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A Guide for Adopting Modern Employee Recognition Practices

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A Guide for Adopting Modern Employee Recognition Practices

Attracting and retaining top talent has become a highly competitive activity for organizations. Hence, upgrading their traditional employee rewards and recognition programs with modern practices is an important step that organizations need to take.

How do Traditional Employee Recognition Programs work?

Types of Award Certificates

The concept of recognizing and rewarding employees for doing a job well is quite old.

Here are a few characteristics of traditional employee rewards and recognition programs:

What are the Disadvantages of Traditional Rewards and Recognition Programs?

Awards Event

Organizations have come to realize the fact that traditional methods of employee recognition and reward are no longer proving successful.

According to the results of a study conducted among employees of organizations still following traditional methods of recognition, 35% felt that their leadership just wanted to fill a recognition quota rather than appreciating their efforts.

The same study further revealed that 39% felt that recognition was offered based on favoritism rather than performance.

These programs have failed to drive employee engagement and experience due to the following reasons:

Disadvantages of Traditional Rewards and Recognition Programs

1. Infrequent

Awards Event

These programs are typically based on award ceremonies that are held once a year and hence fail to provide timely and regular recognition.

Hence, many small achievements of employees and the opportunities to motivate them during the year are completely overlooked.

2. Top-down

Top Management Role in Employee Rewards and Recognition

Traditional programs are based completely on the decisions of the management and the HR, with the recommendations of the line managers.

Hence, there is no scope for any recommendations or inputs from co-workers.

3. One Dimensional

Printed Certificates

These recognition programs take into account only the outcomes and not the effort or the means.

Hence, important aspects of employee behavior such as innovation, integrity, collaboration, and demonstration of core values of the organization are largely ignored.

4. Unengaging

Also, traditional reward programs tend to be unexciting, unimaginative, and repetitive.

Hence, they tend to become uninteresting over time and may fail to motivate or inspire employees.

5. Out-of-sync

Integrate Reward and Recognition with Innovation Efforts

The programs are unable to meet the expectations of the employees, especially the millennials who are a growing tribe within the organization.

They lack the elements that can help employees connect with the program.

These are the biggest reasons why traditional rewarding approaches are gradually becoming obsolete.

What are the Modern Employee Recognition Practices?


Today, the world of business is entirely talent-driven. Having a modern, effective reward system in place is essential for organizations to attract, motivate, and retain top talent.

Implementing practices such as peer recognition, intrinsic rewards, etc. can help in creating a more satisfied, engaged, and productive workforce, which in turn can drive better business results for the organization.


Modern rewarding practices are designed to be more personalized, comprehensive, and social. These practices are designed to ensure enhanced happiness of the workforce by catering to their needs and expectations.

Here are a few of the key modern reward practices that traditional organizations need to adopt:

Modern Employee Recognition Practices

1. Recognize Frequently/ Instantly

Best Practices of Employee Rewards and Recognition

Line managers and team leads should be empowered to reward and recognize their team members for their achievements as and when they happen, without waiting till the end of the year. 

On-the-spot recognition or spot awards for small or short-term achievements should be a critical component of all employee rewards and recognition programs.

These can be clubbed with annual or quarterly awards for those who display consistent or high-impact performance.

2. Introduce Peer-to-Peer Recognition

Social Recognition as a Multiplier for Employee Recognition?

A completely top-down approach to employee rewards and recognition can often make the program seem biased and unfair. 

Hence, involving co-workers in the recognition process in the form of peer-to-peer recognition or peer-nominated rewards can add a social dimension to the entire program. It can also make it more genuine and trustworthy.

3. Recognize Performance + Behavior

Organize Challenges, Contests and Hackathons with Grand Prizes

It is important to consider the ‘means’ and not just the ‘ends’ for employee rewards and recognition. 

Hence, employees need to be recognized for their intent, effort, and behavior along with the results produced. Therefore, it can help in building a strong organizational culture based on core values.

4. Add Gamification and Social Elements

Enable Social Recognition for Innovators 

Organizations can also consider the option of creating leaderboards to list the top-performing employees for a given period. Hence, it can help in motivating employees to perform at a higher level to get featured on the leaderboard.

Employees today love to show off their achievements. So, a wall of fame in the workplace is an effective way of announcing employee achievements. 

Other platforms such as internal collaboration tools and even public social media can be leveraged for the same.

5. Focus on Employee Needs/ Expectations

Clean Slate

Employees today, especially look for personalization and freedom of choice.

The employee rewards and recognition programs should provide flexible and customizable rewards such as gift cards and experiences, that enable to pick and choose what they want based on their personal preferences

This can prove to be more effective than the traditional approach of presenting mementos and trophies.


Traditional organizations should look at adopting digital employee recognition platforms that can come with the requisite features and functionalities. 

Hence, these can help them incorporate modern employee rewards and recognition practices in their programs seamlessly.


It is high time for traditional organizations to start implementing modern employee rewards and recognition practices to build a highly motivated and engaged workforce by attracting, engaging, and retaining top talent; and driving a higher level of business growth.

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.