6 Steps to Building a Stronger Employee Recognition Program

Stronger Employee Recognition Program

Everyone wants to be recognised for the work they do, but employee recognition has a more profound effect than just making them feel good. It can be a powerful tool to boost morale, motivation and workplace engagement. However, even those who have studied HR courses online or other qualifications know that most workplaces fall short of recognising employee excellence. If you can build a substantial recognition program, it can benefit your organisation substantially. This guide will go through the six steps to step up your employee recognition program.

Step 1: Define Your Objectives

A good recognition program isn’t effective unless you define some clear objectives; otherwise, you’ll be operating like a ship without a rudder. The first thing you’ll need to ask is what you want to achieve with your recognition efforts. Is it productivity, better customer service, or more innovation within the organisation?

Defining these goals will guide the structure of your program and help ensure that it is in line with the larger macro objectives. But like anything, you’ll need a system to structure clear goals to follow for the recognition program.

How to Set Clear Goals for the Recognition Program?

The best way is usually by following the SMART framework, which can be used for a variety of goals. In order to set SMART goals, you must satisfy some distinct categories. They must be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound.

As an example, one goal might be to boost customer satisfaction by 20% through awarding performers with salary bonuses and monthly awards. This step helps lay the foundation and keep the organisation on track.

Step 2: Understand Your Team

Recognition is the most effective when it is catered for an individual’s values and motivations. You will need to first understand your team and what drives them before implementing certain types of recognition. If you already know your team well enough, you can use surveys or one-on-one discussions to discover personal and professional ambitions.

It’s also important to understand that motivation isn’t one-size-fits-all. What motivates one person might not resonate with everyone on your team. Some might thrive on public recognition, while others prefer something low-key, like time off or better perks. Try to get a sense of what motivates your employees and tailor your approach accordingly.

Step 3: Choose Appropriate Recognition Methods

So now that your goals are set and your motivations understood, it’s time to choose the right tools for recognition. There are multiple ways to recognise employees, and now that we’ve understood our team better, it’s time to look at and understand each type before making the final decision.

Types of Recognition

There are luckily many types that can be catered to different individuals. It can take the form of a variety of things that include:

  • Monetary rewards
  • Public praise or acknowledgment
  • Opportunities for professional development
  • Additional leave or holiday allocation

Select a few different methods that align with most of your team and what you are able to facilitate as an organisation. The final choice can be rather nuanced, so don’t be afraid to mix and match to what best suits you.

Step 4: Implement the Program

Now that your plan is in place put your recognition program into action, when you’re implementing you need to ensure there is clear communication, solid training and a well-thought-out strategy.

While it is rather individual to each organisation you will need to announce the program to all stakeholders to create awareness and excitement. This means having appropriate training for those implementing the program and using multiple communication channels to get the message across. This isn’t just a one-off strategy; it is something embedded in the culture for years to come.

Step 5: Measure and Evaluate

To ensure the recognition program is delivering the intended results, it is vital to measure impact. Things like tracking mechanisms to monitor progress against objectives are a major factor in ensuring long-term success.

Tracking Progress and Feedback Mechanisms

Some examples of good progress and feedback mechanisms include things like feedback scores and retention rates, which provide insights into effectiveness. If you can solicit regular feedback from employees, you’ll be able to get a detailed understanding of how they feel about the changes you’ve made and how the incentives influence them.

Step 6: Continuous Improvement

An effective recognition program is dynamic and things change. So this should be taken into account. Usually, it takes many iterations before the perfect system is discovered. You can use the feedback discovered during step 5 and gather any other data you might have. Don’t be afraid to celebrate success but also be willing to make changes at the same time, this will help the program stay aligned with organisational goals and adapt to the changing workforce.


Well-crafted employee recognition programs have the potential to transform your business or organisation, and by following these steps, you can create a program that is effective and sustainable. It will also help your staff meet the changing needs of the workplace. Just remember to stay loyal, personalise the incentives and be committed to the satisfaction and development of your employees – the driving force of your organisation.