How Does Having a Recognition Strategy Really Make a Difference?

Recently, I was conducting a webinar when the organization’s Chief Human Resources Officer asked me a candid question. They wanted to know what difference a recognition strategy having would have on their organization.

I answered this question live and off the top of my head from my experience to date. Now, I am going to spell out in greater detail the difference a recognition strategy will have for you and your organization.

Benefits of a Recognition Strategy

I have always appreciated the alignment that a solid recognition strategy has with organizational culture and the business and people strategies. This well-crafted document spells out the purpose of recognition and the driving force it can have on an organization and all strategic initiatives.

A well-articulated recognition strategy shows the direction an organization wants to go in with employee recognition and a careful plan with objectives to achieve success. It addresses the interpersonal recognition practices and the need for strong participation in online and administered recognition programs.

And a recognition strategy provides you with the overall objective to reach for and the areas you want to improve and the goals for how to do this. With the areas of focus identified, you will know how to improve essential areas and gaps needed to make employee recognition successful.

Having a written recognition strategy is also the best way to get recognition practices and programs discussed at the executive leadership team table. A recognition strategy will elevate the importance of recognition in the eyes of senior leaders.

Use as an Operational Guide

As a recognition program owner, your recognition strategy and plan will become an operational guide for you with running and improving recognition practices and programs.

It can provide you with the guidance to perform your responsibilities, align recognition with your organization’s people and business strategies, and make the desired progress you need with your recognition programs.

All you need to do is take the areas of focus identified in the gap analysis and prioritized in your recognition plan. These will have identified goals that will help achieve the overall strategic objective.

If you work on your own and do not have access to many people resources, then you can use the focus areas as a priority list. You can tackle each area of focus one at a time as best as you can. This will take over a year to complete.

The focus area topic might clearly identify when you need access to resources, such as communications or learning development. Then you can assign teams of volunteer employees to work in that focus area. This allows you to have different areas of focus worked on simultaneously and accomplish your plan within a one-year timeframe.

If you have been reading my blog posts for a while, you know I recommend that focus area teams set up 90-day action plans. These teams will do their best to work on assignments within their typical work responsibilities. Expect each team to submit a report with their goal progress every 30-days. At the 90-day mark, they should submit a one-page progress report on what they have done. Use these reports from each team to create your quarterly report to your executive sponsor.

Your recognition strategy with an effective recognition plan becomes a great blueprint for making recognition a great success for your organization.

When You Don’t Have a Recognition Strategy

Alright, so what happens when you don’t have a recognition strategy?

The last recognition trends survey from WorldatWork showed only 49 percent of organizations had a written recognition strategy. That’s not a stellar report. Yet, of 94 percent of those organizations are aligned with their people and business strategies.

Here’s what I have seen with organizations without a written recognition strategy.

  • There is a lack of clarity by leaders, managers, and employees as to the purpose of recognition practices and programs.
  • No direction to take recognition practices and programs in or where to focus your efforts.
  • Not enough managers see the value or need for employee recognition.
  • As you can expect, too many employees do not feel valued and appreciated for their contributions on the job.
  • You lack the linkage of recognition with the organization’s strategy and goals.
  • Likely not have an executive leadership team member who will go to bat for the cause of recognition.
  • Certainly, won’t have a plan of action to lead recognition with and make needed improvements. 
  • A lack of recognition programs in each of the everyday, informal, and formal recognition levels.
  • Little or no evaluation and accountability for recognition in the organization.


There are few downsides to having a recognition strategy and plan. A small investment in time is required to conduct the gap analysis first. Then you can facilitate and wordsmith recognition purpose and philosophy statements, along with creating a concrete recognition plan to address the strengths and weaknesses of current recognition practices and programs.

A recognition strategy and plan can make a tremendous difference for your organization. 

1. You will position recognition at a more strategic level and gain the ear of your executive leadership team to affect change.

2. It gives you the marching orders and direction needed to make recognition more relevant in the altered workplace that employees are now in.

3. Recognition is now seen as a viable tool to address many strategic people and performance issues that organizations face.

Recognition Reflection: How have you benefited from having a written recognition strategy in your organization?

Roy is no longer writing new content for this site (he has retired!), but you can subscribe to Engage2Excel’s blog as Engage2Excel will be taking Roy’s place writing about similar topics on employee recognition and retention, leadership and strategy.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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