4 Pillars of Employee Recognition

November 16th, 2017
Ann Lyons by Ann Lyons

Employee recognition, when done well, puts a smile on an employee’s face, leads to deeper engagement and to greater productivity. As employee recognition is one of the first steps to delivering employee engagement, here are four pillars on which employee recognition programmes are built to succeed.


Management buy-in

Senior management expect to be able to measure whether a change they make to a process benefits the organisation. The same logic applies to employee recognition. When HR have to convince senior management of the benefits of an employee recognition programme, they need to prepare a solid business case, which provides solid ROI measurements when paired with data on employee engagement. See our earlier blog on Winning Senior Management Support for Employee Recognition.

Building and sustaining a culture of recognition not only requires senior management buy-in, it also requires the support of line managers. Consider making employee recognition part of the line managers’ KPI’s. Provide them with the recognition tools and necessary training to make recognition a daily occurrence in your organisation.


Recognition Tools

Invest in a recognition tool that is capable of delivering on your employee recognition objectives. Think in terms of Social Recognition tools that deliver immediate recognition and are highly engaging for employees to use. Linking recognition to core values and behaviours that support company goals and ensuring that recognition is visible and transparent are essential features of a recognition programmeSee our earlier blog: Employee Recognition designed to Drive Company Values.

When considering rewards for employees, think beyond the obvious. There are a lot of small yet valuable rewards that can be offered to employees throughout the year. These can include products, services and experiences that are local, meaningful and valuable to your employees. These rewards can also reflect your values and build your culture. Many don’t even cost money. See our earlier blog: Rethinking Employee Rewards.



Employee recognition programmes often do not perform as well as expected because there is no one to champion them. The champions are your ambassadors: they need to be put in place before a new programme is rolled out. They will drive the initiative, selling it to others by leading engagement from the front. How can you identify your ambassadors?

These are the individuals who already model the sort of behaviour you want to inspire and encourage in others. They model the desired cultural tone of your organisation.

Any employee recognition initiative will benefit by first discovering your ambassadors, developing them and then planting them at all levels within your organisation.



How do you know when an employee recognition programme is working? This requires clear objectives to be set and measured. Start by understanding the power of recognition and its potential to impact change in your organisation. This is discussed further in: Clear Objectives Help Employee Recognition Programmes Succeed.

Metrics take employee recognition to the next stage. Social recognition tools are one of the best ways to measure employee recognition and the resulting engagement levels. Such tools allow you to measure real-time engagement across the workforce and to monitor the cultural markers that are important to your organisation. These metrics can also help organisations to identify areas for improvement and to develop strategies.


The Takeaway

High-performing organisations are continually looking for new ways to improve their corporate culture and demonstrate to employees that they are valued as employees and as individuals. Reflecting on these four pillars of employee recognition encourages debate around what types of recognition really works and can help deliver happy, engaged and productive employees.

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