10 Employee Recognition Program Best Practices

January 10, 2017 Deb Broderson

Employee Recognition Program Best Practices. 

A lot of time is spent talking about an employee recognition program but the fact remains that most employees resign because they feel unappreciated. The real shame is that this can be solved with some time and training.  People talk about wanting to create a culture of recognition but just launching an employee recognition program does not achieve that goal. A culture of recognition requires a strong communications plan, educating your participants on expectations, recognition and reward coupled together in a way that makes sense for your organization. 

10 employee recognition program best practices:

  1. Start with an ROI plan. A successful employee recognition program requires an ROI plan. After all, you have to prove to your stakeholders that there's a financial return associated with your program.  Without an ROI plan to document your goals and develop a program baseline there is no agreement on what will be achieved, and if you can't agree on what you're trying to achieve then there's really no sense moving forward.
  2. Tie employee recognition to company goals and values. The last thing you want is a program that doesn’t help achieve business goals, and you can't achieve your business goals if your recognition program isn’t tied to company values and goals.  Set clear goals, objectives, and metrics. Make sure your objectives are smart, measurable, time bounded, and specific. 
  3. Peer-to-peer recognition eliminates the hierarchy.  Peer-to-peer recognition makes your program feel more meaningful to your employees. Train people to recognize good behaviors, don't just give examples, talk to them. Explain what is appropriate and why. When you bring on new employees, include employee recognition training in your on-boarding and provide training around areas of the program that aren’t well-utilized.
  4. Recognize people based on specific results and behaviors. Tie recognition to specific behaviors that help drive business success. Employee Recognition programs should span the employee lifecycle, looking at the desired behaviors within each of stage of the lifecycle (recruitment, onboarding, retention, etc.)  
  5. Recognition should be fast, easy and enjoyable. The easier it is to recognize, the more it will be used. Employee recognition should not be a burden. If you're using an online tool, you want your website to be easily accessible and user-friendly. If you have an offline process, make sure people know where they need to go, when they need to get information.
  6. Help your managers succeed.  Train your managers to identify recognition that should be highlighted, as it happens.  Train your managers about HOW to give recognition.  A successful program requires manager involvement and that requires training.  
  7. Keep everyone in the know. A communication strategy is often overlooked in the design of an employee recognition program. Your communication plan should tell a story about the success that recognition will bring/is bringing to your organization. Validate recognition using as many communication channels as you possibly can: email, posters, company meetings, department meetings, social recognition walls, kiosks, etc.
  8. Game mechanics increase engagement. Gamification is about the organization of information, in a way that improves the participant's experience, by simplifying how information is made available. Use progress bars to show people where they are in the process, and give them a sense of accomplishment.
  9. Recognize and reward. The words recognition and reward are not interchangeable. Recognition is appreciation for an achievement. Reward is something given as the end result of that recognition event. Recognition leads to reward.  Some recognition will not lead to a financial reward, because success requires a balance of intrinsic and extrinsic motivations. Rewards should be inspirational and aspirational. Inspirational keeps them involved to day-to-day; Aspirational rewards keep people engaged longer term.
  10. Monitor performance and adjust. Employee recognition is not one and done. Assess your employee recognition programs in the same way you would any continuous improvement program. You're going to launch the program, you're going to learn, you're going to adjust.

When someone within your organization says we can't afford an employee recognition program, your response should be, "We can't afford not to have an employee recognition program." 

Looking for more information?  Check out our on-demand webinar, Employee Recognition Best Practices.

About the Author

Deb Broderson

Deb Broderson comes to Perks with 30 years of diverse experience leading channel marketing, marketing operations and program management teams within the technology industry. Deb has provided strategic direction to Fortune 500 clients, developed and executed global, multi-channel, go-to-market strategies and created worldwide field marketing organizations. Deb has worked on both the agency and client-side of the business, providing a well-rounded perspective to client challenges. Deb was honored as one of the Top 50 Channel Chiefs in North America by CRN.

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