Table of contents
  1. Benefits of Employee Recognition Programs
  2. Types Of Employee Recognition
  3. Building Your Employee Recognition Program
  4. Final thoughts

Every manager wants a team of employees that strive to do the best they can each day, but amid unprecedented economic trends—including the Great Resignation—it’s harder than ever to keep hold of them.

Employee recognition programs, however, are a useful tool to keep your workforce motivated and engaged. By formally recognizing the achievements and efforts of your team, you could see improvements in areas ranging from productivity to staff morale—and, in turn, reduced turnover. Read on to learn how to build an effective employee recognition program for your company.

Benefits of Employee Recognition Programs

A good employee recognition program will help you reduce turnover by making hard-working team members feel valued for their efforts. Additionally, recognizing your employees’ achievements will encourage them to stay engaged with tasks, ultimately benefiting productivity. 

When your employees feel their hard work is appreciated, their increased sense of job satisfaction means they are less likely to experience burnout. Programs that prioritize wellbeing can also lead to staff aligning more positively with the company’s values, ideals, and objectives. You may even find recruiting to be easier if your team generates some buzz with their peers about your company culture.

Types Of Employee Recognition

There are different ways to recognize employees who go above and beyond. The approach that’s right for you depends on your company culture and your management style.


A structured employee recognition program is a formal approach that relies on a specific system. Most often, it uses a predetermined metric to select an employee for recognition, such as a quota or other production goal. Types of structured programs include “employee of the month” awards or recognizing anniversaries with the company.


On the other hand, your company culture or management style may be more laid-back. An unstructured approach allows you to recognize employees on a more spontaneous basis, which may come across as more personal.

Unstructured employee recognition programs might simply be verbal, or they could include a tangible reward. Examples include commending an employee in a company-wide email or setting a production goal for the week with a bonus as a reward. 

However you decide to recognize your employees, don’t be afraid to use both structured and unstructured approaches. You can supplement formal programs with impromptu, informal recognition to keep your team excited.

Show Your Employees the Appreciation They Deserve!

With Connecteam’s all-in-one employee recognition & rewards tool, showing your appreciation becomes easy and fun.

Building Your Employee Recognition Program

When building an employee recognition program, it’s important to be organized and to make sure it’s easy to understand and implement. Otherwise, employees could be resistant to it or simply not pay it any attention.

The following is a step-by-step approach taking you from design to implementation.

Get Approval if Needed

Unless you’re the head of your company, you’ll almost certainly need to get approval for your employee recognition program. The bulk of this is proving that the program will benefit the company enough to be worth the cost of implementing it.

You’ll need to collect some data to convince management that your program will do more than just “make employees feel good.” Find the figures showing that certain areas, such as productivity, require improvement. Then, present them in conjunction with studies proving the effectiveness of employee recognition programs, making a case for how this initiative can help the company.

In addition, presenting a clear picture of success will make it easier to show what you hope to achieve with the program and to later demonstrate whether it has been effective.

Choose Rewards and Incentives

Different forms of recognition have different effects, so consider which specific rewards and incentives will work best for your team. For example, for a team that is under-producing, a material reward like a bonus or gift could be motivating. Alternatively, if you want your team to feel more of a sense of community, you might encourage peers to recognize each other verbally.

Some good options for rewards are:

  • Cash bonuses
  • Extra paid time off
  • Reserved parking spaces
  • Gift cards

Define Criteria for Employee Recognition

For your employee recognition program to work well, everyone needs to understand how their efforts are being measured. With structured programs, in particular, come up with a metric you can use to identify deserving employees. Determine what kinds of actions align with your company’s values and what levels of achievement will merit recognition. This is important so that praise doesn’t lose its value and, in turn, detract from the credibility of the whole program.

Note that the recognition criteria don’t necessarily have to be task-related. You might also consider celebrating personal milestones that make employees feel valued as individuals, like birthdays or years of service. This is particularly valuable where morale is low or employees aren’t unified as a team.

Budget for Your Program

While a pat on the back is nice for morale, an effective employee recognition program will have some money behind it. That said, there’s no need to spend a fortune on your program.

If you can’t afford to recognize employees with gifts or monetary incentives, you can limit these and focus on less tangible rewards. For example, you might recognize employees via email or social media instead. 

Listen to Employees

Your team can be a great resource for building your program. Getting input from your employees about potential rewards and incentives will give you an idea of how best to motivate them. Connecteam’s useful digital survey-taking options can help you easily take suggestions from your employees on how they would like to be recognized. 

Additionally, ensure there are equal opportunities to participate and that no one feels left out. When designing your program criteria, ask different departments for their input on how to make them universal. For example, a warehouse team won’t have much of a chance for recognition if the criteria are more appropriate to customer service or sales-based roles.

Download your FREE guide on “6 Pillars for Improving Frontline Employee Retention” ⤵

Effective Employee Recognition Program

Implement Your Program

This is the most critical step to making your program a success. All teams across the organization need to be aligned and engaging with the implementation of the program, as any inconsistency could damage morale. 

Be sure to announce the employee recognition program on your company’s communication platform before it launches, to create some excitement. Connecteam offers a helpful update tool in the app that allows you to do this. Make sure that everyone understands the rewards they might receive and what you’ll be looking for.

Analyze Results

Once you’ve had your employee recognition program in effect for a few months (or some other checkpoint that makes sense), analyze how well it’s working. How you define the success of your program depends on the goals you originally had in mind. 

To make your analysis, you might carry out a follow-up survey asking employees for feedback on the program. Additionally, you can look at hard numbers, such as productivity, sales, or customer ratings.

Make Improvements

Once you’ve received feedback and gathered some data, decide what needs tweaking with your program. If your employees give you suggestions you like, implement them. Continuing to announce changes and improvements to the program over time will also keep your team excited and invested in it.

Final thoughts

Studies show that employees become more engaged and motivated when their efforts are recognized. It’s more important than ever to promote a company culture of recognition if you want to keep your best workers and attract the best talent.

Following our step-by-step guide for building an employee recognition program will help boost your team’s morale and sense of alignment with your values and objectives—and ultimately increase your company’s productivity. 

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