March 4 is Employee Appreciation Day! Here’s How to Step Up Your Employee Recognition Game

February 29, 2016・4 mins read
March 4 is Employee Appreciation Day! Here’s How to Step Up Your Employee Recognition Game

National Employee Appreciation day is on March 4 and it is the perfect time to review your current employee recognition program. The idea of recognizing employees for their length of service or the quality of their work is well known. When most of us think about employee recognition, we probably have a vision of an employee being given a gold watch for their 20-year anniversary or a trophy for “outstanding customer service.”

However noble these tokens may be, they may not really be contributing to your business in a valuable way that both achieves business goals and is rewarding for your employees. If you are wondering how effective your employee recognition program is, start by asking yourself the following questions:

  • Am I encouraging employees to recognize their colleagues for a job well done?
  • Does my employee recognition program reinforce company goals and objectives?
  • Do all my employees have the same opportunity to give and receive recognition, regardless of how and where they work?
  • Do I make it fun for employees to participate?
  • Do I reward employees for specific behaviors?

If you answered “yes” to any of the questions above, then you are on the right track for ensuring that you are developing a culture of recognition that will be effective for employee success as your business grows.

To increase the effectiveness of your recognition program, consider implementing these five trends to add value to your business and increase employee engagement.

1) Allow for peer-to-peer recognition

Allowing employees to recognize their fellow co-workers for a job well done increases the engagement of your employees with your business and with your employee recognition efforts. This is because it empowers employees to recognize their lateral colleagues, as opposed to the top-down approach where managers reward their direct reports. Peer-to-peer recognition can increase the cohesiveness of your team by encouraging your employees to support each other. This type of recognition can be as simple as allowing colleagues to post or share their recognition on the company’s intranet page, through email blasts, or during company or team meetings.

2) Make your program social

We live in a socially connected world and you can use this truth to your advantage by allowing managers and other employees to recognize their colleagues on company-wide forum, such as the ones mentioned above. This will help create a culture of recognition by allowing a quick, easy way for peers to recognize each other. Also consider making your recognition program accessible via cloud or mobile applications so that employees can engage with the program no matter where they are located.

3) Tie recognition to specific company goals or values

To ingrain employee recognition into your culture, reinforce your company goals or values by linking recognition with specific company strategies. This contributes to employees “buying into” the strategy of the employer, which can move employees and the company toward the same goals. Recognition can award such company values as volunteering time in the community, providing support to peers in other departments, taking stretch assignments or participating in company initiatives.

4) Use gamification to make employee recognition more engaging

Gamification is a hot trend right now that can make employee recognition fun and interactive. It allows your employees to engage with your employee recognition program by applying elements of game rules and design. Gamifying your employee recognition program could include allowing employees to earn points or badges as forms of recognition for doing a great job. At regular intervals – perhaps monthly – employees with the most points or badges can receive a larger reward. Another idea is to let employees exchange a certain amount of points or badges to purchase coveted rewards (such as gift cards, electronics or even a free day off).

5) Recognize employees for specific behaviors

To be effective, employee recognition shouldn’t be just a blanket acknowledgement, such as “thanks for doing a great job!” Focus on rewarding employees for performing in a specific manner, immediately when the situation arises. By focusing acknowledgement on positive behaviors that further the company’s strategic goals, your recognition program can help to reinforce the company’s mission and vision by encouraging specific behaviors from your employees.

Employee recognition programs are an increasingly important way for employers to increase employee engagement, reduce employee turnover and achieve business results. By applying these trends, employers can align employee performance with company strategy, make employees feel appreciated and increase the positive impacts they have on the business.

This communication is for informational purposes only; it is not legal, tax or accounting advice; and is not an offer to sell, buy or procure insurance.


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