How To Engage All Employees In Using Your Recognition Programs

Too often we rely on lines from Hollywood movie scripts that say things like, “If you build it, they will come.” Unfortunately, that doesn’t work very well when it comes to recognition and reward programs.

Look at the following ideas to consider when you want to engage all, or more of, your employees in using your recognition programs.

Up the Communications

Getting people to use your employee recognition programs is going to require a lot of time and effort with using your varied communication systems.  

It means having your leaders on board and stating clear, actionable expectations of what they will do, and what they want all employees to do with the new recognition programs.

Maybe the CEO or president of your organization can give a daily journal account in writing for a week on reaching to recognize staff. Or perhaps a short video update on the successes and challenges they faced in using the recognition program in the first week. Have other leaders also share how they recognize their staff’s great behaviors. Talk about how leaders fairly reward exceptional results to show how staff go above and beyond. 

Enlist the help of your internal communications team with creating a monthly recognition communication calendar. Brainstorm with them what communication campaigns could look like. Consider inviting everyone in your organization to recognize another employee they work with by sending out a special ecard on a certain date. 

Give all of your leaders (and managers) regular feedback on how they are doing with using the different recognition programs. Provide a quarterly report with a review of the actions of each leader. Consult with them as they see their usage results and come up with game plan together to resolve concerns. 

Provide a template with instructions for all your leaders to set a simple recognition practice goal or recognition program usage goal. Have them say what they are going to do on a weekly basis, on a monthly basis, and once a quarter. If each leader can make a one percent improvement each day, then more employees will feel valued and appreciated for what they do.

Work with your vendor or set up your own internal email broadcasting to send out specific messages and notifications to people. Send out notifications that cue people up on how to give Real Recognition™ the right way wherever they work. Use different communication channels such as videos, lunch-and-learns, posters, visiting staff meetings, and teach people to how to use recognition programs they rarely access. 

Your vendor or your communications folks can use various communication services that personalize the messages that go out to people. For example, you could send out a personalized notification that considers when an individual has used any of the recognition programs for the first time and provide some tips and ideas for ongoing recognition giving.

I have written before about is enlisting the help of employee volunteers throughout the organization to act as recognition ambassadors. They can help raise awareness of the different recognition programs, give updates on program usage, and identify where additional help is needed in key locations.   

Random Variable Rewards 

I always prefer setting the right expectations, giving direct feedback, and providing the resources and education on how to use your recognition programs the right way. 

Sometimes, however, you might have to draw upon using a few carrots to help people engage with your recognition and reward programs and how to use them better. 

You can create campaigns that provide incentives to motivate positive action. You would automate the giving of randomly selected rewards for a small pool of eligible employees who engage with the programs. The key here is a few rewards randomly given to active participants and not to everyone.

For example, you might set a threshold of 25 eligible employees who perform the following interactions and behaviors with your recognition programs.

  1. Logging on to the recognition program platform.
  2. Completing an employee’s personal profile after logging on within a specific time frame of a certain number of days.
  3. You could have a campaign rewarding employees for sending five ecards with a specific time frame, like within a month.
  4. Solicit stories of exemplary recognition received by employees and how it made them feel, and why.
  5. Giving a peer a social badge representing one of our values during the month. 

These are just a few ways to up the engagement of leaders and employees with using your various recognition and reward programs.

Recognition Reflection: What ongoing strategies do you use to increase participation in using your recognition programs?

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