All You Should Know About Employee Recognition Programs

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Building a thoughtful and consistent strategy to recognize the achievements of employees is a vital part of fostering success and growth at your company. Employees who feel valued and receive praise are noted to be significantly more motivated, productive, and satisfied. As seen from a study by Recognize, up to 59% of employees would rather work at companies with a better recognition culture than those with better pay but a lack of recognition.

What are employee recognition programs?

Employee recognition programs are tools used to motivate employees to work effectively via rewards for their dedication and hard work. These programs are tailored to uphold behavioral standards, provide feedback and motivation to individuals and ensure public praise for big wins. Summarily, employee recognition is how leaders show appreciation to employees for their work, effort, and accomplishments.

You can use one or multiple recognition programs to acknowledge a slew of achievements like positive client feedback, work anniversaries, and many other company achievements. Employee recognition programs can be implemented in various ways at your company. It ranges from Employee of the Month awards to monetary rewards to public praise. In this piece, you’ll gain an understanding of employee recognition strategies that can be implemented at your company to foster a positive organizational culture where employees are satisfied, valued, and appreciated.

Advantages of employee recognition programs

Creating reward systems for exemplary behavior in an organization is often a huge motivator for employees, helping to build a company culture that focuses on achievement and growth. As leaders invest time and resources in motivating employees, while sharing such successes with the rest of the company, employee happiness and productivity are bound to increase. Here are some means by which employee recognition positively affects organizations:


Encourages engagement

On a whole, these recognition programs can improve total employee engagement rates. Employees are more likely to be engaged in their functions if there’s proper recognition for it. Ultimately, this causes an increase in innovation and productivity. About 92% of employees have stated that they believe the value of their companies would be reduced if there’s a better corporate culture.


Attracts new talent

It’s vital for any organization focused on growth to attract top talent in that industry. A lot of the most sought-after candidates look for companies that recognize their employees when they’re successful.

Making use of these recognition programs and sharing them with prospective new talent would almost certainly aid your recruitment process.


Improves retention rates

As stated earlier, employees that feel unrecognized by their companies are more likely to quit, as opposed to those who consider their accomplishments and work recognized. By using employee recognition strategies in your organization, turnover rates would likely take a downturn as employee retention increases.


Boosts performance

Employees that feel appreciated and recognized by their leaders have a greater tendency to do better at work. Recognition has a great impact on the average employee’s happiness, performance, and outlook.


Enhances company culture

As leaders intentionally recognize employees that do well, it registers in the minds of these employees that the company is mindful of their wants and needs. This causes an improvement between teams and their managers.

Types of employee recognition strategies

Appreciation can be shown towards employees via personalized gifts, verbal praise, fun events, or monetary awards. Realizing which method works best for your employees would inform your decision on the right employee recognition strategy to be used. Let’s examine a list of a few programs that can be implemented for employees to be recognized for their labor.


1. Years of service award 

This is an award that acknowledges the years an employee has stayed with the company. It helps to keep tenured employees engaged while doubling as an encouragement to new hires so they maintain their commitment to their roles. It’s almost a given that new hires would receive motivation boosts as they see their organization offering rewards simply based on years served in the organization. It also facilitates an employee retention boost.


2. Customer service award

It’s a great strategy to appreciate customer service employees by offering rewards for getting great customer feedback, smashing sales goals, offering impeccable customer service, or displaying exemplary leadership skills.

Bonuses, flexible scheduling, and public praise are great means to help with employees’ sense of motivation.


3. Employee appreciation events

Another defining way for employees to get recognized is by hosting events specifically for appreciation purposes. As employees are praised in the presence of their colleagues, self-esteem, and motivation are likely to increase across the board. These events encourage other employees to put in more work to receive similar rewards or recognition.

Other appreciation event ideas include:

  • Office outings: When departments or teams have consistently delivered good work, you could consider recognizing them by taking them on a fun outing e.g cooking classes, bowling, karaoke, or maybe even taking them to lunch
  • Holiday parties: Yearly traditions like Christmas parties are often events employees plan towards and look forward to.
  • Surprise celebrations: Employees that have been carrying out their tasks exceptionally can be surprised with a party or get-together to recognize their contributions and hard work to the company.


4. Employee recognition wall 

It’s not a bad idea for a board or a wall dedicated to messages of appreciation from everyone in an organization to their colleagues to be set up. This helps to inspire employees recognized to keep up with the good work. Alternatively, it can challenge employees to put in more work so they’ll be the subject of praise.


5. Weekly shoutouts on social media

Making use of social media platforms or the company’s internal intranet to shout out to employees is a free, albeit exciting way for employees to be recognized regularly. Pictures can be posted (if employees are fine with it) and details can be given about what makes particular individuals worthy of recognition. Their job titles, recent contributions, and accomplishments should also be listed.


6. Monetary employee recognition awards

A surefire way for employees to feel recognized is going through the monetary route. 

Popular monetary rewards are given below:

  • Bonuses
  • Free meals
  • Gift cards
  • Career development opportunities
  • Additional paid time off

Monetary recognition strategies don’t need to cost much or be particularly extravagant. Oftentimes, something as little as a $20 gift card to a store nearby can go a long way for an employee who works well


7. Employee of the month

One of the classics when it comes to recognition programs is the ‘Employee of the month’. The strategy works wonders when used strategically. Have employees, plus managers vote for their top pick for employee of the month, giving reasons as to why they’re picking their candidate. Rewards can be personalized for each candidate. It’s vital to be specific when speaking about why the emerging employee of the month is the subject of recognition.

Tips for implementing employee recognition programs

There are a couple of ways by which employee recognition strategies can be implemented. Here are a few:


Include recognition in your company culture

As an organization inculcates a culture that rewards employees for doing great work, it serves as a great foundation for creating employee recognition programs.


Make it a habit

Ensure employee recognition is a constant component of your leadership style, and not just a one-time thing. As employees are recognized more, there’s a greater tendency for them to feel appreciated. It’s advisable for recognition programs to occur weekly, or at the very least, monthly. Recognition can be small, like appreciating them for their work on certain projects or assisting a colleague with a problem.


Provide recognition at random intervals

Unexpected recognition often has a more meaningful effect than expected ones. Freely give our praise, thanks, and compliments at random intervals. These random acts need not be tied to an organized recognition or event. This speaks of genuineness and authenticity in your praise as it’s unrelated to any award events.


Be specific and personal

Take it a notch higher from just saying “well done”. Ensure to be specific about why the employee is receiving recognition. Let them know the impact of their resultant actions. If it’ll make it more meaningful, provide measurable results.

For instance, you could deliver a letter that specifically describes what about the employee is being appreciated, taking note of whatever special skills they possess or accomplishments achieved during their tenure.


Give equal opportunities

As employee recognition is generally given on a public stage so morale levels can increase, it’s quite vital that whatever recognition program is used is attainable by all employees. Be specific and clear about the requirements to gain such rewards. For these requirements, all team members should have an equal chance of gaining the reward.

Companies With Best Employee Recognition Programs

Here are a few notable companies that have achieved great success stories due to strategic, effective employee recognition programs:

LinkedIn– The organization attained a solid 96% retention rate among employees who had received four awards and above. For new hires, their retention rates are almost 10 percent higher for employees who have also received four awards and above.

Denso– They saw a 5% increment in recognition, leader/employee relationship, and engagement scores just two months after launching.

Cisco – Cisco employees that have the highest engagement receive over 10 awards every year

P&G – The organization merged its recognition programs into a singular SaaS platform for almost 150,000 employees in over a 100 countries

Eaton – Eaton’s employee recognition strategy reveals that employees that are recognized are two times less likely to quit their jobs at the organization


Employee recognition programs are a great strategy to ensure your employees are constantly motivated and produce a great quality of work. To ensure an easy workflow among employees, and that the chain of communication and effectiveness flows seamlessly, feel free to use any of the tips given above. In the same way, a lot of great companies have adopted these strategies with significant results, your company is bound to experience the same. To better understand how to make recognition programs work for your company, click here.

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