The Secret to Motivating Employees: Recognition Programs

September 28, 2018

Every workplace, regardless of industry, faces a common challenge: motivating employees to perform to their full potential. There is no perfect science to overcoming this challenge, but one thing management can do is to create a culture that values employee engagement and celebrates individual and team successes. While incentives for motivation vary greatly from person to person, embracing a consistent recognition program that is tied to the company’s values and culture is a great way to build employee morale. These programs are not just about giving something to an employee who’s done well — they’re about creating a bond between the employee and the company. When an employee can connect their individual accomplishments to business strategy, they are able to find importance and meaning in their work. An employee who is recognized for their good work is a happy employee. And happy employees are good for business.

“Organizations with recognition programs which are highly effective at enabling employee engagement had 31% lower voluntary turnover than organizations with ineffective recognition programs.”  — Deloitte

Here are three ways to build an employee recognition program. Try incorporating one (or all!) of these programs into your business culture to improve morale and retention:

Recognition Through Leaderboards

Displaying goals and milestones based on individual performance may seem like a high school peer pressure tactic, but it’s not! Leaderboards create energy. And there’s nothing wrong with a little friendly competition. Just be prepared to reward/recognize small accomplishments as well as the more significant ones. For team members who are slower to reach goals than others, it is important to keep the momentum going.

Peer-to-Peer Recognition

In a company with a culture for recognition, it’s everyone’s job to acknowledge a job well done. Peer-to-peer recognition programs take many forms. One popular method is to have a bullet point for “staff recognition” on every staff meeting agenda. As your team is preparing their reports for a staff meeting, seeing this reminder on the meeting agenda will remind them to acknowledge a team member for going above and beyond. Sometimes kudos from a co-worker means more than it does coming from a manager.

Team Recognition

In a culture where teamwork is of utmost importance, a team recognition program could improve the cohesion of the team. When a team shares a collective goal, high performers will be motivated to provide mentorship to those who may need a little push, especially if a “reward” is involved. The team being recognized could be rewarded with a catered lunch, an afternoon off, a massage, a detailed car wash, etc. The reward possibilities are endless!  

Another great team reward is to host a social event; not only will it make a great reward, but it will also build team camaraderie. Strategically schedule social events after high-stress periods to reward your employees for their hard work. Inviting team members’ families is encouraged! Try hosting an annual holiday party or a summer barbecue to show your appreciation.  

There are many ways to motivate a team, only some of which involve writing a check. To push your team to their full potential, try incorporating an employee recognition program into your company culture.