are thinkers. Delving into issues headfirst, they love to dedicate themselves to the project and are at their happiest when researching and coming up with new ideas. Type 5s are particularly prevalent in the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) fields, but can be found in any position. They love to be recognized for their competence and ideas, and the dedication to a task they bring to the team. 

“Ultimately, I like being recognized for my skillset and my competency. For that competency to be recognized, I feel like I am capable and smart. I also like when they want me to take on more challenging tasks because it lets me know I did well with what they gave me.”  (Amanda M.)



Type 6 – The Loyalist

Type 6s are loyal and committed, ready to help however they can. Reliable sixes will take on any challenge thrown their way, but will also harbor anxiety and are therefore often cautious about the outcomes. As employees, they make excellent planners, working hard to forecast outcomes (both positive and negative), and will advocate for your organization, division or team. Their recognition style is complementary to their personality – making them feel their contributions to the team are important and providing confirmation that they are valuable is how Loyalists will feel most appreciated. 

It means a lot being recognized for something I worked hard to get or a goal that I wanted to achieve. I like being rewarded verbally or in person. Sometimes getting points or a gift like a Coke is nice.” (Jennifer J.)



Type 7 – The Enthusiast

The 7s of the world are extroverted and fun. Sevens are energetic, preferring to stay busy and are always on the go with a new project or idea. They make wonderful friends and are joyous people. Due to their spontaneous personality, they may become bored easily, and prefer fast-paced and exciting jobs. Their recognition preference tends to focus on the employee experience, which means that they are usually content with a career that brings them excitement and satisfaction for a job well done.

“I don’t necessarily like being recognized, aside from maybe just a “good job” every once in a while. I’m pretty satisfied with work as long as things keep running smoothly.” (Sundance H.)



Type 8 – The Challenger

Confident, strong-willed, and fearless, Type 8s are ready to take on any challenges that are thrown their way. In fact, many of the world’s top leaders and politicians are Eights! While they are excellent at making great strides in your business practices, they can also be seen as somewhat abrasive or callous by employees working closely with them. For Eights, recognition means knowing that they worked hard to accomplish a goal, generating the outcome they wanted. 

“Seeing what I’ve done to make a difference and better the world is really good recognition for me. I like feeling appreciated, but I mostly want to know that I made myself and those around me proud.” (Esther W.)



Type 9 – The Peacemaker

Type 9s are quiet and kind friends. They are the employees who remain calm under pressure, are always willing to listen to a quick vent, and offer encouraging advice to those around them. Nines are the peacemakers because they see both sides of any story – often the intermediaries in tense conference room meetings. Connection and resolution are particularly meaningful to this type.

“I feel that I work hard and give everything I have to help others in my job and it’s nice that, while I may not often hear about it, someone actually appreciates it. Personally I don’t like to have a big fuss made about me, but people give me sincere feedback by saying they think I’m a good nurse and connected with their child (and maybe mentioning that to my boss…) warms me up inside.” (Vicki C.)


What type are you on the Enneagram? Feel free to leave us a comment below with what type you are and what recognition is most meaningful to you, and we will include it in the article!

Want to learn how to customize the employee recognition experience? Let’s chat!

Contact Us


This Post Has One Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back To Top