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First steps in developing your recognition program

By December 16, 2012 May 6th, 2020 No Comments


There is no doubt that recognising employees for ‘going the extra mile’ can lead to increased feelings of satisfaction and loyalty. Everyone likes a nice pat on the back and there’s nothing better than your boss recognising your efforts, even with a comment such as ‘thank you for a great job’.

But while employee recognition programs can inspire teams, many managers bypass them altogether in favour of focusing on the day-to-day operations. For some reason, these managers seem to believe that recognition programs are complex to implement, expensive to operate and do not deliver a return on investment.

This is far from true. Great employee recognition programs have been proven to add real value to the business.

So how do you begin to implement a great recognition program? Here are a few first steps to consider:

Step 1. Clearly define your objective

It is important to understand what you are looking to achieve. Do you want to inspire and motivate your employees to reduce staff turnover, increase sales, improve quality of customer service or increase productivity?

Whatever part of your business you want to improve, define what ‘excellent behaviour’ would look like in the chosen area.  Quantify those behaviours and how to recognise them so that you can measure the value of those behaviours on your business. This will allow you to measure your return on investment.

Step 2: Involve you staff

Employees are all different. Some will find it inspiring when they are recognised publicly while others may prefer a more private pat on the back. It is important to sit down with employees to find out how they prefer to be recognised and what rewards would inspire and motivate them.   

If a staff member likes to be recognised for learning a new skill, consider offering educational courses and certificates of competence. If another would like to receive recognition from immediate colleagues, consider implementing peer-to-peer recognition.

Involving staff in the planning, design and implementation of a recognition program will ensure their buy in. To obtain early buy in, consider running a competition to name the program and tag line, and reward the winning suggestion. This will get your program off to a positive start.  

Step 3: Develop measurement criteria

The key to a great recognition program is to have meaningful criteria for recognition—it shouldn’t be an arbitrary pick or favouritism. Transparency and consistency of recognition of behaviours are vital to the success of your recognition program. Everyone should be able to see why someone has been recognised, and the criteria they have been measured against.

Aligning behaviours to corporate visions and values is a great place to start. There are many criteria that can be considered, but start by keeping it simple, and expand as you see the positive results coming through.

Step 4. Monitor, review and refine.

A great recognition program will evolve as you see improved behaviours leading to business improvement.

Constantly measure your success, and change criteria and rewards on a regular basis. Updates to your criteria, to take your staff to the next level of performance should be reflected by the rewards offered as you climb the ladder of excellence.

If you can measure the improvement that your recognition program is delivering then you can determine the rewards that will continue to inspire your staff.

At Brownie Points we help our clients to deliver real business value through recognition. To discuss your plans or ideas, call the team on 03 9909 7411 or email us at

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