How to Build an Effective Employee Recognition Program

3 Mins read

Employee recognition is a low-cost way to make employees feel valued, and that in turn can help motivate them to work harder and keep them more deeply engaged with their work. According to a recent Gallup poll, employees who feel like their efforts aren’t recognized are twice as likely as employees who do feel recognized to say they plan to quit their jobs in the next year. Unfortunately, the poll also found that two out of three American workers don’t feel like they’re getting adequate recognition of their efforts in the workplace.

Employee Recognition program

Shutterstock Licensed Photo – By Antonio Guillem

So, what can your business do to help employees feel valued? An employee recognition program doesn’t have to cost a lot; if money is tight, it doesn’t have to cost anything, because praising your employees is free. While occasional incentives like holiday gifts, bonuses, and extra days off mean a lot to workers, verbal praise is vital to helping employees feel valued, especially when it’s frequent, timely, specific, and public.

Recognition Should Be a Part of Daily Life at Your Company

Employee recognition is most effective when it’s frequent; Gallup recommends offering recognition at least every seven days. Don’t panic; that doesn’t mean you have to start giving out weekly bonuses or buying a lot of gift cards to your most popular local chain restaurant, although bonuses and other incentives are a valuable part of the recognition picture.

Instead, the bulk of your company’s employee recognition program can involve offering words of praise to employees who deserve them. Simply saying something like, “Thanks for staying late last night to help put together our presentation for the Jones account, Susan,” can do a lot to make Susan feel like her contributions are noticed and appreciated.

Recognition Should Be Timely and Specific

When offering your employees words of recognition and praise, make sure to do so in a timely fashion. Don’t let Dan spend six months thinking that you didn’t notice his great work on the Rodriguez account, thinking that a year-end bonus will let him know how much he’s appreciated. If Dan starts to feel undervalued, he might start looking for a position elsewhere, and he could even be gone when it’s time for year-end bonuses to go out. Instead, keep Dan happy by offering him the recognition he craves immediately following the good results: “Great work closing the Rodriguez account, Dan. We couldn’t have done it without your salesmanship.”

recolonization should be timely and specific

Shutterstock Licensed Image – By Alex Brylov

This lets Dan know you noticed and appreciated his work, but it does something more. It gives him specific feedback as to what skills and qualities he possesses that the company values. Dan will be inspired to put his excellent sales skills to more use in the future, and even to develop them further through professional development opportunities. Being specific about praise lets employees know that you’re paying attention to what they do, and lets them know exactly how they can best contribute to the team.

Recognition Should Be Public – At Least Some of the Time

Now, there’s nothing wrong with acknowledging hard work in an emails, notes, and personalized cards distributed with special holiday gifts for employees. Private recognition can be extremely effective. But as great as private recognition is, public recognition can be even better. So don’t be afraid to call out employees for their contributions at staff meetings, as well as during yearly awards ceremonies.

Making recognition highly visible tends to increase its impact, so that employees feel even more appreciated. Public recognition also gives other employees the chance to offer their own praise and congratulations to the recognized employee. Every time a colleague congratulates or thanks the recognized employee, he or she will relive the feelings of recognition.

Furthermore, just as specific praise lets an individual employee know exactly which of their contributions are most valued, public praise gives other employees an idea of the type of work they can do to become a more valued team member themselves. It provides examples of behavior that other employees can emulate, to the benefit of the company.

An effective employee recognition program doesn’t have to be complex or costly. Offer your employees regular praise and recognition, as well as occasional bonuses, gifts, and other material rewards, and you’ll find your team becoming more engaged and motivated than ever.

1377 posts

About author
Ryan Kh is a big data and analytic expert, marketing digital products on Amazon's Envato. He is not just passionate about latest buzz and tech stuff but in fact he's totally into it. Follow Ryan’s daily posts on Catalyst For Business.