Recognition programs are a great way to inspire and motivate employees to higher productivity and greater retention of key talent. However, good programs require a certain elements to be in place to be really successful.
Without these elements, many otherwise smart program ideas fall by the wayside because they are seen as meaningless, ineffective, political, biased or worse. That’s the last thing a company needs with a new recognition program because the sentiments can quickly run deeper, turning into personnel problems and drops in performance altogether. To avoid this possibility every good recognition program should have the following:
- Top-down management support – Organization management needs to be seen as supportive of the program at every level. It should be encouraged, highlighted and supported proactively. If a manager is seen disparaging the program or not taking it seriously, staff are very quick to notice, and they too will begin to share the same sentiment. The program should be taken seriously as an internal opportunity to recognize those staff who stand out above and beyond normal expectations and go the extra mile, setting an example for everyone else.
- Objective review – The selection of who is going to be recognized for recognition should be objective, and ideally the decisions should be made by an upper management committee unrelated to the candidates. If one particular program or only one manager is making the candidate choices all the time, then the program will be perceived as political or biased and not taken seriously. Worse, staff will interpret the program as some sort of favoritism being distributed unequally, and those who are selected will likely be responded to negatively by those who are not.
- All managers must participate in candidate selection – Every manager must be required to find and pick a selection as much as possible each round. If one program is always getting awards because of an active supervisor but another does not because their supervisor is disengaged, it will damage the view of the program as well as devalue the hard work of the winners being recognized among staff.
- Be selective in what is awarded – recognition should not be provided just because someone participated in something different from normal work. The recognition should be provided for actual, visible extra work or performance. If people are simply being awarded because they were lucky enough to sit on the right committee or task group, that’s a waste of the whole effort as staff will ridicule the results when announced.
- Tap into the awardees for what the did well – Use the awardees as help in future training. By setting up an example of the awardees doing right, it helps engender a sense of camaraderie in other staff that they too can achieve exceptional work. Don’t waste the awardee by not involving them in future training after the recognition is made.
- Make the recognition visible – Recognition programs should be public, visible and well-announced in the organization. Employees should be able to see their co-workers rewarded. This is a great marketing opportunity to show that management isn’t just about directing all the time and not recognizing who does the work.
- Make the recognition annual and scheduled – Don’t run a recognition program in an ad hoc manner. People should know when to expect the program and anticipate or look forward to the results. It gives employees the ability the plan for it and strive their best in the meantime.
- Consider recognizing partnerships as well – Not every recognition only needs to be internal personnel. Where your staff have partnered with an external group to produce really amazing work product, recognize it. This encourages people to be creative and seek additional input from more than just traditional sources.
- Provide an actual reward, special award or plaque – Don’t just run a program that recognizes an individual verbally. Make it official; provide the employee a special plaque or certificate. They will display it in the work place, encouraging similar behavior and reinforcing among staff what the company values most. It’s free marketing courtesy of the awardee.
- Allow for creative recognition – Your award program doesn’t need to be the same type of award categories year after year. The nature of work and deliverables will change over time, and your recognition program should acknowledge changing values as well.
Giving a new recognition program some strategic thought can really produce a serious motivational edge with employees and productivity, so the idea shouldn’t be ignored or downplayed. The cost of running such a program is nominal, but the results can be huge if it is designed right.
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About Strategic Incentives: Strategic Incentives is a leading nationwide provider of employee motivation programs. The company works with HR managers to implement sales incentive programs and safety incentives to retain employees, and loyalty programs to build customer relationships. Visit the website at http://www.strategicincentives.com to download a complimentary PDF of “35 Ways to Use Incentive Programs.” “Like” the Facebook page to receive regular updates on sales incentives and promotional ideas. Call 888-686-8116 for more information on creating an in-depth performance improvement plan.