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Did you know that only a few employees get appreciated at work? 

Unfortunately, many businesses tend to neglect the value of employee recognition at work. 

Nothing is more fun, exciting, engaging, productive, and fulfilling for employees than having a culture of appreciation in the workplace. 

Meanwhile, employers should realize that employee appreciation translates to a high employee morale, increased engagement, improved productivity, and overall business success.

Wondering how to create an effective employee recognition program for your organization?

This page covers what you need to know about providing an employee recognition program for your company or organization. Read on to learn more about:

  • What it is and why it matters; and
  • How to create an effective program. 

Ready? Let’s dive right in!

What is an employee recognition program?

An employee recognition program usually entails recognizing and appreciating the actions and achievements of employees in a given company. It often comes with awards and rewards as tokens of appreciation handed to the achievers or performers.

In a recent report about Empowering Workplace Culture through Recognition, Gallup cites that recognizing employees is one of the best ways to inspire and engage them. 

The proof is in the numbers:

  • Those believing in employee recognition are more likely to agree they have connections with the company culture (about 3.8x).
  • Those receiving great appreciation are more likely to engage than those with poor recognition (about 20x).
  • Over 70% of employees with great recognition experiences believe that performance recognition on "little things" is common in their organization.
employee recognition

However, employee recognition offers more than the benefits mentioned above. Find out why it does matter in the workplace for the benefit of your organization.

Why does employee recognition matter?

The benefits of employee recognition are multifold, as follows:

  • Boosted employee morale: Those who get appreciated feel like the organization values them. Even the simple act of recognizing achievement is a significant boost for employee morale. 
  • Enhanced employee engagement: Recognition and feedback are the top drivers of employee engagement. Managers who recognize and appreciate their employees are more likely to create a highly engaged team.
  • High employee retention rate: Utmost recognition translates to a lower turnover rate. Businesses promoting a culture of recognition are more successful at retaining employees, with a 41% increase in retention rate.
  • Improved employee performance: Recognition and appreciation can further boost work efficiency, output quality, and overall productivity. Nearly 80% of employees will be more productive if they are frequently recognized.
  • High customer satisfaction: Recognition can improve the employees’ emotional connections with customers. And customers who are emotionally engaged with them are more likely to recommend certain brands and make repeat purchases.
  • Increased business profitability: Did you know that companies with highly engaged employees, due to recognition, perform better? They are more likely to outperform their competitors by 147% in earnings per share.

Learn how to set up an employee recognition program in place below.

7 Effective tips for creating a year-round recognition program

Given the benefits discussed above, it’s crucial to set an employee recognition program in place. However, this program should be a year-long initiative. In fact, your organization should foster a culture of appreciation that lasts a lifetime.

That said, here’s how to create an effective employee recognition program:

1. Plan an employee recognition program all year round

For an employee recognition program to be successful, it shouldn’t be a one-time deal. Implement it throughout the year with some appreciation activities and rewards events held regularly. Promoting a culture of recognition should be a way of life in the workplace.

First off, create a team under your human resource (HR) department responsible for planning and executing the employee recognition program. To get started, follow the steps below:

  • Define goals. They should be SMART—specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound. Ask what you hope to achieve from this program: Is it to increase job satisfaction and employee retention? Is it to improve productivity and profitability? Or is it to promote an inclusive, harmonious, and engaged team?
  • Set metrics. The key performance indicators (KPIs) should revolve around efficiency/productivity, quality/compliance, and customer satisfaction (CSAT). They help monitor and measure employee performance to identify and reward performers and achievers. 
  • Monitor performance. Your quality assurance (QA) team tracks and measures employee performance. While they determine who deserves to be rewarded, they should also motivate the rest and appreciate those who strive hard and exert effort.
  • Give recognition. The management team should hold the scheduled events on the calendar to recognize performers and extend rewards. Keep in mind, however, that providing appreciation, even in simple ways, should be a day-to-day initiative.

Expert advice

Max Wesman, Founder & COO of GoodHire, recommends proper planning and strategic execution for an employee recognition program. 

Wesman said, “You and your team should sit down and brainstorm to come up with a year-round program…something that truly works and adds value to your company and employees. Remember, fostering a culture of appreciation is no easy feat, but it can make a world of difference in the workplace!”

2. Introduce the recognition program to your team

After setting up a blueprint for your employee recognition program, it’s time to introduce it to your team. You can assign a team meeting online or send an email newsletter for everyone with motivating call-to-action. The key here is to be clear on what the program entails and set proper expectations. You want to ensure that the entire team understands its purpose and that every stakeholder must participate.

Here’s how to officially launch the employee recognition program:

  • Send emails to all employees for the guidelines. This email should include all the necessary details, from the program goals to the scheduled activities. Encourage everyone to partake and contribute to the initiative’s success. 
  • Hold a brief orientation about the program. If possible, gather all employees and have an HR representative explain what the program is all about. If not, let your team leads orient their individual teams.
  • Open lines of communication for participation. Getting everyone involved in this initiative is vital for overall success. Encourage constant interactions by giving updates, asking for suggestions, and letting teams communicate with each other.

Expert advice

Robert Kaskel, Chief People Officer at Checkr, suggests proper orientation for the employee recognition initiative. 

Kaskel said, “For the most part, companies and organizations have rewards and recognition programs in place. However, many employees aren’t aware that they exist and that they should strive hard to give their best. That said, properly orient your team on this program to ensure they participate and that you achieve your objectives.”

3. Hold recognition events on a regular basis

It’s best to regularly have rewards and recognition events for the program’s consistent implementation. Not only do they let employees know this program exists, but regular events set employee expectations and provide them with real excitement. These events must be something they look forward to.

Wondering how frequently you should hold these events? It actually depends:

  • Monthly: It’s a good idea to recognize the top performers for the month. You can gather all employees in a town hall meeting for about an hour or so every month. And from there, you can give awards to the top achievers!
  • Quarterly: The quarter event should go beyond recognizing top performers. If the budget allows, hold a team building for everyone. It’s a great way to show how much you appreciate and value each and every employee!
  • Yearly: It’s easy to see companies hold an annual event that converges all team members in one place. And while at it, they give awards to the top performers for the year, hold raffle draws, and let employees have fun for a night or so.
  • Daily: An employee recognition program isn’t confined to the regular events mentioned above. It’s a day-to-day initiative that both leaders and employees should constantly practice. A simple appreciation note sent to the employee’s email like “You did a great job today” will do!

Expert advice

Catherine Schwartz, Finance Editor at Crediful, underscores the importance of employee recognition programs.

Schwartz said, “They create positive repercussions to your company culture. Recognizing and rewarding employees lets them feel they are truly valued and appreciated. However, hold regular events and activities related to the program to get employees involved and engaged.”

4. Provide recognition in various forms

We often think of an employee recognition program as holding a rewards event and awarding the achievers. However, it goes far beyond that. You can appreciate, recognize, and reward your employees in various ways.

Below are the different forms of recognition provided in the workplace: 

  • Formal recognition is officially recognizing and rewarding employees in public. The monthly event is a perfect example, where you give awards to the top achievers for the month.
  • Informal recognition doesn’t have to be official and formal. Think of supervisors giving their subordinates a thumbs up or a pat on the back for doing a great job!
  • Monetary recognition requires money where employees are given monetary compensation for meeting and exceeding targets. Perks and incentives fall under this category.
  • Social recognition involves peers appreciating each other’s hard work done publicly or privately. This recognition is meaningful since it comes from someone employees work with daily.
  • Day-to-day recognition is informal recognition that occurs daily. For example, a supervisor might let others on the floor know that an employee has just made successful sales!
  • Celebratory events are formally organized by the organization and attended by employees. A Christmas party held annually for the company is a perfect example of this!

Expert advice:

Volodymyr Shchegel, VP of Engineering at Clario, suggests holding different recognition events. 

Shchegel added, “Don’t just have regular rewards and recognition events held monthly, quarterly, or yearly. It’s best to give employees an element of surprise…something that they should look forward to. Bet you have seen the value of a team-building activity in your organization.”

5. Monitor and measure employee performance

Performance monitoring and measuring are a crucial part of your employee recognition program. Ensure constant tracking and fair evaluation to avoid disputes and recognize achievers. But more than anything else, the goal is to improve employee performance by identifying and addressing areas for improvement.

As such, the KPIs usually focus on the following areas:

  • Efficiency/productivity: Track how fast employees accomplish their days or how many outputs they produce daily. For example, you measure the average handling time (AHT) for your call center. Or you count the number of outputs produced in a day for your back-office work.
  • Quality/compliance: Monitor if employees strictly follow quality standards and comply with business policies. Do they follow the standard operating procedures (SOPs)? Are they not committing any compliance deviation? Standards guarantee the employees’ work quality and service delivery.
  • Customer satisfaction (CSAT): Measure if customers are fully satisfied with the services they receive from your employees. Often, your company issues surveys to get customer feedback and obtain employee ratings. CSAT should be a key part of your scorecard.

Case Study: GE’s employee engagement and recognition program

Let’s take GE Healthcare—a $4 billion business providing biotechnology and life sciences solutions. In 2010, the company underwent a complete restructuring with some change management plans. However, continuous employee engagement became one of their significant challenges. 

The company’s HR and other key players created the Employee Forum, which consisted of regular meetings and check-ins.

They also launched quarterly performance reviews and employee recognition using performance monitoring and review tools, like time-tracking software for architects. 

In the end, all these initiatives led to a boost in employee engagement and overall success. 

6. Get everyone involved in for inclusive recognition

The employee recognition program doesn’t only include the HR personnel. Neither does it apply to the workers exclusively. This program involves all the stakeholders in a company, from the top management to the HR down to rank-and-file employees.

That said, here’s what the stakeholders involved are responsible for:

  • HR team: The HR personnel usually initiate, execute, and reinforce the employee recognition program. They create an employee engagement team to set and schedule the program’s events and activities.
  • Upper management: The top management leaders usually coordinate with the HR and implement the program within their departments or jurisdictions. While the QA team monitors and measures employee performance, the team leads manage their immediate members or subordinates.
  • Rank-and-file employees: The workers aren’t just the recipients of the rewards and recognitions. They are responsible for delivering their best, improving performance, and contributing to the organization. They can also offer peer-to-peer appreciation to their colleagues and give management appreciation to business leaders.
Case Study: Heineken’s reward and recognition program

In the consumer goods and services industry, Heineken initially had its employee reward and recognition program. However, this program only reached a small portion of its labor workforce.As such, the company decided to revamp its program by rebranding it as “BREWards.”

This time, the goal was to expand its reach to a wide range of diverse workforce. Even on the same meager budget, it offered various awards and monetary rewards.

Heineken earned a 50% increase in the number of employees recognized and rewarded by their peers and the company itself. Ultimately, they did kick the employee reward and recognition program up a notch! 

7. Promote a culture of appreciation within your organization

An employee recognition program shouldn’t only be a band-aid solution for employee engagement and business success. It should be a part of your company culture where employees are constantly recognized, appreciated, and valued at work.

What better way to take your program to the next level than to foster a culture of appreciation in your organization? Here’s how:

  • Open lines of communication. Encourage constant interactions not only among team members but also among different departments. You can do this by breaking down silos and putting up cross-functional collaborations.
  • Appreciate even small wins. Employee recognition doesn’t have to be grand and great. Even small gestures of appreciation can go a long way in boosting employee morale. Genuine “thank you” and “good job” are phrases that create magic in the workplace!
  • Connect employees to higher causes. It’s essential to let employees know that this recognition program has a bigger purpose. Allow them to understand that this can help create job satisfaction, advance career, improve performance, and guarantee overall business success.
  • Spread the utmost positivity. Expressing gratitude, giving appreciation, and congratulating employees help promote positivity in your company. They create ripple effects that make the workplace a great place to work!
Case study: LMC Healthcare’s culture of employee appreciation

LMC Healthcare aims to make diabetes specialist care easily accessible, fully comprehensive, and truly patient-focused. It believes that integrating employee recognition into its healthcare culture results in better patient care. 

In 2012, the company became a Kudos client looking to foster a workplace employee appreciation culture. This partnership allowed doctors, assistants, and staff to appreciate and recognize each other through the Kudos app.

This approach has helped boost employee morale and work dedication. Employees have become more committed to delivering quality healthcare and providing the best patient experience.

Promoting recognition and appreciation for employee and business success

Companies can no longer ignore the value of appreciation. They should consider planning and executing an employee recognition program for their organization.

That said, follow the crucial steps for creating an employee recognition program. Learn from the expert insights and case studies shared above. With real appreciation in place, you can achieve the following:

  • Boost employee morale;
  • Enhance engagement;
  • Guarantee a high retention;
  • Improve performance; and,
  • Increase business profits.

Ultimately, an employee recognition program can go as far as contributing to your overall business success!

Ready to set up an employee recognition program for your organization? We’ve got you covered! 

Empuls provides a robust platform for employee engagement, rewards, and incentives with amazing features and viable solutions. Get in touch with us today to see how we can help!

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