November 15, 2023
March 1, 2024

Employee Recognition Best Practices: Creating a Culture of Recognition

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In today’s modern workplace, creating a business culture that employees enjoy needs to be a priority for every organization. Without an inclusive culture that recognizes effort and rewards value, employees are likely to look for greener pastures.

However, when companies make an effort to create an employee-centric culture, employees will want to stay and will be more engaged and productive.

And one of the best ways to create a culture like that is through employee recognition. In this post, we’ll discuss recognition and the best practices you can follow to implement, improve, and integrate employee recognition into your culture.

The Role of Recognition in the Workplace

Why bother with recognition when thinking about your workplace and your culture? Let’s look at a couple of benefits of employee recognition:

Pretty impressive ROI, right? And in addition to these measurable results, recognition simply makes employees happier and more satisfied at work—after all, who doesn’t like to feel valued for the work they do?

(See how Paramount created a culture of recognition with Awardco)

Knowing the “why” behind recognition isn’t enough, however—you have to know the “how.” The following recognition best practices will help you know how to start creating a culture of recognition.

Employee Recognition Best Practices: 8 Strategies to Try

In order to reap the amazing benefits of employee recognition and create a culture employees love, you have to know how to make recognition effective. Here are some strategies.

1. Create Specific Recognition Programs With Clear Criteria

When you create recognition programs, ensure that everyone knows how to take part. Answer questions such as:

  • What behaviors should be rewarded for each program?
  • How often are recognitions allowed or encouraged?
  • How will rewards be incorporated into the program (if at all)?
  • Who will provide the recognitions in this program?
  • Top-down recognition from managers, peer-to-peer recognition, etc.

With multiple programs, each with their own purpose and use case, employees all over the organization will hopefully know how to get involved and recognize/be recognized.

2. Emphasize Recognition From Onboarding Onward

In order to create a culture that acts as a foundation for your organization, you have to emphasize your culture from the beginning. Onboarding is the perfect time to introduce the idea of recognition to your employees and get them excited about it:

  • Give public shoutouts to your newest employees, thanking them for their time and effort
  • Hand out points on each employees’ first day so that they can buy their own company swag or personalized equipment
  • Encourage peer recognition from new employees’ colleagues to help them feel welcome

These are all great ways to make recognition a central part of your culture from day one.

3. Make Recognition Easy to Do

If recognition is inconvenient, complicated, or time-consuming to do, most employees are going to ignore or forget about doing it. That’s why employee recognition platforms like Awardco try to make it as easy as one, two, three:

  1. Choose the person you want to recognize on the platform
  2. Write a personalized message about what that person did to get recognized
  3. Add points to the recognition if possible/desired

And that’s it! For employees who work at a computer or for remote teams, this kind of digital simplicity will ensure that everyone can recognize each other quickly and easily.

For frontline employees or those who don’t work at a computer, consider using pre-made cards around the office that employees can grab, write in, and give out. Gift cards are a great addition as well.

(See how Awardco makes offline recognition a breeze.)

4. Offer Different Types of Recognition

Different employees will react to different types of recognition in different ways. Differently. For instance, someone who is more shy or introverted probably won’t like getting up in front of the company, even if they’re being recognized.

To that end, ensure that there are different avenues for managers and coworkers to recognize those around them. For example:

  • A program that allows everyone to nominate an employee of the month, including a public shoutout and celebration
  • A peer recognition program that allows employees to privately recognize each other with small amounts of points
  • A wellness program that recognizes employees’ efforts to be active, eat healthy, etc.

Even just three programs like these will greatly increase your recognition’s effectiveness and reach.

Another thing to keep in mind is generational differences. Older employees may appreciate different types of recognition and rewards compared to younger generations. For instance, older employees appreciate top-down, in-person recognition more than digital peer recognition (although any recognition is always good!)

5. Connect Recognition to Values and Overall Purpose

Recognition is at its most impactful when it drives behaviors, and tying your recognition programs into your core values can drive the value-based behaviors you want to see.

For example, Awardco allows recognitions to have tags added to them, and those tags are each of our company values. So if someone is a team player or puts in amazing effort, they’re recognized for that behavior. And when employees are recognized for a behavior, 92% of employees will repeat that behavior.

With strong values that drive recognition, you can create a self-sufficient culture of value-driven work and support.

6. Ensure Leaders Are Involved

Leaders and managers are integral to culture and recognition both. Leadership sets the example that employees follow—they are the catalyst that starts and maintains any positive culture changes. And the same holds true for recognition.

Get leadership buy-in from the beginning of implementing recognition (don’t worry, we have a guide for getting leadership buy-in for you!). Train your leaders and managers on how to recognize effectively and often and push them to recognize often to set an example.

When leaders recognize regularly, every measure of employee morale, productivity, performance, and retention.

7. Offer Rewards People Actually Want

Recognition is only half of the equation. When employees are recognized with gifts or rewards, they need to be things that employees want. If they’re recognized with points, allow them to spend them on items they actually want.

Gone are the days of limited reward catalogs, acrylic tropics, or fancy pins. Employees want the power of choice, and Awardco gives it to them with our partnership with Amazon. Employees can choose from millions of rewards, including travel, experiences, swag, and more.

8. Use Data to Drive and Improve Recognition Programs

No recognition program will be perfect as soon as you implement it—only through measuring the effectiveness of each program and adjusting as necessary will you build a culture of effective recognition.

Use tools such as employee engagement surveys, one-on-ones with managers, exit and stay interviews, and 360-degree feedback to learn how you can improve your recognition efforts and keep them relevant now and in the future.

Recognition: the Key to a Culture That Employees Love

In today’s world, employees have different expectations and needs, and generational gaps complicate things, but one thing is consistent: everyone wants to feel valued and appreciated. That’s why employee recognition can be the glue that binds a company together.