At the heart of all successful organizations is an engaging, growth-oriented, and inclusive company culture. In other words, they have vibrant and effective employee recognition programs. That’s how companies recruit and retain the right talent and come up with innovative products and services that define the market.
What are employee recognition programs?
Employee recognition is an organization’s way of thanking and recognizing its employees. When that process gets institutionalized, you have an employee recognition program. Its goal is to make the employees feel valued and respected while supporting them in all their endeavors.
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Why are employee recognition programs important?
People primarily prefer to be with organizations that respect and recognize their performance. It’s simplistic and misleading to suggest that employees don’t leave companies, but instead leave bosses.
The truth is that employees leave cultures that don’t appreciate them.
Those are companies without institutionalized employee recognition programs, performance incentive programs or awards and recognition. According to a Gallup poll, that’s one of the key reasons why employees leave. So, how bad is the situation? Around 65% of workers stated that over the last year, they haven’t received any kind of recognition.
All of which suggests that employee recognition programs should be a top priority for organizations. Without effective staff appreciation, it’ll be difficult for any company to compete in the knowledge economy.
As Richard Branson said, “Clients do not come first. Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients.”
How to build a successful recognition program
So, what are the hallmarks of an effective employee recognition program that motivates employees? How can an organization refresh its current staff appreciation to make it more engaging and credible?
To begin with, HR and management should understand that authenticity is what will make the program a success. Any nominal plan of awards and recognition without honesty will be easily recognized by the employees as a hollow gesture that the management is being forced to do.
Secondly, employee recognition should be customized to the employee receiving it. This shows that the company cares to know more about the individual, their goals and challenges, and their performance.
Thirdly, an employee’s manager should be the first— and most frequent— source of recognition. Employees know that their regular work is supervised by their managers who have a greater understanding of their performance. Recognition from those managers will be more credible and have a direct impact on the individual’s performance.
What are the main types of employee recognition programs?
A comprehensive analysis of successful staff appreciation and employee recognition ideas across organizations reveal that there are four main kinds of recognition programs. These are public, private, promotion, and monetary rewards. There could also be a combination of any of these for greater efficacy and customization.
1. Public recognition
Companies can use public forums to appreciate employees. These could be town hall meetings, newsletters, noticeboards, or through a special section on the dashboard that all employees can access.
2. Private recognition
This should be the most frequent staff appreciation idea. HR should encourage managers to privately recognize employees while highlighting their performance. This form of peer recognition should be institutionalized as it holds greater significance for employees.
3. Recognition through promotion
This not only recognizes the employee for their performance but entrusts them with more responsibilities. While accelerating the growth of the employee, it also inspires others to do their best.
4. Monetary recognition
These include everything from an increase in compensation to cash prizes to shopping coupons
- Surprise party: Have a surprise party for the top performers
- Newsletter: Recognize their efforts through the company newsletter. Standardize it, but also make sure to customize it depending on the employees
- Social media: Tag them and talk about their achievements through the company’s social media handles
- Digital signage/software: If your organization has digital signages, share your employee’s success through the system
- Meeting: Managers can meet them and directly thank the employees for their contribution
- Email: They can also send an email recognizing the employee and mark it to HR too
- Notes: What’s better than an email is a handwritten note thanking them for their performance. To make it special, HR can get the note framed
- Video: Managers or even the CEO can record a video and recognize the employee for their efforts. This has the added benefit of being sharable
- Home delivery: In the age of remote work, companies can send a goody bag and a note of appreciation to the home of the employee
Recognition through promotion
- New title: HR can give a new job title with all the associated benefits to the deserving employee
- Involvement: Managers can involve them in important discussions about the company and seek suggestions on the way forward
- Ambassadorship: If there’s a corporate or an industry event, deserving candidates can be sent as ambassadors of the division or the company
- Special projects: Management should involve top performers in special projects outside their regular scope of work
- Raise: The conventional method that always works is a salary raise to recognize the employee’s performance
- Bonus: While a raise is permanent, a one-off bonus can also convey the organization’s gratitude to the employee
- Holidays: Companies can take their top performers on an all-expense-paid retreat
- Upskilling/Reskilling: Management can finance the training of top performers either within the system or outside it
- Tickets: Whether it’s a concert, movie, or game, VIP tickets are always an excellent form of employee recognition
A successful employee recognition program will decide how long employees stay with you and how easy it’s to attract new talent. Conceiving, implementing, and institutionalizing one will take time but the results will be there for the long term.
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