July 4, 2022 0 Comment

A Step-by-Step Guide on How to Set up an Employee Recognition Program

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A Step-by-Step Guide on How to Set up an Employee Recognition Program

Employee recognition is a critical aspect of any organization looking to create a great workplace culture. Organizations should have a good recognition system that boosts employee engagement, retention rates, and even employer branding. This step-by-step guide on how to set up an employee recognition program can help organizations implement a program that delivers great results.

What is the Significance of a Good Employee Recognition Program?

Significance of a Good Employee Recognition Program

1. Appreciation is a Basic Human Need

Being appreciated for their efforts and hard work is a basic human need cherished by most employees. Recognizing employees is about acknowledging their contribution by saying thank you when it matters the most. Receiving timely acknowledgement and appreciation assures employees that the organization truly values their work.

2. Drives Motivation to Perform Better

This, in turn, motivates them to keep doing good work and displaying positive behavior. It also encourages to perform beyond expectations.

3. Increases Commitment towards Business Goals

Recognition can make employees feel special and inspire them to put in more effort towards the fulfilment of business goals.

4. Creates Positive Work Culture

Organizations having effective employee rewards and recognition systems in place generally boast of a positive and productive work environment. Hence, such work environments naturally motivate employees to contribute their best towards the growth and success of their organizations.

5. Promotes Performance and Innovation

Also, it helps organizations to create a culture of high-performancemutual respect and innovation.

How to Set Up an Employee Recognition Program?

This step-by-step guide on how to set up an employee recognition program can help organizations derive the desired benefits from the program.

Here are the steps, one by one:

Key steps to set up an effective employee rewards and recognition program

1. Define the Business Objectives Clearly

The first important step towards creating a result-oriented employee recognition system is to clearly establish the business objectives. Hence, it should be well-aligned with the mission, vision and the core values of the organization.

These objectives can help in creating the framework for the recognition program and enable it to achieve the desired outcomes. For example, an organization looking to grow rapidly and foster collaboration among employees should set the objectives accordingly. This will help the organization consider the recognition strategies focused on the fulfilment of these objectives.

2. Gain thorough understanding of the Best Practices

The next step involves conducting in-depth research about the various best-practices prevalent in the domain of employee recognition. This can helps the organization to identify the strategies that would work best in their context. However every program needs to be meet the specific business objectives, as well as employee needs and expectations.

In most cases, the organization may need to find the best combination of best practices for themselves. For example, peer-to-peer recognition as a practice is growing in popularity. However, the traditional practice of awards given by the management is also important for employees. Hence, the organizations should consider a combination of the above methods.

3. Define Appropriate Rewards and Recognition Policy

Defining the right policies for employee recognition helps the organization create a strong framework for executing the system efficiently. It includes identification of the different categories of recognition, deciding the eligibility criteria for each, and defining the process.

Organizations may choose to reward employees for their performance, behaviour, or even their loyalty and commitment to the organization. Similarly, they need to ensure that the recognition program sees maximum coverage while remaining aspirational. The policy would also define the frequency and mode of recognition –digital, team meeting, annual day, etc.

4. Decide on the Budget and Get the Approvals

Every recognition program should have a well-defined budget based on the rewards and recognition policies established by the organization. In fact, the management needs to decide and approve the budget. To decide on the budget, the organization needs to consider factors such as types of recognition, headcount, employee profile, etc.

However, the organization should understand that it is possible to have an effective recognition program even with a limited budget. It is not necessary for an organization to invest in expensive rewards to recognize their employees. Rather it is the timing and intent of the recognition that matters the most. Even simple handwritten thank you notes from the CEO as recognition may provide better results than expensive iPads as rewards.

5. Choose the Right Technology Platform

Also, investing in a good employee rewards platform can make the whole process simple and more effective. Organizations, today can select from a range of recognition software or even invest in the developing a platform themselves. Importantly, the technology platform should make the recognition process more convenient and transparent and provides a better employee experience. It should also reduce the administrative overheads of the HR team involved in managing the program.

It is advisable to choose a platform after considering its compatibility with the recognition policies defined by the organization. Organizations need to look at the ease of use of the platform. Also, they should consider its integration with social media channels and key IT systems. Other important aspects that the organization should consider are employee engagement and peer-to-peer recognition features.

6. Plan the Roll-out and Communication for the Launch

Once the employee reward system has been configured and tested, it is time to start planning for the final roll-out. The organization needs to decide on the launch and communication plan for the program. Hence, it should include all the aspects of the program implementation to ensure a smooth and hassle-free rollout.

The organization should plan the recognition program roll out with a high visibility launch campaign or event. A low key launch may make the employees feel skeptical about the whole concept from the point of launch. 

Phased-roll-out may be an option especially if the workforce is large and geographically distributed. In such cases, there may be logistical challenges of a one-shot launch. Irrespective of the type of roll-out, the communication plan needs to properly crafted and implemented. In fact, there should a series of communication through multiple channels, with proper involvement of the senior management.

7. Train the Key Users of the Program

Providing proper training to the key people involved in the recognition program is essential to ensure its successful implementation. In fact, this should include the HR Team, managers, and supervisors and others empowered to nominate employees. The recognition policy details, recognition categories, eligibility and key criteria should be part of these training sessions.

It is also important to ensure that the key participants are comfortable with the usage of the recognition platform. Without adequate training or orientation, they may find the platform too cumbersome or complicated. Hence, this can hamper the proper execution of the program and delivery of expected results.

8. Track the Program Metrics and Usage Post-launch

Also, after the launch of the program, tracking the usage and other key metrics is of utmost importance. Hence, the organization needs to monitor program performance vis-à-vis its objectives to see if it is driving the right results.

The organization also needs to measure the impact of the program on metrics such as employee engagement, satisfaction, happiness at the workplace, and improvement in their efficiency and performance. It would be unrealistic for organizations to expect immediate results after launching the rewards and recognition program.

However, measuring and analyzing the key program metrics over time can give an indication of its relative success or failure. This will help the organization to take any corrective action that may be necessary for its success.

9. Report Performance to the Top Management

Apart capturing the key metrics of the program performance, they need to be reported to the top management regularly. In fact, the management needs to review the impact of the program and the returns on investment in launching the program.

They need to be convinced that the program is delivering the expected results so that its funding should be continued. The management may also reconsider the budget for the program if they feel that is what is hindering its success. They may also ask the HR to relook at the program design for better results or even revamp it completely.

10. Get Regular Feedback from End-users and Stakeholders

No recognition program is perfect. Hence, every program has a scope for improvement. It is important to get regular feedback from all end-users about their overall experience of the program and the nuances. In fact, such feedback provides vital inputs for making changes in the recognition policy framework, process or the system.

The organization can use various methods to seek feedback from employees about the recognition program. They can use an online feedback survey in form of a questionnaire that can be sent by email to the employees. In addition, organizations can also use interactive feedback sessions with different groups of employees.

11. Act on the Feedback

The idea of taking feedback is to analyze and act on the data captured. This would require a careful analysis of the data to find the most common and critical grievances against the program. After identifying the key issues, the organization needs to find the best ways to resolve the same. So, it is important to understand that employee needs and business realitieschange over time impacting effectiveness of a program designed years ago.

In most cases, the feedback may require the organization to tweak the program appropriately to get the desired results. Sometimes it might be necessary to make drastic changes to prevent the program from failing completely. Hence, by implementing the necessary changes, the organization can build a truly efficient, engaging, and result-oriented rewards and recognition program.


This step-by-step guide on how to set up an employee recognition program is based on best practices from organizations that have successfully implemented employee recognition programs. Each of these steps plays a critical role in laying a strong foundation for building a recognition-driven organization culture that promotes innovation, performance and business growth.

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HiFives (https://www.hifives.in) 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.