The Top Four Must-Have Qualities of Employee Recognition Programs

Last week, we introduced the concept of employee recognition programs and discussed how they can benefit your workplace.  This time out, we’ll dig into the topic a little more deeply by describing four qualities that an employee recognition program must have to be optimally effective.

Employee Recognition By Design

A positive workplace culture doesn’t happen by accident.  In fact, you can only achieve maximum worker engagement and productivity through careful planning and design.  Of course, implementation and consistency are also important, but these can only result from a recognition program that’s well-designed from the start.  

The first requirement of a well-designed recognition program is an understanding of the unique needs of your people, both as individuals and as a group.  Different people respond to different incentives, and your recognition program must take as many of these as possible into account.  

Once you’ve gained a firm understanding of what motivates your people, you can begin to integrate your recognition program with your company or department’s overall goals.  Of course, it’s inefficient (if not impossible) to allow employee needs to dictate the terms of your recognition program completely.  But it’s certainly possible to find a productive middle ground.  This middle ground should be the starting point for the design of your program.

Flexibility to Account For Changing Needs

So far, we’ve mentioned two broad categories of factors that enter into an effective recognition program — staff needs and your department’s goals.  It should go without saying that both of these are constantly changing and that your recognition program must also evolve in order to keep pace.  

Revisit your strategy often, especially during periods of high turnover or lowered productivity.  You should also consider changing the parameters of your recognition program when the specific goals of your department begin to change.  These adjustments should always be the result of collaboration between management and staff.  We’ll have a look at the importance of collaboration in the next section.

Active Participation is Key

Remember– authentic employee engagement is one of the main purposes of your recognition program. This is one of the reasons that you should involve the members of your team in the design of your program as much as possible.

Ask for employee input on how your program should function and what it should reward. Additionally, find out some of the ways in which your staff would like to be recognized. You’ll be amazed at the results you can achieve by allowing this level of participation.

Make It Clear, Keep It Transparent

Clarity and transparency are also essential features of an effective recognition program.  Your team members should know right up front what types of accomplishments or habits will be recognized.  This is the best way to incentivize the exact behaviors your company or department needs at a given time.  

This is one of the reasons employees should participate in the overall design of the program.  If your staff is involved from the outset, it will be much establish and maintain the clarity necessary to your program’s success.  Of course, no matter how much your staff contributes to the original design, it’s still a good idea to spell out its parameters explicitly.  

This leads us to the importance of transparency.  An outgrowth of the original clarity of your recognition program, transparency will allow the members of your staff to track their progress towards specific goals in real time.  It will also convey a sense of fairness and consistency to your staff, which are two features your recognition program should have to be most effective.

Room to Maneuver

Hopefully, you’ve got a better idea of what qualities your employee recognition program should have to be most effective.  We’ve described these qualities in intentionally broad terms so that you can adapt them to your particular needs.  By ensuring that your recognition programs exhibit these four important qualities, your team will have both the direction and flexibility to succeed in today’s market.