Best Practices for Designing and Maintaining a Program

Designing Employee Recognition Programs

  1. The purpose of an employee recognition program is to recognize and reward work and behaviors that support/further the mission, goals, values and initiatives of the DLC
    1. Ask senior leadership for guidance/input about the mission, goals and values
    2. Ask employees what behaviors they think should be recognized
    3. Use the criteria for recognition to tie the mission, goals and values to everyday work and roles
  2. Maximize involvement in program design
    1. Ask employees how they like to be recognized
    2. Involve as diverse a group as possible in the design
    3. Be sure to have management/senior leadership support, if not representation on the design team

    4. Announce the names of program design team members on the website, in an email, or in a memo; encourage employees to share their ideas/input with team members Build into the program methods for employees to give feedback
  3. Be as transparent about the process as possible, build buy-in and excitement
    1. Email/memo from senior leadership to department announcing that a program is being designed and when to expect roll-out
    2. Share the decision-making process used to develop the program
    3. Give updates on the progress of the design Roll out program as a pilot, leaving room for suggestions and feedback
  4. Create a program that allows for participation at all levels and in all areas of the department
    1. Peer to peer; manager to employee; employee to manager
    2. Recognition for colleagues and collaborators outside of the department
  5. Make spot award programs easy, informal and accessible
    1. Keep it simple for the user
    2. Keep it simple to administer
  6. When rolling out the program, explain it in person (e.g., at a team meeting) rather than just through email/web site; create a road show
  7. Make nomination processes simple and accessible
    1. Provide examples of what you expect/need to see in a nomination
    2. Offer information sessions
    3. Thank/recognize people for nominating
    4. Seek out recognition champions who will help drum up nominations
    5. Have someone who has written a successful nomination talk about it at a team/department meeting: “It was easy, was worth every minute it took to write, and boy did I feel great when the person I nominated was selected to receive an award!

back to top

Maintaining Employee Recognition Programs

  1. Change the membership of your nomination selection committee every year
    1. Include former award recipients
    2. Include all staff levels and representation from all areas of the organization
    3. Be transparent about your selection process (communicate it!)
  2. Be creative with logos, themes, designs
    1. Sponsor a design contest, have fun!
    2. Change/refresh the look and feel periodically
    3. Have a different department of your organization host the annual ceremony each year, creating their own unique event
  3. Generate interest & enthusiasm about the program by talking it up in team meetings and with peers
  4. Include explanation of the program in your new employee orientation
  5. Don’t assume people know how to use the program once you’ve rolled it out; “Train” people to recognize others
    1. Share who is receiving recognition and who has recognized others (so that staff can see that it goes in all directions)
    2. Give examples of what is appropriate recognition (set criteria)
    3. Make time in team or staff meetings for people to comment on the successes and achievements of their colleagues
    4. Provide the “best practices for delivery”
    5. Encourage/include regular, visible support and participation from senior management
    6. Make sure supervisors know when someone on their staff has been recognized and by whom
  6. Keep marketing!
    1. Web, email, paper mail, newsletter, bulletin board
    2. Announce recognition when it happens, as it happens; or provide regular (monthly/quarterly) email, mail, or real-time (at a meeting) update
    3. Periodically send fun reminders to all employees to use the program (use small gifts or a get together)
  7. On-the-spot recognition can take place every day, year round – it’s not something that happens only when a budget has been allocated or when gifts have been purchased
  8. Annual awards ceremonies should be a high point in the year, a culmination of all the other recognition activities and practices that have taken place throughout the year

back to top

Back to top