Employee Recognition Programs

Most people I have met, managed, and worked with want to be appreciated. They want to be appreciated for their hard work, for hitting a production goal, or for contributing to the company’s success, for showing up on time, and for being a decent person.  Even the person who says they don’t want the trophy, or the public recognition, wants to know their hard work is being noticed, and is appreciated.

The fast-paced day to day life many small business owners and HR Directors keep doesn’t always allow time for recognition. We get caught up in the hustle, the chaos, or the myth that you don’t need to reward people for “doing their job.”

I want you to consider recognizing your employee’s dedication if you want them to continue to work hard for your company. I can’t tell you how many times in my corporate career I heard people gripe about working their tails off and how no one seemed to notice. This gripe quickly turned to resentment against the corporation and the hard work stopped. It is not difficult to  end that toxic attitude before it begins. Recognizing your people doesn’t take as long as you would think. And it isn’t as difficult as you’ve worked it up to be either.

Things to consider about recognition:

  1. Create a program or a strategy with parameters, rules, and guidelines for every award and reward. One of the fastest ways to damage your employee’s morale is for someone to think the recognition is subjective. You like “them” better than “me” so that is why they are now your favorite. Having a strategy can eliminate that perception.
  2. What is worthy of a reward? Rewarding specific behavior can encourage and motivate your employees to continue to act / behave / produce the way they have been. It also sets the “winners” up to be role models for other employees.
  3. Recognition programs are a great tool to help your company engage and retain your employees. Align the awards /rewards / praise with your company’s vision and goals. This will encourage your people to be part of the company’s success.
  4. Tenure strategies. Recognize the employees who have dedicated years of their lives to your company. Acknowledge them and their tenure and let them know how much you appreciate their commitment.
  5. Empower your direct managers. Typically, HR is responsible for administering the recognition program but empower your managers, who work side by side with their teams, to nominate, suggest, and drive the rewards.  
  6. It doesn’t always have to be about the cash in pocket reward. There are other options such as small gifts, gift cards, stickers, paid time off, and the list goes on and on. One of my most successful reward prizes was the UGLIEST trophy ever. It was awarded to the highest producing team and my teams fought over that UGLY thing. I didn’t get it; this thing was hideous. But they all wanted to showcase it proudly in their space. Not sure where to start? Ask your staff what is important to them. They may give you ideas you never would have thought of.
  7. Remember not everyone in the office loves public recognition. Some people may be very shy or feel awkward when you thrust them center stage. Part of your strategy should be to ask everyone at their next one to one how they feel about recognition and public praise.

Whether you have a quarterly staff meeting where you hand out trophies, or monthly production award meetings, or weekly huddles where everyone gets a sticker – create a program that fits into your business structure, acknowledges the habits and behaviors you want them to continue to do, and makes them feel appreciated.

Want some ideas? Reach out to me or follow me on LinkedIn for ideas.