How many times have you considered starting some type of employee recognition program in your business, but never followed through on the idea? Business owners sometimes find it difficult to justify spending what seems like considerable time and effort on a program that, in and of itself, doesn’t contribute to revenue generation. However, that’s taking a short-term view of how employee recognition can, and often does, lead to enhanced employee morale and productivity — which in turn contributes significantly to a company’s growth.
Employee management experts almost uniformly agree that American workers hunger for recognition of their time, effort and loyalty. Such recognition supports “the need for autonomy, the desire for increasing responsibility, and feelings of accomplishment at their company,” notes Inc. contributor Ben Peterson. This is what truly spurs motivation, he adds, “while extrinsic factors like pay, fancy offices, free lunches and other perks only prevent dissatisfaction.”
Understanding this crucial distinction might be all the justification a CEO or business owner needs to initiate development of an effective employee recognition program within their organizations. If so, here are tips for what to include in the strategies behind design and implementation of such a program.
Align recognition with key company goals
Simply instituting a recognition and rewards program for “a job well done” is insufficient. For such a program to genuinely benefit both employees and the organization, a recognition program must be aligned with a company’s vision and mission. When employees understand how outstanding performance directly contributes to growth and profitability, they feel motivated to continue doing more of the same.
Design objectives that are fair and achievable
Nothing undercuts the effectiveness of a recognition program more than a seemingly endless array of rules and qualifications. Employees will quickly lose interest in striving for recognition if they feel the program is inherently complicated or unfair. Keep the process simple and make sure everyone in the company, regardless of position or department, has a fair shot at being recognized.
Get the higher-ups behind the program
Some employee recognition programs fade away because of a lack of support from the business owner or CEO and his or her senior team. Everyone within the company needs to see and promote the value of employee recognition, but particularly from the top down. Leaders need to constantly reaffirm the program’s importance, so employees understand this is a genuine company priority — and they’ll be more inclined to get involved.
Encourage peer-to-peer recognition
Many recognition programs focus on managers nominating employees for honors, but this overlooks a more effective approach — encouraging one’s peers and co-workers to also nominate employees for outstanding performance. This strategy emphasizes camaraderie and collaboration, and keeps employees alert to each other’s specific contributions to company growth. Encourage co-workers to nominate employees they work with, and be sure to publicize this element as part of your overall recognition communications strategy.
Always be communicating
Speaking of communications, the best way to keep interest in employee recognition high is by always talking about it. As noted above, company leaders should promote discussion on this topic during all-staff meetings, in their email communications with employees, in the employee newsletter, etc. Keep talking about the recognition process, but, equally important, make a big deal out of the results.
Continuously measure results
As part of implementation, determine key metrics to establish the success of the employee recognition, i.e., level of employee participation, types of feedback received, measurable increases in productivity, etc. Publicizing favorable results and metrics after the program is placed will help maintain interest among both employees and senior leadership.
Crafting an effective employee recognition program can take a fair amount of time and energy, but the benefits — in terms of enhanced morale, productivity and engagement — make it well worth the effort.