Recognizing employees has several benefits, but most importantly, it celebrates deserving people. In addition, it can inspire and motivate other employees, and can be a factor in someone choosing your company over the multitude of other companies also hiring. A tip is to be creative in what type of recognition is given: Make it public (put it on a banner, your website, and/or in a community newsletter), so that the employees will be congratulated and rewarded exponentially from that recognition.
Ensure It's Meaningful and Achievable
A successful employee recognition program should have two key components. First, make the recognition meaningful. Sure, a certificate is nice, but don’t make that the only reward. Instead, create a reward so desirable that it incentivizes people to work toward achieving a goal.
Second, set achievable recognition goals. This may mean recognizing goals in smaller increments that build to a “stretch” goal. The belief that a goal is achievable is an important part of motivating employees to strive for it. What was achievable before the pandemic might not be achievable now; for example, goals that are affected by the supply chain should be reconsidered. Celebrating employee efforts more frequently builds morale and demonstrates that management is paying attention and cares about workers.
A typical employee recognition event is length of service. If your company is experiencing a lot of turnover, consider recognizing service for shorter time periods than were traditionally recognized. Start by recognizing three, five, and seven years of work rather than waiting for the 10-, 20-, or 30-year marks. The awards should be smaller for shorter time periods and build to really significant awards and celebrations of longer milestones.
Similarly, if production could use a boost, create incremental attainable production goals and recognize the entire team when they are achieved. If an especially difficult goal is required, make that recognition more significant.
Offering a cafeteria plan for recognition is one way to make rewards meaningful. Create reward levels for smaller achievements, mid-level achievements, and significant achievements, increasing the reward value with each level. Allow employees to choose from several reward options within the level at which they are being recognized. Here are some examples:
Smaller Level Employee Recognition Rewards
• Restaurant gift cards
• Theater or entertainment gift cards — these could be for movies, live theater, or entertainment venues like Dave & Buster's
• Visa gift cards
• Spa/massage gift certificates
• Personalized coaching sessions — these could include professional, fitness, or financial coaching, or similar services
• Classes (cooking, art, or local college or community center classes)
• Tickets to a sporting event
Mid-Level Employee Rewards
• Gift box subscriptions
• Health club membership
• Meal delivery gift cards
• Pet care/pet insurance
• Apple Watch
• Drivable weekend getaway
• Exercise equipment, bicycles, etc.
Larger Level Employee Rewards
• Student loan forgiveness
• Long weekend getaway
• Luxury box rental for a sporting event.
• Gift certificate for home good purchases — these might be for Home Depot, Ace Hardware, or Lowes, or home goods stores such as Restoration Hardware and Pottery Barn
Effective employee recognition sends a meaningful message to current employees that they are seen, valued, and appreciated for their work. This boosts morale, assists with retention, and creates engagement. A secondary benefit of an effective employee recognition program is that it also sends a message to potential employees that your company is a great place to work and may give you a boost in recruitment.
Adriane Harrison is an experienced human resources professional with an extensive background in business, law, and nonprofit sectors. Harrison is the VP of human relations consulting with PRINTING United Alliance. She has a journalism degree from the University of Illinois and a law degree from DePaul University. She is based in Pittsburgh.
See more information and resources from Harrison in the Alliance's Center for Human Resources Support, which is fully accessible to members. To learn more about how membership can benefit your business, contact email@example.com or 888-385-3588.