Six steps to building an employee recognition program

How many times have you said thank you to your employees this week? If you think that employees are not interested in words, think again. 

Consistent and extensive studies show that even if salaries and bonuses are a top motivation for people to perform well at work, non-monetary gratifications such as recognition go a long way too. 

Recognition increases employees' engagement, job satisfaction, and supports managers in their effort to retain talent. And creating a framework to reward your employees is a valuable investment. 

Why does employee recognition matter?

  • Employees value non-monetary rewards. A personal thank you from a manager to her employees goes a long way. Bob Nelson, a best-selling author and recognition expert, explains that employees value personal verbal recognition from their manager as much as a pay raise. 
  • It supports employee work satisfaction. Substantial research about the different types of employee rewards shows that non-monetary rewards are as important as the financial ones when it comes to job satisfaction. Employees who are satisfied with their job are likely to perform better and be more creative and engaged.
  • It can increase productivity and performance. Recognizing people's work is more important than one might think. As a matter of fact, 40% of employed Americans say they’d put more energy into their work if they were recognized more often. Moreover, research from Harvard Business School showed that employees who receive non-monetary rewards have higher morale and tend to go the extra mile in their work. Overall, companies that have a culture of recognition see improvements in employee engagement, talent retention, productivity, and creativity. 

Employee recognition is a great way for managers to support and motivate their team, provided that they do it well. Delivering recognition can drift to favoritism or free-riding behaviors if the execution is not well-planned.

Six steps to building an employee recognition program

Framing recognition in a program is an excellent way to reach your goals.

1. Create a strategy

Before you get started, lay the strategic ground by asking yourself these questions: Why are we doing this? What are the desired outcomes of this action? What will employees get from it? How do we measure the success of the program? How long will the program run for? Is this program for a specific team or company-wide? Take the necessary time to lay down all the parameters of the program.

2. Define the program's mechanisms

Then, create the program by answering these questions: Who will deliver recognition? What form of credit will you give (e.g., public praise, symbolic reward)? How often (every standup meeting, or perhaps, at the end of each month)? And, what behavior do you want to recognize and reward?

3. Define the program's governance

It is key to appoint the program owners, champions, and any other stakeholders. These questions will help you do so: who will be in charge of implementing the program? Who is in charge of communicating about it? And, who will monitor it? This could be the same person or several people. Who "judges" employees' efforts and results, and decides who gets recognition? Who will deliver the recognition/reward?

4. Setup the program's tools

The tools you use will shape the program and will greatly contribute to its success. Many companies choose digital tools like a staff excellence software because it streamlines your program, ensures that all information is stored, and provides HR managers clear visibility over the program and all its participants. Using a software tool will save you time in setting up and managing the program, support successful nominations and judging through a user-friendly interface and ensure integrity with your program’s results.

5. Communicate the program to your employees

You're now ready to kick-start the program! Can you present it to the staff in an engaging format? You can perhaps present it in a video format or you could make it an offsite activity. Whatever format you choose, make sure to share all the aspects of the program. Ask yourself: if I were an employee, what would I need to know about this program to fully participate and to be motivated to deliver the results expected?  

6. Monitor, assess and collect participants' feedback

Like any project, it is critical to monitor the implementation and ask for participant feedback. This allows you to assess the program's success and make any amendments for the next season. 

Don't underestimate the power of recognition for your teams. Create a solid program to help employees feel happier at work and support managers in reaching your business and HR objectives.

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Oumnia El Khazzani

About the author…

Oumnia El Khazzani is a copywriter for Award Force, an award-winning cloud software for leading contest organizers to manage awards entry and judging online.

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Oumnia El Khazzani

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