Recognize
February 12, 2024
January 26, 2022

Employee Recognition Strategies According to Org Size

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While employee recognition is an important part of any business, how you implement recognition differs depending on the size of the company. In other words, employee recognition for small companies may look different than employee recognition for large companies.

The fact stands that recognition is hugely impactful across all business sizes, and can bring about some amazing ROI:

  • 31% lower turnover
  • 14% higher productivity and performance
  • 43% increase in employee engagement
  • 3x more employee loyalty to the organization

Put it this way: when a company, whether small or large, prioritizes making their employees feel valued and appreciated with recognition, they’re much more likely to perform at a high level.

In order to enjoy these amazing benefits, companies of different sizes, with different demographics, resources, and cultures, need to implement and utilize recognition differently.

Russian nesting dolls as corporate employees.

Employee Recognition in Small Businesses (SMBs)

Recognition in SMBs can build a close-knit culture of mutual respect and appreciation that will push your small business forward. Here are some strategies for recognition in SMBs.

Increase Spot Recognition

Spot recognition is (you guessed it) recognition that happens on the spot. The most common types of spot recognition are peer-to-peer and manager-to-contributor. This type of immediate recognition is vital for small businesses because it brings small teams closer together.

In Awardco’s own research, we found that SMBs had the fewest number of spot recognition programs, compared to mid-market and enterprise level companies. By creating programs that empower anyone to recognize the people around them at any time, you’ll create a foundation of appreciation that can reach everyone.

Take Advantage of Cost-Effective Recognition

We understand that many small businesses might not have the big budgets that their enterprise counterparts have for things like employee recognition and culture building. But believe it or not, that’s no reason not to have plenty of recognition.

There are many ways to offer low-cost and free recognition, such as:

  • Handwritten notes. Create one or two note-writing stations around the office and stock them up with paper, pens, stickers, and other fun craft materials. Then encourage everyone, from executives to new hires, to use the notes to create thank you notes when they want to recognize others.
  • Public acknowledgement. For those who enjoy public attention (and not everyone does!), a public shoutout can be very meaningful. Whether in team meetings or company all-hands meetings, have a small list of top performers that you can call out for their efforts and give them a personalized compliment or two.
  • Flexible hours. This isn’t traditional recognition for accomplishment, but this is a way to recognize the fact that your employees are humans with diverse needs. So offering some flexibility will go over well with anyone.
  • Praise from the CEO. 1 in 4 employees say that recognition from a high-level leader is the most memorable. So help train your SMB’s leaders to pull employees aside to provide personalized recognition for their efforts. This shows that your leaders care about their people and can be extremely meaningful to employees.

Want to see how one small business used Awardco to offer the best rewards? Check out Hunt Brother Pizza’s story.

Russian nesting dolls as maintenance workers.

Employee Recognition in Mid-Market Companies

Mid-market organizations sit in between the two extremes that are SMB and enterprise. They’re often set up to enjoy the happy middle ground of budgets, team sizes, and time. But the pressure of growth, recruitment and retention, and turning a profit are ever present—and employee recognition is still a need.

Create Structured Recognition Programs

Spontaneous shoutouts and compliments are always great, but they don’t scale well, especially as a business grows and everyone gets busy. Structured recognition programs ensure that your culture of recognition continues to be a priority and that people can still recognize and be recognized without feeling overwhelmed.

This brings up a key item to keep in mind: balancing personalization with standardization. Making recognition more structured DOES NOT mean to make it cookie-cutter and impersonal. What it does mean is putting processes in place that allow for personalized, meaningful recognition on a regular basis.

  • Real-world example: Seven Bridges, a mid-market Awardco client, created 10+ recognition programs, each customized to suit their specific needs. 

Utilize Technology to Help

As mid-market HR teams tackle all of their responsibilities, digital tools are key to implementing and maintaining effective recognition. As an example, here are some features that Awardco’s digital recognition platform can provide:

  • Customized recognition programs with specific roles, permissions, budgets, and rewards
  • Automated reporting, budget tracking, recognition reminders, and more to save time
  • Digital reward choice and fulfillment, eliminating physical reward catalogs and gift cards
  • Quick and simple process to recognize anyone, both remote and in-person, allowing everyone to get involved

Technology makes implementing, managing, and tracking employee recognition and rewards easier than ever, helping mid-market organizations maintain their balance of time, work, and team size.

Employee Recognition in Enterprise-Level Organizations

Enterprises often have the resources necessary for powerful recognition, but they also have diverse work, responsibilities, teams, work locations, and more that they have to juggle. So how do enterprise teams keep recognition a priority among the many competing responsibilities vying for their attention?

Recognize Milestones and Achievements

According to Awardco’s research, only 1 in 4 enterprises have a program to recognize employee milestones. But with thousands of employees, each with different professional and personal accomplishments and milestones, recognizing them is key for keeping everyone satisfied and loyal.

Create milestone recognition programs that recognize things like:

  • Onboarding. Starting at a new company is a big deal, and a new employee’s first impression of the company can make or break their tenure.
  • Service anniversaries. Staying a year at a company is a big deal, and no employee should ever feel like their anniversary has been overlooked or forgotten. That doesn’t mean that you need to give everyone hundreds of dollars, but a small gift, a kind word, or something similar can mean a lot for such an important date.
  • Personal accomplishments. Things like buying a house, having a baby, graduating from school, or similar events are life-changing for employees. While these events don’t strictly relate to the workplace, a company that recognizes and rewards their employees for personal accomplishments will show their people that they actually care.

Pacific Life upgraded their outdated milestone recognition program, and the ROI has been impressive.

Incorporate Far-Reaching Recognition Practices

Whether your enterprise is spread across the country or all over the globe, consistent recognition that reaches everyone fairly is important for large companies.

Find a recognition platform that offers global reward options in global currencies so that everyone is recognized fairly, no matter where they live. For example, one of the reward options that Awardco offers is local and international experiences. This way, people can redeem their points for experiences in their area or at a dream vacation destination.

  • Real-world example: Percepta, an enterprise with over 4,500 global employees, uses recognition to create a culture of engagement and appreciation.

Another strategy for creating recognition that reaches everyone is department- and team-specific recognition programs. In large enterprises, every department has a lot of people to manage and autonomy to work in the way that works best for them. 

Give departments and teams freedom to create recognition strategies and programs that best reach their people. This ensures that the diverse roles and contributions are recognized, without putting all of the work on HR’s shoulders.

Russian nesting dolls as healthcare workers.

Recognition Strategies for Businesses of Any Size

While some strategies fit organizations of certain sizes better, there are some best practices you should be aware of, regardless of your organization size.

Gather and Implement Feedback

Implementing recognition practices is only half of the battle. A few weeks or months after, you should survey your people to find out how the new programs have been accepted. Are employees feeling more engaged? Do they feel more valued? Are they planning on staying at the company longer?

All of this feedback can help you both prove the ROI of recognition and also see where you can improve. Recognition is a continual journey, not a one-time destination.

  • Pro tip: Awardco lets you create your own surveys in the platform so that you can implement recognition, get feedback, and make improvements, all at once!

Curious to see a masterclass in responding to employee feedback for recognition? Check out WOW! mobile boutique’s customer story.

Get Leadership’s Buy-In and Involvement

Recognition is only as effective as your leaders are involved. High-level leaders and managers play a huge part in building a culture where employees feel valued, appreciated, and cared for. When they support your recognition initiatives, recognition will be much more effective and far-reaching.

Not sure how to get leadership buy-in for recognition? We have a guide to help you get started. And if you want to see how one mid-market company got leadership excited about recognition, check out the story of SEF Energy.

Use Automation to Save Time

HR teams don’t have a ton of extra time—we get it. But with the right automation processes, you can actually SAVE time compared to whatever manual processes you have in place now. Don’t believe us? Check out the following real-world examples of people saving time with Awardco:

It’s not a myth: you really can implement powerful and effective recognition programs without giving anyone a lot more work.

Customize Recognition to Fit Your Business

The point of this entire article is that your business is unique, and as such, it has unique recognition needs. Don’t use a cookie-cutter solution that worked great for the old enterprise you worked at if you’re now at an SMB. And don’t assume every employee wants the same types of recognition and rewards.

Instead, customize your programs to your needs, your budget, and your people. That way, your recognition programs will be effective and provide the best ROI for your business.

Book a demo today to see how Awardco can help you customize your recognition solutions, regardless of your employee count.