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How To Build An Employee Recognition Program

Posted by Insightlink on 09/15/20

We are currently in an era where the war for talent has diversified to a great percentage. Organizations have realized that hiring top talent is paramount in achieving its goals and objectives. However, it doesn’t stop there. Organizations need to be intentional in keeping employees motivated, satisfied and happy in order for them to perform at their optimal level as well as retain these talents.
One way to achieve this is by recognizing outstanding work done by employees. Just by consistently having their work recognized, employees feel more valued for what they do. They feel motivated to build on the behaviors they were recognized for, which in turn influences others to follow suit. It';s a win-win proposition for all involved. However, building a successful recognition program is not an easy task. It takes effort. Follow these six steps to come up with an effective recognition program.

1. Assemble your team

You can't come up with an effective recognition program on your own. You need to have a team working with you to help you plan and implement the program. Reach out to people who understand the value of such a program to the organization. They should also be individuals with a positive record of accomplishment and team leaders. Individuals who believe in a recognition program will be driven to see it succeed, and can offer you valuable insights towards the same.

2. Learn the characteristics of a good recognition program

You can't come up with a good recognition program if you have no idea how it should look like. Before you start building a recognition program, it is important that you first familiarize yourself with the characteristics that make up a good recognition program. An effective recognition program should have the following characteristics.
  • Timely - If you take too long to recognize a contribution, its impact might fade with time.
  • Specific - Being specific about a recognition helps employees understand the exact contribution and context in which they are being recognized.
  • Frequent - Outstanding behavior and performances is not a one-time thing. Recognition should happen as frequent as these two happen.
  • Inclusive - This eliminates biasness and favoritism while enhancing a sense of belonging and equity.
  • Visible - This helps pass the message to the rest of the team, helping them identify the work that is being recognized.
  • Value-based - The recognition should be aligned to company values if it is to encourage the team to work towards the company’s vision.

3. Identify the behaviors to recognize

You might need to refer to the company values, goals and objectives as well as the company culture to identify which behaviors you need to foster in the workspace.
For instance, knowledge sharing is an effective behavior that creates innovative and smart teams. If you want to foster this behavior, you might need to recognize individuals who are centered on sharing what they learn with the rest of the team. For everyone to feel included, it is good to sensitize knowledge sharing by teaching your employees on the best tools to share and receive information. Zip archives, for instance, are a good way to send and receive large files. (Pro tip: You will need a zip file opener to open a zip file.)

4. Determine the eligibility criteria

Though a recognition reward needs to be inclusive, you will still need to identify the eligibility. For instance, managers can be left out of some rewards. If you have part-time employees, are they eligible? What about individuals who have recently joined the company, do they have to work with you for a specific time for them to be eligible?

5. Involve your employees

As a committee, it is easy to think that you know what the employees want. However, it is easy to ask for their opinions when it comes to the recognition program. You can conduct a survey to get insights from them on what criteria should be used to identify candidates as well as which rewards would best suit them.
Ensure that you put their inputs in consideration when deciding on nomination criteria and rewards selection.

 6. Implement

After carefully planning all the logistics, it is time to implement the program. You can start by announcing the start of the program to your team, and inform them when the nomination is going to start. You can also follow it up with an email detailing all the nitty-gritties of the program.


No program is perfect. You will notice with time what works for your organization. Be open to changes that your team might demand along the way. It helps to regularly conduct surveys about the same in order to be aware when the needs of your team changes. 

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