How to get the most from your recognition programme


How to get the most from your recognition programme

More and more organisations are discovering that recognition schemes can add real value to employee reward, making a deeper and longer-lasting impact on motivation and commitment than more transitory cash incentives. Without doubt, they should play a major part in the development and implementation of your total reward strategies. But just what exactly are recognition programmes? UK pay analysts Incomes Data Services has all the answers. Its new guide offers you up-to-date research and clear analysis on the best ways to get the most from your recognition programmes.

In essence, recognition is all about formally acknowledging the efforts of employees who have done that little bit extra , and publicly conveying the organisation’ s appreciation. There is no one model that fits all , according to IDS researchers, writing in a fascinating study devoted to enumerating how such schemes work and what organisations are trying to achieve.

The prevailing company culture will determine how high profile the scheme is, the value of the awards and precisely what behaviours or actions they are designed to encourage.

Recognition can range from the simple and spontaneous thank you , through to more formal structured programmes, as exemplified by the employee of the year style award.

As the study explains: Recognition schemes are often concerned with trying to remind managers that there are things they should be doing anyway — regardless of any scheme — as good management practice.

For IDS, what matters most is the act of recognition rather than the monetary value of the scheme. Indeed, it reckons that the awards — vouchers are the preferred medium — are typically worth between £ 25 and £ 150. Although they may be only of symbolic value, employees value recognition awards as a visible sign that their contribution is being noticed and acknowledged.

According to IDS, a recognition programme typically has three defining features:

  • Unlike more financially-driven incentives, recognition is seldom dependent on the achievement of pre-determined targets.

  • Rather than rewarding employee who have performed their everyday job well, the schemes aim to recognise employees for accomplishing something out of the ordinary — put simply, for going that extra mile .

  • The scheme's criteria often revolve around outstanding customer service or dedication to the job. As IDS says: This often involves recognising an action which epitomises the company’ s values or exemplifies role model behaviour that others in the company can learn from and emulate.

Making it work

How then should your organisation approach introducing a recognition programme? Distilled down, here's what the experts at IDS say:

1. Before beginning to put together a scheme it is crucial to set clear objectives.

2. It is vital that the recognition programme complements other parts of the reward strategy.

3. Ultimately, to be effective line managers must be committed to the idea and must use it appropriately.

4. The success of a scheme hinges on it being felt fair and open to all — not just high-profile customer-facing staff .

5. The more protracted and complicated the process, the less instantaneous the award mechanism is likely to be — it is crucial to recognise achievements as promptly as possible.

6. Schemes must be perceived as fair and applied consistently across the organisation.

7. Introduce levels or tiers of recognition to maintain the interest of winners and other employees alike, and to demonstrate how seriously you view recognition.

8. To increase the appeal of awards, select those that employees might actually pick themselves given a free choice — or use vouchers.

9. As far as possible recognition must be celebrated in as visible a way as possible , particularly in front of peers.

10. To guard against schemes becoming stale, they need to be regularly reviewed and refreshed, or even periodically relaunched.

Want to know more?

Title: Employee recognition schemes , IDS StudyPlus, winter 1999.

Availability: contact the IDS customer services manager, tel: 020 7324 2599 or email

Want to know more? IDS is an independent research organisation providing information and analysis on pay, conditions, pensions, employment law and personnel policy and practice in the UK and rest of Europe.

For a list of recent IDS Studies with abstracts, jump to . . .