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  • Writer's pictureMaxine Ruiz

6 Targeted Steps to Crafting Unique Employee Recognition Programs

A study published by Gallup shows that 40% of employees leave their jobs due to a lack of engagement and culture. In today’s corporate world, creating a strong and positive work culture is critical to attracting top talent.

How do you build and, perhaps more importantly, secure engagement? Well, that’s where a unique employee recognition program can make all the difference. 

In this 6-step guide, we will explore the advantages of implementing a strategically designed recognition program. Learn how to develop an initiative aimed at skyrocketing the level of engagement in your workforce.

Let’s get started!

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The Concept of an Employee Recognition Program

Before you immerse in the actual designing of a recognition program, it might be helpful to establish a solid foundation first. So, let’s take a closer look at the concept of recognition programs – and the driving forces behind it.

At its core, an employee recognition program can be a powerful way to reward and celebrate employees for their accomplishments. This can be done through monetary compensation, special perks, or a cool shoutout. The general focus is to motivate employees, which, in turn, has a positive ripple effect on productivity and innovation.

To get a more in-depth understanding of employee recognition programs, check out our comprehensive guide here.

Making Recognition Stand Out

Building unique employee acknowledgment programs requires an effort that goes beyond pay and benefits. Instead, you should focus on specific components – designed to increment job satisfaction, engagement, and retention.

To create a workforce fit for the future, HR managers and business leaders must take a more human-centered approach. Why? Engagement has proved to be nuclear fuel for high-performing teams, and engagement happens to be intrinsically linked to recognition.

According to the latest Gallup research, companies that focus on engagement have a significant competitive advantage. Those at the top of their game, experience 23% higher profitability and 18% lower employee turnover rates. 

It’s something to think about!

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Unique Recognition Ideas: Initiatives that Go Beyond the Paycheck

Once you understand how recognition plays into the work culture of your organization, the next step is to design a program that employees can connect with.

Even though competitive salaries are the bedrock of any successful business, financial incentives alone aren’t enough. A study by the London School of Economics found that monetary compensation can backfire when used as the primary motivator in recognition programs.

In other words, we need more than that to make recognition systems unique.

Three Operative Words: Recognition, Engagement, Appreciation

According to Gallup, employees who are recognized for their work are four times more likely to show engagement. This magical domino effect of authentic engagement is so powerful it ripples across the organization – inspiring others to perform their best as well.

Often used interchangeably, recognition and appreciation aren’t exactly the same, but they do perform in concert. Simply put, recognition is about celebrating what people are doing or have achieved in the past. 

Appreciation, on the other hand, acknowledges an employee’s inherent value, focusing away from accomplishments. The key? Seamlessly combining the two into your program.

Let’s Talk Perks and Awards

A pat on the back is often enough to show appreciation for work well done in the microsphere of things. Bigger accomplishments ought to be celebrated in a way that stands out.

This can take the form of actually creating special awards that reflect your unique company culture – awarded with a certificate or a trophy.

Personalized gifts can also go a long way in making employees feel appreciated. Whether it’s through a nice gift card or a thoughtfully chosen item, a personal touch demonstrates genuine appreciation.

An illustration of a team celebrating and one of the people in the team on top of a magnifying glass

6 Steps to Create a Unique Employee Recognition Program

Time to put theory into practice. 

Before we start, you need to have a clear vision of what the purpose of the program is. Do you want to create a positive work culture and motivate employees? Or are you more interested in boosting quarterly sales?

Beware of goals that are uniquely business-motivated. These can make the program appear self-serving. Make sure your motives align both with the company values and your employees’ interests.

1. Start with a Survey

Set a positive tone for your program by understanding the current dynamics of your workforce right from the start. What motivates them? What do they find inspiring? Sit down with your employees to find out how they would like to be recognized.

Inclusivity is a key element early in the process. A one-size-fits-all approach will probably not work, and it is important that everyone feels valued and acknowledged.

If you don’t have time to interview employees individually, send out a survey. Gather valuable insights that prepare your program for maximum success.

2. Decide on the Nuts and Bolts of the Program

Budgeting is next. How much do you want to spend on recognition for your employees? Some organizations will budget around 0.5% of their annual payroll, while others can afford up to 2%.

You will also need to decide exactly what you’re putting on the (recognition) table. By including an umbrella of options, you can customize the program to cater to different work styles and preferences.

3. Develop Criteria that Make Sense

Recognition should never be arbitrary. The essence of a solid program is to have meaningful criteria as a guiding light – each step of the way. That criteria should be based on expectations and goals that communicate what success looks like at your company.

Employees perform at their best when they have a crystal-clear understanding of what the objectives are – what they’re working towards. Clear goals and milestones foster motivation, showing exactly what needs to be accomplished to earn recognition.

Develop inclusive criteria. It helps enhance perceptions of objectivity and fairness.

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4. Don’t Work Alone, Create a Committee!

Regardless of the size of your business, it is always better to work together. This is especially true when it comes to managing employee recognition programs. 

One idea is to create a recognition committee made up of both managers and employees.  

Avoid delegating your program to the HR department. Instead, make sure that your employees receive recognition from the people they work with. The easiest way to do this is to involve managers and supervisors at all levels in the recognition process.

5. Smart Communication

Introducing your program before it is launched is a smart way to build anticipation. Start by training managers and supervisors as part of the buy-in process. It also serves to inform about the goals and functions of the initiative.

On the day of the launch, make a big fuss! Have a launch party where everyone can join in the fun. Keep your employees informed about the perks, how they can participate, and what the benefits are. 

Consistent communication builds trust and engagement – in turn, you will reap innovation and success.

6. Put your Program into Practice

When it comes to the frequency of recognition, every company is in a league of its own. Your program should spotlight large milestone achievements at least every quarter. Elevate the frequency for noteworthy performance that needs verbal recognition. 

As a rule of thumb, engage with your employees in regular, meaningful conversations at least once every two weeks.

Tracking success is another important thing to do once you have launched the program. Measure its effectiveness by establishing specific metrics at the outset. These will allow you to evaluate whether the program is doing what it was intended to do – or if you need to make some tweaks to achieve your goals.

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On the Brink of a New Journey!

And there it is – all you need to know to craft a unique recognition strategy that boosts employee morale. Remember, most solid employee recognition programs have three factors in common; they are frequent, consistent, and authentic.

Make sure to put open feedback channels in place and proactively address any concerns that may hinder optimal results.

Best of luck in your endeavor to achieve a new benchmark for employee engagement!


About GoGift

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