10 Must-Dos For A Successful Employee Recognition Program

RedBalloon For Business

Launching and maintaining a successful employee recognition program is no easy feat. To set your employee recognition program up for success, we have compiled a list of tried and tested ideas that our clients have used to build momentum, excitement and awareness around their employee recognition program, and to ensure its success!

5 simple steps for launching an employee recognition program

Start with the basics

First, it’s best to create a basis for your employee recognition program with a name and visuals.

Run a program-naming competition and get employees to workshop a name that reflects the character of your organisation. You can use self-nomination awards in RedBalloon for Business’s REDii platform as a submission tool (and the name that’s selected receives points), or get groups to workshop ideas and vote for their favourite names.

Then, it’s time to get visual.

Encourage your team members to design a logo or banner to appear in your program. Imagine logging in to RedBalloon for Business’s REDii platform for the first time and seeing your logo design brought to life!

You can also use this opportunity to print visuals like posters, manager and employee guides, wallet cards, or recognition tool-kits that complement your employee recognition program and serve as a visual reminder of your company values. 

2. Determine the specifics before launching

Let people know what you’re developing, and how it’s going to make their work life even better! Inform your organisation of your employee recognition program and make sure team leaders know what they need to do, and how to use it.

Then, communicate the launch of the program in an exciting way, whether it be at a Monthly Company Meeting or at a special recognition afternoon tea. The CEO or MD should announce it to show how seriously the business is taking this new initiative.

3. Give employees something to work towards

RedBalloon for Business’s REDii platform has an online wish list so employees can mark the rewards they really want to redeem their points for – whether that’s a gift card, a romantic dinner for two, an indulgent spa treatment or a new TV. Encourage people to write up their wish lists in their cubicle or next to their desk so that everyone can see what the other is playing for, and can help each other get there by recognising them with points when good work is done!

4. Share success stories

Invite employees to submit stories of moments they’ve been recognised in the past and publish them on a notice board. Ask them to write about the specific task they accomplished and why being recognised by their team lead, project manager or colleague made such a difference to their morale.

5. Train your people to be recognition ambassadors

One aspect of cultural change that many businesses overlook is the importance of getting the support from what John Kotter calls ‘the coalition of the willing’.

Finding willing individuals who will support your employee recognition program is critical. To help you achieve this, train at least one volunteer from each department in your organisation on how to use your employee recognition software.

Make sure they all have a go at using your employee recognition platform to recognise their peers in different ways. Check out our REDii platform which allows employees to send thank you notes, reward each other with points, and nominate each other for awards.

Now that you’ve got an employee recognition program launched, here are 5 simple steps for maintaining it.

While it may take a while for your employee recognition program to gain traction, there are a number of things you can do in the meantime so that the program can stay front of mind.

1. Run company competitions

Competitions are a fun way to encourage people to participate in an employee recognition program. Whether it be fitness, charity or performance based, it’s sure to gain great engagement. Reward your daily winners and overall champions with RedBalloon for Business 

2. Set achievable goals

Have teams and individuals set recognition goals. It’s not an exact science, but eight recognitions seems to be the magic figure in seeing behavioural change from employees and achieving positive commercial outcomes.

3. Communicate, communicate, communicate

Frequent communications (face-to-face, company communications or through the program itself) are at the heart of ensuring your program is fully adopted and delivers the engagement and productivity outcomes you expect.

Include regular updates in communications for award winners, competition results, and recognition stories of RedBalloon experiences that team members have already participated in.

4. Rally support

Be sure to centrally track your rewards and recognitions. If you have a RedBalloon Business Account, all purchasing data will be easily stored and able to be reported upon. As program administrator, you can then use reporting to share insights with your Leadership Team.

Are people talking? Managers need to make it their responsibility to take time in the morning huddle or weekly meeting to ask if anyone has received/given recognition or participated in an amazing experience.

5. Bring your program to life

Support your program with posters, postcards and even a Winners Wall to make progress visible and bring recognition to life in your office. One of our RedBalloon for Business clients displays monthly awards on a dedicated wall, while the CEO of another client reads out all the nominations at the company meeting and gives out a gold Oscar statue to the winner. There are so many ways to publicly recognise your people, imagination is the only inhibitor.


Q: How do you create an employee recognition program?

A: Here are the fundamental steps in creating an employee recognition program;

  1. Name and design the program
  2. Communicate with the company the how’s and why’s of your employee recognition program
  3. Launch the program
  4. Encourage employees to familiarise themselves with the program through wish lists
  5. Share success stories linked to your program and
  6. Train employees to be ambassadors for your recognition program

Q: What is the purpose of a recognition program?

A: Employee recognition programs aim to increase productivity, motivation and talent retention, while creating a workplace that thrives off peer-to-peer recognition and gratitude.

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

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