Employee Recognition- Not Just A Feel Good, But An Effective Business Tool

Most small to mid-sized businesses make the mistake of not implementing a well thought out employee recognition program. Managers think it’s just a “touchy feely” HR type thing and fail to recognize the high impact a well run recognition program can have.

Employees need to be noticed and told they are important contributors to the company’s success. Having a statement on your web site that says your employees are your most important asset is not enough. Business managers need to put their time and some small part of their resources toward recognizing those employees that stand above the crowd and should be held up as role models.

A recognition plan does not have to be complicated or time consuming but it should have two major components tailored to the culture, pace and general nature of your company. Those components are simply a short term/immediate way to recognize a particular employee, team action or behavior that merits recognition and a longer term more significant recognition that holds an employee up as an example of the vision or culture you are trying to embody in the company.

The short term recognition programs should be something that stands out as special, particularly noteworthy, innovative or above and beyond what you would expect. The award should be inexpensive, easy to administer, and recognizable to others. Things such as a badge, hat, certificate, etc. will due. Some companies couple the recognition icon with a small gift card or other minor monetary award. The point of this quick and easy recognition is to, “catch someone doing something right” and say a public thank you.

The longer-term recognition programs can be quarterly, semiannual or annual in nature. It should have specific guidelines that allow employees to be nominated for consistent, extraordinary behavior that exemplifies what you want your company to represent to customers, vendors, peers or all of the above. The award itself should be noteworthy. A dinner, trip, special in house recognition or other such awards are a few award examples. The award icon should be relatively permanent (plaque, trophy, picture) and should be something that all employees would seek.

Don’t neglect this important part of your day-to-day people management responsibility. Taking the time to say “thanks” and “well done” to your best employees will pay dividends across your entire organization.


  1. cna training says:

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  4. Drew Hawkins says:

    I really like your point that “employees coming first” requires more than a simple statement on a website. Taking time to appreciate the hard work employees do will make them feel more connected to their work and ultimately improve performance – ultimately helping the bottom line. Employee recognition is a small thing that makes a big difference.

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