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If your organization lacks a formal employee service recognition program, this might be the most opportune time to start one.

A growing number of businesses understand that, while it’s always good to recognize an employee’s years of service, other key growth-related reasons justify the creation of a formal, ongoing recognition program:  

This helps explain why formal programs — in contrast to spontaneous, informal recognition — are on the rise.

Today, employers typically spend 1 to 3 percent of payroll on employee service recognition programs, a significant commitment of resources.

What’s more, nearly 50 percent of employers report plans to invest in more employee service recognition shortly.

How to Make Recognition Count

Businesses that haven’t yet implemented an official employee service recognition program (as well as those with a fledgling program in place) can benefit from these expert tips:

  • Make recognition timely. Acknowledging an employee for his or her service to the organization is most effective (and most valued by that employee) if it takes place as close to the employee’s actual service anniversary as possible.
  • Recruit the involvement of a meaningful team leader. Rather than have an HR professional bestow the service honors, employees generally regard their direct supervisor as being a more “meaningful” leader to head the recognition process.
  • Offer reward choices. Previously, it was common for companies to offer a limited catalog selection of rewards as part of the employee service recognition program. Leading businesses today are opting for a broad online section of rewards. This approach helps ensure that honored employees get something they want. Thus, boosting the program’s overall effectiveness and purpose.
  • Reinforce your branding throughout the presentation. Officially presenting an honored employee with a reward is certainly commendable. Though incorporating and reinforcing your company’s brand as part of the process — by, for example, making use of your company’s logo and color scheme in gift items — generates a greater sense of camaraderie among employees, and a sense that each employee is part of something bigger.

In some circumstances, businesses embarking on a formal employee service recognition program might encounter pushback from their workforce. Employees may be skeptical about the program’s stated purpose or strategy.

Getting Employee Buy-in

The key to promoting engagement is by getting employees involved in the program’s planning and execution.

Put together a brief survey (make it anonymous if you feel that will boost the response) and ask for feedback about the program: how it should look, what the range of rewards should be, if performance, as well as years of service, should be considered, and other factors specific to your company’s culture.

As interest builds, think about establishing an employee service recognition committee made up of employees (and, perhaps, one or two supervisors or someone from HR).

The committee’s main purpose will be to evaluate different approaches to making the recognition program as meaningful as possible to employees.

As for the recognition events themselves, employees usually feel more excited if some element of entertainment is involved, such as a brief skit or creative video. Just as importantly, plan to hold the event during lunch hours, so employees don’t feel they’re being required to stay longer at work.

Employee service recognition has become a critical element in strategies involving employee recognition and retention. Businesses are increasingly coming to see that the most effective programs go beyond plaques and certificates.

They represent events that celebrate people, not years, and serve as milestones on a journey that employers and employees are taking together. 

Your Guide To Employee Service Recognition created by Point Recognition
Written By
Kelly Chesterson is Vice President of Operations for Point Recognition. Chesterson holds a Master of Business Administration degree from Baldwin-Wallace College and is a Certified Engagement Practitioner. She has worked in the reward and recognition industry for more than eight years.

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