Employee recognition is important for creating a healthy working environment, but it’s not a given in every organization. Let’s compare the experiences of two imaginary employees.
The first employee, Taylor, has been working at your organization for three years as a sales representative. Taylor is a high performer who has truly helped your business to grow. But, one day, Taylor unexpectedly quits. In her exit interview, she explains: “My contributions were never really recognized here.”
The second employee, Quincy, has been working as a customer service representative at your organization for close to two years, and is also a high performer. You make extra effort to recognize her for contributions, from shoutouts in your weekly all-hands meetings to spot bonuses. For Quincy, your seemingly small efforts at employee recognition make all the difference, and she stays with your organization for many years to come.
These stories illustrate the power of thoughtful employee recognition. In fact, according to a survey by O Great One, “nearly 50% of Americans would have a better sense of wellbeing and feel more pride in themselves if they were recognized more often”.
In the workplace, recognition translates into a positive work experience, affecting employees’ work well-being and how confident they are in their performance. Recognition can even influence employee loyalty in your organization.
But how can you formalize recognition and create your own program? Here are three tips for doing so:
- Define the logistics of your recognition program.
- Brainstorm recognition ideas.
- Introduce your employees to your recognition program.
With these tips, you’ll be well on your way to creating an employee recognition program that can help you build stronger internal relationships and retain top talent longer.
Define the logistics of your recognition program
Without a plan, your employee recognition efforts can backfire. You might end up being inconsistent with who you recognize or how you recognize them, and you could overspend on recognition ideas.
Instead, take some time to work with the managers, leaders, and HR representatives within your organization to design a fair and sustainable recognition program that your entire organization can get excited about. Here’s what you’ll want to figure out:
- Who will recognize who: Determine whether you will recognize entire teams or individuals, and who will recognize who. Most organizations put the responsibility of recognition on managers or supervisors, but some organizations encourage peer-to-peer recognition as well.
- Eligibility for recognition: Some things deserve recognition more than others. For example, it’s great if an employee takes the initiative to throw out the expired coffee creamers in the breakroom fridge. But that’s probably not something you need to give them a shoutout for in your all-hands meeting. Decide with your team what makes an individual or a team eligible for recognition. Will you use a points system? Will you rely on personal metrics to indicate above-average performance?
- Budget: There are a number of ways to recognize employees, and sometimes you’ll want to spend money to do so. For example, you might want to cater lunch once a quarter for the customer service representatives who have the highest call satisfaction ratings.
Determine how much you’re willing to invest in your program. And if you’re short on funds, don’t be afraid to look for free ways to recognize your workers.
Setting up a formalized recognition program by creating budget parameters, establishing eligibility criteria, and figuring out who is responsible for recognizing who will help you approach your recognition program with professionalism and consistency.
Brainstorm recognition ideas
Now comes the fun part — brainstorming recognition ideas. Remember, depending on your internal culture, budget, and organizational size, recognition will look different for every organization. The recognition ideas you choose to run with are up to you and will look different depending on whether your teams are currently hybrid, remote, or in-person. But here are some favorites to get your creative juices flowing:
- Spot bonuses: A spot bonus is a monetary reward given as the need for recognition arises. A spot bonus can range from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand, depending on your organization’s budget.
- Pass-a-Post-it: This idea is great for peer-to-peer recognition for teams who work in person. All you’ll need to do is provide your employees with pens and Post-its and encourage them to write thank-you notes that they can leave on their coworkers’ desks.
- LinkedIn recommendations: Give an employee a professional boost online by writing them a LinkedIn recommendation. These are displayed on an individual’s profile and provide context for professional experience and skills they’ve shared on their profiles.
These ideas are excellent examples of ways to give sincere recognition to your employees and show that they’re an important part of your organization.
Keep in mind that eligibility will be simpler to determine for some ideas than others. For example, everyone can get a Post-it thank-you note, but not every employee will earn a spot bonus.
Introduce your employees to your recognition program
While it likely won’t be hard to get employees to buy into a recognition program, the way you approach your rollout will set the tone for how you administer your program now and down the road.
Here are three steps to follow to ensure you’re positioning yourself and your employees for recognition success:
- Roll out your program to all of your employees. Even if recognition methods will look a little different across teams, include everyone in your rollout. Being transparent with your employees about different teams’ recognition eligibility and potential rewards will foster an environment where everyone encourages each other and feels like your program is fair.
- Approach your program with enthusiasm and sincerity. Let your employees know why you’re implementing a recognition program. If you want to create more resiliency in your organization or better retention, say so. Knowing that they’re being recognized for a reason will show employees that you see them as assets to your organization and want to keep them happy.
- As you begin to administer your program, ask your employees for feedback on your recognition efforts. Maybe surprise lunches aren’t as effective as extra time off, or your employees think a traveling trophy would be a fun alternative to your current bravo board. Be open to their ideas — after all, they’re the recipients of your recognition.
Introducing your employees to your recognition program is an exciting part of incorporating recognition into your daily operations.
Be transparent about wanting to create a more positive, appreciative culture throughout your organization. This will likely change (for the better) how employees interact with each other.
It’s always important to monitor the employee experience, but it’s especially important now as the world of work continues to change with the COVID-19 pandemic. A well-designed employee recognition program can help your employees feel valued for their work and motivated to stay with your organization.
Good luck designing your program!