employee recognition program ideas

Recognition Programs, Ideas,
Awards for Today's Employees

Guide to More Effective
Employee Recognition Programs

Best Practices and Ideas to help you develop Recognition Programs that work!

Showing Appreciation is the foundation to more productive and engaged employees in your workplace. The number one reason most Americans leave their jobs is that they don’t feel appreciated. Implementing a regular appreciation program can produce impressive benefits to organizations who do it right. When Employees are frequently recognized and praised, they will be more effective, they'll put more energy into their work, and will be happier. 
This guide will help you or your recognition committee plan and implement the most effective program possible. Start by exploring: 
  • What are the best practices to recognize and motivate employees?
  • How can my organization build a comprehensive and effective recognition strategy?
  • How can I make sure our startegy fits our culture and aligns to our core values?
  • What are the steps to getting started with employee recognition?

starting employee recognition programsContact us today and we'll help you get started. We will be happy to forward a program information package with a sample Employee Recognition packet, gift of choice catalogs, certificate, customizing options, and pricing. A dedicated specialist will provide personal assistance and be your main point-of-contact.

Select-Your-Gift wants to help make recognizing employees easy! Get started now!

This guide will help you to maximize the effectiveness of your employee recognition programs, so you can retain your best talent while improving employee performance. You'll learn how to create a Recognition Strategy that is uniquely needed for today's workforce,
with tips and ideas to improve employee engagement, morale, retention and productivity. Your employees will love it, and it will benefit your business!

Definition of Employee Recognition

Employee Recognition is the acknowledgement and show of appreciation for an individual's behavior, or  accomplishments. Recognition shows respect to employees by letting them know that you appreciate them and a job well done.

Recognition vs Employee Rewards:
  • Recognition is the physical action you take to acknowledge, praise and show appreciation to an individual for specific desired actions and accomplishments, or for reaching a service milestone.
  • Employee Rewards are often combined with the act of Recognition for added impact of your show of appreciation for the employee's great work, or accomplishments.

Appreciation Gifts vs. Recognition Awards
Appreciation Gifts show that you value and appreciate the people in your organization. Examples are Holiday Gifts, Thank You Gifts, or Employee Appreciation Day Gifts. Appreciation gifts are important, but they serve a different purpose than recognition awards.


What is a Culture of Recognition?

When your organization incorporates employee recognition in everything you do, and provides managers with many different opportunities to give frequent and timely acts of appreciation and recognition, you will create a Culture of Recognition. That's when employee recognition really begins to produce significant changes in your workplace. It's something every organization can do to improve the employee's experience.

Continual recognition influences everything and everyone in your company! Employees will thrive in this type of environment, and organizations using this strategy will see a dramatic improvement in both morale and productivity.

Importance of Employee Recognition

As you begin to develop your recognition strategy, it is very important to consider why you want to do this! What is the purpose of this program, and what can it provide to your company and employees? applause1-285-opt

  • The most successful companies focus on recognizing their most important asset: their people. Studies have shown that employee recognition is critical to satisfying, motivating and retaining your most valued employees.
  • Employee Recognition makes a Manager's Job Easier. When employees feel appreciated, morale and productivity will increase. Absenteeism, and turnover will decrease. And, your staff will be much more willing to put in that extra effort when needed. Energized employees will even start to problem solve on their own, trying to make everything more efficient.
  • Recognition has been proven to increase employee engagement, producing impressive benefits to organizations. Engaged employees are generally happier, have better morale, are more productive, and provide higher quality products and services.
  • Recognition improves Retention. The lack of employee recognition takes a heavy toll on morale and productivity. A SHRM* survey showed that almost 80% of employees surveyed said that the lack of appreciation and recognition was one of the main reasons they would leave their current job.
    * SHRM - Society for Human Resource Management.


Value & Benefits of Employee Recognition

Due to the value and benefits of employee recognition programs, every organization should make employee recognition an integral part of their corporate strategy.

Some of the major benefits include:

  • Employee Hiring - Attract the best talent
  • Employee Retention - Keep your best talent
  • Improves Morale & Motivation 
  • Improves Employee Engagement
  • Creates a Culture of Recognition  - Builds a positive, encouraging, and rewarding work environment

Your Recognition Program affects these important areas:

Employee Hiring

hiring employees

  • Recognition helps you to attract and hire better employees: A study conducted by the Gallup organization identified the top factors that describe the best companies to work for. High on the list of desirable factors was having a culture of Employee Recognition, possibly giving you a significant competitive advantage.
  • Recognition helps boost your reputation: The quality of your job applicants will have a lot to do with your company's reputation. Your employee recognition programs will produce happier, more satisfied employees, and they will talk on Social Media about their good experiences with your company, helping to boost your organization's reputation.
  • Today, most people desire working for organizations with a strong company culture. When they see a company with a strong Culture of Employee Recognition, it can be the deciding factor on whether they choose to work for one company over another.
Employee Retention

employee retention ideas

  • Recognition helps to retain your best employees: The number one challenge for Human Resource professionals is retention, and most said their company’s recognition practices had a positive effect on retention. An article from the FORBES site, states that companies with a recognition-rich culture, had an almost 30% lower voluntary turnover rate!
  • An Employee Recognition program that is linked to your core values produce better results: Employees will perceive a better return on their investment in your company when recognition is used to reinforce desired outcomes and behaviors aligned with the company's values.
  • Recognized Employees Feel Appreciated: There is a strong relationship between recognition and how an employees feels at work. If an employee feels appreciated and valued, they will be more satisfied and productive. According to Qualtrics Global Employee Pulse, Employees who have managers that consistently acknowledge them for their good work are 5 times more likely to stay with the company.
  • Recognition Improves Relationships: An interesting fact with recognition - it's contagious! When management receives high levels of recognition, it can cause a ripple effect to the rest of the organization. These recognized managers are much more likely to recognize their staff. Subsequently, their employees will want to recognize their peers. When someone feels valued, they are more likely to want to recognize others - spreading goodwill throughout the company.
Improving Employee Morale

Great companies to work for are the result of the actions and attitudes of management. When management provides employees more opportunities to grow personally, to be more involved, and continually shows its appreciation, employees will feel valued as they will see the company sincerely believes its employees are primarily responsible for the organization's success. The result: Employees who feel valued will always perform at higher levels.

employee-motivationConsider these different ways to improve employee morale and motivation on the job: Encourage social gatherings, such as company picnics or parties; provide continuing education opportunities, such as individual or group educational meetings, workshops, conferences, or classes; hold employee brainstorming sessions to get ideas to  improve your business or work environment; and always include employee recognition at as many public events as practical.

Some of the benefits of employee recognition:

  • Recognition Improves Morale: The easiest way to improve an employee's morale is to praise and show your appreciation for their extra efforts. 
  • Recognition Motivates: Most employees say they would put more effort into their work if management recognized them more often.
  • Recognition shows their actions matter: When you recognize an employee's special efforts, it shows that you value their contributions to the business, and you think it's so important it's worth rewarding.
Employee Engagement

employee engagement and recognitionEngagement is everything! Employee Engagement is defined and measured by a person's attitude, enthusiasm,  commitment and performance at work: how they feel about their work, their desire to put in that extra effort to meet goals, and their commitment to stay with the company. Organizations with a more engaged workforce will outperform their competition.

  • Recognition helps improve engagement: That is most effective when recognition is tied to actual business results. Getting recognition for these achievements creates a sense of ownership of the organization's goals, and will motivate employees  to improve their job performance.
  • Motivate employees to be engaged: There is a strong relationship between the amount of recognition an employee gets and how they feel about their work. If an employee feels appreciated and valued, they will be more satisfied and more willing to work harder. How can you expect employees to stay and be more productive if they don't feel appreciated?
  • Recognition Ideas to Improve Engagement: Recognition and Awards should be tied to many different goals, such as: hitting safety targets, completing specific training, meeting or exceeding Sales or Revenue targets, reduced products failures, increased customer satisfaction, and many more.
  • Create a Culture of Engagement: By incorporating Recognition that motivates and rewards, plus other strategies that Empowers, Challenges and Respects Employees, you will create a Culture of Engagement.

Best Practices for Employee Recognition Programs

Employee-recognition-best-practicesEvery organization is unique and has its own culture, so what may work the best for one, may not work as well for another. But, there are some things you can do, regarding employee recognition, that works for everyone:

  • Timely:  For the biggest impact, be sure to give recognition as soon as possible. For example: When employees are "caught in the act" of doing something you appreciate, quickly provide a spot recognition packet, including a personal, hand written note of thanks. When recognising Service Milestones, present the packet as close to their years of anniversary date as possible.
  • Frequent: If employees only get recognized on the service anniversary dates, they could go for years without any recognition. Each employee should be thanked and recognized often throughout the year. Remember, every acknowledgement doesn’t have to cost a lot, or even take much time. Often, a simple, personal thank you is all that is needed to recognize a job well done.
  • For a Specific Purpose: All recognition should be for actions or accomplishments that are aligned to your organization's core values, goals and principals. Did their efforts or achievement make a difference to the company, team, or customer? Point out the specifics of what the employee did when saying thanks.
  • Present to the Employee: When possible, present the Recognition to the employee directly. Preferably by their direct manager, along with their personal comments and/or note. The small amount of time it takes for leaders to show their appreciation can yield long lasting impressions on employees.
  • Present in Public: Presenting formal recognition in a public setting, such as an office or group meeting, provides positive reinforcement for both the employee being recognized and others around them. You are showing everyone the behaviors that are valued in your organization, and inspiring them to do the same.

Creative Ideas for your employee recognition committee:

Management should include recognition into everything they do. To help managers continually recognize their employees, managers need many different ways to provide that recognition - all working together to boost morale and make employees feel appreciated. Consider these employee recognition ideas and opportunities for inclusion in your comprehensive strategy:

    • employee-holiday-giftsHoliday Gifts for Employees - show appreciation for their hard work all year with a Christmas gift they'll love and remember. Our Gift-of-Choice Holiday Packets, start as low as $20 so they'll fit every budget. To make gift giving easy and memorable, these packets can be prepared with your company's Christmas message and logo. (details)

    • Employee Appreciation Day - National Employee Appreciation Day is observed annually on the first Friday in March. This day was designated as a way to show your appreciation to ALL employees, celebrating their contributions to the organization's success. A few ideas for this day: Have a meeting and talk about all the recent accomplishments; Bring in a Sundae Bar for the entire office; Have a Pizza Party; Give everyone a small gift.

    • service-anniversary-awardsService Anniversary Recognition - Recognizing years of service milestones are perfect ways to show employees you appreciate and value their loyalty and dedication, plus their significant contributions. Include recognition for Early Service (1, 2 and 3 years), at 5 year-increments, and for Retirement. (details)

    • Recognize New Hires – Human Resources can provide for special recognition of New Hires at the completion of your Onboarding Process.  Having a detailed and effective onboarding strategy will reduce employee turnover, and is the best way to welcome your new talent. It will help them understand their role, give the employee experience in their new job, familiarize them with your culture, and help them feel confident in their new position. (details)

    • spot-awardsSpot Recognition - Reward desired actions as they occur. This type of recognition has a positive impact when given On-the-Spot! Give each manager a supply of these to give out. Many themes are available, with price levels to fit every budget. Each includes a note card and a gift of their choice. (details)
    • Peer-to-Peer Recognition - Employees value praise and recognition from their peers. Peers know what others are doing, so when a co-worker acknowledges someone for their efforts, the impact is very meaningful. A feature is available within the Comprehensive Points Platform that allows employees to nominate their peers to get points. (see point programs below)
    • Points programsPoints-Based Recognition - Point-programs are powerful motivators, and are the best recognition solution when employees have multiple opportunities to earn points for various achievements. You can manage all your rewards and recognition initiatives in one online points-based platform. (details)
    • Safety Incentives Programs - Recognize employees, or teams, for their safety record, or for completing safety training. Successful safety programs can actually pay for itself by reducing amounts paid for injury claims. (details)
    • Sales-Contests-GuideSales Incentives - Create Sales Contests for defined periods of time. These are great tools to motivate your sales team, but will only work if designed correctly. Design your contests to give all employees an incentive to increase their own personal sales, and reward them when each person reaches their predetermined goals. (details)
    • suggestion-programsSuggestion Program - This type of recognition program encourages employees to come up with solutions for specific problems or improvement opportunities. (details)
    • Team Recognition – Recognising the entire team for an accomplishment  encourages everyone on the team, and creates a sense they're all in it together.

Reward Ideas - What to give for Recognition 

When deciding what to give employees as awards, remember the role of recognition is about Motivation! When planning your awards, some might suggest Cash is a good reward. So, let's see what the research says about using cash for recognition.

Studies repeatedly show that cash is a very poor motivator to get employees to do something different. That's because cash lacks trophy, or memory value. It will be quickly spent and forgotten! When cash is given to recognize great work, it's often perceived to be part of their compensation package. Employees will quickly forget the cash was given as part of the company's recognition of their accomplishments.

Unlike cash, Merchandise Recognition Awards are memorable and have a certain Trophy Value, providing long lasting reminders of the employee's accomplishment, their efforts to achieve it, and of the company that gave the award to them.

"If you want your Employee Recognition Program
to have a positive and lasting effect as a motivator,
merchandise will always be better than cash."

See the following three
Easy-to-Use Recognition Award Solutions:

Option-1: Employee Recognition Packets - gives each recipient a Gift of their Choice:

your-gift-theme-280Everything is included with each employee recognition packet: The presentation materials include themed stationery for your recognition certificate, a large gift catalog, the selected gift, and the gift shipped directly to the recipient (within lower 48 US). All this is included for one package-price for each tier level. Designed to fit every recognition budget with packages starting as low as $20.

They are perfect for all types of Employee Recognition Programs, including: 
      Service Awards - Recognising Years of Service Milestones
      New Hire and Onboarding Gifts - Welcome Gifts, or to acknowledge completion of your Onboarding program
      Employee Appreciation Day Gifts - The first Friday in March is a day companies thank employee for their hard work throughout the year.
      Employee Christmas Gifts - Most employees say a gift from their employer makes them feel valued.
      Employee Birthday Gifts - Another opportunity to remind employees that you care about them.
      Sales Incentives and Contest Awards - When a salesperson achieves their goal, they get rewarded.
      Safety Recognition Awards - Use Awards to maintain safety awareness, and to reward good safety performance.
      Employee of the Month Awards - The most important aspect is memorable recognition it provides.

Option-2: SPOT Recognition - to Instantly Reward Employees for great work, or for going that extra mile:

theme-a-spread-423The best way to provide SPOT Recognition is to use ready-to-go, instant, gift-of-choice packets. These are perfect because they are tier-level based and everything is included. An envelope, a card with everything needed so the employee can instantly redeem their award, and a note card for your handwritten congratulations message. 

With Spot Recognition cards, recipients can immediately redeem their award from a large online gift catalog. Choose the tier level for your awards, and one or more of our pre-designed themes. We can also create a unique spot recognition  theme design, just for you.

Order a supply for each manager to keep on-hand to reward employees when needed, immediately - when it happens!

See Program Details for: Spot Recognition 

Option-3: Points Based Incentive Programs & Recognition Software:

point-award-programs-smlFor a comprehensive incentive and recognition solution, consider our Points-Based Platform. A Points Program is the best solution when employees may participate in multiple recognition initiatives within your organization, and have many opportunities to earn points.

Features Include: With this one complete platform, you can manage all your recognition programs with these easy to use features:
  - Corporate Hierarchy
  - Budget manager
  - Peer-to-Peer Nomination
  - automated Service Awards and Birthdays
  - Reports Center
 A communication feature is also included for administrators to provide employees with updates and status information for each incentive/recognition initiative.

Earned points accrue in each employee's point-bank.  Redeemable from a large, online selection of great life-style awards.

Get Management and Employees excited about Employee Recognition

The difference between the success or failure of your Employee Recognition Strategy, is the organization's Executive Leadership, and their support for a Culture of Recognition. The most effective programs are only possible when senior management participates and strongly supports a continual recognition strategy.

See this article on the difference between Employee Incentives and Recognition. 

Good Communication is also key to your success.  When announcing your recognition plans, have Leadership help communicate what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. Get employees inspired and excited about your new recognition programs, making sure they understand its purpose, and are aware of their many recognition opportunities.

Ongoing Training for managers will help them understand the importance of employee recognition and how to do it effectively.  When managers get excited about your employee recognition goals and benefits, and are given the tools needed, they will be able to create an environment where people will feel valued and motivated.

To get Managers and Employees excited about Recognition, please see this article:

Tips to Create Excitement for Employee Recognition

How to Get Started with Employee Recognition

Starting-Employee-RecognitionReady to get your Recognition Program started? 

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*  Sample Gift-of-Choice Award Catalogs
*  How to tailor Award Presentation Packets
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