September 29, 2022
August 30, 2021

5 Tips to Giving Effective Employee Recognition Programs

Employee Recognition for a Modern Workforce
Learn More
Get Started with Awardco
Get a Demo

Have you ever wondered how effective your employee recognition programs are? You probably don’t have to venture too far to know if your employees feel valued and appreciated. Nowadays, a quick employee survey will give you a clear understanding if your employees feel engaged and valued at their job. There are also other ways to find out, like watching your retention rates take a significant hit if your employees begin to feel undervalued.

American businessman and entrepreneur Sam Walton said it best:

“Appreciate everything your associates do for the business. Nothing else can quite substitute for a few well-chosen, well-timed, sincere words of praise. They're absolutely free and worth a fortune.”

How Do You Give Effective Employee Recognition at Work?

In order to keep spirits—and retention rates—high, effective employee recognition programs are a must. Here are five tips to help ensure that you are effectively recognizing your employees whether you are newly creating or revamping your employee recognition programs.

1. Make the Employee Recognition Personal

With the continual influx of millennials in the work environment, personalization is a necessity. Furthermore, personalized recognition for millennials can help send the message that companies know them on an individual level and want to help them succeed now and in the future. 

Personalized recognition can take many forms. Consider a reward platform that gives employees the option to choose a meaningful gift from millions of options. At Awardco, our customizable employee rewards & recognition platform can be tailored to your organizational needs and seamlessly integrates personalized recognition with Amazon. There is no larger network in the world, and now you can offer that reward network to your employees instead of a choice between a flimsy windbreaker or a ceramic mug.

2. Everyone Should Recognize, but Leaders Should Lead

According to Gallup workplace survey in 2016, “Employees were asked to recall who gave them their most meaningful and memorable recognition. The data revealed the most memorable recognition comes most often from an employee's manager (28%), followed by a high-level leader or CEO (24%), the manager's manager (12%), a customer (10%) and peers (9%). Worth mentioning, 17% cited "other" as the source of their most memorable recognition.” As such, leadership should set the tone for the recognition culture within the organization.

In addition, peer-to-peer recognition needs to be implemented into your programs as it will help you create a more solid culture of recognition. Coworkers recognizing each other for their work can also help motivate and encourage better work as a whole.

3. Timely, At-Work Recognition Matters

Being recognized a week or a month after an event or project passes doesn’t hold the same value as being recognized immediately for your work. With today’s hustle and bustle of business culture, the longer you wait to recognize hard work the more likely you’ll forget altogether.

If you struggle with immediate recognition, remember that recognition can be very small, but still have a major impact. Whether it’s a quick shout-out in a company meeting or a short email, make sure you’re making the effort to call out the hard work in real time.

4. Be specific with your recognition

Don’t give appreciation just to give appreciation. When you’re recognizing a job well done, it needs to be for a specific reason. Recognition loses all significance when you hand out rewards with no reason attached to them. Employees can easily see right through such gestures which can be damaging to the value they have within the company. This is where personalization can play a role in your recognition awards.

Oprah "You get a car!" gif

"I said CARD. Like a gift card. Why, what did you think I said?"

5. Connect Recognition to Your Companies Culture and Values

Your recognition program blueprint shouldn’t be something you pull straight from the internet. It needs to be unique to your employees and organizational culture. It will make your employees feel a part of a unified community if your recognitions reflect the culture of the organization.

Traveling trophies are a great recognition example that relates back to organizational culture. They can be a special and unconventional object that has meaning within the organization. The Kearns Improvement District in Utah has a traveling Gnome that goes to employees that make an extra effort, go above their duties, or that show an act of kindness. In addition, there is an accompanying poster that displays employees names of where “Gerome the Gnome” has traveled to recently.

How Effective Are Employee Recognition Programs?

This can be a tough nut to crack because employee recognition programs are a lot like diets: they're only as effective as you make them. In fact, even though most organizations have some kind of recognition program, 81% of HR leaders don't feel it's very effective. If you're willing to invest the time and effort to be intentional and specific about how and when you recognize your employees, even the most basic employee recognition programs are effective. Being the most effective, however, requires a little forethought. Here are three characteristics of any effective employee recognition program:

A Celebration Program

This is any program that celebrates the employee just for being who they are. In our research we've found that 71% of companies have some form of service award celebrations, and there's good reason for that—studies show that even one form of recognition can boost engagement by 2X. Service anniversary awards, birthdays, and employee appreciation day are all great options for this. Engagement increases when an employee feels celebrated for who they are, without having to prove anything.

A Spot Recognition Program

When recognition is timely, engagement increases. It's a psychology thing: when you reward (and recognition is a form of a social reward) a behavior, that behavior is likely to increase, as are feelings of belonging and engagement. There's no better way to immediately recognize someone than spot recognitions. It's the equivalent of saying "Hey, great job on that!" right after the thing happened, and if you have a social recognition platform then coworkers can participate in recognition, too, it becomes a positive feedback loop. It's a win-win!

A Rewarding Program That Offers Choice

If you offer rewards for your employees that excel, there's an opportunity to truly show how much you value them: offer them the power to choose their own reward. Employee recognition increases when employees feel free to choose their own reward. In our research we found that the most effective employee recognition programs are nearly 50% more likely to offer rewards choice. It's a simple equation: more choice = happier, more engaged employees.

All of the above aspects can be incorporated into your employee recognition program. Work with your employees to implement a recognition program that positively influences your company culture and employee satisfaction. At Awardco, we lead the employee recognition industry by breaking away from traditional models of outdated products and practices, and we'd love to help you do the same. Schedule a demo to get started.