How to plan a successful employee recognition programme

Great jobWith more and more businesses recognising the power of employee recognition programmes to drive better business results the number of companies utilising these schemes is increasing, according to the 2013 Trends in Employee Recognition report by WorldatWork.

Motivating and recognising employees is vital to the development of a business. It can create an effective and positive working environment as well as enhancing the employee’s sense of accomplishment, contribution, involvement, and job satisfaction – all of which can improve employee productivity.

However it can go wrong if not properly planned, leading to demotivated employees, claims of favouritism and increased staff turnover.

Recognition Video Case StudiesTo help you avoid the pitfalls, here’s a handy guide to setting up a successful employee recognition programme.


1. Get senior management buy-in

The senior management team must be the biggest advocates of your recognition programme. Without senior management buy-in it will look like just another HR initiative and both managers and employees will be unlikely to ever fully engage with it.


2. Research

Research is fundamental to a successful programme. You should spend time researching the different types of recognition scheme, the rewards that will make your workforce go that extra mile, how your employees communicate (what’s the best way to communicate with them), who will be the best scheme advocates, costs and how you will tie the programme goals to your business goals.


3. Goals, targets and criteria

It’s important to set goals for your scheme. You should set goals that tie in with the overall business objectives and determine the different criteria that will be used to assess who receives a recognition award.


4. Train managers

Managers don’t just need to be trained on how the scheme works but they should be educated on what is classed as meaningful recognition within your organisation. This may cover relationships with their team, when to recognise an employee and how to make recognition part of their everyday activities (even if they already have a full to do list).


5. Consider a pilot scheme

Before introducing a new, ‘all singing, all dancing’ scheme, consider trialling the scheme with just a few employees, a team or an office. Choose the managers who are advocates of the scheme to trial it. This will allow you to find out what works and what doesn’t work as well as you expected. You can then fine tune the scheme before launching it to the entire company.


Definition of employee recognition6. Create an implementation action plan

Every project needs a project plan and your recognition programme is no different. Set a launch date and then working backwards; set key milestones, assign responsibilities and organise your team. Have regular meetings to keep everyone on track.


7. Communicate the launch

Get the person responsible for marketing within your organisation to help you plan a communication blitz. Set up a launch event, desk drop recognition programme leaflets onto employees desks, put information on noticeboards and provide managers with guidelines on the scheme so that they can brief their staff.


8. Keep communicating

Most schemes fail because after the initial excitement of the launch the enthusiasm dies down. Use your research into how your employees communicate to keep your workforce up to date with new rewards, who’s been recognised and why, scheme updates, etc.


9. Monitor the results

Track your programme results as related to the programme goals you set at the start of the process. As well as the statistical data you receive from your incentive management company use surveys and focus groups to gather feedback.


10. Keep the momentum going

Once the scheme is launched don’t assume that ‘that’s the job done.’ You need to maintain momentum through on-going communications, timely recognition and adapting the programme as you go based on the feedback you receive.


Recognition Video Case StudiesSee how Aviva, Virgin Media and Siemens recognise employees 


A successful employee recognition programme shouldn’t be merely a tick box exercise. It’s about using recognition as part of the total reward and employee benefit package and making it meaningful. Unfortunately it doesn’t matter how good a recognition scheme is, without proper planning you’re likely to be unsuccessful and yield a poor return on investment.


John Sylvester

John is responsible for the motivation division of p&mm ltd and a Director on the board of the IPM. Specialising in developing, implementing and directing many large scale staff motivation, recognition and employee communications programmes.

Connect with John on  | Twitter



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