How to Start an Employee Recognition Program: Overcoming Resource and Expertise Limitations

creating an employee recognition program

Since people are the major driving force behind every successful business, it comes as no surprise that employee recognition is the fuel that keeps it going. Properly implemented employee recognition programs have the transformative power to boost employees’ morale and efforts, as well as improve workplace engagement, productivity, and employee retention. However, constructing an effective employee recognition program might be a challenge, especially if you have limited resources and no relevant expertise. Fortunately, there are agencies you can rely on if you don’t want to make unnecessary expenditures and cannot afford the trial-and-error approach to creating a successful program. Professional guidance will help you create a customized program to match your company structure and employee profiles so that all the steps you take are carefully planned and targeted, and the outcomes are properly measured.

At this concept stage, you will appreciate expert guidance and professional insight into your business needs. You must first understand why you want to assign time, energy, and resources to create a successful employee recognition program. You may want to improve talent retention or boost the team spirit in your company. The ‘why’ of your program determines the ‘how’, or in other words, what methods and measures will be best to help you achieve your objectives.

The Benefits Of Employee Recognition

Successful employee recognition programs have a number of benefits: they drive excellence and engagement, reinforce company values, nurture trust and reduce employee turnover, increase customer loyalty and satisfaction, decrease stress and absenteeism at work, and – last but not least – deliver crucial data about the processes and operations of your business. It seems, therefore, you can gain a significant advantage by crafting and implementing a well-targeted program in your company, and making sure your staff is properly trained and prepared to make the most of it.

Program Objectives and Scope

If you want to start an employee recognition program, you need to consider the key success factors, namely: correct volume and reach, frequency, and value. A program is usually a system through which the achievements of your team are recognized and rewarded. It usually relies on points, which are collected and redeemed for specific rewards. Now, first, you need to make sure what you want to reward your team for: do you want to focus on onboarding recognition and offer a nice welcome package? Or maybe celebrate work anniversaries or other important milestones? Maybe you want to throw in a little extra for birthdays or Christmas, or go the extra mile and offer something for the employees’ kids as well?

Guidelines and Criteria

Once you know what you’re going to reward and how it’s time to get down to details. How will the employees bank the points? A typical employee recognition program runs for a year, and then the collected points expire. With an expert guide, like Brandscape, you can rest assured all the aspects and important milestones are included in your program plan before you actually implement it. You would normally start with an in-house survey to see what kind of recognition your employees would appreciate. Then you make sure the types of rewards are deliberate and can work for you in a number of ways: household equipment can make a perfect reward for your staff, but it hardly works for your company image because it’s never showcased outside the home environment. The situation is different with clothes or snacks used as company merch – featuring your company color scheme, these goodies can also work as an excellent promo tool and company image reinforcement.

Plan and Design an Effective Employee Recognition Program

To start an employee recognition program, you need to analyze how it will affect different types of employees. Engage your managers and study your company structure to consider remote and on-site employees, as well as front-desk and back-end staff. When the concept stage is done, it’s time to deal with the practical requirements and limitations.

Assess Available Resources and Expertise

Start with what you have. Who could be the champion in your organization for the cause? As a business owner or managing director, you will realize every successful enterprise needs a person responsible. It might be someone in charge of your HR department or one of the managers who has insight into your company structure and is close to the people. Since a successful employee recognition program is designed for the people, you need to start with the people – and management engagement is absolutely crucial for the success of your program. But while you can work on the engagement and enthusiasm on your own, expertise is something that is gained in the process. An expert guide like Teambrandscape will help you bridge the knowledge gaps.

Set a Realistic Budget

Data suggests that the best employee rewards and recognition programs need an expenditure of at least 1% of payroll to promote company culture and increase productivity. It might be the case that a business chooses to split its 1% between two or more sources, for example, real-life events, meetups, and integrative trips, and an online store where points can be redeemed for company merch. Products, such as branded apparel, snacks, or gadgets, usually have a higher perceived value than generic goods. And if you are hesitating about the cost of such goods, Brandscape offers a unique price-to-quality ratio, because it has experience delivering low-cost and timely delivery options. When ordering in bulk, you minimize the expense and can enjoy a good return on your investment.

Identify Suitable Recognition Methods and Tools

A handful of best practices will come in handy when you want to implement a successful employee recognition program. You have a range of tools to choose from, as we mentioned above, and when you’ve done your homework and analyzed your structure and objectives, you should be able to pick a few that will get you exactly where you want to be. Rewarding creates positive emotions which boost engagement and reinforce desired behavior. Words of appreciation are absolutely necessary, both as part of the so-called social recognition, coming from the manager or boss and as peer-to-peer acknowledgment – that’s why it’s good to have a system that enables various paths of expressing gratitude, so as to instill it in your company culture. Another tool for employee recognition is company swag – a tangible, prompt method of rewarding. This type of recognition is relatively easy to implement and manage. With accurate measurement, you can keep tabs on the effectiveness of the program and restock the products that proved the most popular.

Create a Recognition Program Timeline

The average time needed to implement a company swag store is between 4 and 6 weeks. Once established, the program can continue for an indefinite period, with periodic restocking. Regular reporting is the key to managing the effectiveness of the employee recognition program and introducing relevant tweaks when necessary. Brandscape provides HR admins with monthly reports to measure manager engagement, review high-point earners, and see the most popular items redeemed. The points usually expire after one year, which should be clearly communicated at the beginning of the program. Make sure it’s also crystal clear how the points can be obtained. It is vital to incite and then maintain enthusiasm about the program so that your employees believe they get the value they appreciate. Everyone loves branded merch – this makes it easy to maintain excitement by keeping the latest and greatest items for redemption on your catalog. The Brandscape team works with your HR team to keep the online swag store continually updated with new items for reward.

Implement Your Employee Rewards and Recognition Program

Ready? Steady! And go! Time to get this thing going. Once you’ve set the platform for your online swag store, make sure you attend to all the details before you actually launch it. You don’t want a random glitch to spoil the fun for your employees.

Communicate Program Details to Your Staff

Before you launch the program, organize an informational campaign for your staff, so they know what’s coming and why there are reasons to be happy about it. Highlight the benefits, explain how to collect points, and reinforce your message with an illustrative case study – it could be an example from another brand. Brandscape will help you out with their portfolio of completed projects. You may want to set up a special communication channel related to the employee recognition program and organize periodical appreciation events to ingrain the program in your corporate culture. At this stage, it’s crucial to make sure the managers are already deeply engaged. After all, they set an example to their teams and are responsible for expressing gratitude for their efforts. Branded merch is cool, but to make the most of it, you need to reinforce the message with words or gestures of appreciation – it doesn’t cost you a thing, and can make a world of difference.

Train Managers and Employees on Program Guidelines

At the planning stage, you will probably have appointed a person in charge of the program. The first responsibility of this champion will be to train the managers and the employees so that they can find their feet in the newly implemented program. You can rely on a survey, or organize a pilot stage, and use the relevant feedback to come up with a set of good practices or FAQs. The idea is to anticipate as many questions and issues as possible and prepare intuitive solutions in a single point of contact. A good idea is to come up with videos outlining the steps to create an account and bank points. All the training materials should be available on the platform as a go-to place for any answers and explanations.

Allocate Resources and Assign Responsibilities

As is usually the case, teamwork is dream work – as a business manager or project owner you will probably realize that no significant and complex project can be completed single-handedly. Even if your champion is the most knowledgeable and experienced person, he or she will need support. And the first line of support is your team of managers.

Engage Your Employees in the Recognition Program

When your employee recognition program is up and running, make sure everybody is well informed and involved in it. To do it, you need to highlight the benefits and make sure the rewards are attractive and visible. When done properly, branding will work miracles for your company image and boost the morale of your team.

Promote Employee Participation and Involvement

Brandscape has long-standing experience in maintaining engagement and excitement among employees through regular restocking and making the platform intuitive and user-friendly. On top of this, you can make an effort to include information about your employee recognition program in your company channels, such as Slack or Microsoft Teams. Another good idea is to include short reminder videos or communications to be broadcast on company TV screens. Repeating the information across channels is a surefire way of keeping the program at the top of people’s minds.

Encourage Peer-To-Peer Recognition

It might be a good idea to include a system functionality that allows for expressing recognition among peers. Employees can be encouraged to award points to one another and top it up with a published message of appreciation, displayed in company channels. Praise works miracles, as you’re going to discover, and sharing positive remarks could be instilled in your company culture, especially since feedback is sometimes associated with criticism. An employee recognition program is a perfect opportunity to change this way of thinking.

Provide Regular Feedback and Recognition

To be sure the program is heading in the right direction, remember to organize regular feedback surveys. Ask the users to express their opinion on such aspects as ease of use, timeliness of reward, communication, and value. Based on the information received, you can tweak the program and modify the stock depending on what your staff deem valuable.

Also, in order to be effective, recognition needs to be expressed at relevant intervals – if it’s too often, it becomes less cherished, and if it’s too seldom – your employees are likely to forget about the program or dismiss it as beyond their reach.

Conclusion: Company Store – Improves Retention, Recruitment, and Culture

A well-designed company swag store is a great asset if you want to position yourself as an employer of choice. With a properly managed employee recognition program, you will boost employee morale, improve performance and retain talent, and on top of this, you will improve your brand image among customers, too. The benefits are, therefore, internal as well as external. If you’re looking for a cost-effective, intuitive, and user-friendly solution to help you implement a successful employee recognition program, Brandscape is here to help you with a range of tried and tested ideas, and an end-to-end process customized to suit the needs of any company. 

You can focus on developing your core business and let experts do their thing. With long-standing experience, a network of valuable contacts, and an impressive portfolio of satisfied customers, Brandscape offers low-cost international shipping options and a constant stream of automated program communication, so that you don’t have to worry about handling user questions at the beginning of the program. Make the most of the order tracking and reporting options to make sure your program is managed to the best of your abilities, and rest assured your employee recognition program is optimized to suit your individual needs.