Employee Recognition Programmes – 5 points to consider

Human Resources 17th February 2021

What does Employee Recognition actually mean … and does it matter?

Let’s begin with a standard definition – Employee recognition is the open acknowledgement and expressed appreciation for an employee’s contributions to their organisation.

Employee Recognition bears fruit in numerous ways – covering business, social, and wellbeing.

Psychological research clearly demonstrates our need for respect, appreciation, and acknowledgement.

But even beyond our survival and needs – being appreciated just feels good. It releases the flow of oxytocin, the chemical our bodies create when we bond with others and feel loved. It could be as small as a “thank you” note or as large as an award – the more often employees are valued and acknowledged, the better they’ll feel.

This knowledge has been the catalyst for the development of employee recognition programmes in organisations around the world.

Benefits of Recognition

There are numerous benefits that stem from recognising people in the workplace. Examples include

– Enhanced morale and motivation

– Improved productivity and therefore profits

– Retention of high performing employees 

– Greater engagement

What kinds of recognition are effective

Effective recognition is specific and timely. It’s the difference between “Thanks – good job on that report” and “Thanks for the report – I really appreciate the clear visuals you used. The graphs on page 14 were especially effective in demonstrating your point. Excellent work!” To be effective, such recognition needs to follow soon after the report is delivered, rather than months later at a review.

Recognition should be frequent, visible, tied to organisational values, and inclusive.

– Frequent recognition encourages employees by providing them with regular and ongoing appreciation and acknowledgement.

– Visible recognition provides positive reinforcement for both the employee being recognised and others around them.

– Values-based recognition encourages teamwork towards common goals

– Inclusive recognition lets employees know that their contributions and opinions are noticed.

Best Practices for Recognition Programmes

1Define Clear Recognition Programme Objectives and Criteria

• What types of behaviours will be rewarded?

Reference your business objectives and your organisation’s values. In the light of these, decide which behaviours to incentivise.

• How should the desired behaviour be rewarded?

In general, praise should be public – it can be a great learning opportunity for the whole team.

• How often should recognition occur?

Effective praise needs to be frequent and consistent. Giving recognition on the spot is a good habit, and reiterating that praise during team meetings, especially for special achievements, can amplify its effects.

• Who should recognition come from?

Recognition is traditionally given top-down by managers, but peer-to-peer recognition is even more effective.

2. Use a Multifaceted Rewards and Recognition Programme

Many employers assume that employees always want money or tangible rewards rather than non-tangible rewards, but research suggests that both types of recognition are important to employees. For example, Imagine receiving a bonus without any note or explanation. How would you know how to replicate the behaviours that led to the bonus?

3Listen to your employees

Ask your employees about the kind of reward that they most appreciate. Giving them a say in rewards redemption can increase their personal investment in the programme and make recognition even more enjoyable.

4. Ensure Effective Implementation and Roll-Out

When introducing a new system or approach, it’s important that communication around the roll-out is clear and that implementation is as painless as possible. Any team participating in a new programme should be clued in on that programme’s purpose, how to use it, and when it will take effect.

5Measure Your Recognition Programme’s Effectiveness

Successful recognition programmes should positively impact other factors like performance, productivity, and turnover. You can use a number of ways to analyse changes in those areas, like survey tools, brief interviews or feedback sessions, and performance management software. Gather feedback on a regular basis and use it to adjust your programme where necessary.

Beyond measures of productivity and performance, employers can use recognition as a catalyst for widespread positive organisational change by engaging employees, connecting teams, and fostering a culture of appreciation

Nearly every company can benefit from implementing or improving their existing recognition practices. Whether you’re creating a new recognition programme or refining an existing one, effective recognition can be an extremely powerful positive force.


Are you giving your people the recognition they deserve and need in order to feel valued and to maintain and improve their productivity? Here at Gravitas HR, we understand the importance of recognition, both for its extrinsic importance and for its own sake.

For straight-talking HR advice – 01604 763494

Or email – info@GravitasHR.co.uk

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