Employee Recognition

7 Tips for a Successful Employee Recognition Program

While employee recognition is an important aspect of business, it can be difficult to determine what form of employee recognition is best for your organization. In addition to creating a recognition plan that matches the company environment, many other factors can cause challenges for a successful recognition program. 

Overcoming these challenges is in the best interest of any organization that wants to create a positive company culture.

Why is Employee Recognition Important?

Recognizing employee contributions positively impacts everyone in your company. It is important to recognize both individual and team contributions to ensure all employees feel valued.

When you focus on valuing the efforts of your employees, those employees feel appreciated, feel they are an important part of the company, and feel more job satisfaction. Creating a culture of employee recognition can bring an atmosphere employees want to be a part of.  

Some positive effects a company may see from employee recognition include:

  • Improved employee engagement
  • Enhanced team unity
  • Reduction of turnover
  • Increase in profits and increased care of clients

This will lead to a happier and more positive work environment.

Two Types of Recognition

Employee recognition falls into two categories, tangible and intangible. Intangible recognition will hold an emotional value while tangible recognition will hold a physical or monetary value. 

Any recognition given should be linked to an achievement or work accomplishment. This can include accomplishment of a project, going the extra mile, or years of dedicated service to the company.

The form of recognition depends on the type of achievement and the employee being recognized.

 Potential Challenges to Establishing a Recognition Program

Challenges a company may face in establishing an employee recognition plan can vary by industry, location, company demographics, and other factors. Companies may face all or some of the following challenges:

  • Determining what achievements to recognize
  • Time and cost of facilitating a recognition plan
  • Company budget available
  • Ensuring inclusion of all employees, including remote workers
  • Wide range in age of employees
  • Perception of value of gifts or method of recognition
  • Fairness in the recognition process
  • Adding variety and fun to the recognition
  • Making recognition personalized and meaningful

With planning and accountability, you can navigate these challenges to implement an effective employee recognition program.

  1. Determining What to Recognize

The first step in developing a recognition plan is determining what achievements to recognize. Making this determination starts with answering questions about your company and your employees.

What are the company’s values? How do your employees contribute to the company’s success? 

Once these items are determined, look at how the employee or team can be recognized. Some suggestions would be looking at team and individual achievements, how an employee strongly embodies the company values, and identifying employees or teams who surpass expectations.

 You can also prioritize important occasions such as birthdays, work anniversaries, and promotions.

  1. Budgeting Time and Cost of Facilitating a Recognition Plan

It is important to define who will be responsible for the implementation of the recognition plan. Will upper management, Human Resources, managers, or direct supervisors facilitate the plan? 

Will the employees be a part of the plan participation? Look at current responsibilities in these roles and develop your plan accordingly.

Recognition plans can be an expense to the company’s overall structure, especially if tangible or monetary rewards are provided as part of the recognition. Budgeting for these items is also an important part of the plan development.  

  1. Ensuring Inclusion of all Employees

Since 2020, companies across the world have seen an influx of the number of employees moving to remote or hybrid workweeks. This can cause difficulty in running a recognition plan in the traditional ways seen before. 

Adjustments will need to be made to ensure the full inclusion of both in-office and remote employees. Many of the previously provided recognitions can still be accomplished with slight alterations.  

For example, a team lunch may have been supplied for the successful completion of a project. If all employees are no longer able to come into the office, bring in lunch for those in the office and supply a gift card to remote employees to order from a food delivery service.  Plan a time when all employees can come together virtually to meet and enjoy conversation and lunch.

  1. Wide Range in Ages of Employees, Perception of Value

Today’s workforce includes employees ranging from the Baby Boomers to Generation Z, whose ages span over a 50-year period.  With such a range in ages, the value placed on different forms of recognition will vary.  

A way to address these broad age ranges would be to use a gifting system that offers multiple options from which the employee can choose. Ask for input from the workforce as to what they value in a reward system and what rewards are most appealing to them to help provide a base from which to assess gifting options.

  1. Fairness in the Recognition Process

It is important to create a recognition program that is fair and responsive to all employees. This is especially important when creating an on-the-spot or employee-guided recognition program in which the co-workers determine recognition.

The steps designed for the recognition will need to include safeguards from favoritism or from two issues that co-worker recognition may bring forth – nomination of friends only and exclusion of employees who are outside of the group. 

  1. Adding Variety and Fun to the Recognition

Getting the job done comes with its share of daily stress at work. Recognition can be designed to bring a bit of fun and variety to the daily routine.    

Adding variety can include:

  • Use an online recognition system that allows staff to enter positive notes of a coworker’s strengths.
  • Hold a thank you meeting where multiple employees are recognized for their contributions to the company.
  • Giving on-the-spot awards when a job well done is witnessed. The on-the-spot awards could be as simple as a note of praise with a candy attached or a more substantial award such as a gift card for a movie or dinner.
  • Conducting an employee recognition day. This day might include lunch brought into the office (for remote workers providing a meal delivery gift card to order lunch) and watching a newly released movie streamed through computers.
  • Developing a prize wheel where recognized employees can spin the wheel to obtain their prize.
  • Create a video presentation showing the great contributions employees are making to the company.

Determine what will work best for your company’s culture when implementing new employee recognition methods.

  1. Making Recognition Personalized and Meaningful

Recognition will make a greater impact on the employee if it’s personal and meaningful. There are many ways an employer can accomplish this. 

Ensure that the recognition that is given is tied to a specific accomplishment or goal. Make sure that the recognition occurs in a timely manner. If presented after some weeks have passed, the meaningfulness of the recognition diminishes. 

It may not be feasible to put together a large recognition; nevertheless, small, and thoughtful recognition goes a long way.

 Another way to make the recognition more meaningful is to include others such as leaders and coworkers. Recognition can be done in a team setting or in a company setting.

Recognition Leads to More Success

Implementing a new recognition plan will take time and effort. That effort will pay off as your employees begin to feel appreciation for the work that they do. The process does not have to be overwhelming.

There are many resources available, including companies who specialize in employee awards including producing personalized certificates and notes with the award. The options are endless once you determine what plan would work best for you.

If you’re unsure how to get started analyzing and implementing a recognition program, contact us to learn how we can help.

Prepared by Letrisha Pulido

Human Resource Assistant / Generalist

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