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Staff Recognition Scheme: Expert Tips for Success

Performance Management
December 19, 2022
Rad time: 10min
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No one likes to go unnoticed. And, in a workplace setting, a staff recognition scheme can prove to be incredibly important when it comes to retention and engagement. However, an employer recognition scheme can’t stand on its own to do all the heavy lifting. 

When you combine a reward and recognition scheme while prioritizing and supporting your employees’ mental wellbeing, you can make for an effective combination that helps keep employees happy, healthy, and continuously hard-working. 

In this article, we’ll share everything you need to know about reward and recognition in the workplace, as well as show you how you can support your team’s mental wellbeing.

What is a Staff Recognition Scheme?

A staff recognition scheme is a system by which employers recognize their employees’ efforts. Recognition can be financial or non-financial. It’s typically performed publicly as that provides the greatest impact. 

For example, during a staff meeting, an employer may announce the top salesperson for the month and provide them with a gift, note, or framed certificate. 

Staff recognition could be interactive, by which colleagues nominate their co-workers for the winning position, or it could come from the top with recognition from management or the C-suite.

Why is Staff Recognition Important?

A staff recognition scheme not only makes employees feel good about their efforts, but it has lasting impact on how they feel about their job as a whole. Staff recognition helps to make employees feel:

  • More satisfied and motivated 
  • A sense of purpose in their work 
  • Appreciative of their work environment 

Additionally, by providing employees with recognition, you set the tone for your company’s culture, which can be used to attract and retain strong talent. When employees feel seen and valued for the work that they do, they are less likely to look elsewhere for another job. 

Why Recognize Your Team?

Recognizing individuals goes a long way on a personal level, but it also plays a part in shaping your company culture. As each individual reaches their highest potential and is recognized for doing so, they are more able to work well collaboratively and as a team. 

In turn, this results in better customer service and decreased turnover. Happier employees set the tone for happy customers. Think about it: if an employee feels engaged and motivated with their work (whether they are in a customer-facing role or not), they’ll provide superior quality work, which then dissipates to the customer on the receiving end.

How to Create a Successful Staff Recognition Scheme at Work?

By now, you’re probably wondering how to create your own reward and recognition scheme in your organization successfully. There are different ways to go about doing so, but whatever you choose to do, there are some key ingredients to stick too, including:

1. Meaning

Ensure that employees know what they are being recognized for.

2. Personal

Rather than a cookie-cutter message that is generalized, try to be as personal as possible. After all, you are recognizing a specific individual for a specific job well done.

3. Timely 

This is very important– if you wait too long after the work has been done, it won’t stick as well and the resentment of not being noticed could build up in the meantime. Try to recognize employees in a timely manner, as in right after the project or task is completed.

How to Implement a Recognition Scheme?

With your recognition scheme in mind, how do you put it into action? 

Start with communication. Ensure that all employees know what is expected of them and how they can participate in reward and recognition schemes. Explain what the program is and when it begins. 

The best types of recognition programs are visible, which means that everyone has access to see how they are their colleagues are performing. You can do so using automation systems, shared dashboards, email updates, and the like, for example.

What are the Types of Employee Recognition Schemes?

With the many options for recognition out there, it’s helpful to take a look at employee recognition scheme examples to draw some inspiration. 

Here are some ideas:

  1. Social Recognition: Use social media to highlight employees who have excelled or done a solid job at demonstrating the company’s values in action. 
  2. Core Values Award: Core value recognition programmes spotlight employees who have embraced and showcased company values through their behaviours. 
  3. Thank Yous: You can initiate peer-to-peer recognition schemes by which colleagues can recognise one another for a job well done. 
  4. Best of Best or End of Year Awards: At the end of the year, you have the opportunities to provide rewards and recognition to the employees who have performed at the highest level. 
  5. Long Service Award: Besides the quality of work, think about the quantity of years of loyalty for employees who have stuck with your organisation for a long time. 
Colleagues working together and smiling
Picture from Pexels

What are Objectives of Staff Recognition Schemes?

Rewards and recognition schemes are geared towards motivating employees and keeping them engaged in what they have to do. To achieve these main objectives, be sure that your staff recognition scheme is designed such that:

  • The scheme aligns with business goals so you are rewarding the intended behaviours that will lead to achieving goals
  • The scheme has the flexibility to be spontaneous rather than strictly scheduled 
  • The scheme is equal and unbiased so anyone feels like they can be recognised and rewarded for their efforts 

Keep in mind, however, that as good as a staff recognition scheme may be, it can’t be responsible for motivation and engagement in isolation.

Employees need to feel continuously cared and supported in their roles. By focusing on employee mental wellbeing, employers can play a role in accomplishing this valuable outcome. 

Employee wellbeing platforms help employees to better understand their thoughts and feelings and how they impact their actions and behaviours. In turn, employees are able to handle challenges more adeptly and can build stronger relationships with people, which leads to greater loyalty, commitment, and engagement.

What Does Employee Recognition Schemes Cost?

Everything about a recognition scheme sounds good, right? Of course, you’ll have to factor in the ROI and the cost of such a program. 

The great thing about recognition is that it doesn’t have to be pricy, it just has to be genuine! That being said, costs can add up when it comes to rewards, but they should end up paying for themselves in terms of increased productivity and decreased turnover in the long-run. 

To have a benchmark in mind, the industry average spend for a reward and recognition scheme tends to be between 1% - 2% of payroll. 

How to Judge the Success of Staff Recognition Schemes?

When you’re tallying the cost of a reward and recognition scheme, you’ll also need to tally the returns to figure out if the juice is worth the squeeze. 

It’s recommended to focus on the data and level of engagement. If you have a digital or automated scheme in place, then check out how many employees are actually taking part in the scheme. 

Additionally, you can request feedback from your employees to find out how the programme worked for them or what could be done to improve it for next time.

Why do Recognition Schemes Magnify Existing Biases?

As strong as a staff recognition scheme may be, there are some inherent challenges with relying solely on this type of system to boost engagement and promote employee motivation. The primary hurdle is that a recognition scheme may simply illuminate existing bias. 

For example, managers and colleagues are more likely to recognise the work of the people they actually see and personally work alongside. In a world in which work is more remote than ever, this unfair bias can end up harming others. Additionally, the employees who do a lot of work in the background to ensure operations run smoothly are often the unsung heroes. 

This is yet another reason why a reward and recognition scheme can’t be solely relied upon. Even if you choose to run these schemes (which do have obvious benefits), it’s important to show you value everyone on your team and care about how they are doing on a personal level. 

That’s where supporting employee mental health comes in. An employee mental wellbeing platform can be used by anyone, anywhere, and with anonymised data, your HR and management teams can proactively see what teams or departments may require extra support to get their jobs done at the highest potential.

Why Look at the Context Around Staff Recognition?

Moreover, a recognition scheme may accidentally reward risky behaviour. For example, if an employee is overworked and stressed out, but pushing too hard to be the best or win the award, the programme could be unintentionally promoting less than optimal actions. 

That’s why it’s incredibly important to recognise employees based on their competencies and capabilities / efforts, rather than basing everything off of the outcome itself. 

It’s more valuable to promote patterns and trends of behaviour that support great outcomes rather than great outcomes that promote unhealthy trends. 

Why Understand the Social Side of Recognition?

A recognition scheme shouldn’t pit employees against one another, but rather can be used to celebrate one another and drive closer bonds. By embracing the social side of recognition with peer-to-peer recognition schemes, reward and recognition in the workplace can breed collaboration and appreciation. 

These types of peer-to-peer schemes tend to be based around how people make one another feel. For example, if an employee goes the extra mile or lends a helping hand to a teammate, this type of behaviour should be celebrated. 

It’s particularly useful to be mindful of these types of schemes in sales departments or commission-based jobs that can quickly become competitive.

How to Align Staff Recognition Schemes with Organisation Objectives?

To keep everyone on track with organisational goals, take a dual-layer approach to top off your peer-to-peer schemes. To do so, ensure that the recognition for which you provide is in line with the organisation’s objectives. You can also involve your employees in building out a desirable staff recognition scheme. 

For example, take a look at your company values and ask your employees to determine who on their team has been putting it into practice. Once employees nominate their colleague, management can get involved to choose the employee to recognise this time around.

Closing Thoughts

A staff recognition scheme is a great way to keep employees satisfied and motivated in their roles. It’s also a wonderful addition to a company to help attract new talent as the recognition scheme supports a positive company culture and desirable work environment. 

Along with your staff recognition scheme, prioritise the value of employee mental health. When employees feel seen and heard, and are also able to understand themselves, they can show up with a clear and focused mind and be adaptive to changes and challenges. 

With this sense of resilience and understanding, employees are motivated, level-headed, and able to put their best foot forward day-in and day-out.

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