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3 Steps to Building an Employee Recognition Strategy

April 4, 2019

Developing a culture of recognition in which employees are genuinely acknowledged for their contributions, is more important than ever to maintain productivity, profitability, and retention of key employees. Employers can gain the edge over competition by establishing a culture of employee recognition that engages employees early on and throughout their careers.

In order to develop a culture of recognition, it’s important to establish a clear recognition strategy. The strategy must take into account – and be aligned with – the overall business strategy. What employee behaviours and contributions help the business succeed at its mission. Those are the things to proactively communicate and recognise.

Gaining the support and participation of business leaders and managers is also an important step in developing an employee recognition initiative. Some managers are more comfortable than others at giving recognition. The good news is that recognition is teachable, and anyone can improve.
Effective recognition strategies address all 3 tiers of recognition:

  • Day-to-day recognition
  • Informal recognition
  • Formal recognition

Let’s look a little closer at what’s involved in each of the types of recognition.

Day-to-day recognition – is non-monetary and involves interpersonal interactions. These are the simple gestures: stopping by an employees’ desk to thank an employee for great work on a project, or sharing positive customer feedback with the people involved on the account. Maybe its texting or sending an e-card to an employee to say “Well done” or posting a couple of words of praise on your organisation’s online Recognition Wall. These seemingly small things add up to have a huge impact.

Informal recognition – has a casual level of structure and usually smaller award values. One example would be a peer-to-peer programme where co-workers are encouraged to nominate individuals that they feel are contributing at a high level. Multiple nominations may result in a more significant award. Points-based employee award programmes are also popular options. These programmes are natural fit for short-term performance goals.

Formal recognition – programmes are structured initiatives that provide awards for significant milestones or accomplishments. Formal recognition experiences are highlights in an employee’s career, and often they’re the foundation of the recognition strategy.

The best recognition strategies use a balanced approach of all three types: formal, informal, and day-to-day. Once the method for recognising each of the types is outlined, it’s important to implement an integrated platform (such as Terryberry's Employee Recognition Software) to manage all 3 elements. This will also help leaders see a clear picture of the overall recognition going on in the business and maintain consistency over time.


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