What is an employee recognition program?
Employee recognition programs are a method of motivating employees to do good work by rewarding them for their hard work and dedication. They are designed to maintain high standards of behavior, provide motivation and feedback to employees and publicly praise big wins. Overall, employee recognition is how you express thanks for employee accomplishments, efforts and work.
You can implement one or several recognition programs that acknowledge a variety of achievements, such as work anniversaries, positive feedback from clients or other workplace accomplishments.
Related: How to Motivate Your Employees
Benefits of employee recognition programs
Rewarding outstanding behavior in the workplace can be a great motivator for employees and create a company culture focused on growth and achievement. By investing time and resources into encouraging employees and sharing their successes with the company, you can greatly increase productivity and employee happiness.
The following are a few ways that employee recognition can positively impact an organization:
Encourages engagement. Employee recognition programs can greatly increase overall employee engagement rates. Employees are more engaged in their work when they’re recognized for it. This can ultimately lead to increased productivity and innovation.
Boosts performance: Employees who feel recognized and appreciated by their employer are more likely to perform better in their work. Being recognized can have a significant impact on an employee’s outlook, happiness and performance.
Enhances company culture: When leaders take time to recognize employees who perform well, employees feel that the organization cares for them. This improves relationships between managers and their teams.
Attracts new talent: Attracting top talent to your organization is vital to growing within your industry. Many of the most talented candidates want to find a workplace that recognizes its employees for their successes. Implementing employee recognition programs and sharing them with potential new talent can have a positive effect on your recruiting efforts.
Improves retention rates: Employees who don’t feel recognized are more likely to leave an organization than those who do feel recognized for their work and accomplishments. By practicing employee recognition in your company, you can increase overall employee retention and reduce turnover rates.
7 examples of employee recognition programs to try
You can show your appreciation for your employees through verbal praise, monetary awards, personalized gifts and fun events or experiences. Learning how your employees prefer to be appreciated can help you decide on which types of employee recognition to incorporate regularly into the workplace. Here are a few programs you can implement to help recognize employees for their hard work.
1. Years of service award
An employee award that acknowledges years of service helps tenured employees stay engaged while encouraging new hires to stay committed to the role. New hires may become more motivated when they see their company rewarding employees based on their years of service to the company. Employee recognition based on years of service can also help improve employee retention.
2. Customer service award
You can show appreciation for employees in customer service roles by rewarding them for meeting sales goals, demonstrating leadership skills, receiving positive customer feedback or providing exceptional customer service. Rewarding customer service employees with praise, a bonus or flexible scheduling is a great way to help them stay motivated.
3. Employee appreciation events
Hosting an employee appreciation event is another way to recognize employees. Praising employees for their good work in front of their colleagues can help boost self-esteem and make employees feel valued, which can lead to increased motivation to succeed. When other employees see a colleague being recognized, they may be encouraged to work harder to achieve similar recognition.
Other appreciation event ideas include:
- Surprise celebrations: If an employee has been performing exceptionally well, you can surprise them with a celebration that recognizes their hard work and contributions to the workplace.
- Office outings: When a team or department has been delivering consistently good work, you can recognize them by taking them out to lunch or a fun outing for the day (e.g., bowling, karaoke, cooking classes).
- Holiday parties: Annual traditions like holiday parties give employees something to look forward to.
4. Employee recognition wall
Consider setting up a board or dedicating a wall where everyone shares messages of appreciation toward their peers. Not only will this inspire employees who have been recognized to maintain their good work, but it can also challenge others to increase their efforts so they can receive praise too.
5. Weekly shoutouts on social media
Shouting out an employee on the company’s social media platforms or internal company intranet is a great and free way to recognize employees regularly. You can post a picture of them (with their approval) and go into detail about what makes them such a great employee. List their job title, accomplishments and most recent contributions that you want to recognize.
6. Monetary employee recognition awards
Rewarding employees in a monetary way is another employee recognition tactic to consider.
Common monetary awards include:
Monetary employee recognition programs don’t have to be extravagant or cost a lot of money. A $10 gift card to a coffee shop can be a nice perk for an employee who does a great job.
7. Employee of the month
An employee of the month program is a classic employee recognition award that works when implemented strategically. Consider having peers or managers vote for the employee, and have each person explain why they’re voting for a particular person. Personalize the reward for each employee and be specific when discussing why the employee is being recognized.
Tips for implementing employee recognition programs
There are many ways to recognize your employees in the workplace. Here are some tips for you to consider:
Make recognition part of your company culture
Once a company embraces a culture that rewards employees for quality work, it’s easier to establish a foundation for creating an employee recognition program.
Make it a habit
Make employee recognition a regular part of your management style as opposed to a one-time event. The more you recognize your employees, the more likely they are to feel appreciated. Try to recognize employees on a weekly basis if possible or a monthly basis at a minimum. The recognition can be something small, like thanking them for their work on a certain project or helping a team member with a challenge.
Provide recognition at random intervals
Recognition that is unexpected can sometimes be more meaningful for employees. Consider giving compliments, praise and thanks at random times or at other unexpected moments — unrelated to any event or organized recognition. This shows that it’s truly genuine and authentic because it’s not related to a quarterly award or regularly scheduled company event.
Be specific and personal
Rather than simply saying “good job,” be specific about what the employee did to earn recognition. Explain the impact they made on their team and the company. Give measurable results if you can to give it more meaning. For example, send an appreciation letter that describes specifically what you appreciate about the employee, noting any special skills they have or progress they’ve made during their career.
Give equal opportunities
Because employee recognition is often given publicly to boost morale, it’s especially important to use a recognition strategy that is available to all employees. Be clear and specific about the requirements needed to receive them.Your goal should be attainable, and each member of your team should have a fair chance to earn the reward.
*Indeed survey, n=438