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10 Ways to Revitalize Your Employee Recognition Program

One of the greatest challenges any recognition program faces is maintaining momentum after the newness of the program wears off. It’s typical for a recognition program to start off strong, with lots of employee participation and support, and slowly fade into obscurity.

Maintaining a recognition program takes effort and constant monitoring. In fact, a best practice for recognition programs is change and flexibility. As the architect or caregiver of your organization’s recognition program, you need to be frequently reviewing your program and making the necessary tweaks and adjustments to keep it running like a well oiled machine.

However, sometimes your team just needs a friendly reminder or a little incentive to get the ball rolling again. That’s why we’re giving you these ten ways to revitalize your recognition program. We recommend you work through these ideas in numerical order as the ideas at the end of the list are slightly more intensive.

1. Package Your Recognition Program
Think about how your organization sells its product. What’s one of the most important aspects? The packaging!

Your recognition program is no different. It needs a name, theme, and identity. Your program’s identity can be a great rallying point for employees. Use program graphics on cards, updates, internal company communications, newsletters, and award certificates, and as a logo on awards. As you look to give your program a boost, ask yourself, how have I been communicating about our recognition program? Take some time to review your communication techniques. Do you need to make any adjustments to be more effective?

2. Remind Your Team

Once you’ve reviewed your recognition program communication – and possibly given it a slight revamp – give your team a friendly reminder. Write an article for your company newsletter or post it on your intranet letting employees know how to recognize, what to recognize, and why. Talk about the recognition program during a staff meeting. Send an email blast to the entire team asking them, have you recognized someone lately?

It’s important to let managers and employees know that your recognition program is an important part of the culture at your organization, and you expect them all to participate. Hold them accountable with frequent reminders. If your managers are the leaders of your recognition program, add an agenda item to their one-on-one meetings about the recognition they’ve been doing.

3. Recognize Program Champions
Recognize your active program users in a public setting. During a staff or company meeting, put the spotlight on the employees who have given and received the most recognition. Award them a award certificate and a small gift to commemorate their accomplishment.

By recognizing individuals who actively participate in the recognition program, you send a message to the rest of the team that recognition is important in your organization. It lets them know that if they want to be recognized, they need to give recognition, too. Plus, this is a great way to reward those employees who have been dedicated to keeping the program going strong!

4. Add New Rewards
Add new rewards and gifts to your program to recapture employee interest. Adding a few new options may be what it takes to spark new life into your program! Keep up with popular gift trends and the time of year for new reward ideas. In the fall, you may want to offer football tickets as a special reward while in the summer you may offer a special boat trip.

At Grace Haven Assisted Living, the site of our employee recognition case study, the employees participate in an Attendance Award program. They earn Tokens of Appreciation for perfect attendance each pay period. If they collect enough tokens, they can redeem them for prizes. The employees suggested changing the prizes on a regular basis, which is a great way to keep them excited about the program.

5. Have a Program Mascot
Generate and maintain excitement for your program by enlisting a mascot to represent the program. One of our peer-to-peer recognition programs is centered on Spot the dog since the program is all about spot recognition. Spot himself serves as the mascot, and our team has had fun with him by sending him on trips with employees and posting the pictures. Employees snap pictures of Spot in front of the Coliseum in Rome, Spot at the Louvre, even Spot in Texas! Create your own mascot and enjoy watching him travel through the company and beyond.

6. Create a Team Incentive
Motivate employees to be more active in your recognition program by setting a goal. Describe the award for hitting the goal, like a casual day, a special snack, or free lunch. Share the prize with employees ahead of time to inspire them to strive for the goal. Setting a goal and an incentive is a great way to get employees energized about your program.

One Baudville customer keeps employees excited about the program by adding new opportunities to earn prizes. For example, employees who volunteer to take an extra shift earn a ticket in a drawing. At the end of the month, they draw two winners of a $50 Visa gift card.

7. Make Recognition More Accessible
Is your recognition program easy for employees and managers to use? Walk through the process of giving recognition in your program. How easy or difficult is it? Can everyone use it? If you don’t have a peer-to-peer recognition program in place, you should make recognition more accessible to everyone in your organization.

Create an area in your workplace where you keep a supply of poster paper, streamers, magic markers, masking tape, balloons, etc. Or place a Caboodle, which comes with 120 recognition notes and small gifts, in a central location. Encourage people to make use of the area to create spontaneous recognition for their peers. Make sure everyone knows it is all right to take some time to celebrate together and that the materials are available to everyone for recognition-related activities.

8. Choose a New Recognition Theme
Change things up in your program by choosing a new recognition theme. Perhaps you’ve been using the same Essential Piece bulletin board for the past three years or your program has been called “Making a Difference” for as long as anyone can remember. Baudville launches new themes throughout the year, so keep your eyes open for one that fits your company’s values, identity, and culture. 

9. Survey Employees
If you’ve tried these boost your program ideas and haven’t seen any change in employee participation or excitement levels, you may need to take a different approach and survey your team. Ask your employees what would generate more interest in the recognition program, what kinds of rewards they prefer, and suggestions for improvements. Through this process you may discover that your recognition program is in need of a more serious revamp.

Once you get to the heart of why employees have lost interest, it’s very important that you respond to employees and let them know how you are using their feedback. If you ignore their suggestions and fail to implement changes, they’ll lose faith in the program and you.

10. Create a New Recognition Program
At the end of the day, your team may simply be ready for a new recognition program. Conduct a brief review and find out how long your recognition program has been in place and what employees like and dislike about it. Then get a team involved in creating a new program! Baudville has resources available in our Recognition Resource Center to help you create a new recognition program like our case study, newsletters, and recognition eBooks, or call us to discuss your program needs.