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5 Common Mistakes in Employee Recognition Programs

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5 Common Mistakes in Employee Recognition Programs

The key objective of rewards and recognition programs is to appreciate and celebrate employee achievements and 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

Integrate Reward and Recognition with Innovation Efforts

Most organizations feel that a common approach is the best strategy for recognizing and rewarding employees.

However, such an approach often doesn’t work since the workforce comprises different individuals with varying demographics and motivational factors.

This “one-size-fits-all” approach makes rewards and recognition a mere formality and fails to generate the desired results.

To avoid this, organizations should develop a flexible rewards system, customized as per the needs and expectations of different segments of the workforce.

2. Focusing only on Cash Rewards

Cash Awards

Many organizations think of cash rewards as the best way to motivate employees across all levels.

However, focusing only on the cash without appreciating the efforts or achievements of 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 over time and may fail to generate enough excitement among recipients.

On the other hand, non-monetary rewards tend to have a longer-term impact and are generally more effective.

Organizations should create an employee recognition system that has both cash and non-monetary rewards components.

3. Offering Rewards for Performance and Efficiency only

Factory Worker

Organizations that base rewards only on employee performance and efficiency are likely to get poor results. While they are important factors, they should not be the only criteria for reward and recognition.

Due to this, the same employees may get rewards repeatedly simply because they are more efficient and better performers.

Organizations should consider additional factors such as initiatives taken, process improvement, display of values, and innovation while recognizing employees.

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

4. Limiting Recognition only to Junior Employees

Why switch from In-house Employee Recognition Platforms?

One common mistake by organizations is to limit the program coverage to only employees within specific levels.

These organizations tend to skip the mid and senior-level employees, thinking that they are self-motivated and don’t require such recognition.

They might not understand that even senior professionals desire recognition, as much, and sometimes even more than their juniors.

Organizations should develop a comprehensive reward and recognition system that is applicable across all levels of the organization. 

It should have various categories of recognition to include different levels of employees so that the system is relevant for all.

5. Making Rewards and Recognition Private

Employee Recognition For Driving Employee Engagement

Often organizations keep reward and recognition as a low-key affair and do not have proper announcements or presentation ceremonies.

This can make the entire process of recognition ineffective.

Employees feel elated when they are appreciated and rewarded publicly and their co-workers hear about their hard work and achievements. 

That is why organizations should make every effort to communicate effectively about the rewards and recognition,


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.

Sagar Chaudhuri

Lead author: Sagar Chaudhuri, the Co-Founder and CEO of HiFives. He is an HR Tech Evangelist with over 25 years of experience in the corporate world and entrepreneurship. In the past, Sagar has worked with companies such as Genpact, Infosys, and ICICI Bank, in leadership roles. He has an engineering degree from IIT Kharagpur and an MBA from IIM Lucknow. Connect on LinkedIn

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HiFives is a global employee rewards, recognition and engagement SaaS platform that enables organizations to digitize, automate and transform their employee experience. It is used by 100+ large enterprises, small businesses and startups in manufacturing, retail, technology, financial services and media, across 25+ countries.