5 Steps to a Successful Employee Recognition Program

Posted by Jackie Dyal

Historically, employees have been recognized for their hard work with the allocation of an annual cash bonus, typically around the holidays. However, this approach is increasingly being viewed as outdated. So what’s the new and improved approach? Read on to find out.

While no one can argue that employees are always happy to receive a yearly bonus, an increasing number of companies are rewarding staff through ongoing recognition programs that operate consistently throughout the year.

The motivation behind this popular approach is that the constant availability of rewards – rewards that staff truly want – will encourage them to work toward them steadily and on an ongoing basis.

Unlike annual bonuses, established rewards programs also provide a larger variety of awards. People are different, so the same prize will naturally not appeal to all staff. By running a program that provides options, many more of your staff will stay motivated and happy. It’s a win for everyone involved.

The most successful employee recognition programs incorporate these five steps:

1. Peer-to-peer Recognition

Peer-to-peer recognition is effective because it acknowledges the opinions of all employees. Both the nominators and nominated feel empowered. It allows for the admiration and appreciation of teammates to be easily communicated and rewarded. This sort of reward also contributes largely to a positive working environment and helps create a more cohesive workplace.

2. The Power of a Simple “Thank You”

It might sound too good to be true, but the truth is a simple “thank you” can go a long way in making an employee feel valued. E-thank you cards are a quick and easy way to show appreciation and recognition of hard work.

Plus, they can just as easily be sent to an entire team as to an individual, or even shared more widely across the organization. Simple to produce and extremely motivational in execution.

3. Service Awards

In an ideal world, staff retention would be 100% while recruitment costs would be negligible. Unfortunately, the world of business doesn’t operate like this and it’s important for companies to keep their staff happy to encourage them to stick around. The celebration of periodic milestones (3, 5, 10 years of service) is a great step toward this. If employees know these processes exist, then it’s an added incentive to stay with the company.

Having said that, it’s important the rewards are actually something the employee will enjoy and many businesses offer a selection of awards to choose from to be sure there is something to tempt everyone to stay longer and work harder.

4. Instant Recognition

Running an ongoing rewards program makes it possible to praise and reward outstanding contributions year round. This doesn’t always have to be a financial reward, it could be as simple as an internal announcement, but having a formalized process already set up makes it straightforward to sign off and quick to implement.

In this way, individual achievements can be celebrated at once rather than staff having to wait for months or, worse, getting forgotten over time altogether.

5. Rewards

Of course, if your workforce is going to proactively work toward something, then the promise of an added bonus at the close of a project will always make them work just a little bit harder. Once established, a good rewards program will facilitate a range of awards, possibly set up in grades for varying levels of achievement and allowing for personalization, so that your staff will actually want to take part…and to go above and beyond to get there.

Bonus Step!

In addition to the five steps outlined here, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention technology here. Technology supports almost everything these days and employee recognition is no exception. Rewards programs have become even easier to set up and maintain now that we can run them online. They are fast, accessible and transparent for staff and management alike.

Good technology allows for more rewards, more personalization and a more effective program. They are inexpensive and easy to manage. Plus their very existence serves as an ever-present motivator for your staff, and a reminder to management to reward their employees’ service and hard work.