5 Tips for Running a Successful Employee Recognition Program

5 Tips for Running a Successful Employee Recognition Program

Discover the 5 must-know tips for your recognition program and learn why team recognition is essential to employee engagement.

5 Tips for Running a Successful Employee Recognition Program

If you're like most people leaders, you're always looking for new and innovative ways to engage your employees and keep them motivated. You may have even tried employee recognition programs in the past, but found that they didn't really produce the results you were hoping for. In this blog post, we'll discuss why employee recognition is so important, and share 5 tips on how to make your recognition programs more effective.

Why employee rewards and recognition matter

Employee recognition is one of the most important factors in a successful workplace. When employees feel appreciated and acknowledged for their hard work, they’re more likely to be productive and motivated.

On the whole, frequent recognition has a huge impact on employee engagement. In fact, recent research from Quantum Workplace found that when employees believe they will be recognized, they are 2.7x more likely to be highly engaged.

But if you want your employees to truly feel valued, yearly bonuses and occasional shout-outs for great work aren’t enough. You’re going to need an ongoing strategy for employee recognition and engagement. That’s where recognition software comes in. Recognition platforms are designed to help you drive sustainable recognition with peer recognition, performance incentives, core value awards, and more.

The benefits of employee recognition programs are well documented. According to Gartner, an effective recognition program can help drive an 11.1% increase in average employee performance. In addition, a culture of recognition can help improve employee retention. Gallup research also found that large organizations can save up to $16.1M in annual turnover when they make recognition an important part of their culture.

Choosing your employee recognition program

Once you’ve decided to launch an employee recognition platform, how do you go about choosing the best recognition software for your team?

When it comes to choosing employee recognition software, there are a few things to keep in mind. One of the most important is company culture. What types of values does your company prioritize? For example, if you're looking to promote teamwork and collaboration, you'll want to find software that offers integrations with other tools that your employees are already using. If your employees are devoted to Slack or Microsoft Teams, make sure that you find a platform that integrates with those communication tools.

You'll also want to consider ease-of-use. The last thing you want is for your employees to dread logging into another system. Instead, look for software that's intuitive and easy to navigate.

Another important factor is employee adoption. Will your employees actually use the software if it's not mandatory? To increase the odds of success, look for software that offers gamification features like badges and leaderboards.

Lastly, price is always a consideration, but remember that the goal is to find a solution that fits both your budget and your company's needs. When making your decision, be sure to weigh all of these factors carefully. The right recognition software can have a positive impact on employee experience, retention, and engagement.

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Implementation tips

Launching an employee recognition platform is an exciting step. While onboarding your employee recognition software, keep in mind these implementation tips:

  • Make sure that the program aligns with your organization’s goals and core values. If there’s mismatch between your company’s values and the actions that are being rewarded, employees will take notice.
  • Offer clear guidelines around how to use the program, including recognition training for managers and supervisors. Cooleaf offers a live manager training & resources to all customers as part of our onboarding strategy.
  • When considering the types of recognition you’d like to offer, include awards for birthdays, work anniversaries, and other life milestones as well as performance achievements. This communicates that you treat your employees as people first, workers second.

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5 keys to effective employee recognition program

Once your employee rewards program is approved and launched, how can you ensure that it will be embraced by your people? Here’s 5 tips for a successful employee recognition program.

1. Don’t underestimate peer recognition.

When evaluating recognition programs, many organizations focus their attention on recognition from the top down. While appreciation from leadership and managers is important, it’s not the only form of recognition that matters.

Public recognition from peers reinforces the importance of teamwork and collaboration. It also creates a culture of recognition, where every employee – not just top performers! – feels valued for their contributions. This positive feedback can also help to build teamwork and foster a more collaborative environment.

Peer recognition is a powerful tool for building morale and motivating employees to do their best work. When peer recognition is tied to reward points, it's even more effective. According to recent academic research, small rewards can help foster motivation and drive positive change.

At Cooleaf, we typically see that organizations with more peer recognition generally experience higher rates of engagement and employee satisfaction over all. Peer recognition is the pulse of a successful employee appreciation program, leading to greater adoption, happier employees, and a stronger company culture.

By encouraging peer recognition, businesses can make a big impact on employee satisfaction and motivation.

Recognize your team for great work with Cooleaf

2. Measure employee engagement over time.

If you’re a people leader, you're responsible for reporting on KPIs around company culture, and that includes your employee recognition platform. Ensure that you are prepared to report on your success by measuring metrics such as eNPS or another engagement score.

By tracking employee engagement over time, you can ensure that your company culture is on the right track. In addition, measuring employee engagement metrics will help you identify which HR programs and initiatives that are working, and where you have opportunities to improve your recognition efforts.

In addition to 30, 60, and 90-day check-ins, Cooleaf conducts quarterly business reviews with all our customers to help you identify engagement and adoption metrics that you can present to your leadership team. At those check-ins, our team also presents engagement and recognition ideas to help your program improve.

Measure employee engagement over time with Cooleaf

3. Take advantage of your entire rewards budget.

Meaningful rewards are key to a successful employee recognition program. Once your team has determined how much you want to allocate towards employee rewards, it’s important that you take advantage of your full rewards budget once the program is up and running.

Employee engagement and recognition platforms like Cooleaf will design targeted incentive strategies to drive your engagement goals. If you cut back your incentives and end up with a surplus rewards budget, your leadership team might choose to reduce your employee rewards budget. This would negatively impact your recognition program – and ultimately, your employees. After this kind of setback, it’s much more difficult to regain momentum and drive employee adoption in your recognition platform. You might even be forced to go back to the drawing board and make an entirely new business case for employee rewards.

Don't risk losing your employee rewards budget. Instead, your company should aim to get the most out of their employee rewards budget by using gamification and employee incentive strategies to drive employee engagement and reward positive behaviors. If you need guidance, Cooleaf’s team is here to help you develop a strategy aligned with your company’s budget and goals.

When planning your engagement strategy for your recognition program, keep in mind that every dollar you spend on employee appreciation will ultimately contribute to higher productivity and lower turnover. Reluctance to use your rewards budget will only hurt your recognition program – as well as your engagement goals.

4. Keep rewards fresh.

When it comes to employee rewards, it's important to think outside the box. Yes, gift cards are always appreciated, but they're not the only way to show your appreciation. Multi-dimensional rewards are more effective, because they show that you care about your employees' interests and motivations. Charity donations, merchandise, and company swag are all great ways to show that you value your employees’ contributions. Not only will your team members appreciate the gesture, but they'll also be more likely to stick around for the long haul.

In addition, employees are more likely to be motivated by rewards that are tailored to their individual needs and interests. As a result, companies should consider a variety of rewards when crafting their employee recognition programs.

Cooleaf offers a wide variety of employee rewards, including gift cards, charity donations merchandise, team swag, and more.

Keep your recognition program fresh with a variety of reward and gift options

5. Ask for feedback from employees.

The best way to make sure that your employee recognition program is working is to ask your people. Send frequent pulse surveys to team members to get feedback on your employee engagement platform. Ask for suggestions for improvement. Your employee recognition program should be designed to foster healthy employee morale and motivation. If team members feel like the program is not working, they will be less likely to participate. Encourage employee input and act on it to ensure that the employee recognition program is an effective tool for promoting a positive work environment.

Bottom Line

When it comes to improving company culture, an effective recognition platform can go a long way. In a SHRM/Globoforce survey, Using Recognition and Other Workplace Efforts to Engage Employees, 68% of HR professionals agreed that employee recognition has a positive impact on retention and 56% said such programs also help with recruitment!

employee retention strategy guide

Ready to learn how Cooleaf can help your team build a culture of recognition? Let’s chat!


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