CBC Health News

Employee Recognition Programs

Nov 07, 2022

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Recognizing and rewarding employees for their hard work is crucial in boosting employee engagement at your organization. Despite the importance of employee recognition, 45% of U.S. workers reported that they haven’t been recognized at work in at least six months, according to a Deloitte survey.

Implementing an employee recognition program at your workplace can boost employee engagement and assist attraction and retention efforts.

Read on to learn more about these programs and how you can implement them at your organization.

What are employee recognition programs?

As the name suggests, employee recognition programs are formal programs that recognize and reward employees for doing a good job. Each organization often has its unique version of an employee recognition program. Common programs include:

  • Years of service recognition
  • Exemplary achievement recognition
  • Noteworthy performance recognition
  • Peer recognition

Recognition in these programs can include formal written thank-you cards, paid time off, gift cards, company merchandise, all-expenses-paid vacations, cash bonuses, and trophies. Some organizations host companywide staff appreciation events to thank their employees for their hard work. 

Regardless of how you structure your employee recognition program, the most critical component of a successful one is that it recognizes employees for their contributions.


Benefits of Employee Recognition Programs

In addition to boosting employee engagement at your organization, employee recognition programs can raise morale, increase productivity, and improve attraction and retention efforts. In fact, according to a survey by the Society for Human Resource Management and Globoforce, 68% of HR professionals believe that these programs positively affect employee retention. 

Moreover, these programs have the potential to reduce stress, absenteeism, and turnover. In short, when employees feel valued by their company, they’re happier and more productive. Happy employees are likelier to tell prospective employees that your organization is a great workplace. Finally, employee recognition programs can motivate employees to continue working hard even if opportunities for advancement are unavailable and the budget doesn’t allow for compensation increases. 

In today’s tight labor market, having a reputation as a company that treats its employees well and rewards them for working hard is a key way to attract and retain top talent.


employee being recognized by superior


Getting Started

If you’re considering implementing a formal employee recognition program at your organization, knowing where you should start can be difficult. To get started, you should create clear policies and guidelines explaining the program. Things to cover in these guidelines include:

  • Eligibility requirements
  • Award approval process
  • Variety of awards/recognition available
  • Limits on recognition (frequency)
  • Award thresholds

Once you’ve developed these guidelines, you should communicate the new program and its stipulations to managers and employees. Your communications should include the program’s criteria as well as examples of the types of behavior that would warrant recognition or an award. This way, employees and managers are clear on the program’s guidelines. Doing so also promotes transparency and understanding of what an employee must do to receive recognition.



Like many other work-sponsored programs, you should be aware of considerations before implementing an employee recognition program at your workplace. One of the most prominent considerations is that all employees are different, and it’s unlikely they’ll all be motivated by the same recognition rewards. As such, you’ll need to offer a variety of the types of recognition rewards you endorse. 

Additionally, as circumstances require, you’ll need to implement a malleable employee recognition program. For example, a new project may require employees to work harder. To reward their hard work, you may add a recognition program in response to the new project’s demands.

Successful Employee Recognition Program Example

In the vast majority of cases, you’ll need to take a multifaceted approach to employee recognition programs for them to succeed.

Many successful programs include:

  • Peer-to-peer recognition programs
  • Core value recognition
  • Service recognition
  • Year-round excellence recognition.


Here are some ways to recognize employees for each type of recognition program:

Peer-to-peer recognition— Create communications that employees can send each other to recognize a job well done. If possible, allow supervisors or managers to be automatically copied on the communication so they can acknowledge the peer recognition. o To incentivize participation, consider entering employees into a monthly or quarterly prize drawing. When they send or receive a “job-well-done communication,” enter their name into the drawing.

Core value recognition— Create a form where managers can nominate direct reports who exemplify your company’s core values to win an award. Distribute awards on a monthly, quarterly, or annual basis.

To maximize the sentimental value of receiving these awards and recognition, consider giving award recipients a trophy or gift card.

Years of service recognition—What better way to promote employee retention than to thank your employees for another year of service on their work anniversary.

Rewards could include:

  • a catered lunch,
  • gift card,
  • thank-you note
  • public announcement

Year-round excellence recognition—A perfect way to recognize high performers is to present them with a larger-than-normal reward to thank them for their commitment to a full year of operational excellence.

Rewards could include a cash bonus or an all-expenses-paid vacation if your budget allows.

This HR Insights is not intended to be exhaustive nor should any discussion or opinions be construed as professional advice. © 2019 Zywave, Inc. All rights reserved.


Blog Tags:

employee recognition, employee recognition programs, rewarding employees, work-sponsored programs, employee rewards programs, employee recognition program examples, employee reward programs, employee reward ideas

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