Long-term measures of a successful employee recognition programme

The body of research highlighting the cultural and bottom-line business performance impact that employee recognition programmes can deliver is growing, almost by the month, and so is the adoption of recognition platforms and rewards software by organisations all over the world.

By: Sinead Healy on

And whilst modern businesses are implementing recognition strategies as they understand the benefits they can have to build a positive culture of recognition, inclusion and shared purpose, business cases still have to be made, and measures of success agreed.

But without understanding which metrics your business wants to improve and setting in stone the cultural and behavioural factors that your recognition programme is being adopted to influence, it’s going to be a challenge assessing the real impact it has.

After all, you can’t improve what you don’t measure.

Creating initial benchmarks are vital before the implementation of any workplace initiative to really understand its influence and organisational reach. But once those benchmarks are in place, what measures can you adopt to analyse the long-term value of a recognition programme?

How can you calculate a return on recognition?

Programme engagement

One of the simplest and, from day one, most important metrics that programme admins and HR can assess is employee engagement with the programme.

Without the majority of the workforce getting involved on a near day-to-day basis with the initiative, it’s highly unlikely it will deliver the long-term, culture-changing benefits you are aiming for.

For online recognition programmes, measures such as employee log-in frequency, the number of recognitions sent and usage of reward schemes are all really basic but important metrics to begin to understand how employees are engaging with the programme.

Employee turnover

One of the reasons companies implement a recognition initiative is to reduce voluntary turnover, and it’s a key area in which organisations can measure and produce a true return-on-investment figure.

Replacing an employee can cost upwards of 4.5x the original salary and, especially in industries such as retail or hospitality where churn is high, it’s more likely than not that the number of employees handing in their notice will be a key factor in assessing the success of the programme.

Employee advocacy

Not all measures of recognition programme success are straightforward to quantify, and employee advocacy is one of them. But in terms of the value that a recognition initiative can deliver, it’s one of the most important.

With employer and consumer brands becoming more aligned, it’s vital for organisations to create an employer brand that both attracts potential talent and also doesn’t put off customers.

Read more: The power of employee recognition in 5 stats

Employee advocacy, in the way of positive reviews on Glassdoor, social media shoutouts and job referrals are all invaluable to businesses - but hard to create without really building an engaged workforce that takes pride in being part of the company.

Relationships with managers

Poor relationships with direct line managers are one of the main reasons why employees quit their jobs, and your exit interviews may indeed tell you as much within your own organisation.

Employee recognition programmes are fantastic at building rapport and trust between direct reports and people managers and strengthening inter-personal bonds.

When it comes to measuring the impact a recognition programme is having on this relationship, pulse surveys and exit interviews are great ways to begin to quantify the change in that dynamic - likely for the better.

Employee engagement

The holy grail of any recognition initiative is building long-term, widespread employee engagement throughout the workforce. For all the individual benefits that increased recognition and building a culture of appreciation can deliver, from lower turnover to higher innovation and teamwork, true engagement is what can deliver the biggest impact.

Yet, whilst studies have shown recognition to be the biggest driver of increased engagement, it’s something that’s hard to measure without directly asking employees in pulse surveys how motivated, driven and happy they are at work.

Read more on increasing long-term employee engagement here.