How to Develop an Effective Employee Recognition Program

The Importance of Employee Rewards and Recognition

Each year, Fortune develops a list of the “100 Best Companies to Work For.”  The common denominator for companies on that list is a great corporate culture.  A company with a great corporate culture knows it is important to recognize and appreciate their employees, they and likely have some type of Employee Rewards and Recognition program to accomplish this.  

These types of programs are strongest when they are broad in scope and adaptable to changes.  As the traditional in-office workspace shifts to a more permanent hybrid and remote workspace, companies should be looking at flexible and meaningful ways to reward and recognize their employees wherever they are located. 

Employees spend countless hours at work, and amidst another challenging year of living and working in a pandemic, it is more important than ever to celebrate them.  

More Reasons to Focus on Employee Recognition (Source: 2022 Global Culture Report.)

By showing employees they are valued, you increase employee engagement, boost employee morale, become an even greater place to work, and build a culture where employees thrive. When employees feel appreciated, there is an 84% decrease in the chance they will experience burnout. 

And in the midst of the great resignation, celebrating can help you create a culture where employees want to stay longer. When companies celebrate together, employees are 20x more likely to feel connected and want to stay.

Key elements to consider for an effective employee rewards and recognition program (Source:  HiFives.in and SHRM.org)

  • Timely and Specific Recognition - maximizes impact on employee motivation levels and inspires them to continue to give their best for business growth when specific efforts, achievements, and even specific behavior of the employees are recognized. This is also essential to maintain the relevance and authenticity of the program. 
  • Involvement of Top Management - sends out a strong positive message to the employees about the significance of the program.  They feel assured that the “big wigs” within the organization really value their efforts and their achievements.
  • Peer-to-Peer Recognition -fills employees with a sense of pride and accomplishment and assures the employees that they are truly respected by their colleagues.
  • Variety of Recognition- means to have diversity in recognition and ensures employees are rewarded or appreciated at different levels and for different criteria. This increases the coverage of the program and helps to build a happier and more satisfied workforce. 
  • Integration of Core Business Values- ensures that employee engagement is happening for the right reasons, which, in turn, helps in reinforcing organization culture in a strong and effective manner.  

Ideas to celebrate your employees

Consider these ways and remember a big budget is not required

  • A simple “thank you” message across the workplace, whether it be through email or other internal communication platform.

  • A unique gift with meaning, whether it be a gift card to a favorite shopping spot or eatery to enjoy after work which can be sent instantly and globally via the internet.

  • A special “on the spot shout out” in a team or all-hands meeting.

  • Recognize employee birthdays and work anniversaries.  Some companies grant this day as a paid day off for employees.

  • A thoughtful care package made up of company brand products, swag or useful items for any employee’s workspace.
  • Let’s not forget snail mail and the power of a “thank you” note mailed to an employee’s home.

And don’t forget annual National Employee Appreciation Day!  This is a special day, once a year, when companies everywhere appreciate employees for all they contribute to the organization’s success (this year it was held on March 4th).  It’s the perfect opportunity to thank every employee by creating recognition experiences that are heartfelt, fun, and memorable.    

At its core, an impactful employee reward and recognition strategy essentially reflects the conviction that there is nothing better than a sincere "thank you/job well done," in a meaningful and appropriate form for your company culture and values.  And in an era of increasing competitiveness for top talent, a strong rewards and recognition program can be a means to attract and retain the best employees and keep them engaged and productive!  

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About The Author: Kimberly Robinson
Kimberly Robinson - Director, HR Consulting

Kimberly Robinson is the Director of HR Consulting for Amy Cell Talent.

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