How to Build a Recognition Program at Your Company

Even the best of company leaders struggle with adequately recognizing their employees‚Äô accomplishments. A cynical (see also: not great) leader might argue that they pay their employees‚Äîisn‚Äôt that enough? But when your employees go above and beyond and/or consistently perform, they deserve some type of special recognition. If doing it because it‚Äôs what good leaders should do isn‚Äôt a good enough reason for you, check this one: employee engagement.

Whenever you recognize an employee in a meaningful way, one of the most important things that can happen for your organization is all employees become more engaged. Those who are rewarded want to continue to be rewarded; those who were not, want to work harder to be one of the ones who gets rewarded.

But it‚Äôs a tricky business, creating a program centered around recognizing employees for their efforts‚Äîsomething our team at Kinetix can give firsthand insight into. A small task force has set about to tackle the challenge for our company and, as always, we want to share what we‚Äôve learned with the world, to help make all work better.

Step One: See the Problem

The first step is the most obvious: recognize that rewarding your employees (or, lack thereof) is a problem at your company.

Maybe you can see it in your day-to-day or maybe you’ve had complaints, but you can’t make any moves to instill a recognition program until you realize you need one. For our team, it started with leadership caring enough about employees’ opinions to set up focus groups. In these unfiltered sessions, employees were able to voice their opinions about what was going right and what needed to improve. One repeated thing we heard was we needed a formal recognition program.

However, seeing the problem doesn’t just mean seeing that it’s there—it means visualizing the solution. And so our task force was formed and moved forward to set about solving the problem.

Step Two: What’s Already There?

 When our task force kicked off, our leader made one thing clear: we were going for a slow approach to pay off in long-lasting rewards.

Phase one of the project focuses on what‚Äôs already existing, both internally and externally. We wanted to gain data on how much time and money we already spend on recognition; take a look into what works and what doesn‚Äôt. We also wanted to see what other companies do for recognition programs and what works for them.

Getting foresight is the best way to make sure you aren’t going down an ineffective or slightly-tweaked path.

Step Three: What Does It All Mean?

With data collected, it‚Äôs time to analyze. Whether it‚Äôs a Google Doc or a show-and-tell session, once you figure out what‚Äôs already out there, it‚Äôs time to get the gears turning on what it means for your future recognition program. This is the interim phase between the past and the future. You‚Äôll begin to see the recognition program take shape during this phase, purely because you‚Äôre looking at what you know what does and doesn‚Äôt work.

Step Four: Architect

The final action phase will be to develop the ins and outs of your recognition program. Take your research and discussions, take the ideas that have begun to form, and put it into a physical plan for the finished product. Once you‚Äôve got a plan, start putting it through the ringer‚Äîask any and every question that comes into your mind about the longevity or effectiveness of your program.

For every question you can‚Äôt answer, change the plan. Once it‚Äôs answered every question, you‚Äôre ready for the final phase‚Ķ

Step Five: Go Live

Putting the plan into action and letting its purpose live out is the final part. Share the program with your company and answer their questions. Then let the recognition begin.

But it doesn‚Äôt just stop once you‚Äôve rolled out the project. Give the program a few months and give it an evaluation. Take a cross-section of your employees and ask them their thoughts, or just follow our initial lead and do a new focus group. There‚Äôs always going to be things you can improve, but the goal would be to hear recognition is better than it was.

The main takeaway is this: go slow. You‚Äôre building out a new program for your company, one that will affect every employee. Give yourself or your task force time to come up with something that won‚Äôt get dropped off and forgotten, but something that can create real change in your organization.

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