The Importance of an Effective Employee Recognition Program


Employers are often seeking ways to foster a positive corporate culture. When it comes to employee morale and cultivating an environment that’s both productive and positive, it doesn’t always require a significant effort. Sometimes it’s as simple as saying ‘thank you’ at the right moment.

It’s a proven fact that employees work harder and are more creative and productive when they feel appreciated and valued. Simply put, employees should be recognized for their efforts if you want them to achieve optimal performance and serve as an asset to the company. When it comes to figuring out what kind of recognition program works best for your business, there are many employee reward ideas from which to choose.

One of the reasons why some employers do not implement an employee recognition program is because they don’t quite know how to do so effectively. There’s often a desire to avoid implementing a program that just doesn’t work and creates unwanted challenges. One of the first questions that an employer must ask is, “what will employees consider valuable?” In other words, to figure out what type of recognition program to implement, it’s important to clarify the goal. For example, what do you hope to achieve by recognizing individual employee efforts? This will determine how you define the program and the frequency in which it’s carried out.

Once you decide what you want to achieve, you’ll want to create guidelines for the employee recognition program that detail the goals and practices that will govern how it’s executed. Your mission might be to recognize the achievements, behaviors and actions of employees that contribute to key business initiatives. Part of the program guidelines should include details about ensuring practices are fair and consistent. You’ll also want to provide clarity so that everyone understands what’s required to be recognized – this will eliminate confusion or accusations of undeserved recognition. Basically, anyone who contributes in accordance with the guidelines of the program should be just as eligible as anyone else who contributes the same amount of effort. The criteria should be crystal clear and communicated to everyone who’s eligible to participate.

A mistake that’s often made in recognition programs is only rewarding a select few of high achievers when there’s a greater opportunity to reward anyone who exceeds the defined target or goal. While being recognized should certainly require a clear achievement, it’s best to recognize everyone who was a contributor. An important aspect of maintaining equity is establishing guidelines that require leaders across departments to recognize anyone with similar contributions as others who have been acknowledged.

In order to maintain the momentum of an achievement, it’s important to recognize the employee as close as possible to when the achievement occurred. This tends to foster a performance-driven culture that is sometimes mirrored across the enterprise. It also boosts the confidence of the employees that received the award. It’s a matter of human nature – when you feel good about yourself and your confidence is high, it’s often reflected in your performance at work.


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