Not all employee recognition programs are effective and can have unintended negative effects. To develop a program that works, keep these 7 tips in mind:

  1. Be inclusive. Too often employee recognition is focused on the direct revenue producers within the organization, specifically the top sales executives. But what about operations, customer service and finance staff that help enable the deal? The quickest way to see morale go down is to let an entire division within the company go unnoticed.  Everyone needs to feel appreciated.

  2. Put your money where your mouth is. Employee recognition programs don’t have to cost huge amounts of cash. A small monetary incentive to show appreciation will give employees that extra confirmation that you value them. A survey by SHRM found that “When companies spend 1% or more of payroll on recognition, 85% see a positive impact on engagement.”  (SHRM/Globoforce Employee Recognition Survey, 2012)

  3. Include peer-to-peer recognition. The challenge with recognition programs where only the managers’ opinions count, is that it doesn’t include a 360° view of the real performance. So why not let the team members hand out some recognition too? This will give you a global view on how an individual performs in different situations.

  4. Be specific and use evidence. Often the recognition we give is too general, which can make it appear insincere. Saying things like ‘good job’ are well intended, when you want to make you recognition count, specifically mention what made the job so well done (be specific) and how this person made it happen (use evidence).

  5. Make it random. The problem with establishing a regularly scheduled thank-you such as a Wednesday lunch is that, over time, it just becomes expected and is no longer viewed as a reward at all. Establish an element of surprise and excitement when giving out recognition.

  6. Be timely. Quarterly, or even monthly recognition is not sufficient.  People need to be recognized for their good deeds quickly, so make it a habit to acknowledge them as soon as possible.

  7. Just do it. The Dale Carnegie Global Leadership Study 2016 revealed that “Employees in the US and Canada were more likely to be inspired by leaders who “praise me for any performance improvement” (71%).” And isn’t that the ultimate goal, inspired employees? So, regardless of the type of recognition program that you establish, just do it.  It’s one of the most important things you can do for your employees.