Employees being recognised by a manager with high five

Benefits of Employee Recognition Programs: Why it Matters

Performance Management
October 10, 2022
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A little bit of acknowledgement can go a long way. There are many benefits of employee recognition programs for organizations. A rewards and recognition program could impact an employee’s decision to stay within your company or lack thereof could contribute to looking for a job elsewhere. 

That being said, there’s more than meets the eye when it comes to keeping employees motivated and happy in their jobs. Coupled with understanding why recognition is important, it’s also crucial to prioritize the importance of your employees’ mental wellbeing. We’ll talk about both herein. 

What is Employee Recognition?       

Employee recognition refers to how organizations praise employee behaviour. It’s a way to express gratitude and positively reinforce desired behaviour. 

Employee recognition openly acknowledges employees who are performing at optimal levels and putting in effort to do their jobs well. It turns out that beyond making employees feel valued and noticed, having an employee recognition program can dramatically improve workplace engagement and productivity. At the same time, consistent employee recognition can aid in retention efforts, too.

Why is Employee Recognition Important?   

Without employees, your business wouldn’t be in operation. Employee recognition is a way to showcase your appreciation and gratitude for what employees do. 

The truth is that the vast majority of employees have a genuine interest in their performance and dedicate much time and effort to doing their best. But, an employee can only do their best when they are taking care of their mental and physical health. 

With an employee wellbeing platform, employees get to take time to pause and reflect. They gain access to a way to track their mood over time, understand what impacts it, and leverage tools and resources to better support their mental wellbeing and build their resilience. 

With these abilities, they have what they need to approach problems with creative solutions, manage their stress, and support a positive mindset. In turn, they are able to perform optimally, and ultimately, receive the recognition that they deserve!

What are the Benefits of Employee Recognition Programs?       

There are many benefits of employee recognition programs to be had. Some of the most outstanding advantages of implementing such a program include:

1. Improved Company and Team Culture 

By providing recognition when employees do their best, you’re able to breed a company culture that values and respects employees for all that they do. Along with having a positive work environment, you’re also boosting morale at the same time. You can enhance team culture and collaboration by rewarding employees for working well together, too. 

2. Boosted Productivity

In many instances, employees who are rewarded continue their momentum and can maximize their productivity levels. To promote higher rates of productivity, it’s important to create a recognition program that clearly outlines goals and how employees can achieve recognition. 

Rather than focusing solely on output, it helps to base recognition programs off of capabilities and effort so it can be personalized to each individual’s abilities. 

3. Enhanced Employee Satisfaction 

Employee recognition helps employees to see how their efforts impact the company in the bigger picture. When you align recognition programs with company values, everyone is on the same page and motivated to work towards common goals. Employees who know their worth and importance have improved levels of job satisfaction.

4. Increased Retention Rates 

With higher levels of purpose and job satisfaction, employees who are rewarded for their hard work will be less likely to turnover. They will feel the support and value from the organization, which will reduce their interest in seeking employment elsewhere. 

Employee recognition programs are certainly useful and successful in providing these benefits. However, at a certain point, recognition programs can only go so far. If employees feel overly stressed, overwhelmed, and anxious, then being recognized will fall by the wayside. 

It’s of utmost value and importance to care and support your employees’ mental wellbeing. By doing so, you can improve employee resilience, boost retention rates, and encourage a more motivated and productive workforce.

What are the Types of Employee Recognition Programs?   

Knowing what to recognize is only half the battle. You’ll need to know how to create employee recognition schemes, too. Here’s a look at some of the types of employee recognition programs available to implement:

1. Peer and Superior 

Recognition can come from peers or management. 

2. Attributed and Anonymous

Recognition may be anonymous so the employee doesn’t know who provided it. Or, it can be attributed, which means the employee knows the source. 

3. Behavior and Achievement

Recognition can be provided for employees who surpass a specified achievement, such as reaching a sales goal. Or, it can be based on behaviour, such as helping a colleague or going above and beyond with a customer. 

4. Social and Private

You have the choice as to whether to provide recognition socially or in private. Social recognition can be powerful because it also helps to boost morale for other team members. But, some employees may prefer private recognition.

Thank you card and gift
Picture from Pexels

What are Employee Recognition Program Examples?   

Let’s look at some employee recognition programs so you can see how to either implement a program for the first time or improve upon what you’re already doing. 

Attitudes and Behavior

It takes a lot for employees to show up and be positive every day. Even the most positive people have their bad days. When employees are constantly putting in effort (even if it seems like it comes naturally), it can be nice to recognize positive attitudes. It can be as simple as saying, “We love working with you, and your positivity does not go unnoticed!” 

Goals 

When employees reach milestones and achieve goals, you can provide recognition publicly or privately. For example, you can include an employee spotlight in a company-wide email newsletter or at an event. Or, you can write employees a personalized card with a congratulatory message. 

Performance

While you can recognize employees for accomplishing goals, effort is also something worthwhile to recognize. Keep a look out for how employees show up and what they are doing behind-the-scenes to accomplish said goals. Recognition at this level can provide positive reinforcement and serve as motivation.

How to Create a Successful Employee Recognition Program?

When aiming to reap the benefits of employee recognition programs, keep in mind how you design them in the first place. 

Here’s some guidance on how to do so:

1. Be specific 

Recognition is best when it’s specifically tied to what an employee is being recognized for. On the topic of specification, timeliness is also key. That means that you wouldn’t want to recognize an employee 2 weeks after the event. It’s best to offer recognition as close to the event as possible so it’s reinforcing that behavior. 

2. Align company values 

Tie recognition to company values. This way, you can promote behaviors and actions that work to achieve company goals and are supportive of creating your ideal company culture. 

3. More is better 

Recognize as much as you can. It doesn’t have to be anything major or huge to be worthy of recognition. Sometimes, by recognizing the smaller contributions, you can reduce the risk of burnout and negative sentiments on behalf of employees. 

What are Common Misconceptions of Employee Recognition Programs?   

When designing your employee recognition program, don’t get dissuaded or bogged down by these common misconceptions. 

Money matters more 

While monetary rewards can be impactful, employees can gain a lot from non-financial recognition, too. In fact, many employees (66%) leave organizations due to a lack of appreciation. 

It’s costly 

Recognition programs don’t have to cost money or take up too much time. Many forms of recognition can be free or low cost, such as saying thank you or writing a hand-written note or highlighting employees publicly. 

It’s not for everyone

If you recognise only employees who surpass milestones, you may be leaving out many of your employees who are putting in their utmost effort. That’s why it’s beneficial to recognize people for their efforts, behaviours, and accomplishments. 

It’s all that works

Employee recognition programs do offer a lot of benefits. That being said, we’ve mentioned employee wellbeing several times throughout this article. And that’s because, when you ignore employee wellbeing, everything else goes out the window and becomes a moot point. 

A focus on employee wellbeing creates a workforce that is resilient and optimistic. These characteristics enable better problem-solving abilities, increased engagement, and improved feelings of connection and purpose. 

Closing Thoughts

Any organization that sets up an employee recognition programme has many benefits to gain. As important as recognition is, don’t forget to support and prioritise employees’ mental wellbeing. This is what makes it possible for employees to manage their stress levels, avoid burnout, stay motivated and show up to work with a clear head to overcome challenges and reach their potential. 

Whether employees are dealing with a lot or a little in their personal and professional lives, mental wellbeing is what enables employees to manage stress and be able to do their best. An organization that supports these efforts will improve the longevity of its people and be able to help employees grow and develop over time.

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