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5 ideas for Employee Recognition Programs That Don’t Suck

Happy employees are productive employees.

That is all I should have to write about the topic. But, since I’m sure you want to know more, how do you engage employees and keep them happy on the job?

Many organizations turn to employee recognition programs but these can be super villain traps if you’re not careful. Some established programs make employees feel like kindergarteners who excelled at taking a nap and got a gold star.

There has to be a better way, right?

Consider these five ideas that can allow you to reward your super hero employees without making them roll their eyes behind your back.

Wouldn't you want this in your office? photo credit: rejohnson71 via photopin cc

Wouldn’t you want this in your office? photo credit: rejohnson71 via photopin cc

  1. Additional time off. You have probably noticed that your employees hoard their PTO days like they were made of diamonds. Rather than certificates and even bonuses, consider rewarding employees with additional time off. You can set some parameters around how they use the time off but don’t make it an impossible reward.  
  2. Get creative with prizes. Many companies do the traditional “Employee of the Month” game, but no one really cares whose photo is on the plaque or who gets the primo parking spot. Work with your team to create something completely out of the box that your employees will get excited about. For example, have a velvet Elvis painting that can hang in the office of the top performer each month. If your team thinks it is fun or hilarious they are going to work hard for a chance to display it.
  3. Allow peers to select recipients of rewards. Having a small committee or one person decide who gets the accolades doesn’t create a sense of community for the team. Allow every employee the opportunity to recommend a coworker and establish a reward system for the company. Teams work harder together if they know recognition comes from all levels.
  4. Spot rewards. Some companies allow for employees and managers to give rewards to employees at any time for whatever reason. They don’t have to complete a ton of paperwork and don’t need to get it approved. If someone sees a coworker going above and beyond they simply submit the bonus through the inter office system and it is paid in the next check.

Whatever you do, make sure that your recognition program isn’t actually kryptonite. If employees think the program is lame they aren’t going to work any harder to achieve the reward. Involve everyone in your process and be sincere about employee recognition.

Do you need more ideas to fire up your employees?   I can do that! Contact me today for motivational speaking or coaching.  


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