How to create an employee recognition program that works?

by Kylee Stone Feb 11,2022

The People Strategy Leaders Podcast

with Srikant Chellappa, CEO

Acknowledging an employee’s achievements can have an excellent impact on return on investments. Not only it improves productivity levels, but also boosts business outcomes. This itself is a good reason for organizations to focus on employee recognition program.

But it is a tedious process and not a one day activity. An organization needs to plan for the right and effective programs and recognition ideas in order to achieve the best possible outcome. Effective recognition strategies can help enhance engagement levels and boost employee morale. Before we look into tips to create employee recognition programs, let us understand more about employee recognition.

Also read: Creating a Performance Based Culture in Your Organization

What is employee recognition? 

An employee  recognition program is mainly about acknowledging the dedication and effort an employee puts in as an individual or as a team member. Based on this, one’s contribution to the organization gets evaluated and an employee gets suitably rewarded, which consequently helps to build a motivated workforce for the company. This involves establishing an emotional connection between employee and company, supporting their work and contribution towards the company as long as they maintain the company’s standards. The idea behind an employee recognition program is to make the employee feel that they are valued in the organization.  

Why are employee recognition programs important?

The employee recognition initiatives should have that spark and element of surprise to appreciate the contribution of employees and talk about their subjective behavioral approach. Intangible reward and recognition programs create a lasting impression on an employee and to create memories better than monetary benefits. It drives in value and impacts on company culture, with better employee engagement. 

What are the benefits of recognition programs?

The more satisfied an employee feels, the higher his performance would be, which impacts productivity. Increase the positive mindset among workers and encourage them to notice each other’s accomplishments. It improves work culture, contributing to the success of the organization and promotes a healthy work environment. Other than that, it is a key component in building a successful team. 

  • Boosts Morale 

A well-thought employee appreciation program is sure to boost employee morale, especially after difficult times. Recognizing an employee’s contribution at any point in time is advantageous for the company. It motivates them to put in their best. 

  • Higher engagement 

Engagement states the emotional commitment of an employee with organization and dedication to achieve goals. When an employee feels valued at work, it will increase desire to go the extra mile for the company and accomplish his mission, boosting the engagement level with the company. 

  • Helps Perpetuate Company Culture 

Employee recognition program helps perpetuate a positive work culture. New talent value workplaces which focus on culture along with the financial benefits. A culture of rewards and recognition creates a culture where employees are valued for their hard work.

  • Lowers turnover 

Bad bosses are often the reason for employees to leave a team or company. This potentially impacts overall turnover, which can be rectified by working on employee manager relationships. Employee recognition initiatives can revive the lost spark with appreciation and communication. It is certain to help the employee decide on staying.

Also read: 5 Best Tips To Reduce Employee Turnover

How are rewards and recognition different?

Tangible rewards with financial value are more appreciated by employees, however, money alone cannot make up for a memorable company recognition program. Intangible rewards are also appreciated in organization, and turns out to be a memorable moment. To make it significant, adding cash rewards can help. 

According to study, ‘Getting beyond Money’ it is praiseworthy to note that rewards and recognition from managers motivate and work wonders. An organization has to think creatively to appreciate employee’s hard work and plan for recognition or reward programs, adding monetary benefits to it. The main reason for investment is to get a good ROI initiative. 

How to plan for employee recognition programs?

Employee recognition initiatives should be impactful, engaging and ultimately help in improving retention. This would help employees to connect with rewards, knowing their personal contribution and the value it brings to the company.  

  • Have a standard framework for rewards and recognition approved by the leaders
  • Try to plan for the employee recognition program on a consistent and regular basis to keep up employees’ motivation 
  • Employees should know the criterion for recognition and rewards    
  • Don’t settle on a one size fits all approach

10 Employee recognition program ideas

Some innovative employee appreciation programs can make your employees feel loved and cherished for the work they have done for your organization. 

  • Spot bonus

When an individual meets goals, do something admirable on the spot, beyond what they could imagine. It is to appreciate their effort, with something more than just words of praise. This is where a spot bonus works the best. It is a great option to appreciate and encourage teams for their collaborative approach, and it especially means a lot for a distributed team.  

  • Employee care package 

Reward employees with a suitable care package filled with items that show how much the organization cares for them. It should include gifts, certificates, notes, wholesome snacks, games, and others. The items should be carefully selected and lovingly arranged to deliver an impact which turns out to be bigger than any other gift. You can also prepare packages to be sent to employees via logistics service and get customized ones that suit your requirements. This makes it a lot easier to prepare for a care package and will have a great impact on recognition of employees. 

  • Peer-to-peer appreciation

Recognition from leaders is as important as from colleagues and peer-to-peer recognition and works as the key to engagement and retaining it, impacting on a positive work culture. Make peer-to-peer recognition an easy thing to encourage with Engagedly’s recognition and rewards tool. Give badges and value points to drive in attention, and appreciate hard work in the best way possible. Encourage employees to appreciate any instance of positive contribution.  

Also read: A Guide To Share Effective Peer Feedback
  • Give Surprise Leave 

Given the present situation, work from home is not an easy thing to do. With extended work time boundaries, work-life balance can be challenging. However, when it is time for employee recognition in such situations, giving a surprise day off is the best thing you can do to appreciate one’s hard work. The benefits enjoyed by this make it one of the best virtual recognition ideas to value an employee.  

  • Performer’s HAT

A performer’s HAT, or a badge, can be gifted to top employee performers and show them respect and value. It is a proud moment for the achiever and other employees will feel motivated to get the HAT in future. 

  • Give a shout-out

Given the present virtual mode of work, shout-outs on social platforms can be impactful. Try to send the note written in heartfelt words, and it is a super effective way to recognize employees. The congratulatory announcement should have elements of surprise, making the employee or the team happy and they are grateful to the company for recognition of their victory. 

Also read: Tips To Manage Stress Of Your Remote Team
  • Digital recognition works

In-house recognition is definitely special, but digital recognition can also do wonders. Technology helps you recognize an employee’s hard work in such a way that customers also get to know about the achievement. 

Other than having leaders’ names on company websites, including a section to mention names of top performers, showcasing their achievement is good to recognize them. This is a great option of digital recognition that acts as a powerful motivator for an employee. 

  • Virtual wall of fame 

It increases the chance of social recognition of an employee by publishing rewards for the employee. Try to create a live feed section where employees and colleagues can post about success stories of achievement and congratulate each other virtually. Social participation through likes and comments will make the recognition worth it. 

  • Help Setup Employees Workspace

It is both a fun filled and practical approach to celebrate victory and value them for employees. Try to get something for a workspace and it is a daily reminder of how much they are valued and appreciated for hard work. To boost up the overall sentimental effect of gifting the person, try customized options. 

  • Take advantage of employee recognition platform

Incorporating Engagedly’s recognition platform is an excellent way to practice recognition in the workplace. A good platform makes social recognition smooth and it can become fun and hassle-free with these mobile friendly platform options. Try to showcase the recognition in such a way that it highlights the positive behavior of the employee. It can boost the result by allowing employees to add and contribute to colleague’s recognition for better appreciation. 

How creative feedback can motivate employees?

If you have received it once, you must know its magic and how it can work wonders on an employee. Try to give feedback publicly as it is a great motivator for employees and helps them earn confidence in what they have succeeded and achieved for the company. A creative and consistent feedback to employees will help them know where they actually stand and where they should improve. 

Besides, it gives direction to a team to understand how much they have progressed towards their goal. It can encourage an employee, motivate him and help him identify his strengths better. Focusing on result-oriented feedback can develop better connections and thus, a good choice for recognition program ideas. 

Also read: Continuous Feedback: What Is It And Its Benefits

How can rewards be a part of an employee recognition program?

One should understand the value of rewards for encouraging employee motivation. Rewards, more than monetary benefits, can drive people to contribute more and get effective results from recognition programs. As rewards are directly connected to productivity and achieving goals, it spurs one to dedicate effectively and try to be productive. People will be happy to work hard when they get appreciation via excellent recognition plans, and study states the same. It also results in high morale. And a happy employee will maintain the productivity level and put in more dedication to achieve success at work. 

List of reward programs for employees 

1. Custom made option 

Standard rewards are good to appreciate, but customized rewards have a higher chance to motivate. It can be something of specific interest to the employee and the HR team has to keep a close watch on every individual in the team and reward accordingly. 

2. Creative reward 

Creative approach to appreciate efforts and hard work always creates lasting impressions and keeps one motivated. A creative way to reward is to show the caricature of an employee’s achievement and mood.  

3. Monetary incentive 

Monetary incentive is always a lucrative option and boosts employment engagement greatly. A well thought incentive program can boost performance level to a great extent. If an employee helps increase the sales funnel or cut on expenditure, part of the benefit should be shared with the performer. This incentive program should be like rewarding the contribution of the person who will be motivated to perform well and drive in future goals for the company. 

4. Development and learning event 

Encourage and arrange for scopes of learning and development events for employees as part of reward programs. If they are part of an online developmental course, it will motivate them and can become a competent person, contributing positively to the company. However, this motivates the employees to take up bigger responsibilities for the good of the company.  

5. Personalized gifts and gift cards 

 As rewards can have lasting and personal impressions, a custom-made gift item or card can be the best option. In this virtual organization setup, gift cards are sure to work the best. They will have the option to encash it from their favorite ecommerce site. 

Also read: Employee Burnout: What You Need To Know About It

Therefore, rewards and recognition are an excellent approach on part of HR’s strategy and boost the organization’s culture. An employee’s motivation and interest will make him dedicated to work. Given the present work mode and culture, this emerges as an effective tool and helps with enhanced participation, increases motivation, helps improve team efficacy and helps organizations to foster a better work culture. 

Learn how Engagedly can help you implement employee recognition programs in your organization by requesting  a demo with us.

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Kylee Stone

Kylee Stone supports the professional services team as a CX intern and psychology SME. She leverages her innate creativity with extensive background in psychology to support client experience and organizational functions. Kylee is completing her master’s degree in Industrial-Organizational psychology at the University of Missouri Science and Technology emphasizing in Applied workplace psychology and Statistical Methods.

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