By RedBalloon for Business

Building an employee recognition program for your business

Many business leaders know that rewarding and recognising their staff is an absolute must in the modern workplace, yet many aren’t sure about the best way to go about building an employee recognition program.

There’s no doubt that the new generation of employees expect more feedback and recognition than previous generations, and aren’t shy about advocating for increased communications from managers and leaders, and more recognition for the work they do.

In order to attract and keep the best talent, and foster a collaborative, communicative culture, leaders need to build a bulletproof recognition program that delivers rewards for both the employees and the business.

Here are some tips to ensure your reward and recognition program is the very best it can be:

Get your people involved from the very beginning

Instead of building a reward and recognition program then unleashing it on your surprised (and perhaps confused) staff, getting everyone involved in the developmental stages ensures that the program is matched to the needs of your people from the very beginning.

How does involvement help your employee recognition program?

Just the act of having input into the design has benefits as you’re already basing the program upon collaboration and communication by receiving valuable input on its design. Your business will also benefit from ending up with a program that actually meets the needs of the team, because it’s been based on the needs of the team from its genesis. Even getting input into the name of the program fosters a sense of ownership from the very beginning.

Build in recognition across all levels

Building a program that only allows managers to recognise their staff is reinforcing old-school ways of giving feedback and recognition (that you’re hopefully trying to move away from in favour of a program that delivers more). When building a program, ensure there is functionality for recognition across all people working within the business.

This includes cross departmental recognition, peer-to-peer recognition and recognition between everyone from new starters to senior leaders (and everyone in between). Because the old days of senior leaders or managers being the only ones capable of recognising team members is well and truly gone (thankfully!)

Include the missing link

A good recognition program should build a strong, recognisable link between rewards and company values. Making the moment of recognition about the act being recognised (and not the reward) reinforces the values, purpose and strategic priorities of the organisation. By focusing on the behaviour (and not the actual reward) employees will have a good understanding of how to live the company values each day, and what types of behaviour are rewarded.

This transparency encourages more peer-to-peer recognition and sets the tone for rewarding and recognising others in the future. It’s only natural that people get distracted by new toys and shiny things, but taking the focus away from the reward and shining a light on the behaviour is a savvy way to reinforce company values on a regular basis.

Get personal

It may seem obvious, but tailoring rewards to ensure they are appropriate for each individual staff member is a sure fire way to increase engagement within the program and drive performance. Everyone is motivated by different things and this is why it’s important to do your homework and know exactly what types of rewards drive people to achieve their best.

While you may be thrilled to receive a voucher for the city’s best steakhouse, would a vegan feel the same way? While one person may love nothing better than getting a gift certificate for driving a few hot laps in a V8 supercar, someone who doesn’t have a driver’s licence may not be so thrilled at the prospect.

This is why choosing a program that allows staff the autonomy to choose their own rewards is a real winner, because you know that you’ll be hitting a bullseye every time (and not allocating your precious rewards budget to a stack of expensive gifts that may not be appreciated, or even worse – resented).

Break it up

Rewards and recognition just don’t work as well when given once a year. Spreading rewards throughout the year is a smarter way of recognising and driving your people. It’s also a winner for motivation, as you can allocate more rewards towards strategic priorities, seasonal goals or important projects, and tailor rewards to different parts of the business.

The end of financial year is a key period for accounts departments, so stacking recognition around this key period is a good idea. Likewise, the IT department might be working on a lengthy website migration project, so scattering rewards and recognition throughout the project is a good way to keep people happy and motivated when working on a particularly challenging project.

On those days when there’s no project end in sight, and everything seems to be going wrong, it’s your rewards and recognition program that should provide a boost and motivate your people to work together to get the job done.


To get our bi-monthly Handpicked selection of blogs, ideas and stories for business success click here, and join us in the conversation on LinkedIn.

To find out more about how the RedBalloon for Business team can help you reward and recognise your people, contact us today.

Topics