Considerations for Creating a Rewards & Recognition Program

Reward and recognition programs are not one size fits all. You can create an informal or a formal program. What’s important is that your program is linked meaningfully to your company’s strategy.

Basics to consider:

  • Provide Immediate Recognition: Recognize and praise the employee as soon as the task is completed. Employees may feel unappreciated if they are not recognized in a timely manner, which may decrease their motivation.
  • Recognize Small Improvements: Even though a manager may view an employee’s improvement as a small accomplishment, the employee might view the same improvement as a significant accomplishment. All accomplishments, no matter how large or how small, should not go without some form of positive recognition.
  • Provide Incentives: Always provide some form of incentive, which does not always mean a monetary reward. There are many non-monetary incentives you can use to show employees they are appreciated and respected (i.e. verbal or written thank-you, recognition in staff meeting, etc.).
  • Recognize What Is Important to Employees: Employees should feel that their managers care about them as human beings. Make sure that recognition is on a personal level and is sincere. Employees need to feel appreciated and respected. Show employees that they are valuable assets to the company and worthy of praise.

For a formal program follow these steps:

  • Determine who the program is intended to motivate
  • Determine why and how this program will benefit your organization – what is the goal?
  • Establish a budget
  • Determine who is eligible for recognition
  • Define performance measures that trigger an award
  • Identify who are the decision makers in approving rewards
  • Choose the awards – employees are motivated by different things and it may be most effective to offer both cash and noncash incentives to make the program meaningful to all participants
  • Communicate the program
  • Present the awards
  • Continuously evaluate the program’s effectiveness – be prepared to change and modify the program

Customize your rewards and recognition to align with what motivates your employees:

  • Do they want to be involved in work decisions?
  • Do they want to have fun?
  • Do they want to have variety?
  • Do they want to know their opinions matter?
  • Do they feel empowered to make their own decisions?
  • Do they enjoy being part of a team?
  • Are their strengths being used?
  • Are they being encouraged?
  • Do they feel part of your overall company strategy and goals? Are they connected to your mission?

Things that will de-motivate your employees:

  • Violating trust
  • Inconsistency and playing favorites
  • Dishonesty
  • Unclear expectations
  • Micro-management
  • Being taken for granted