May 19, 2021 0 Comment

Top 10 Reasons for Customizing an Employee Recognition Program

Organizations should tailor their employee rewards and recognition programs based on the needs of their business and their workforce for greater effectiveness. There are a number of reasons for customizing an employee recognition program – a one-size-fits-all approach would never work.


The Need for Customizing an Employee Rewards and Recognition Program

Every organization’s business and workforce are unique in many ways.

What motivates employees in one organization might not work in another organization.

The profile and the expectations of the workforce differ from one organization to the other. To top it, the program goals and expectations may differ significantly between organizations.

A mismatched program might be worse than not having a program at all!

This is why:

Reasons for Customizing an Employee Recognition Program
Reasons for Customizing an Employee Recognition Program

1. Creates Confusion

If a program does not recognize the appropriate achievements it can create significant ambiguity and confusion among the employees.

For example, if an organization has productivity or process improvement as a key business goal but does not recognize such efforts, employees are likely to lose motivation.

2. Loss of Trust

Employees might perceive a mismatched program as an eyewash rather than a genuine effort on part of the organization. This may result in a loss of trust and commitment towards the organization.

For example, in a dynamic environment like customer service, if there are only annual awards and no spot awards or other awards with a shorter horizon, employees might perceive that the program is not genuine and unfair.

3. Dilution of Culture

If the program does not promote core values of the organization, it might lead to dilution of the organization’s culture.

For example, if an organization wants to promote a culture of collaboration but only recognizes individual achievements, it is likely to send out a wrong message to the employees.

4. Low Employee Engagement

Employees might completely overlook a program that does not meet their needs or expectations, and may eventually stop participating in it. Hence, if the organization attempts to push them in that direction, there might be resistance and negativity.

For example, if the workforce consists largely of millennials and the rewards are just trophies and mementoes, it is likely to have no impact or even negative impact on the employee motivation.

Drivers For Customization

What are the Key Reasons for Customizing an Employee Rewards and Recognition Program?

It is clear that a generalized approach to designing an employee rewards and recognition program is unlikely to work. Hence, organizations find it challenging to understand the various factors that need to be considered for customizing a program to their specific needs.

Here’s a look at the top ten reasons for customizing an employee recognition program for an organization:

Top 10 Reasons for Customizing an Employee Recognition Program
 1. Type of Industry

The industry type – manufacturing, technology, or services would play a key role in designing the employee recognition program.

The key performance areas of the employees is largely determined by the industry. Hence, the employee rewards and recognition programs should be tightly aligned to them.

For example, in the manufacturing industry, employee achievements related to productivity, quality and safety should definitely be acknowledged.

Whereas, in the consumer services industry, organizations need to recognize acts of customer centricity.

2. Organization Size and Structure

Also, the organization needs to consider the workforce size and complexity of its structure while designing the reward and recognition program.

For example, a small organization can have a single rewards and recognition program and a common decision-making process across the entire organization.

Whereas, a large organization that comprises of multiple units, should have a multi-level structure to the program where decision-making is done at the unit level. There could also be unit-specific programs and ‘corporate programs’ that cut across all units.

3. Geographical Distribution of Workforce

Organizations need to tailor employee rewards and recognition programs basis the number and geographical spread of the work locations. They also need to consider the fact if employees are working remotely, while designing any program.

For example, an organization which has its workforce distributed across multiple countries in the world should consider the decision-making process for most awards to happen at the country-level.

The organization could also consider running country-specific award programs or customize at least a portion of it based on the needs of each country. Possibly, there could be a few global awards with clear nomination and evaluation criteria.

4. Demographic Profile of Workforce

Organizations should consider the demographic profile of the workforce while designing the recognition program. They should look at the age group, gender mix, and educational background of the employees. These variables tend to play an important role in understanding the expectations of the employees from the program.

For example, if a workforce has a significant proportion of Gen Z and millennials; then they are likely to expect elements of digital experience, gamification, instant gratification and social visibility in the program.

Whereas a more mature workforce is likely to expect greater personal touch, more meaningful and personalized rewards, award ceremonies, etc.

5. Cultural Background of Workforce

Considering the ethnic and cultural background of employees while designing the rewards program for employees is of great significance. The organization should not hurt the sensitivities of a particular ethnic or cultural group. It should reward and recognize them in a way that is acceptable to them.

Hence, organization need to look at many aspects of the program design, keeping in mind the expectations and acceptability of different cultural groups within the workforce.

These should include right from the name of the program, name of the awards, use of monetary and cash awards, award ceremonies, etc. Several cultures look down upon cash awards and vice-versa.

6. Nature of Work and Compensation Levels of Workforce

Another important factor in the design of the program is the work profiles and compensation levels of the employees.

Hence, the work profile or function of employee would largely determine the key performance indicators of the employees. These should form the basis of the rewards and recognition program.

Different business functions even within the same industry might have different performance indicators. Similarly, the compensation levels would determine the importance employees are likely to attach to monetary value of the awards.

For example, employees in customer-facing jobs like customer service should be rewarded and recognized for going the extra mile to solve customers’ problems.

Whereas, employees who work in software development should be recognized for solving technical problems quickly, and for creating positive impact on the project delivery.  

Similarly, employees with lower compensation levels might be more motivated by monetary awards, as compared to pure non-monetary awards.

7. Organization Values and Culture

A successful employee reward and recognition program should be integrated with the organization values and culture. The program should recognize behaviors that the organization wants to promote, those that are in alignment with their core values.

For example, if the organization’s core values include collaboration, then the recognition program should include team awards or awards that have teamwork as the key criteria.

Similarly, if innovation is one of the core values, then the organization should reward and recognize new ideas, process improvement, and other such initiatives.

8. Organization Goals and Business Strategy

The organization should align the rewards and recognition policy with its business goals and priorities. Organizations in the same industry might have different market leadership positions, growth strategies and business goals.  

For example, an organization that wants to grow by introducing new and innovative products should encourage new product ideas from employees by rewarding and recognizing them for those.

Whereas, an organization that is looking to grow by entering new international markets should reward and recognize employees who can work in a start-up mode, handle ambiguity and collaborate with the rest of the organization.
9. Leadership Philosophy and Style

Also, business leaders play an important role in ensuring the success of employee rewards and recognition programs. Their style of leadership, beliefs and expectations are important factors to be considered in the program design.

For example, if the leaders strongly believe that personal touch in recognition and personalized rewards are important, then those aspects should be taken into consideration in the design of the program.

Otherwise, the program is likely to see less leadership involvement or the implementation itself might not get signed-off at all.

10. History of Similar Programs/ Initiatives

Organizations must take into consideration their experience with similar HR initiatives that might have been launched in the past. Their impact, feedback, challenges and other learnings should be incorporated in the design of a new rewards and recognition program.

For example, if the organization had launched an employee engagement program in the past, that didn’t go down well with the employees; then they should try to analyze the key reasons for its failure and carefully consider them in the design of a new program for employee rewards and recognition.



There are a number of key reasons for customizing an employee recognition program to meet the needs of the organization and its workforce.

Therefore, a customized employee rewards and recognition program is likely to deliver much higher impact, due to its higher relevance to the employees and to the business.


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


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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.