How to Put Together an Employee Recognition Program

Who doesn’t love a nice pat on the back to thank them for their hard work? An employee recognition program can boost employee satisfaction, productivity, and retention. In fact, 63 percent of employees who receive regular recognition at work say they’re “very unlikely” to look for another job.

It’s not difficult or expensive to make employees feel valued at work. Monetary rewards are great, to be sure, but a few words of praise can also do a lot of heavy lifting. Make sure you’re giving your employees words of recognition while they’re still relevant. And don’t forget to have some fun while you’re at it.

Establish Goals

Why do you want to put together an employee recognition program? What are your goals? If you’re like most employers, you probably want to boost engagement and productivity, decrease employee turnover, and build a strong culture of recognition in the workplace.

It’s important to be clear and intentional about your goals for an employee recognition program. Develop means of recognition that line up with your corporate values. Employees are going to adjust their behavior to match what their managers encourage and allow. Be clear about your company values, what you aim to achieve through your recognition program, and how you intend to boost productivity, morale, and engagement through clear communication and enjoyable work.

Build-in Monetary Rewards

If there’s one thing everyone wants, it’s more money – especially these days. Recognize hard workers with discretionary bonuses and raises. If you can’t afford to give raises or bonuses, perhaps small tokens like gift cards, lottery tickets, or movie tickets can show your appreciation. Consider putting together a points-based system whereby employees can save up points to go towards specific monetary rewards that they want.

Of course, there’s another thing everyone wants – time. You might say that time is even more valuable than money because while you can always make more money, you can never make more time. Instead of offering bonuses or raises, give high performers extra days off or let an employee who has done an exceptional job go home early on a Friday. You can even give employees the option to come in late the day after working late, so they can get the rest they need and won’t suffer burnout.

Give Employees the Opportunity to Recognize One Another

While it’s absolutely vital that recognition, praise, and gratitude come from management, it’s also important to hear appreciation from your peers from time to time, too. Make sure your employee recognition program has room for peers to praise and thank one another. Direct feedback from peers strengthens bonds among team members and helps employees grow as professionals and individuals. Choose a recognition platform that allows peers to share praise and direct, positive feedback. Peer-to-peer recognition makes everyone feel acknowledged and included.

Offer Recognition in a Timely Fashion

There’s a reason why you shouldn’t save up your praise for annual performance reviews – by the time reviews come around, your best performers may have spent months feeling like their contributions aren’t seen or appreciated, and that’s terrible for morale. Give employees positive feedback on their performance when the good work is accomplished.

You should make it a point to connect with your team members regularly, even daily. It can be as simple as saying “Good morning,” when employees come in or asking them how they’re doing. These moments of connection create fertile ground for employees to keep you updated on what they’re doing and how they’re doing it. The touching base often helps employees feel like you value them as people.

Have Some Fun

There’s plenty of room for whimsy in a strong employee recognition program. Perhaps you can give out fun prizes to employees who do well – for example, maybe you can give a personalized rubber chicken or a funny desk plaque. Give employees the chance to express themselves as individuals with casual attire days, potlucks, or baking contests. Host a yearly company picnic and give each employee a prize, à la Michael Scott from The Office. Employees will be more likely to opt into your recognition program when it’s fun and engaging.

Few things can boost employee engagement and morale like a strong employee recognition program. Give your employees the acknowledgment they crave. You’ll reap benefits in the form of reduced turnover and increased productivity from employees who are motivated to give your company their.

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