10 JAN, 2017

How to Revitalize an Outdated Recognition Program

computer with cobwebs old employee recognition program

Maybe you have an established recognition program, but in recent months, you’ve noticed there’s not a lot of employee appreciation around your organization. Rather than embark on a journey of finding and implementing new employee recognition ideas, you want to find ways to utilize what you already have in place.

We agree—you don’t need to recreate the recognition wheel. But if you want the results that appreciating employees delivers, you need to evaluate the issues and find ways to enhance the program to ensure people feel valued for the contributions they make.

Analyze results, look at adoption rates, and see how you can improve the ways in which you are administering, aligning, and refining your recognition program.

How can we get employees excited about our recognition program again?

The main reason why managers don’t use recognition programs and tools is that “they aren’t sure how to do it well,” according to doctoral research by Dr. Bob Nelson, the author of 1001 Ways to Reward Employees.

If you’re looking for ways to get employees and managers excited about your program, make sure they are aware of the value the program provides, have access to the tools, and are confident about how to recognize others. To support and encourage the use of the program:

  • Provide training about the how recognition directly relates to engagement
  • Stock all recognition materials in a central, easy-to-access location
  • Offer job aids that demonstrate how to present recognition
  • Debunk these common misconceptions about recognition, if they exist within your organization

How do we re-align with corporate objectives as they change?

“Recognition programs are most successful when they are aligned with the organization’s mission, vision, values, and goals. Employees can tell if there is—or is not—a clear connection between what management says is important and what is actually rewarded at work.”
Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM)

Companies change direction occasionally—sometimes they change frequently! As the experts at SHRM mention, for recognition to be a vital part of your organization it’s imperative that the program is consistent with your company’s vision, values, and goals. Keep your program in alignment with corporate objectives.

  • If you have a big organizational shift, update the program to reflect the changes (e.g., a new values statement, tagline, or reward).
  • If you have an organization that is always changing – develop a program that’s adaptable, is based on broad concepts, and won’t become outdated as soon as it’s launched.

How can you refine a system that is already in place?

“Recognition satisfies people’s higher-level need to feel valued, appreciated, and part of a team. Recognition done well is frequent, specific, and peer-based. Our research shows that companies with high recognition cultures have as much as 30 percent lower voluntary attrition rates.”
Bersin by Deloitte

In a nutshell: recognition is a way of communicating to your employees that they are valued. If someone is to feel appreciated by recognition, the methods you use must be contemporary, timely, and presented in a way that is motivating to the employee. The bones of your program might meet the needs, but, to refine an existing system, consider modernizing the aesthetic appeal of your program:

  • Use appealing, updated materials that reflect a modern program
  • Review communication methods—is your program maximizing social channels?

The best recognition programs are accessible, reflect your company values, and build engagement through effective marketing of your organization’s desire to express gratitude. Instead of throwing out your program, focus on how you can modify what you have to convey the message, promote program use, and inspire a culture of recognition within your organization.

Is your recognition program failing? Download our e-book, Has Your Recognition Program Grown Cobwebs?, to find out more about the areas that could be causing your recognition program to fail and things that you can do to bring the program back to its original glory.


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