Six steps to getting an employee recognition programme started

Get employee recognition startedIt’s easy to get excited and rush headlong into setting up an employee recognition programme, but it’s worth taking the time to comprehensively plan your initiative before launching it. This six step getting started guide will outline how you can start out on the right path in order to create a culture of appreciation and raise engagement levels in the process.

“If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up someplace else.” Yogi Berra


Your six steps getting started guide


1. Set clear, realistic and measurable objectives

One of the most common mistakes businesses’ make is to recognise and reward behaviours that fail to support business goals and objectives. Make sure that you know why you want to start an employee recognition programme. Which company/business goals will the programme support? Do you want to increase sales, improve customer feedback or change behaviour? Once you know the objectives of the programme identify the desired employee behaviours that will achieve these objectives and make sure that they are SMART goals.


2. Think about programme structure and design

The structure of a recognition programme needs to cover how often will the rewards be made, for example will they be made on a regular basis or as close to the event as possible? You also need to consider how the recognition programme will be communicated and how will you keep people interested. What resources will you provide to help motivate employees and drive participation?


3. Provide the right rewards for your target audience

There’s no one reward that is right for all your employees. Lifestyle, family circumstances and demographics can all affect the types of rewards that your employees find motivating. Survey your employees to find out what types of rewards will motivate them but invest wisely. Focus on the recognition rather than the reward itself and consider including low value rewards such as a prime parking spot, certificates or a presentation.


4. Promote your recognition scheme

In order to motivate your employees they need to understand what is being asked of them and what they need to do to achieve recognition. Put together a communications plan that will enable you to keep a dialogue with your employees throughout the year, pre launch, at launch and ongoing. Talk to your audience in their language in a style appropriate to your culture and keep communications frequent but simple.


5. Continue to manage your programme

Measuring the performance of the programme and continually analysing its effectiveness is essential. Employers need to be certain that the programme is improving performance and achieving its objectives. You should also consider employee feedback, be prepared to adapt any scheme to changing needs and business objectives.


6. Share your success

Celebrate and share the success stories of your employees around the company. This can be through presentations, announcements in company newsletters or on social media. Public sharing success reinforces the required success behaviours, encourages co-workers to copy those behaviours and drives participation.


It isn’t all about the big bang!

Something else to consider is that you don’t need to start with an all-singing and all-dancing recognition programme. It is often worth dipping a toe in the water with a departmental trial before launching company-wide. This can help you iron out any problems and improve the programme based on the feedback you receive.

Organisations cannot afford not to reward and recognise their staff. Engaged employees are 20 times more likely to improve customer satisfaction and loyalty, productivity, turnover and profit. And with the right employee recognition programme and systems in place, you’ll reap all the benefits.


See how other organisations run their recognition schemes

Recognition Video Case Studies

Aviva, Virgin Media and Siemens recognition videos 




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.

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