Why Bother With Recognition Programs

Aug 2, 2016 | Proforma Si Blog | 0 comments

81 / 100

It just makes sense, because acknowledging employee successes – even their efforts – fosters employee engagement. Having recognition programs pays off for everyone.

As we’ve discussed in the past, employee engagement comes about slowly. It’s built over time through a variety of factors in the working environment. And why wouldn’t you want highly engaged and committed workers in your company?  When employees are not engaged, productivity takes a hit, valuable resources are wasted, retention is low and the overall working environment risks becoming toxic.

Recognition Programs – First, Find Out What They Want

So, as a manager, the challenge is to crack the motivational code that tells you what workers are looking for and what inspires them.

In one of the most comprehensive and convincing studies of what employees value most – using opinions from 200,000 people around the world – the Boston Consulting Group found the greatest influencer of job happiness was being appreciated! That same study found that pure compensation (the cash factor) alone wasn’t enough to retain employees and improve morale.

So when you’re thinking of employee engagement ideas, pay alone isn’t going to do it. You’ll need to consistently, and systematically recognize employees for their contributions. Using a reward and recognition program is an ideal way to do that. Plus, because it supports employee engagement, it pays off in other ways too. Here are some of them.

1.    It Can Further Corporate Objectives

You probably encourage your employees to contribute to improved efficiency, better customer service, stream-lined processes or mentoring others. But your compensation model is likely structured around time, or sales targets (salary, overtime, commissions, etc.). What’s in it for the employee who presents a game-changing idea or suggestion that turns around a team’s efficiency? If you can identify behaviors that are important to your company, you can structure a rewards and recognition program that contributes to overall objectives.

A customized rewards program allows you not only to acknowledge employees and incentivize them, but to continue stepping up your operations, improving outcomes and chasing goals you’ve declared. When recognition is tied directly to performance – performance that feeds overall corporate objectives (and is understood well by employees) – then everyone wins.

2.    Focusing On the Individual Can Actually Help the Team

Today’s workplaces are often team-based. The work world is all about collaboration. 

Study findings suggest it’s possible to recognize top performers and still boost team performance. It’s what HBR calls the recognition spillover effect” because recognizing a single team member seems to have a positive and contagious effect on other members in the team.

What they found, in lab experiments of 24 teams and 40 teams (and another field experiment of 52 manufacturing teams) was that formally recognizing a team member leads to positive changes in individual and collective performance.

The expression “two birds with one stone” comes to mind here. The bottom line is that when companies make use of formal, social recognition programs, it has the potential to deliver a motivational effect beyond just the individual. As HBR sums it up:

The bottom line is, get out there and recognize the top performers on all your teams. Everyone will benefit.


3.      It’s an Opportunity to Reward the Smaller Things

If it’s not just about the pay, then organizations need to do a better job recognizing employee contributions in other ways. This is the ticket to creating a more engaging environment. Big results start – oddly enough – with a focus on the little things.

If you think outside the compensation “box” then it’s an opportunity to attend to every contribution – even the small ones. And you won’t leave anyone out, particularly those quiet contributors who work diligently, and consistently, but traditionally receive no added attention or ‘compensation’ for their efforts.

It’s a bit idealistic – unrealistic even – to imagine you can “catch” employees doing things right, without having some structure around it. So, what’s even better is a rewards and recognition program that allows for peer-to-peer recognition, which hands over some of the control to workers who are often in a better position to see the gears turning on a daily basis.

A rewards and recognition program can express appreciation for those things you’ve hired your staff to do. ALL the things you’ve asked them to do, not just to show up and put in time.

4.    The Payoff is More than the Cost

In 2008, Calgary-based Canadian Pacific (CP) revamped its rewards and recognition program to be behaviour-based, with a system that uses bronze, silver and gold recognition cards. Recognition is immediate; managers can reward staff as soon as they see a positive behaviour. Their motivation was to “catch people doing things right” – the everyday things that make a huge difference. CP’s rewards range from logo hats or backpacks to luggage or furniture at the highest level.

And the feature nobody expected? In the first year of the program, the number of awards doubled, but the cost of running the program dropped by 12 per cent over the previous system.

5.    It’s Another Source of Feedback

Employees expect some sort of feedback, to know whether they’re doing good, bad or average. Typically, that feedback is structured around an annual review. The trend is towards more feedback, more often. A year is a long time to wait!

When an employee is recognized more frequently, it helps confirm they’re on the right track, and it can be energizing. Regular feedback helps an employee see how their small part contributes to the bigger one. And that builds employee engagement.

Just by using a program for rewards and recognition, you, the manager, become more tuned in to what workers are doing. You’ll be watching for it. It amps-up your awareness of all dimensions of your operations: Who did what, and where did it make a difference?

The Bottom Line

It’s interesting that a rewards and recognition program – something is geared towards acknowledging employee contributions – can, in itself, make a contribution….to employee engagement, to your business, and ultimately to your success.

What’s Next?

Learn more about ProformaSI and our Rewards and Recognition Programs which enhance employee engagement and drive business results.  We deliver marketing programs via Online Company Stores.  Increase efficiency, maintain control and cut costs.  The best part is that you set it and forget it.  

Looking for employee engagement ideas?  

Download our free ebook ’21 Ways to Increase Employee Engagement – without hurting the bottom line.

21 ways to boost emplyee engagement 


BCG Perspectives: Decoding Global Talent. Job Preferences: The Growing Importance of “Softer” Factors. (n.d.) Retrieved from: https://www.bcgperspectives.com/content/articles/human_resources_leadership_decoding_global_talent/?chapter=5

Kirkman, Li, Zheng, Harris, Liu (March 2016), Teamwork Works Best When Top Performers Are Rewarded. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved from: https://hbr.org/2016/03/teamwork-works-best-when-top-performers-are-rewarded

Schofield, John. (n.d.) Reinforcing The Little Things Pays Off Big for Employees and Employers Alike: Behaviour-Based Recognition. Retrieved from: http://ignitemag.ca/corporate_gifts/behaviour-based_recognition_programs

The Best Ways to Reward Employees – Having an effective reward program in place can help solve many of your HR issues. (n.d.) Retrieved from: https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/75340

I would like to learn more!  

[caldera_form id=”CF5f32b09bd8cd8″]


Blog Categories

Gain Access To Free Resources:

Blog Form

Connect With Us:

Related Blog Articles