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How To Implement An Employee Recognition Program

By Erika Miller
Illustration of a Carl the Yeti on a laptop screen with a trophy next to him.

Fact: employee recognition gets results.

Also a fact: it probably doesn’t happen enough in your workplace.

Promoting recognition in the workplace is one of the most powerful things you could do to engage employees, create meaningful opportunities, and establish impactful loyalty. Although Free Lunch Fridays and Employee of the Month may have some impact on employee recognition, they’re not necessarily enough to reap the benefits of a long-term recognition program.

Traditional activities can definitely help employees feel appreciated, but they aren't necessarily good at making them feel "recognized" in the workplace. Older formats are often too broad or too individualized to make a meaningful difference, which is where the problem begins (or lingers, depending on your business).

image with text - Recognition is the process of celebrating your employees, publicly rewarding and acknowledging their great achievements.

What is an employee recognition program, you may ask? Good question! Recognition is the process of celebrating your employees, publicly rewarding and acknowledging their great achievements. It sounds simple enough, but established employee recognition programs are hard to find even in the modern workplace. You might be surprised by just how much a little recognition can impact employee engagement.

How does recognition impact employee engagement?

It’s a job-eat-job world out there, folks. If you’re not doing everything you can to make your employees feel valued, they’re going to notice. And they’re going to leave you in the dust, too.

According to recent numbers, employees are twice as likely to quit when they don’t feel recognized by their employers. Roughly 65% of employees haven’t been thanked or recognized within the past 12 months, which is bad news for HR offices (and your business’s productivity).

image with text - Recognized employees are 63% more likely to stay at their current job.

Making employees feel recognized in the workplace is the best way to combat high turnover and mounting dissatisfaction rates. Even just a few words of acknowledgement can keep your crew happy, excited, and totally fired up. And we’re not just saying this, either:

  • Recognized employees are 63% more likely to stay at their current job
  • 83% of HR leaders say that recognition programs enhance organizational values
  • Approximately 85% of employees believe they should be rewarded for a job well done

The more recognized your employees are in the workplace, the more engaged they’ll be in their roles and your mission. And it all starts with an awesome employee recognition program.

How do you develop an employee recognition program?

Hey, great question! You have two options: homebrew, or preconstruction.

You could choose to establish an employee recognition program on your own, with mixed results. On the other hand, you could team up with vetted experts like Motivosity to create winning solutions with employee recognition software. We won’t tell you which one is best for you (that’s your prerogative), but we can tell you how to implement either option with great success.

P.S., it’s totally worth formalizing employee recognition at a management level as well. When you don't, you’ll get all the benefits of employee recognition without any of the visibility into how awesome someone actually is. What’s more, you’ll get some really disproportionate recognition across teams, which can build resentment faster than you can say a-w-k-w-a-r-d. It’s a tale of two managers: one that just says ‘great job,’ and one that treats his team to lunch.

In other words, it pays to formalize the process.

Implementation time, woohoo!

Here are five easy steps that’ll teach you how to implement an employee recognition program.

1. Use peer to peer recognition

A ‘thank you’ from the CEO is great and all, but what about public accolades? Peer to peer recognition is taking the industry by storm, and for good reason. Authentic connections lead to better retention over time, as well as increased employee happiness. It’s not rocket science, but it’s still pretty cool.

2. Create flexible rewards

Don’t guesstimate how your employees want to be thanked. Know for sure with adaptable awards that can do almost anything and everything. Tangible rewards like ThanksMatters Cards pave the way for real recognition – exactly the way your employees want it! Plus, it’s a great way to send spot recognitions and ‘happy birthday’ funds at a glance.

3. Make analytics easy

Accounting and HR and management teams, oh my! Everyone needs to be involved in the employee recognition program, especially the departments needing cold, hard numbers. When the time comes to implement an employee recognition program, be sure to have plenty of dashboards and real-time analytics that everyone can use.

4. Listen to your employees

Implementing an employee recognition program is great, but failing to listen to your employees will probably not lead to an optimal result. As you start gearing up your program, consider ways to integrate eNPS software into the mix, calculating retention and turnover data with ease.

5. Create a culture of gratitude

Streamline your employee recognition program with highlighted announcements, social platforms, and employee profiles that allow everyone to drop a quick ‘thank you’ – exactly when it matters most. Remember how we talked about peer to peer recognition earlier? It really matters!

How to measure employee recognition programs

Employee recognition programs don’t follow your typical ROI format. The way you choose to measure the program largely depends on your internal goals, mission, and overall reporting metrics.

Want a little nudge in the right direction? Some of the most common employee recognition metrics include:

  • Retention rate comparisons
  • Employee satisfaction rates
  • Dollars spent vs dollars increased (productivity)
  • Direct qualitative feedback, like surveys
image with text - Common recognition metrics: Retention rate comparisons, Employee satisfaction rates, Dollars spent vs dollars increased (productivity), Direct qualitative feedback, like surveys

Remember: your KPIs could look widely different from this list, and that’s okay! As long as you have set metrics in place, you’re in a great position to grow.

Start your recognition programs off on the right foot with Motivosity

Employee engagement in the workplace begins and ends with a high-quality recognition program. Whether you’re revising the current structure or creating one for the first time, consider partnering up with the pros at Motivosity for help.

At Motivosity, employee recognition is basically our bread and butter. With fully customizable options and a host of flexible engagement options, we’re the best thing that’s ever happened to your HR department.

Ready to learn more? Contact us today to chat at your earliest convenience.