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Employee Recognition Program can drive Cultural Change

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Employee Recognition Program can drive Cultural Change

Today, organizations are trying to build an organizational culture and align employee behaviors to it. However, it is much more challenging than it sounds. An employee recognition program can drive cultural change – let’s look at how organizations can do it right.

Why is Culture so Important for Organizations?

Build Culture of Openness and Transparency through Employee Recognition

Oversimplified, organizational culture is a set of social behaviors and activities that employees indulge in at the workplace.

It is all about the collective experience of employees while interacting and collaborating with their co-workers.

Culture can be best defined as the glue that holds a workplace together by enabling transparent two-way communication, recognition, and feedback.

A good organizational culture can enable employees with the freedom to express their ideas and opinions and feel truly valued for their efforts and achievements.

What is the Role of Recognition in Driving Cultural Change?

Employee Benefits

Setting up a rewards and recognition program can motivate employees to repeat desirable behaviors within an organization.

By recognizing employees who display such behaviors, the organization can send out a strong positive message to the entire workforce.

In addition, an employee reward program helps in establishing acceptable workplace behavior from employees.

Awards Event

The employees feel motivated to emulate the performance, efficiency, skills, and behavior that their peers have appreciated and rewarded for.

A good employee recognition program can enhance overall happiness and satisfaction levels, which is critical for a positive organizational culture.

What are the Best Practices for Driving Cultural Change through Employee Recognition?

Steering the organization’s culture in the right direction is an ongoing process as the organization goes through many changes.

Hence, by aligning culture with values, business objectives, and recognition programs, organizations can get the desired results faster.

So, here are a few key aspects that organizations need to focus on while trying to drive cultural change through recognition:

1. Recognize Behaviors, not just Performance

2. Empower Employees to Recognize Each Other

3. Involve Top Management in Recognition Programs

4. Add an Element of Fun to the Recognition

Tips for Driving Cultural Change through Employee Recognition

1. Recognize Behaviors, not just Performance

Integrating Employee Recognition with the Organizational Culture

To drive cultural change, organizations should encourage supervisors to recognize employees for desired behaviors in alignment with the core values.

Recognizing performance is important, but managers should recognize behavioral aspects as well, not just the outcomes.

Means matter as well, not just the ends when it comes to driving cultural change.

Simple measures such as note of appreciation can promote a culture of appreciation and collaboration. 

Organizations should encourage managers to reward and appreciate their team members by including them in their KRAs

Implementing an employee rewards platform can help managers reward and recognize instantly through Spot Awards.

2. Empower Employees to Recognize Each Other

Empower Employees and Create an Innovation Funnel

Peer-to-peer recognition is a good way to empower employees whereby they can appreciate their co-workers on their own.

Hence, such initiatives, help in assuring employees that their opinions are valued; which in turn, results in better engagement. 

Employees are more likely to recognize their peers for behaviors rather than performance.

Using an online employee recognition platform that enables employees to recognize their peers for the core values demonstrated by them.

Hence, it can help in reinforcing such behaviors that are in alignment with the organization’s values and culture.

3. Involve Top Management in Recognition Programs

Top Management Role in Employee Rewards and Recognition

Implementing any lasting change within an organization requires the complete support and encouragement of the top management.

This is true even in the case of building a culture driven by recognition. This can be achieved through their presence in offline or virtual award ceremonies

These forums can be utilized to drive the importance of values and culture in individual and team achievements.

The involvement of business leaders at various levels and types of employee recognition activities can have a major impact.

Hence, their presence makes it much more effective as employees feel inspired to be part of something significant.

4. Add an Element of Fun to the Recognition

Fun Activities

Organizations strive to create a positive and informal work culture and make recognition exciting and fun-filled to capture employee interest.

This can be done through creative employee recognition ideas that are both innovative and fun.

Hence, by adding a fun element to employee recognition programs, organizations can inspire employees to embrace cultural change more effectively.


The implementation of an effective employee recognition program can drive cultural changes in an organization over time. Such cultural changes can provide long-term benefits for an organization and fuel 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.