A man holding a card that reads "EMPLOYEE OF THE MONTH"

How to Create an Effective Employee Recognition Program

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Employee recognition is directly tied to staff engagement, productivity, and retention. When employees understand that their work is appreciation it deepens their connection with the company. To create an effective employee recognition program you must first establish guidelines for the program. Read on to learn the best practices for creating an employee recognition program.

 

1. Make Everyone Eligible

One basic is to create a recognition program where all employees are able to be recognized. For example, a manufacturing company shouldn’t only have recognition categories that office staff are eligible for and not front-line staff. If you create specific categories, make one for each aspect of the company. But, best practices are to create recognition categories that are applicable to everyone. An example of this would be “Employee with Innovative Idea”. This could be applied to an assembly worker who thought of a time-saving strategy or marketing person who thought of a new channel to use. 

 

2. Define Recognition Categories

Once you are aware that your categories should be available to everyone, it’s time to define them. You’ll want to create categories that are easily repeatable each month. Common recognition categories include “Above and Beyond”, “Outstanding Leadership”, “Innovative Idea”, “Process Improvement”, “Amazing Teamwork”, and “Helping Hand”. 

 

3. Set Standards

After you have created the recognition categories, set standards for each one. It’s important to have a sentence or two for each of your categories so those who nominate have clear guidelines. Setting standards also makes it clear to the winner of which action they took that got them recognized as an employee. This later translates into more work of a high caliber, teamwork, and a sense of pride. 

Let’s use “Process Improvement” as an example. The standards for this category could be the following, “The Process Improvement award goes to someone who is always looking for ways to improve business, has identified an area in the business that could be improved and enacted a new strategy to follow through.” 

4. Announce Program & Encourage Participation

The final step for creating an effective employee recognition program is to announce it! We recommend launching your new employee recognition program during a team/company meeting, followed by an email. The email should detail the award categories, the descriptions of each category, and the directions for submissions. 

During this introductory phase you should also include how “winners” will be chosen. Options include choosing to recognize everyone who was submitted, leadership team choosing from submissions, or randomly selecting the winner from submissions. 

To encourage participation, try outlining realistic incentives for your business to give those who win the awards. These prizes may be gift cards, cash, PTO, company branded items, or simply a certificate. Some companies even offer a kickback to the person who nominated. An example of this is $50 to the person who was nominated and $10 to the person who submitted their good act.

Overall, in order to create an effective employee recognition program you must first start with a solid foundation. Taking the time to establish how you can incorporate all employees and their different duties in the award categories is important. In order for it to be effective you must start with clearly defined guidelines for submissions so that people understand which behaviors are noticed. Lastly, a recognition program is only as good as the participation. Taking the time to let people know and get them involved is crucial to your new program being a success. In time, you may experience better engaged employees and improved productivity.