Be (S)SMART with your recognition programme (part 2)

employee recognition for employeesWhen it comes to recognition programmes, the primary purpose for most organisations is to motivate employees. This could be to motivate them to go the extra mile, demonstrate behaviour that is in line with your values or deliver results.

And recognition can be delivered in numerous ways:

In part one of this article, I looked at the first three elements of the SSMART philosophy of Jim Brintnall: Supportive, Sincere and Meaningful.

In this part, I’ll look at the remaining parts of the SSMART philosophy: Adaptable, Relevant and Timely.

A: Adaptable

Today’s workplaces are diverse with several different generations working together so it’s important to offer a variety of recognition opportunities and rewards that meet the varying needs of the workforce. This means that a diverse workplace needs to have a recognition programme that is adaptable.

No single reward works for everyone, but vouchers and prepaid cards allow you to reward employees with a physical gift but also enable employees to choose a gift that is meaningful to them. Alternatively being able to be involved in a prestigious project, receiving special training or being given additional annual leave can be meaningful rewards.

In addition to rewards, the programme itself needs to be adaptable. Every employee should have the opportunity to receive recognition, no matter which department they work in or at what level they are employed. You can also consider adding in creative short-term options to keep your programme fresh and your employees engaged in the programme.

Download our guide to reward and recognition

Reward and recognition guide

This guide will assist programme managers to develop a scheme that will improve the performance of your people, engage them and make best use of your available budget.

Click here to download

R: Relevant

It’s important to the success of your programme that the recognition is relevant, appropriate and consistent. Pay attention to your overall business mission, values and objectives and make the recognition programme relevant to them. Recognise the things that get done that further your mission, demonstrate your company values and helps you achieve your company objectives.

Recognition should come from a variety of sources as managers can’t see everything that happens within their department. Peer to peer recognition can be more relevant as colleagues often know more about what their co-workers have done than managers. Plus peer to peer recognition is more highly valued than recognition from a manager.


T: Timely

timely recognitionFor the greatest impact recognition should be made as close as possible to the time the desired behaviour was done as this helps tie the recognition to the behaviours your organisation is trying to reinforce. It also helps unify employees in a common mission.

Leaving too much time between the behaviour and the recognition, such as quarterly rewards, devalue the recognition and can erode credibility. Mobile apps and social recognition enable employees and managers to recognise each other almost instantaneously by sending thank messages or giving kudos while recognition technology such as online platforms enables managers and HR professionals to streamline and speed up approval processes.


Considering all six factors of the SSMART philosophy when planning or reviewing your recognition programme will guide you through improving and developing an employee recognition programme that will help you deliver a programme that is effective and helps you create a positive work environment, improve employee performance, engage employees, and increase employee morale.

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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