10 Features to Ensure You Include in Your Employee Recognition Program

08 June 2022 | 4 Minute
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10 Features to Ensure You Include in Your Employee Recognition Program

A PWC survey reported that 18% of employees said they were extremely likely or very likely to move to a new employer within the next 12 months, with 32% saying they were moderately likely to move. So, while the pandemic eases, the Great Resignation looks set to continue, and employers must continue in their fight to attract and retain talent. One way they can do this is to create and implement an employee recognition program that includes all employees and actually makes a difference.

There are 10 features that you should ensure you include in your employee recognition program for optimal success. 


What is an Employee Recognition Program?

An employee recognition program is simply a way of recognising individuals within your organisation. Programs can vary significantly, and there are many different approaches to employee recognition programs, but some features should be included. Employee recognition programs don't need to be complicated, but they need to meet your people's needs and align with organisational values.


Here are the 10 features we recommend you take into account when planning your employee recognition program: 

1. Clear Objectives before you race ahead and ask HR to start planning and designing an employee recognition program, you need to consider what you want your recognition program to achieve. Each organisation will have different goals, but programs need to be aligned to the goals; otherwise, they will lack direction and focus, and they may not really achieve anything.

For some organisations, employee recognition programs may be required to reduce employee turnover. For others, it may be to increase performance levels or create a positive organisational culture and environment for all employees. The objectives may change over time, but do you need to establish goals, so you have program clarity.


2. Linked to Organisational Values – in alignment with your employee recognition program objectives, a successful program should also further establish your organisational values. Your program should reflect and communicate your organisational values so that they are incorporated into the employee recognition program, and your people feel connected to the programme. For example, such values may include honesty and transparency.


3. Clear Communication – there are several reasons why communication is a central aspect of a successful employee recognition program. To be transparent and gain trust, leaders should be clear with all their people about the objectives they are looking to achieve and why recognition programs are being introduced or amended now.

In addition, there is also a central communication required when the programs are introduced to organisations. Employees need to understand the purpose of the recognition programs, how they can participate and what they mean to them. Organisations need their employees to buy into the recognition programs. They must be effectively communicated to everyone.


4. Easy to Use – it's probably an obvious factor, but it's essential that your employee recognition program is not overly complicated. Your overall objective is for people to use it regularly, and if it's not user-friendly, people may not engage.

So, whether you have simple recognition feedback in team meetings or technology that encourages you to give recognition to somebody else, the process needs to be straightforward, quick, and a positive experience so that it is repeated and becomes part of the organisational culture.

Similarly, the software you use for recognition needs to be easily configurable and branded where possible so that it feels like part of the culture.


5. Secure it might be a big ask to encourage your people to give feedback, whether it's anonymous or non-anonymous, so it's essential that employee recognition program information is secure and confidential. This also extends to reward data involved in a recognition program. For example, if you keep the data records of employee bonuses or rewards given, it's imperative that this data cannot be leaked or shared with anyone that it shouldn't.

Employees need to fill confident that all the information about them regarding employee recognition programs and all the information they give is secure. Therefore, whatever systems or technology you use for employee recognition programs, you must ensure that security and confidentiality come first.


6. Variety – not everybody likes to be recognised in the same way, and organisations, therefore, need to ensure that an employee recognition program includes different incentives. A single recognition program will not motivate everyone because some individuals may be motivated by monetary rewards. Others may be content with praise from management.

Therefore, an effective employee recognition program will include different ways of recognising individuals to ensure that everyone is catered for.


7. Flexibility – it's highly unlikely that your organisation will not go through change at some point. If you consider the last few years, there has been huge amounts of workplace change, and your organisation needs to be able to adapt to change with its employee recognition program.

The ways included in your program to recognise individuals need to be flexible so that they can adapt to change in whatever form. For instance, you can't depend on purely in-person recognition when there are now many remote workers, so incentives must be adaptable to factors such as distance or organisation growth, restructure, etc.


8. Review and Adapt – as above, your employee recognition program needs to be adaptable and subject to organisational change. You can't possibly know if your program is working well if you don't review it. You can do this in numerous ways, including employee surveys to gain feedback from your people, feedback from management, and focus groups.

Once you have sufficient feedback, you need to adapt your employee recognition program to suit the feedback. Only by understanding what's welcome, what’s working well, and what isn't working well can you make changes to create a better organisational culture.


9. Modern – with the ongoing risk of employees looking for other places to work, you need to ensure that your organisation moves with the times by using the latest technology for optimal performance. This is also relevant to the systems and technology you use in your employee recognition program, as it may enhance participation and efficiency. 

For example, if you have a recognition program where employees can vote for each other for star performance or best in class, this needs to be adaptable to the current work status. In the past, when everybody worked in the office and technology was not such a workplace feature, simplistic ways of doing this may have been to simply post votes through an on-site voting box. However, this would now be old-fashioned, and technology will allow you to host recognition programmes online so that employees can access them wherever they are. 


10. Accessible and Inclusive – as mentioned above, workplace dynamics have hugely changed, and with the increase in remote working, you need to ensure that all aspects of your employee recognition program are effective wherever your people work. If you used to offer tangible gifts for strong performance or length of service, you need to ensure that you adapt this to E-vouchers or equivalent, which don’t have to be received in person. 

This also applies to giving recognition as managers or peers should be able to give recognition whether they're on a business trip or sitting in the office, and your program should allow for this. 

Employee recognition programs should be inclusive of all individuals regardless of role, seniority, workplace location, etc. Also, recognition programs don't have to be manager-led, and your program should ensure that social recognition through peer-to-peer recognition is also encouraged and included.

All individuals should feel like they can give and receive recognition at any time and that there is no exclusion in any of the recognition or reward methods.

While your employee recognition program doesn't need to be complex, it does need to be considered and clearly planned. If you don't know what you're trying to achieve, then you'll probably never achieve it! So, it's vital to link your program to your organisational values and let them shine through to engage your people and increase their sense of belonging by creating a culture of ongoing recognition at all levels.

Choose a tool or software that can make creating a culture of recognition easier. Sorwe makes the whole process easy because you and your team can give real-time recognition on everything from meetings to projects to performance.  

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Adopting a Feedback Culture: How to Motivate Employees to Share Their Feedback?

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