Build Your Workplace Employee Recognition Program

An employee recognition program could bring so much value to your company. Recognition makes employees feel seen and heard. It’s one of the most effective ways to boost engagement and productivity. It can help foster feelings of trust between leadership and their teams, and between team members, too. It can even encourage employees to stick around longer than they otherwise might – which is more important than ever in an economy in which younger workers stay in their jobs for less than three years on average.

But how can you establish an effective employee recognition program for your employees? You need to figure out how much you can spend, get your employees’ input on what kinds of recognition they want, and set up goals for what you hope to accomplish with employee recognition. Get together a group of people who can manage the recognition program, and make sure the recognition criteria you’re using is fair. Finally, put your program into motion and reap the rewards.

Set a Budget

If you’re operating your business on thin margins, you might be concerned that an employee recognition program might be too expensive for your budget. But an employee recognition program doesn’t have to be costly. In fact, some components of your employee recognition are absolutely free. It doesn’t cost a thing to tell employees hello or good morning when they arrive, but it can foster a sense of connection that makes people feel valued – and opens the door for more interaction with your employees about what they’re doing at work and what tools they might need to do it better. Nor does it cost anything to offer employees praise for a job well done or thanks for going the extra mile or giving many years of service. If you can’t afford anything else, words of praise, affirmation, and gratitude are free and can make a huge difference for your workers.

However, you will probably want to allocate money to buy employee recognition program software and tools to help you track and adjust the amount of money you’re spending on recognition. You may also want to offer your employees cash bonuses, extra paid days off, gift cards, and small prizes as incentives and rewards. These cost money, but they pay for themselves thanks to the increased productivity and engagement they can foster.

Get Your Employees’ Input

What forms of recognition will make your employees feel the most satisfied? You won’t know until you ask. Some may want public praise while others would prefer a few words in private. Some might feel more motivated by a cash bonus while others are happy just to feel your gratitude. Sit down with each of your employees and find out what kinds of recognition are most motivating for each one.

Establish Goals for Your Recognition Program

What do you hope to achieve with your employee recognition program? Do you want to boost engagement? Reduce turnover? Raise sales? Foster a stronger company culture? Set goals that line up with your company’s values and can help you create the type of company culture you want.

Put Together a Committee

Putting together a recognition committee at your company makes it easier to delegate the many tasks associated with successfully managing employee recognition. You only need a few people to start – but as things really get rolling, you can add more people to the group as needed. Task the committee with finding out what forms of recognition are most validating to your employees, implementing those forms of recognition, managing the recognition budget, and quantifying what recognition activities are doing for your organization.

Develop Fair and Equitable Recognition Criteria

You can’t play favorites when it comes to employee recognition. It has to be open and available to everyone. Make sure you’re not picking people arbitrarily and that everyone gets the same equal chance at having their efforts seen and rewarded. Choose criteria like attendance, milestones reached, positive customer reviews, work efficiency, collaboration, and key performance indicator (KPI) recognition to keep things equitable across your organization. 

Put Your Program into Action

Once you’ve finished constructing your employee recognition program, it’s time to put it into action. It can feel weird or awkward at first, especially if you’re not the type to show a lot of gratitude or give out a lot of complements. Receiving compliments and thanks can be awkward for some people, too. But don’t worry – these things will get easier as your recognition program becomes more familiar.

Building an employee recognition program is one of the best things you can do for your company. It will improve your company culture and help your team feel more cohesive and committed. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at how much of a difference even just a few words of praise can make.