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6 Tips to Creating the Best Employee Recognition Programs

Looking to create the best employee recognition programs? Look no further! We have 6 tips to get you started!

Employee Experience.

Leen Sawalha

VP Product & Growth

Monday, March 09, 2015


We constantly talk about how to make our employee more productive, effective, efficient, and loyal. How do we increase our retention rate? How do we hire the best? How can I better manage my employees?

It’s always me, me, ME! We tend to be a little selfish as organizations, only caring about ourselves. But what about those who make us so great? What about our greatest asset? What about our employees?

Your employees are the heart and soul of your organization, and are the building blocks to your success. Don’t you think it’s time to take a step back and thank them for making your organization what it is today? Isn’t it time to create the best employee recognition programs to show them your appreciation? I think it is! And I’m going to give you 6 tips to help you get started!

Tip #1 – Make sure your employee recognition programs have clearly defined criteria

This is one of the simplest yet most important elements of any recognition program. All your employees want to be recognized for their performance (whether it seems like it or not), and they want to know what it would take to get that recognition.

Make sure the criteria are clear, precise, attainable, and directly relevant to their performance measures.

Tips #2- The programs should be consistent with the organization’s values

There is nothing more confusing and discouraging to employees than having recognition programs that contradict, or are not directly related to the organization’s mission and values. After all, the mission and values of your company are what makes you who you are and what drives the organization forward every day.

If your mission and values are based on excellent customer service and caring, then you should do the same for your employees. Provide them with excellent customer service and show them you care by simply asking them what they want as part of your employee recognition programs!

If your values are based on the importance of personal development, then offer developmental opportunities. If your mission is innovation, then a standard “employee-of-the-month” award just won’t do; you’ll need to be more creative than that!

Tip #3 – Use it to encourage desired behaviors

This tip can be thought of as a combination of the previously two, but is still so important that it needed a heading of its own! Your employee recognition programs should always encourage desired behaviors, whether directly or indirectly.

How? By rewarding these desired behaviors! If you want your salespeople to make more money, then reward them with good compensation plans. If you want to encourage teamwork, then recognize team achievements and reward them with a fun, creative team activity.

Which leads me to my next tip.

Tip #4 – The best employee recognition programs deliver on their promise, every time!

There’s nothing worse than a recognition plan that doesn’t actually recognize! If you’re asking your employees to display certain behaviors to advance your organization’s mission and goals, then you should always fulfill your end of the bargain.

Before you even administer employee recognition programs, determine how you’re going to identify those who deserve recognition and who would be the best person for the job.

Sure, recognition programs are an HR function, but it’s not the HR department who is around to evaluate employees’ work. So, make sure that managers and immediate supervisors understand the importance of recognition programs, and ensure that they have an active role in its success.

Tip #5 – Know your employees

Okay, so we now know the basic structure of good employee recognition programs, but now what? What should your recognition program look like?

We are all people, after all, and we all have different wants, desires, and motivating factors, and no one knows more about your employees than you do. So, if you were looking for a straight answer or examples of recognition programs, I’m afraid you’re going to get neither. But I will tell you how to get the information you seek!

Communication, communication, communication

Communicate with your employees! Ask them what they want and how they would like to be recognized. Easy-peasy! Not only will this method allow you to get the answers you’re looking for, but it will also allow your employees to see that they’re cared for and that they matter. Now that’s what I call a win-win!

Employee assessments

We all know those quiet individuals who have a hard time communicating, or don’t feel comfortable directly asking for what they want. How are you going to know what they want if they won’t tell you?

One thing you certainly shouldn’t do in this situation is hound them for an answer! Don’t make them do something they aren’t comfortable with. After all, it might be those specific traits that make them such great employees.

Take another route and have them complete a psychometric test. Not only will the results allow you to understand what makes them who they are, but it will also shed light on their motivating factors and help you determine the best employee recognition programs for them (if you choose the right test, of course!)

Tip #6 – Get everyone involved

A final little tip; get everyone involved. From the top, to the bottom, and from side-to-side, everyone should be involved in employee recognition programs. Not only does it give the program the credibility it deserves after all the hard work you put into it, but it will also ensure the program is solid and effective.

And there you have it; the basic building blocks to creating the best employee recognition programs. Recognizing your employees and rewarding their accomplishments is crucial for any organization’s success. Not only does it make your employees more engaged and motivated, but it can also lead to better performance and great working environments. Just make sure you have clearly defined criteria that are related to your organization’s mission and values, encourage desired behaviors, deliver on your promise, and give your employees what they want by getting to know them.

That’s all folks! Do you have any other tips to creating the best employee recognition programs? Do share in the comments below!

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