September 9, 2023 0 Comment

Why are Employees not happy with the Recognition Program?

Most organizations today realize the critical role that rewards and recognition play in boosting employee morale. At the same time, employees today prefer to work for employers who value their efforts and commitment. However, not all employee rewards and recognition programs meet the needs and expectations of the employees. Hence, in many organizations, employees are not happy with the recognition program.

Rewards and recognition programs have gained much prominence in modern workplaces. In fact, these programs have evolved significantly over the past several years.

Today, rewards and recognition are no longer about just appreciating the efficiency of the employees. Rather, it involves acknowledging the overall contribution of employees to the business growth. The growing demand for highly competent and dedicated workforce has driven these changes in employee rewards programs.  

Understanding why your employees are not happy with the Recognition Program

Almost every organization today has an employee rewards and recognition program in place. However, in many cases, the employees are not fully or even partially satisfied with these programs.

Understanding the reasons behind this dissatisfaction is important. For this, we have put together a list of the common reasons that lead to the disappointment of employees with the rewards and recognition program in their organization:  

1. Ambiguity about Program Objectives

It might be possible that as an organization, you haven’t defined and communicated the program objectives clearly. The rewards and recognition being given might not be aligned with the business goals and organization’s core values. Hence, your employees are unclear about the objectives of the program and feel confused about participating in it.

Also read 5 Steps to An Effective Employee Rewards and Recognition System

2. Delays in Recognition

One major reason why your employees might be unhappy the recognition program is due to the delays in actually getting recognized. If your recognition lacks a spot or instant recognition component, then your employees might have to wait weeks or even months to get their recognition.

Delays in recognition after the achievement or milestone greatly diminishes its value, almost making it a mere formality. Hence, your employees are likely to be dissatisfied with the entire process. Timely recognition is one of the most important success factors for any employee recognition program.

Also read Why Timely Employee Recognition Is So Important?

3. Lack Of Transparency and Fairness

Another reason for dissatisfaction of your employees for the recognition program is the lack of transparency and fairness in the entire process. This can happen if the criteria for rewards and recognition and the process for evaluation are not clearly defined. It might result supervisors and others nominating employees for rewards without proper business justification.

Such instances can create serious doubts and distrust among employees about the fairness of the program. This perception of bias and favouritism in the recognition process can render the program irrelevant and ineffective. It can also cause unhealthy competition within the workplace, eventually making the work environment toxic.

Also read Culture Of Openness And Transparency Through Employee Recognition

4. Absence of Peer Recognition

Peer-to-peer recognition is an important component of any successful employee recognition program. When their peers recognize employees, it gives them a great sense of pride and camaraderie. Also, employees feel empowered when they are able to recognize their peers. However, if only supervisors can recognize employees in your organization, then your program might lack those elements. Hence, it might result in a drop in satisfaction levels about the program.

Also read Peer-to-Peer Recognition – Understanding the Nuts and Bolts

5. Outdated Modes of Recognition

Your organization may be using methods of recognition that are out-of-sync with the needs and expectations of the newer generation of employees such as millennials. These methods may no longer be relevant or appropriate today. They may include reward items such as trophies, medallions, expensive pens and other memorabilia that might have diminished in their relevance over time.

Hence, your employees might have lost interest in the program as they find it obsolete.  It is critical that you regularly update the methods of recognition, be it the processes or the reward items in tune with the changing expectations of the employees.

Also read A Guide for Adopting Modern Employee Recognition Practices

6. Inadequate Variety of Recognition

Employees of your organization might perceive the program as dull and boring as there is not enough variety in your recognition program. The same types of recognition might be repeating over time; this results in monotony for the employees. They might feel uninterested about participating in the program.

It is important that your program includes a good variety of recognition such as Spot Awards, Monthly, Quarterly and Annual Awards, Peer Recognition, etc. with attractive names. You need to tweak the mix of recognition over time to include new categories and remove underperforming ones.

Also read 7 Best Hacks For Your Employee Recognition Program

7. Absence of a Digital Platform

The lack of a proper digital platform can be a serious handicap for your employee recognition platform. A majority of your employees would prefer a digital experience over offline methods. Most employees would use digital platforms for almost everything in their personal and even professional lives.

An offline recognition program might not be able to create the level of employee experience that your workforce would expect. A good digital platform can enhance employee experience and help you automate and streamline the process of recognition.

Also read Key Reasons to Digitize an Employee Recognition Program

8. Inadequate User Experience with Digital Platform

If your employee recognition platform lacks critical features such as gamification, social media integration, user engagement, redemption module, etc., then it is highly likely that your employees will not be happy with the program. The usability and user experience are critical to the adoption of the platform by employees, both supervisors and others.

Also, gamification features such as reward points, redemption options and, leaderboards are critical to keep employees interested and excited about the program. Your employees might not be happy with the recognition program, if such features are missing from the platform.

Also read How to Choose the Best Employee Recognition System for your Organization?

9. Inadequate Integration with Other Platforms

Your employees would be using several other digital platforms at the workplace such as Office 365, Google Workspace, MS Teams, Slack, HRMS, Intranet, etc. If your employee recognition platform is not integrated with these platforms, then employees might not be able to be access the recognition platform easily.

Ideally, employees should be able to access the recognition platform from other platform through a single sign-on process. Also, your employees should be able to view the rewards and recognition through other platforms. This, again is an important feature to have for driving participation in the program. Hence, your employees are likely to be unhappy with the program and participate less if such integration is missing.

Also read Integrate Your Employee Recognition Platform With Other Apps

10. Data-related Issues

Importantly, the employee data in your recognition platform should be in sync with the data in your HRMS or HRIS. However, if that it not happening in real-time or within a reasonable timeframe, then the data in your recognition system might be out-of-date and incorrect.

Employees details such job titles, function, team, reporting managers, etc. might not reflect the actual scenario. This may result in discrepancies and errors in the recognition process. Hence, employees are likely to feel unhappy about it.

11. Inadequate Value of Rewards

Whether it is a monetary or non-monetary form of recognition, if your employees do not perceive its value commensurate with their efforts or contribution, they are likely to be unhappy. Whatever is the actual financial value of the reward, it is the perception of the employee that matters.

A good non-monetary award such as personal interaction with the CEO or a skill development program might hold great value for the employees. The perception of value might depend on the profile of the employee and other factors.

Also read 10 Best Non-Monetary Awards for Employee Recognition

12. Inadequate Freedom of Choice

Employees today rewards and recognition that match their needs. Consequently, if your reward program does not offer this freedom of choice, it may fail to impress them. If they receive the same rewards over and over again for different achievements and contributions makes the process seem more like a formality. Items such as gift cards can give your employees the flexibility to pick and choose their preferred options.  

Also read Freedom of Choice for Success of Employee Rewards Programs

13. Inadequate Communication/ Visibility

If your organization hasn’t promoted the program enough and made it visible, then your employees might not happy with it. Employees like the social visibility around the recognition program such as prominent announcements, large award ceremonies, postings on internal and external social platforms, etc. So, if your organization is not communicating about the program effectively, your employees are not likely to be happy with it.

Also read Communication for Successful Employee Rewards and Recognition

14. Inadequate Involvement of the Top Management

When your top management does not actively participate in reward programs, it sends out a negative message to the workforce. They might start questioning the importance and credibility of the program in the absence of the top management. The lack of the top management presence as part of the program communication, awards ceremonies, etc. can cause disappointment among the employees about the program.

Also read The Role Of Top Management In Employee Rewards And Recognition

15. Inadequate Feedback Process

Since employee rewards and recognition programs are all about creating higher levels of engagement, it is important to seek regular feedback from your employees about their experience. Employees and their supervisors are important stakeholders of the program and their feedback is invaluable.

Ideally, you should be collecting regular feedback from them and making modifications in the program accordingly. So, if you haven’t been doing that, you are possibly losing out on opportunities to make the program more effective. Also, your employees would be unhappy about not being able to express their opinions or share their suggestions about the program.

Final Thoughts

Understanding why your employees are not happy with the recognition program is the first step towards addressing the issue. Left unresolved, this dissatisfaction can have a deep negative impact on the effectiveness of your program. It might even lead to a drop in employee engagement and motivation, and an eventual decline in productivity and business growth.

Also read How to Revive a Fading Employee Recognition Program

To stay updated on the latest HiFives blogs follow us on Twitter (@MyHiFives)

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.