HR Tip of the Week

Posted on  |  Performance management, Employee benefits

Don't Overlook This Low-Cost Perk That Packs a Big Punch

Coworkers celebrating female colleague's achievement

Pay isn't the only driver of job satisfaction for employees, and in some cases, may not even be the most important one. Employees want to be recognized and appreciated for their efforts at work. As a result, many employers have established recognition programs through which supervisors and co-workers can share positive feedback for a job well done. To help you get the most of your employee recognition program, here are some keys to developing and implementing one.

Identify the behaviors you want to promote.

Develop a list of key behaviors you want to recognize and encourage through your program. While recognizing top performance is important, also think about other behaviors you want to reinforce. For instance, you can recognize employees who submit suggestions for improving workplace safety or employees who volunteer to help co-workers with difficult projects. You can tailor your list for different roles depending on the job duties.

Develop a well-rounded program.

Effective recognition can come from the employer, a manager, fellow employees, and customers and can be given publicly or privately. Public recognition may involve presenting a certificate of achievement during a companywide meeting, whereas private recognition may involve a handwritten letter thanking an employee for their contributions. Keep in mind not all employees want public recognition. When developing and implementing your program, understand what type of recognition motivates each employee so you can provide recognition accordingly.

Be specific.

Regardless of whether recognition is given publicly or privately, be specific about why the employee is being recognized. For instance, instead of just saying "good job on that project," be specific about what you appreciated about their effort. For instance, "You took ownership of the project from the beginning and corrected a problem that saved the company time and money. Thank you for your dedication."

Train managers and employees.

Provide managers and employees with training on how to give effective recognition, the criteria they should use for deciding when to provide recognition, and how frequently they should give praise. Consider role playing to help ensure that they are providing positive feedback that is both emphatic and sincere.

Be consistent.

Typically, the best programs provide recognition frequently, but you also don’t want your program to get watered down. So, make sure you are applying the criteria for earning recognition consistently in that every employee who receives recognition should have earned it and every employee that meets the criteria for recognition should be acknowledged.

Consider rewards.

Some employers use rewards along with their recognition programs. For example, an employee might earn recognition points that they can eventually exchange for a reward. Rewards can be monetary (gift cards) or non-monetary (privileges like parking in a special spot).

Review your program regularly.

Review your employee recognition program on a regular basis to make sure it is serving your business needs. For example, analyze whether there have been any changes to the amount of recognition sent, whether identified behaviors are being recognized consistently, and any impact on employee turnover, morale, and productivity.


Recognition is a simple, low-cost way for employers to motivate employees by showing appreciation for a job well done. The positive feedback helps demonstrate that the employee's contributions are valued by the employer and that the employer wishes for the efforts to continue. Recognition may also motivate co-workers to emulate the rewarded behavior.



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