Employee recognition program guide

The ultimate employee recognition playbook

Learn to assemble your team of champions, increase engagement, and measure the results

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Why is having an employee recognition program important?

A common reason that employees leave their jobs is due to lack of recognition. Millennials are needing immediate rewards for recognition and companies need platforms to support their employees.

Having an employee recognition program is a great way to inspire performance, increase productivity and build an amazing company culture. Not only does employee recognition keep your current employees engaged, but it also helps you attract the best candidates and retain your top talent.

65%of employees received NO recognition for good work
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42%of employees are unaware about their “service awards” programs
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31%lower turnover rates are seen in companies within the top 20% of recognition-rich culture
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14%of companies provide managers with the tools they need to create impactful cultures of recognition
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Make the case for employee recognition

You know why it is important to create an impactful culture of recognition at your company, but it's time to convince your executive team that investing in a culture of recognition can lead to significant company-wide growth.

Communicate how much you plan to invest in employee recognition and the projected return on investment. What is the estimated reduction in turnover? How much will productivity increase? Addressing these questions will help you convince the decision makers.

Access our ROI Calculator to help build your case for an employee recognition program.

Team of people writing notes together

Build a team of champions

You can't do this alone! You will need support from all levels of the organization to roll out a successful employee recognition program. Make a list of the key stakeholders in your company and how the program will affect them:

  • Leader: oversee program and results

  • Admin: operate the program

  • Manager: access to budget for sending rewards

  • Employee: receive rewards and nominate colleagues for rewards

  • Finance: manage financial reports (eg: expenses, taxable benefits)

You'll then want to reach out to a few people from each group to show them the benefits of the employee rewards and recognition program, learn about their concerns, and garner their support.

Smiling woman sitting with tablet

Find the right solution for your needs

To ensure you create a program that suits your needs, there are a few important things you need to consider.What's your budget? What kind of rewards do you want to offer? Is it better to opt for taxable rewards or non-taxable gifts? And most importantly, what kind of system should you use (milestone program, points-based system, flexible rewards).

To make your recognition program as effective as possible, we recommend you structure it around 5 key principles:

Simple process
Make it easy, so your employees are more inclined to participate and don't feel burdened by the program.
Instant recognition
Don't wait for performance reviews that are months away. Reinforce desired behaviours as soon as they happen, and reward results in real-time.
Flexible redemption
Every employee has different preferences. Offer rewards that are flexible so everyone gets something they want and value.
Inclusive for all employees
Give every employee the opportunity to participate in recognition. If some people feel left out, the employee recognition program can actually have a negative effect. If you're offering an online program, make sure there are offline options available.
Consistent celebration
Ad hoc programs don't work! Make sure your employees understand that the program is not a fad. Create a consistent employee reward and recognition program with longevity to ensure your employees will continue participating.
Co-workers dining together while discussing items on tablet

Set your goals

What outcomes do you want from your recognition program? Are you hoping to improve retention? Create a more engaged workforce? Reduce turnover? Better align your team around your core values and goals? The potential benefits of recognition are numerous. To ensure you get the outcomes you want, it’s best to start with specific goals in mind.

Woman presenting findings on a whiteboard to four peers

Launch your program

To make your employee recognition program a success, it's critical to have a successful launch. Make sure all stakeholders are aware of the program, its objectives, what is expected of them, and why their participation will be beneficial for them. Your program will not achieve the desired results if your employees are unsure how to participate.

Anticipate objections from each stakeholder (other leaders, managers, financial team etc.). Everyone will have different concerns about the employee recognition program, so be sure you have a solid response to each objection, and lean on your team of champions to communicate benefits.

Employees giving each other high-fives at a table

Measure the results

Finally, your employee rewards and recognition program must be measurable. To understand the effects of your program, you need a way to measure two main areas: program KPIs and organizational KPIs.

Measuring program KPIs will give you an overall sense of how successful your recognition program is, such as what percentage of your employees are participating, budget usage, and what behaviors your people are recognizing.

At a more macro level, you can measure KPIs based on specific organizational outcomes you would like to see, such as improvements in turnover rates, conversion rates (marketing), close rates (sales), productivity (e.g. rooms cleaned per hour), etc. Tracking these larger goals will give you a sense of how your recognition efforts are working to build a better culture in your company as a whole.

Before launching, make sure you have a plan on how to measure the effectiveness of your program, then tweak things over time to see what works best for your team.

Get started and scale-up

Making sure employees feel recognized for their efforts can increase employee engagement, productivity and retention. Still, only 14% of companies give managers the tools they need to reward their team members in a timely manner. Use the steps above to roll out an employee recognition program to set your company apart.

That said, you don't have to do everything at once. Too often we've seen companies paralyzed by endless strategy meetings that never actually do anything. Start by piloting a simple employee recognition program with a small group or department, then roll it out to the whole company once it's proven and working well. After a few months, try adding new components to the program. This is Agile HR!

If you're still looking for a bit of help with your program, feel free to reach out to our team anytime, recognition is what we do! Or, watch our video guide here, that walks through building a culture of recognition.

Woman presenting findings on a whiteboard to four peers

Take the next steps

The task of building a culture of recognition at your company can feel overwhelming. Maybe you have tried following the above steps and are starting to see some improvement in your company, but you are looking for your results to skyrocket to the next level.

Guusto is here to help implement all the key steps and set your program into motion with our simple, automated employee recognition platform that can be set up in seconds and is completely FREE to use.

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Start in minutes, not months