Is your company recognition program driving performance?

Is your recognition program doing any heavy lifting for your organization these days? Earning its keep by driving key behaviours and reinforcing corporate culture? Chances are your recognition program could use a little oomph. A 2014 trends report sponsored by global employee recognition provider Michael C. Fina revealed that fewer than 50% of companies have programs that reward employees based on their performance. Perhaps even more disconcerting was the fact 44% of employees reported that their recognition programs are not tied to the core values of their organization.

The evidence suggests that reward and recognition programs are not given much strategic consideration despite the power such initiatives can wield to influence engagement and underscore critical corporate values. Why aren’t more organizations giving recognition a sufficient slot within their engagement and employer branding plans?

Length of service awards and company swag continue to hold the top spot in recognition programs, as the vast majority of employers report having these kinds of awards in place. Anniversary and service awards certainly have their place, but let’s face it – these time-honoured practices are not going to get anyone closer to their strategic business goals. If you want your recognition program to drive results, it’s time to take good, hard look at how your program is structured.

Forget the Calendar – Professionals no longer spend their entire career with only one or two employers and the idea of prestige associated with significant tenure is an obsolete concept. Savvy organizations have adjusted the traditional length of service award to provide early recognition for newer employees. In today’s workplace, early recognition strategies are far more effective at impacting the bottom line through reduced new hire turnover and improved engagement early on in the employee lifecycle.

Managers Provide the Connection – We know that recognition is a key driver of employee engagement. We also know that managers are the critical link providing an emotional connection between your recognition program and your employees. Bringing a recognition program to life requires a big commitment from leadership if it is to have any long term traction. Direct managers need to be relied upon to provide formal and informal recognition along with genuine appreciation, so they need to be adept at managing within the structure of the program and providing ad hoc and sincere thanks to their team at their own discretion. This kind of spontaneous recognition may require a culture shift until it becomes the norm. An innovative recognition program can help ensure managers have the tools they need to be successful.

Make Rewards Experiential – In order to instill organizational values and drive desired behaviour through rewards and recognition, we need to ensure an emotional connection with the employee we want to acknowledge. A great way to develop that connection is to build an experience and create a memory they will carry into the future. Building experiences into your recognition program go a long way in creating and sustaining a culture of appreciation. Involving colleagues in truly celebratory recognition events will be remembered and turn into noteworthy brand stories in time.

Strategic, innovative recognition programs have a place in every employer branding and engagement plan. When done well, recognition can and will contribute to your workplace culture and create competitive advantage within your organization. Breathe some new life into your recognition program to ensure it is delivering results.

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