4 can’t-miss elements for a standout recognition culture

By: Tim Schieffer
group of coworkers congratulating each other

Organizations that rely on base benefits become a revolving door for talent. A strong employee recognition program can become a differentiator for your employer brand, enabling you to attract quality candidates and retain high performers. 

Studies show 75% of employees would be satisfied with their job if they received at least one recognition a month.

Too often, employee recognition programs are limited to occasional gifts or milestone awards that take decades to accrue. Employers must do more to keep teams engaged. This isn’t to say organizations have to pack calendars with celebrations, but rather employers must find the right mix of recognition and appreciation for their team members to produce the best results. 

Research shows an employee’s connection to the employer brand and their coworkers is an important driver of employee engagement. Companies must find ways to continually foster employees’ pride, self-esteem and sense of belonging to create a culture of appreciation. Putting together an effective combination of recognition and appreciation tactics that align with the brand and values helps reinforce individual contributions and boosts employees’ sense of purpose. 

Revitalizing Your Employee Recognition Experience

Employee recognition programs: What to consider  

To build a strong employee experience program, focus on the following four core elements.   

1. Strategy

To have the strongest impact, weave motivational strategies into all employee activities. The “easy” answer is to launch and support an awards and recognition program. But employee engagement shouldn’t be siloed within the human resources department.

Important employee engagement activities across the organization need to be encouraged and highlighted. Support from C-suite champions to socialize employee engagement activities helps cascade excitement from the top through the department leaders and managers who help set the tone for the employee experience.

Taking a more strategic approach helps organizations identify opportunities to maximize overall visibility around employee engagement and evaluate organization-wide impacts. (Unifying programs can benefit the budget, too.)  

Related: Read how one company created a culture of recognition by building on their shared values and streamlining multiple employee experience programs. 

2. Communications

The best employee engagement programs are an extension of an organization's brand promise. A tailored communication plan should reinforce organizational values, mission and brand voice through program touch points. Everything from program name to the tone of a push notification should resonate.

Mass communications can help create broad program awareness but shouldn’t be the overarching strategy. Segmenting messages by business area and for in-office, remote and hybrid workers will help hit the right note with each audience. An all-staff “treats in the break room!” communication could have a souring effect if there isn’t parity for remote teammates.

Don’t look past data-driven individually targeted messages, either. We’ve seen this tactic activate 20% of previously unengaged participants. Tapping into that hard-to-reach audience will boost program outcomes in a big way!

Related: Learn how to develop your employer brand message

3. Technology

As you evaluate technology solutions to support your employee engagement efforts, look for tools that will reduce the administrative burden of managing the program while capturing relevant data.

For example, we help our clients monitor and report on user data as it exists within their workflow. The efficiencies they gain by using technology that’s integrated into the system(s) their program administrators use every day creates space to focus on other critical functions.

Our solution gives clients the ability to monitor trends, identify what's working and understand exactly where they need to make adjustments.  

Related: Discover how a global defense contractor achieved administrative efficiencies after centralizing its recognition program

4. Analytics

In-depth data shouldn’t sit in a spreadsheet. Leading engagement solutions rely on robust, real-time analytics. Current, visualized information helps managers measure performance alongside defined organizational goals (e.g., retention, eNPS, NPS, etc.).

This powerful combination helps prove ROI and support revenue growth. A strong dashboard provides immediate insight into your program’s engagement. 

At ITA Group, our tailored technology solutions can track whatever metrics your organization deems critical. Dashboard insights on program performance will help you focus on engagement areas that need attention. 

Related: Tools that can visualize data make analytics a breeze. Take our tips for measuring the ROI of employee engagement programs

Supporting a recognition culture 

These core elements can make or break your employee recognition program. A strategic approach supports consistency and efficiency. Strong communication ensures the program is recognizable to everyone and promotes engagement—especially when paired with tailored technology. Using analytics to assess and inform strategy evolution keeps the program fresh and functional. Only when all elements are integrated can recognition programs reach their full potential. 

Keep in mind, building a recognition culture is not a “one and done” process. It’s continuous, multi-faceted initiative. That’s why many leading companies choose to partner with outside employee engagement experts.   

Working with a full-service vendor can bring many employee engagement programs under one umbrella. Employee incentives, milestone recognitions, employee events and experiences and employer branding should be connected and efforts in one area should support the others. Having a trusted team to help manage and monitor program effectiveness reduces the administrative burden of program management. This lets leaders focus on the strategic alignments that elevate the most successful employer brands.  

Curious what optimizing your employee recognition program could look like? Let our team help highlight the differentiators that can bring out the best in your appreciation initiatives

Tim Schieffer
Tim Schieffer

Tim is the Employee Experience Insights and Strategy Leader for ITA Group. With 20+ years of experience serving clients in multiple industries, including e-commerce, communications and finance, he offers a unique perspective on how to attract and retain top talent. His passion for delivering personalized employee engagement strategies helps create cultures centered on empowering people. Outside of work, you'll find him cheering on the Green Bay Packers as a proud part-owner. Go Pack Go!