September 28, 2019 0 Comment

5 Common Mistakes in Employee Recognition Programs

The main objective of employee rewards and recognition programs is to appreciate and celebrate the efforts and achievements of the members of the workforce to make them feel valued. The failure of recognition programs is often due to mistakes that organizations make while developing and implementing them. Here are the 5 most common mistakes in employee recognition programs and the best ways to avoid them.

What are the most common mistakes in designing and implementing Employee Recognition Programs?

5 Common Mistakes in Employee Recognition Programs

1. Adopting a One-size-fits-all Approach

Most organizations feel that when it comes to recognizing and rewarding the employees, having a single uniform approach is the best strategy. However, such an approach often doesn’t work since the workforce comprises of different individuals with varying demographics and motivational factors.

The “one-size-fits-all” approach tends to turn even the most effective reward systems into a mere formality and fails to generate the desired results.

The best way to avoid this mistake is to focus on developing a flexible reward system that can be customized as per the needs and expectations of different segments of the workforce.

2. Focusing only on Cash Rewards

Cash rewards are often viewed by organizations as the best way to motivate employees across all levels. However, focusing only on the cash without actually appreciating or praising the efforts or achievements of the employees may not prove as effective.

While employees might appreciate the additional money they receive, it might not keep them motivated for long. Moreover, cash rewards tend to lose their novelty after some time and may fail to generate any excitement among future recipients. On the other hand, non-monetary rewards tend to have a deeper impact and are generally more relevant and effective over time.

Organizations can create an employee recognition system that includes both cash and non-monetary rewards as per the preference of the recipients.

3. Offering Rewards only for Performance and Efficiency

Organizations that base their reward systems only on the performance and efficiency shown by the employees are likely to get poor results. While it is important to reward these aspects, they should not be the only criteria for the nomination or selection of an employee for the reward.

This might result in the creation of a system where the same people get rewarded and recognized repeatedly simply because they are more efficient and better performers than their peers.

Organizations should consider other aspects such as the initiatives taken by the employees, process improvement, specific behaviors in alignment with corporate values and innovation should also be considered while recognizing employees.

This can help in making the reward programs more inclusive and ensure greater participation from the workforce.

4. Limiting Recognition only up to a Specific level of Seniority

One common mistake made by organizations with respect to their recognition programs is to limit it only to employees within a specific level of the organizational hierarchy.

Such organizations tend to overlook the need to reward and appreciate mid and senior-level managers and supervisors for their efforts, believing that they are self-motivated and not require such incentives. They might not understand that senior professionals crave for recognition and appreciation, as much, and sometimes even more than their juniors.

It is important for organizations to develop a comprehensive reward and recognition system that is applicable across all levels of the organization. The system can have various categories of recognition to include different levels of employees, ensuring that the employee reward system is more efficient, appropriate and satisfactory for everyone involved.

5. Keeping Rewards and Recognition as a Private Affair

Many times the organizations choose to make reward and recognition a low key affair and not have proper announcements or presentation ceremonies for the recipients. This contradicts the basic principles of appreciating and acknowledging the efforts and contributions of employees and often makes the system ineffective.

Employees feel elated when their employers choose to appreciate and reward them publicly and a large section of the entire workforce is made aware of their hard work and achievements. That is why organizations should make every effort to communicate effectively about their employees being rewarded and for what, as it can help to keep them motivated and inspired for a long time.


Being aware of the common mistakes in employee recognition programs can help organizations get higher ROI from such programs and drive enhanced productivity and a greater sense of commitment and loyalty from their workforce.

To stay updated on the latest HiFives blogs follow us on Twitter (@MyHiFives)

HiFives ( is an employee rewards, recognition and engagement SaaS platform that enables organizations to digitize, automate and transform their employee experience. The platform enables supervisors and co-workers to nominate, recognize and reward employees using a points-based system. Budget management, jury-based evaluation and multi-level approval workflows are built into the platform. HiFives has social features such as a wall of fame and gamification features such as leaderboards, e-certificates and digital badges. It also has a global redemption system with country-specific e-gift card options. HiFives integrates with all leading HRMS systems, Office 365, Google Workspace, MS Teams, Slack and other popular tools used at the workplace. HiFives is used by many large enterprises, small businesses and startups across 25+ countries in the world, in many industries including manufacturing, retail, technology, financial services and media.