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How Memorable Employee Recognition Awards Can Change Your Workplace

Employee recognition awards provide employers with a highly effective method for increasing employee retention, improving workplace culture, and highlighting corporate values.

Unfortunately, many organizations aren’t carrying out their employee recognition strategy effectively. Rewards are often generic, repetitive, and insincere. As a result, employees are left feeling less appreciated than they did from the start. 

So, what’s the best way to reward employees without making it seem like you’re just cutting corners and keeping up appearances? The answer is simple: Give memorable, meaningful employee recognition awards.

The Importance of Using Employee Recognition Awards to Help Your Team Feel Valued

Like many organizations, you probably have some kind of employee recognition program in place. Perhaps you want to boost morale, increase retention, or improve engagement. Have you achieved these goals? Is your current recognition program actually effective in making your employees feel like you genuinely care?

And if you currently don’t have a system in place to recognize your employees for their great performance and achievements, it’s time to rethink your strategy.

Employee recognition helps motivate employees and makes them feel like you truly value their contributions to your company. As a result, they’ll be more motivated to keep performing at their best, which is great for your bottom line.

But when it comes to employee recognition, you need a detailed plan for the best possible results. Having clear criteria for rewards and giving out meaningful rewards is key. Otherwise, your recognition program will be all over the place and likely won’t be effective.

Traditional Employee Recognition Programs: Why They Don’t Work and What to Do Instead

Many traditional employee rewards and recognition programs come across as a one-size-fits all approach. As a result, employees often perceive these attempts as impersonal, generic, and unimportant. Often, employee recognition awards aren’t individualized and personalized for a specific employee, and it shows. 

With traditional employee recognition programs, rewards tend to be the same, generic ones, such as a Christmas card with the same gift card enclosed. And this brings us to our next point: recognizing employees only once a year. 

Sending an annual Christmas card isn’t a real form of employee recognition.

First, it doesn’t speak to an individual employee’s contributions. Second, in order for a recognition program to be effective, regularly rewarding employees is key.

These are just a few reasons why traditional employee recognition programs don’t work. Below are other types of rewards that can make your recognition efforts ineffective.

Cash Rewards

While everyone likes money, cash rewards can come off as impersonal–an easy out to thoughtful appreciation. So, giving out monetary rewards aren’t effective if you truly want to show employees your appreciation. In fact, the most motivated people aren’t the best paid. Instead, these employees feel a strong connection to their work. 

Therefore, the best rewards make employees feel more connected to their work. For example, perks like a half-day off or a “work from home” day can be great incentives that can make employees feel more motivated. That’s because this can make them feel like there’s flexibility in their jobs.

According to FlexJobs, 87% of employees who work from home are more likely to love their job. But even if remote work isn’t a part of your business model, you can still take a lot from the study.

The flexibility that employees get from working from home is a core indicator of how much they enjoy their careers. So, giving your staff flexibility, whether it’s giving them a half-day off or simply asking them what they want, can have a huge impact.

Employee of the Month Awards

Rewarding employees each month for their great performance is paramount to an effective recognition program; however, the traditional “employee of the month” reward isn’t the best way to achieve this. Often, the criteria to nominate the employee of the month is unclear and subjective. Plus, this method only recognizes one employee. What about other employees who’ve made major contributions to the organization?

Team members who didn’t get recognition could end up feeling jealous and unmotivated, thus, lowering morale. So, employee of the month awards can actually have the opposite effect of what you’re trying to achieve.

But if employee of the month has to be a part of your recognition program, give out rewards based on objective targets. For example, you could recognize employees based on “highest sales this month”. This type of criteria is more objective. As a result, other team members are less likely to think the reward is based on management favoring a particular employee over another.

And if you want to make these employee recognition awards even more meaningful, you could create a competition or sales leaderboard with a standardized target. This not only gives employees the same opportunity to get a reward, but it also brings a bit more fun to the workplace.

Related: Ideas for Personalizing Corporate Recognition Awards

Repetitive Rewards

Giving out the same rewards over and over can get repetitive, and your employees will notice. As a result, the rewards won’t seem genuine. And the last thing you want to do is make your employees feel like you’re insincere.

Organizations often give out bland and repetitive rewards because it can get expensive and time consuming to hand out different rewards and personalize them for each employee. To address this challenge, you can implement a points-based program where you count or tally behaviors that contribute to your organization’s goals, and those points add up to an actual reward later on, streamlining the need for frequent recognition.

This gives your employees the opportunity to earn points and redeem them for rewards that are important to them. A points-based system is one of the best ways to keep your rewards from going stale.

Making Employee Recognition Rewarding and Memorable

To give employees rewards that matter, it’s time to get organized. Develop an effective recognition and rewards program.

Involve Employees in Designing Your Recognition Program

Involve employees in creating and administering your recognition program. If they help design it, they’ll know what they have to do to earn rewards. Plus, letting them have a say in the design stage can show them that their opinion matters and that you’re not just creating any plan that’ll allow you to check a box. 

Specify Reward Criteria

When creating a recognition program, some organizations don’t clearly specify which behaviors and achievements will receive rewards. They’re often too vague, which leaves employees confused about what they need to do to win. So, from the start, make sure you’re being clear about how you’re going to reward participants.

Recognize Behaviors as Well as Outcomes

In many employee recognition and rewards programs, results earn rewards. While outcomes matter and play a significant role in your company’s success, effort is also important. In addition to rewarding high-performers, you can also use recognition to encourage less vigorous performers and help them improve.

In many workplaces, employees who produce less than impressive results seldom get rewarded. But by recognizing even the smallest improvements, you can reinforce larger breakthroughs in their performance.

This isn’t to say that you should give full-on praise to a team member because they finally did what you expected of them. But a sincere thank you or positive feedback can go a long way in keeping them motivated, especially if they’re working to improve but simply aren’t that one high-achieving employee.

Related: Doing Milestones Differently

An Employee Rewards Platform Can Organize Your Efforts to Give More Memorable Rewards

When it comes to offering rewards that matter to your employees, you might find yourself scrambling for the right solution. In an organization with several employees, how can you effectively give rewards that are individual to each team member? How can you achieve this in a way that doesn’t take up a lot of time (and money)?

An employee rewards platform can be a viable solution. A rewards platform can help you organize a plan to recognize employees in a memorable way, with features that help you make your appreciation sincere and well-rounded.

Boost Morale With Meaningful, Personalized Gifts

Using an employee rewards platform, you can incentivize team members and drive performance. Allowing employees to choose their own rewards from a selection you’ve customized with knowledge of your team can make those very rewards a lot more meaningful.

There are two main reasons for this: (1) When an employee picks out their own reward, they’re more likely to enjoy it and show interest in it. (2) The fact that you’re giving them the opportunity to choose their own reward can make them feel valued, like you care about their satisfaction and happiness.

When staff members feel like their employers appreciate them, this often motivates them to be the best they can be. And research shows this. A well-designed employee recognition program can drive an 11.1% increase in average employee performance. And employee engagement, productivity, and performance are 14% higher than in organizations without recognition. 

The key to boosting the effectiveness of your employee recognition strategy is offering personalized rewards. This allows you to give out custom rewards your employees are most likely to enjoy. 

For example, within the rewards platform, an employee who loves to bake can choose a stand mixer if they’ve accumulated enough points. Or if a team member enjoys reading, they might choose a gift card to Barnes & Noble. With an extensive, customizable catalog of gifts to choose from, you can easily individualize employee rewards.

Give Shout Outs for Years of Service and Commitment to Your Organization

You can also use a rewards platform for employees who’ve been committed to your organization for a long time. Celebrate years of dedicated service and good work with customizable rewards for every work anniversary.

This celebrates career growth and can significantly improve retention because you’re showing your appreciation for employees who are devoted to your business. By personalizing milestones and creating a catalog of employee rewards, you’re allowing team members to choose rewards that are most meaningful to them.

Recognize Effectively and Often

With an employee rewards platform, contributors can enjoy on-the-spot recognition. This goes way beyond employee of the month. Regular employee rewards highlight moments, achievements, and behaviors that all contribute to your bottom line, no matter how small.

Set Up a Point System that Rewards Employees for Different Actions and Events

You can set up your employee rewards platform to assign a certain number of points based on different actions, behaviors, and achievements. Then, employees can either save those points for higher-value rewards or spend them right away on something they want. Some ideas for this include: 

  • Good performance: If an employee consistently exceeds expectations, you can set up your rewards platform to assign a certain number of points for good performance.
  • Special achievements: This is different from general performance. A special achievement can be a one-time event that deserves recognition, such as hitting a new sales record, staying late to finish an important project, or helping out a new employee in a time of need.
  • Employee anniversaries: An employee anniversary is a big deal. It shows that your employees are devoted and loyal to your company. And an employee who’s committed to your organization deserves all the recognition they can get. You can celebrate these employees with a special amount of work anniversary reward points.
  • Peer-to-peer recognition: Within an employee rewards platform, employees can publicly recognize their peers through a company-wide news feed. This can help build a strong culture of appreciation, improve employee relationships, and encourage team spirit. Team members can also show additional support by jumping in on each recognition and adding a “like” or comment. They can also award points.

Create a Recognition-Rich Culture With an Employee Rewards Platform

Employee recognition awards that are in given in real-time and bring meaning to the employee experience is vital to a healthy, positive workplace. To achieve this, you need an employee rewards solution. 

Xceleration offers an employee rewards platform that delivers an engaging, user-friendly experience. From a curated rewards catalog to interactive activity feeds and social shareables, you’ll be able to easily create rewards that are perfect for your work culture, providing options that matter to your team. To equip your business with the tools you need for an effective, impactful employee rewards program, request a demo today.

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