How To Regularly Revitalize Your Recognition Programs

“Doctor, I’m concerned our recognition program is not going to make it much longer.”

“I know nurse. It’s sad to see a good program go like this.”

“Doctor! The program’s pulse has gone flat.”

“Quick! Get the defibrillator. It’s our only hope!!”

 “Charging…five hundred…clear.”


Okay, okay. I know it’s not quite up to par with General Hospital TV script writing standards, but you get the idea. Many corporate recognition program need new life breathed into them, and may even need some immediate resuscitation.

Recognition programs go through stages if left alone without regular review and intent to constantly improve upon.

Let’s take a quick look at the 5 stages in the life of a typical recognition program:

Stage 1: Live. This is the very beginning, the start-up and grand opening launch of the recognition program. Everyone is excited about the possibilities. Anticipation is high.

Stage 2: Thrive. Managers and employees alike have been well oriented to the program and participation levels are at acceptable levels. Engagement is high.

Stage 3: Survive. The program is coasting and no accountability is being held for program effectiveness or reviewing reports to know why usage in some areas is declining. Apathy is high.

Stage 4: Dive. No one is taking ownership or interest in the program and those few people using the program have their recognition actions discounted and seen as disingenuous and meaningless. Cynicism is high.

Stage 5: Revive. There is just one last chance. A realignment, redesign and reconnection to revitalize your recognition program to reach your strategic objectives, and become more in synch with your organizational culture. Hope is high.

To keep your recognition programs functioning and alive and well you must skip the Survive and Dive stages.

Follow the cycle and move forward with Live, Thrive and then jump straight to Revive.

Quick Program Revival Techniques

1. Find out how valued and recognized employees are feeling. Get a pulse on their real recognition feelings and any program “sickness” symptoms. Employee perceptions of your programs will be a huge guide of what you need to improve.

2. Address the challenges blocking your programs. Work with IT and your strategy design people to deal with system and program design issues. Check out the prevailing attitudes people have towards the programs and transform those beliefs into positive actions.

3. Educate people on the why of recognition programs. Align your programs with helping you achieve your business strategy, goals and KPI’s. Make sure your programs are driven by your organizational culture and then allow your recognition to reinforce the living of your values.

4. Remember the problem is people not using the programs. Identify why people aren’t using recognition programs. Then communicate clear expectations as to why you want people to use them. Educate them on the why of recognition and train on how to use your programs. Get recognition pumped out and circulating everywhere.

5. Give your recognition programs some shock treatment. Use the defibrillator to amp up the energy and enthusiasm for your programs. Create a new program design and revise business rules. Consider a completely different branding, look and feel, with a unique purpose for the program. Hold people accountable for using the programs.

Recognition programs will take a life of their own and die if you leave them alone.

You must regularly invigorate them and give them the lifeblood of improvement, rebranding, and refocus in order for a recognition program to serve you well.

Get your defibrillator ready!

Q: How do you ensure your recognition programs are constantly thriving and regularly revitalized?

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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