Employee Recognition Programs: Are You Giving Employees What They Really Want?

In today’s competitive environment, attracting and retaining employees is a top priority.  This is where Employee Recognition programs can help. In addition, they are also proven to boost employee engagement and productivity.

According to Gallup’s research, one of the most common reasons employees leave their jobs is that they feel less appreciated or don’t feel appreciated at all. In another Gallup poll, 65% of employees claim they didn’t receive any kind of reward or recognition in the previous year. So if you want to improve employee retention and engagement, and keep your employees motivated, you must consider implementing an Employee Recognition program.

What Constitutes an Effective Employee Recognition Program?

Before you start planning an Employee Recognition program, you need to know the characteristics of an effective program.

According to another Gallup research, the top three characteristics of a successful employee recognition program are:

  • Authenticity
  • Honesty
  • Individuality

Acknowledging good work done by employees can be simple and cost-effective — an appreciation letter or a thank you note, for example. The key is to make your show of gratitude authentic, honest, and individualistic for the employee; that’s what will make it memorable.

Types of Employee Recognition Programs

Another critical step in planning effective employee recognition programs is assessing which type of programs are suitable for your organization.

Based on the Gallup research mentioned above, employees consider four types of recognitions memorable. They are:

  •  Public recognition (award, certificate of appreciation)
  •  Private recognition (from customers, peers, or managers)
  •  Promotion
  •  Monetary benefit (bonus, pay increase, gift voucher, and so forth)

As you can see, monetary benefits are not the only employee recognition method. It might surprise you, too, to learn that 82% of employees prefer praise over a gift (according to a recent study by OfficeVibe).

How to Pick the Right Employee Recognition Program for Your Organization

There are three factors that will help you determine which type of employee recognition program is suitable for your company. These include:

  • Budget allotted to the employee recognition initiative
  • Number of employees in the organization
  • Your company’s culture and values

Another great way to assess what your employees think is to send out a survey and ask them how they would like to be recognized. Whatever you do, keep in mind that when it comes to building an effective employee recognition plan, there is no “universal” approach for organizations.

Benefits of Employee Recognition Programs for Organizations

The key benefits of employee recognition initiatives include:

  • Better Employee Engagement: Per an employee engagement study by Psychometrics, 58% of employees believe that organizations can drive more engagement by recognizing employees. In addition, employees who feel trusted by their managers and leadership are more engaged.
  • Improved Employee Productivity: Employees want appreciation and acknowledgment to stay motivated in the workplace. 69% of employees would work harder if their efforts were better acknowledged and appreciated. Also, per Aberdeen Group’s Analyst Insight report, 60% of best-in-class organizations believe that employee recognition plays a critical role in improving individual performance.
  • Lower Attrition: According to a Deloitte study, organizations with employee recognition programs have 31% lower attrition.
  • Positive Organizational Culture: Per a Mercer report, 85% of HR leaders believe employee recognition programs have a positive effect on organizational culture. 83% also believe that employee recognition programs greatly benefit organizational values.

Popular Employee Recognition Programs

Based on the four types of employee recognition programs listed above, we’ve created a quick list of interesting and easy-to-implement employee recognition ideas for your business.

Public Recognition Ideas
  • Appreciation letter/email: Send a personalized appreciation letter or an organization-wide email praising the employee’s efforts.
  • Recognition on Social Media: Write an acknowledgment post for the employee, tagging them and adding their photo.
  •  Appreciation Party: Plan a surprise appreciation party for top-performing employees. If these employees are working remotely, plan a team lunch and break hours on online collaboration platforms such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams.
  • Acknowledgment Newsletter: Send out a newsletter calling out employees you want to recognize with a brief note for each.
Private Recognition Ideas
  • One-to-One Sessions: Schedule meetings with employees to acknowledge and thank them for their contribution and efforts.
  • Appreciation Videos: Create short videos to appreciate employees. Consider adding a “thank you note” from the leadership team.
  • Token of Appreciation: Send a token of appreciation. It can be as simple as a handwritten thank you note or a box of chocolates, or as meaningful as an office gift branded with the company logo and personalized with their name.
  • New Job Title/Responsibility: Reward top-performing employees with new job titles and roles.
  • Special Project: Include top performers in special projects and provide them with an opportunity to contribute above and beyond their regular responsibilities.
Monetary Benefits
  • Fringe Benefits: Consider providing employees with paid vacations, commuter benefits, fitness club discounts, and so on.
  • Pay Increases: Show your appreciation for employees by giving them a pay raise.

Give Employees a Choice

No matter how you choose to recognize employees, there is no one solution that will be appreciated by everyone. What may be well received by one employee could be seen as a slap in the face by another. Different people are driven by different motivations. So, why not let employees choose how they’re recognized?

This approach can be a logistical nightmare, but one company, Fringe, is making it easy on organizations of all shapes and sizes. Fringe helps you give employees things they never thought possible, taking benefit personalization to a whole new level.

Fringe benefit programs offer a customized benefits experience for each and every one of your employees. From lifestyle benefits to wellness and wellbeing, customized gifts and more, Fringe lets employees decide how they will be rewarded. (See how they can help your employee recognition programs.)

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