Reimagine Recognition

Bring your recognition programs into the present in three simple ways.

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Recognition strengthens feelings of purpose and meaning, which lower turnover, increase engagement, and boost loyalty.

Recognition Strategy

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Celebrate Everyone

Every single employee deserves recognition—birthdays, service anniversaries, etc. are great ideas!


Recognize Achievement

Those employees who go above the call of duty deserve more recognition—and shouting out this effort drives even more effort.


Reward Excellence

Retain those employees who are truly amazing by recognizing and rewarding their exemplary efforts.

Respect the Past, Look Forward to the Future!

Recognition in many organizations has been stuck in the past with plaques that are gathering dust on desks and closets full of last year’s employee summit windbreakers. It’s time to reimagine recognition into something new—something that celebrates every employee, recognizes exceptional effort, and rewards incredible achievement.

To reimagine recognition in your own organization, think of a pyramid. You may have heard of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs? Or perhaps the food pyramid so many of us grew up seeing in those early morning cereal commercials? (Now it’s a plate, but we digress.) Well, we’ve reimagined recognition into something similar: a totally fly way to remember where to begin and where you can take your recognition programs.

The Big 3 of Recognition

Reimagining recognition is about using your company values to foster purpose-driven achievement and effort in your employees. In fact, purpose-driven companies outperform the stock market by 42%! When employee effort and company values align in powerful ways, employees need to be recognized for that and then rewarded.

When recognition strengthens and employee's feelings of purpose at work, that leads to 40% lower turnover, plus stronger engagement and heightened loyalty.

How much are you losing out on by sticking with your old recognition programs? Maybe it’s time to reimagine recognition in your workplace. This will lead to a cycle of showing, seeing, and feeling values in organizations. The awesome recognition pyramid we mentioned above is at the heart of it all as we celebrate, recognize, and reward the people around us.

Let's break down each level of the pyramid and see what you can do to implement reimagined recognition in your workplace.

Celebrate Everyone

We’re all humans here, and everyone deserves to be celebrated! Recently, humans have been degraded to a resource called “human capital,” and we think that should bother us all. Have we devalued each individual so much that we now see them as a cog in a wheel, a resource to be exploited and managed? Gross.

Whatever your viewpoint on the whole “human capital” thing, it stands to reason that every single individual in your organization deserves to be celebrated simply because of who they are—and there are multiple ways to do that.

Everyone has a birthday. Everyone has a work anniversary. Every company celebrates at least one holiday. And you know what else? Every organization should have an employee appreciation day.These days are perfect occasions to celebrate your employees for devoting a sizable portion of their day (and life!) to you. Birthdays and service anniversaries are especially great for this, and are an important part of a balanced recognition program.

The point is that everybody deserves to feel like they’re king of the world at work every so often, and as we all strive to celebrate people just for being who they are, we’ll build that sense of community and belonging that every good organization needs.

Fortunately, most workplaces understand milestone recognitions are important. If they don’t (and if you’re in one of those organizations), then maybe there are bigger problems to worry about. But we’d like to let you in on a secret: celebrating everyone doesn’t have to be hard. You can automate all your milestone celebrations on platforms like Awardco to take the busywork out of trying to remember every birthday or anniversary.

Pyramid with word highlighted Celebrate

Recognize High Performers

When you’ve got a great foundation of celebration in your organization, it’s time to start recognizing those that excel. Recognition can help drive the behavior your values promote, and to be effective must be given out early and often.

Remember that recognizing your high performers shouldn’t be overwhelming. You can build all kinds of programs that can help with this, including sales incentives, wellness programs, work from home initiatives, referral programs, value spotlights, spot recognitions, and much more.

Recognition should be as inclusive as possible. In other words, let everyone (leaders AND peers) participate in recognition programs to make sure everyone has a chance to be noticed. As behavior is recognized, a higher sense of self-esteem and achievement will rise in your employees.

One more thing that will help drive the effectiveness of your recognition programs: reward variety and employee choice.When one type of recognition or reward is relied upon too heavily, it becomes mundane and insincere, which will ultimately weaken its value. Your strengths lie in a variety of programs and a variety of rewards. Consider giving employees more power to choose their own rewards, and you’ll find this step of recognizing your employees becomes even easier.

Reward Your Power Players

Now that you’ve got a dynamic duo of celebration and recognition, it’s time for the pinnacle of reimagining recognition: rewarding those employees that truly knock it out of the park. You will always have employees that truly exceed expectations and do incredible work.

Those power players need to know they’re seen—and they need to be rewarded often. Now, anyone who’s been in a budget squabble might think this is unrealistic, but just think about this: the cost to reward your most valuable players is very small compared to the cost of losing them.

When rewarding your best employees, make sure you consider multiple forms of rewards. Things like a public ceremony (if that’s their thing), a commemorative award, a monetary amount, or perhaps the most potent: the power to choose their own reward coupled with the recognition you already have planned to give them.

The Spice Girls said it best—all you need to do is ask your employees what they really really want. You might notice a theme here: we’re big on choice. In fact, studies have shown that more choice in rewards leads to an increase in performance by as much as 40%!

As a bonus, here’s a fun tip to keep in mind: letting employees earn and claim their own rewards (without the recognition of a manager or peer)removes administration time and improves program adoption. Think wellness, training, competitions, and more. Incentive programs can be a thing for your reward programs, too! And in case you were wondering, Awardco can easily help you do this through our Incentives feature. Neat!

Reimagine Recognition

It's time to reimagine the way you think about rewards and recognition. And maybe, after all this, you might be wondering: “How are we going to begin to do all that?” It turns out that’s the easy part. Just start simple and resist the urge to make things complicated.

We’ve found a good rule of thumb on recognition programs is the 3-2-1 rule:

  • Programs that celebrate everyone
  • Programs that recognize high-performers
  • Program that rewards MVPs

A simple, yet thoughtful approach to recognition will make all the difference when promoting your program internally, especially to stakeholders in your company. Focusing recognition on the values and behaviors you’re hoping to cultivate within the organization will help drive ROI with higher retention and improved performance.

Now that you understand the balanced approach of celebration, recognition, and rewards, it’s time to do something about it. Change the way your organization engages its employees. Celebrate everyone, recognize the achievers, and reward the top performers—all from one centralized platform.

Consolidate your recognition and rewards efforts by using Awardco, and as you do we promise to give you a platform that truly rewards, a solution that actually builds culture, and a way to engage with your employees like never before.