Strategies for Successful Employee Recognition Programs

by: Nichole Gunn August 30, 2011

In an article published by Inc.com, CEO of Leadership IQ Mark Murphy explained that business leaders who don’t pay attention to employee retention will be in for shocking turnover rates once employment opportunities burst open. The importance of running successful employee recognition programs becomes more and more imminent.

"Those are the companies that, as soon as the labor market picks back up, their turnover rates are going to go from 5 percent to 50 percent and it will happen overnight," advised Murphy.

This warning is in sync with a number of studies that reflect a growing dissatisfaction and weariness among employees. In fact, according to the Chicago Sun-Times, a survey by consulting company Mercer revealed that 33 percent of U.S. employees have serious doubts about staying with their present employers.

Another recent study published by Chief Executive magazine indicated that a whooping 96 percent of those in leadership positions would consider jumping ship if the opportunity arose. What’s interesting is that 43 percent of that group cited being currently satisfied with their employer and position.

While these statistics portray a dim outlook on talent retention, the International Association of Business Communicators reported that initiating meaningful and innovative employee rewards and recognition programs can help recession-battered businesses reduce turnover.

The recent edition of Communication World Bulletin, published by the International Association of Business Communicators, offers a number of tips employers can utilize to combat employee departures, as reported by the Sun-Times:

1. Companies must analyze and identify their business goals. Once this is accomplished they can design an employee recognition strategy that is in sync with those goals. As an example, one company may be targeting a balanced work and life environment, while another may be focusing on retention of the best talent. Having a focused objective will ensure the program designed will be successful.

2. Employee feedback is another must. Whether designing a new program or determining strategies to enhance a program already in place, employee feedback will prove a valuable guiding factor. Employers can conduct employee surveys or solicit ‘open floor’ input that will provide employees with the opportunity to offer suggestions and ideas on the rewards selection process and the preferred methods of acknowledgment.

3. Transparency is another important factor in effective recognition programs. Employers need to avoid having employees view the programs as “formalized favoritism." Providing clear-cut guidelines, along with the criteria used to select those acknowledged is essential; and this information needs to be publicized.

To provide a basis for including all employees, at all levels in the nomination process, managers and supervisors might be consulted. They may provide helpful decision-making contributions, or take over the nomination selection process altogether.

4. Once the program is up and running, monitoring what is working and what isn’t is crucial to the program’s success. Reward program employee feedback can be monitored in a number of ways: open door policy, to formal focus groups, to informal email surveys. Businesses need to analysis the data presented and tweak the program as needed. It’s also advisable to mix-it-up a bit in regard to program offerings; this will help keep programs ‘fresh’ and employee engagement and motivation up.


About Nichole Gunn