5 things a modern employee recognition programme should include

Employee recognition initiatives come in all shapes and sizes, ranging from nominations and company awards through to rewards and years of service.

By: Paul Heaton on

Yet the advent of online recognition platforms has gone some way to help unify different initiatives into one all-singing, integrated and powerful programme experience for both employees and employer.

However, when it comes to designing the architecture of a modern recognition programme, not all approaches are equal, and some critical factors which can make or break the overall success of the initiative are more often left out than utilised.

For example, despite research and case studies showing how a peer-to-peer element can supercharge engagement in a recognition platform, only half of companies that currently have recognition initiatives in place say they incorporate a peer-to-peer component.

So, what are some of the key factors that you should include in your programme? Here are five things that a modern employee recognition programme should include:

An online platform

The most successful modern employee recognition programmes harness the power of digital to increase accessibility and platform activity.

Whereas many recognition initiatives in the past have relied on manual processes, online platforms make recognition fast to give and rewards quick to redeem.

Ensuring mobile access also means that employees not tied to a desk, and sometimes without even a company email address such as in retail or staff on manufacturing floors, can still enjoy the same experience and benefits as in-office workers.

Peer-to-peer experience

Less paper nominations and thank you notes, more instant gratitude that’s timely and visible to all.

Peer-to-peer recognition programmes offer some of the highest engagement levels in any recognition initiative with employees empowered to share their own voice and show gratitude to their colleagues any time, any place and whenever great things happen.

The increased ownership and activity that comes from a peer-led strategy creates positive feedback loops that contribute to continued engagement in the programme, removing the burden on managers and HR to continually champion and promote the platform in use.

An integrated conversation

Old-hat recognition initiatives were sometimes a little shrouded in mystery, not at all transparent and, whilst billions of dollars are spent on recognition and reward initiatives annually, a large majority of employees do report that they don’t actually think their company offers a recognition initiative at all.

The reason for this is often a lack of integration with the day-to-day conversation of the workplace. Instead, initiatives can become stand-alone with separate logins, access points and no reminders into email channels or communication tools that activity has taken place.

Modern employee recognition programmes integrate with all the critical touchpoints that employees encounter every day, keeping the platform in front of mind and helping a culture of appreciation grow.

Recognition based on values

How many of your employees (or even people leaders) could confidently stand up and recite what the values of the organisation are?

The answer is likely very few and this presents a number of issues for businesses ranging from corporate misalignment to lack of shared purpose and goals.

Some of the most successful modern recognition initiatives are grounded on the company values that the organisation wants all its employees to embody and the behaviours it wants to see replicated in its workforce. This gives extra meaning behind the giving of a recognition and reinforces the action or behaviour which warranted the showing of appreciation to be replicated time and time again.

Instant, meaningful rewards experience

Redeeming a reward gained for going the extra mile or showing exemplary performance should be an easy and instant experience. However, this is often not the case in non-digital reward initiatives where a single catalogue may be available to choose something from with additional fulfilment time being required to make it happen.

Modern reward platforms create a far more meaningful experience for employees as they offer more choice. Instead of deciding between a watch or company swag, staff have access to literally thousands of gift cards, digital vouchers, experiences, discounts and even time and activity perks.

The extra choice means employees can choose something that’s really meaningful to them, enhancing the emotional and motivational impact of the investment the company has made in a rewards programme.

Appreciation matters

Showing appreciation is key for the modern workforce who, unlike previous working generations, value progression, recognition and mission above salary and security. However, it’s something that many organisations still fail to grasp, and it’s a lack of appreciation that’s one of the key reasons why three-quarters of employees consider quitting their jobs.

Read more about how appreciation and turnover are linked and what companies can do to fix it here.