Why You Should Have an Employee Recognition Program

By Emma Hickey

Hanging up “Employee of the Month” photos on your office wall each month may be out of style, but employee recognition is not. Whether you’re just starting to build out a team, or you already have a rock solid group of peers and direct reports, you should consider implementing an employee recognition program. Boston Consulting Group conducted a survey of 200,000 people and found that “globally, the most important single job element for all people is appreciation for their work,” and an employee recognition program is a great way to show that appreciation. It also demonstrates that you—and the company as a whole—value your team members. A good employee recognition program reflects company culture while also building on it, increases employee engagement, and fosters camaraderie in the workplace. It’s a fun way to motivate, and appreciate your team, and all it takes is a bit of innovating on the ol’ Employee of the Month wall.

Your employee recognition program should reflect your company’s culture and the people who make it. Perhaps your organization is filled with tech-minded people who would like a gamified recognition program. Maybe your team is made up of a bunch of creatives who would appreciate a program built around self-expression. Whatever route you decide to go down for your employee recognition program, make sure it makes sense for your office and fits in with your team. On the flip-side, an employee recognition program is also a great way to influence company culture. It can create an upbeat and positive atmosphere. It can inspire an environment where people compliment each other often and loudly, where celebrating wins both big and small isn’t just encouraged but becomes the status quo. If your company, or your team, is in its beginning phase, build an employee recognition program into its foundation. If the energy in your company or on your team is getting stale, use an employee recognition program to boost it. Praising people for their good work will only ever be a positive thing, and doing it in a formal and consistent capacity demonstrates that you take it seriously.

Speaking of boosting up stale energy, employee recognition programs are also great ways to elevate team morale—and a happy team is a productive team. According to that same BCG survey, 81% of people are more likely to work harder for a boss who shows appreciation for them. People liked to be praised for their work, and they need positive reinforcement in order to stay motivated. Employee recognition programs also increase employee engagement which in turn decreases voluntary turnover rate. Forbes Magazine looked into this subject and found companies that ranked in the top 20% of what they described as “recognition-rich” cultures had voluntary turnover rates 31% lower than the other 80% of companies. That’s not just good for employee morale, that’s good for your bottom line.

Employee recognition programs are useful ways for managers to show appreciation for the work their direct reports do, but they’re also great tools for building camaraderie among a team. Build an employee recognition program that allows your team members to recognize and praise each other. This allows peers to recognize each other for work that managers may not have great insight into, and it can help shape your office culture into a place where it’s the norm for people to compliment each other. Whether there’s a fishbowl in the office people fill with compliments for each other that are read at team meetings, or you create a program where people nominate each other for awards and then vote for the winner, or you have an idea unlike anything you’ve seen in offices before: as long as it inspires your team to recognize and support one another, it’ll have a positive influence in your office.

Have you been convinced to start an employee recognition program in your workplace? Not only will it show your team that their work is appreciated, it will motivate them to continue working hard for an organization where they’re valued.

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