Make Sure People Know The Recognition and Reward Options In Your Programs

Clearly inform leaders, managers, and employees of each program offering in your recognition and reward platform.

Unfortunately, not everyone uses all of your recognition programs well. Communicate and educate about program options and their benefits continually.

Sometimes, there’s a mindset that rewards are recognition. When this happens, people give rewards out too freely when expressions of recognition are better suited. And the inverse is also true. If an employee truly excels and goes above and beyond and merits a reward, they end up receiving recognition instead and might feel deflated and unvalued.

When you are dealing with online recognition and reward programs, you must inform everyone what they have available to them.

Everyday Recognition—Daily to weekly 

Everyday recognition online extends typical face-to-face acknowledgment. This is how you can praise and recognize people not in earshot and especially if they work remotely. Through these recognition programs, you should have no difficulty creating recognition touchpoints for each of your staff on a daily or weekly basis. 

Think about the different tools available to you to give non-monetary expressions of thanks and appreciation. Naturally, besides talking in person or on the phone, you can send a meaningful handwritten note card. 

Under everyday recognition, a social recognition program allows you and your peers to send recognition messages on the recognition newsfeed online. It gives everyone who goes online to the recognition portal a chance to send their personal comments of praise and support. And you can add likes by clicking on the thumbs up or star icons.

You can send people thematic ecards with personalized messages. These ecards allow managers and employees to send out personalized messages of congratulations, honoring a career milestone, other special occasions, and caring concern when the need arises.

In our more digital world, social badges are becoming the norm. They are a visible indicator of accomplishing a task or attaining a skill or some status. They are usually a graphic icon associated with living an organizational value, achieving a strategic goal, or other organizational criteria. People post these social badges in the social recognition newsfeed and they are automatically visible on the employee’s profile. 

How to Make Everyday Recognition Programs Known 

  • Always start people off on the right foot by informing them of your everyday, peer-to-peer recognition programs in your employee orientation sessions. Obviously, share the other programs with them too.
  • Take time during staff meetings along with your HR business support leader to teach and review use of your programs. Outline how your programs help people to feel appreciated and valued.
  • Invite employees to thank someone who has helped them. You can start off in an orientation session and keep inviting through creative ways in one-on-one sessions and team meetings.
  • By being the recipient of recognition from a peer or manager gives you the reflective insight into what recognition could mean to someone else. It becomes a natural encourager to recognize others.
  • Sending email broadcasts with invitations showing a video tutorial link on how you can use these programs is a great help.
  • Newsletters providing resource links of where to go and how to use programs. Most people just need to know where to go. Show them. Tell them. 

Informal Recognition—Monthly to quarterly 

Informal recognition (and reward) programs are likely to occur on a monthly to quarterly level of frequency because we associate them with more criteria focused performance or goal achievement.

You might, for example, nominate a peer for a specific recognition award using an online nomination form. These nominations then get adjudicated and the individual may receive a tangible award.

The selection of a winner in these programs often receives a specific level-based award (monetary reward or tangible gift) or an amount of points reward that can be accumulated or redeemed for a gift item from a merchandise catalog.

Employees can have their name submitted for award nomination for excelling in living corporate values. They might have a draw on a monthly, or quarterly, basis to declare a winning reward recipient.

Some organizations use their programs to incentivize employees to achieve business goals and performance targets. Similarly, some will run campaigns with competitions across employee teams or by individuals, and randomly select employees or competition winners. They then receive rewards, gift cards, or prizes. Often these programs use leaderboards showing the ranking of top performing employees. 

How to Make these Informal Recognition Programs Known

  • Policies and procedures, and program guideline documentation need to be given to all managers and leaders to review and follow
  • HR or recognition and reward program managers should orient all managers in management meetings about each of the programs.
  • Program owners can give individual visits and coaching to each manager or assign to mentor managers.
  • Senior leaders can review program usage of each program with their direct reports when conducting one-on-one sessions.
  • They should make video tutorials available with case studies showing how to use these programs most effectively.
  • Use newsletters, display screens, leaderboards, bulletin boards, tent cards, online and paper-based newsletters to show winners and recipients of rewards.

Formal Recognition—Annually

With formal recognition programs, you are typically looking at the best-of-the-best, or earned recognition, and nominated award programs. They usually plan these to happen annually.

Service awards or career milestone awards do not fall into the aforementioned categories. They are an organization’s way of thanking and honoring each milestone anniversary. Each year, the organization gives employees who are celebrating career milestones or service anniversaries a gift of their choice or a standard default offering. Sometimes, these are plaques or certificates.

Typically, companies honor career milestones or service anniversaries recipients with some form of celebration, whether departmentally in the month the anniversary occurs, or annually or whenever on a companywide level. Peers and others can send emailed greetings to honor career milestone employees. 

You may also have criteria-based awards of excellence that are adjudicated and announced companywide. Communications specialists can start requesting nominations from managers and staff to submit someone’s name and supporting documentation.

Then there are the various awards of excellence that some organizations sponsor. This is for awarding top performers who achieve some level of performance excellence. These employees are truly the best of the best. They literally achieved the highest number of sales, the greatest number of calls, as well as outstanding customer service.

Many organizations hold prestigious award events to celebrate recipients of these awards of excellence for their top performers.

How to Make These Formal Programs Known

  • Leader orientation and in leadership development programs. There needs to be much more time devoted to setting leader expectations and how to use the programs.
  • Monthly notifications to managers about which employees are reaching specific career milestones. They can also acknowledge non-milestone anniversaries as well.
  • Setting expectations and accountability for managers to reach out to celebrating milestone employees and congratulate them. This is an often-neglected action and managers need to be measured and held accountable for this.
  • Recognition program owners should submit quarterly reports to their executive sponsor on the usage of these programs and which leaders/managers are taking part in the programs and which ones are not.
  • Highlight top users of your programs with leaderboards and recognition of their supporting actions. 


Too many people forget the recognition and reward programs available to them. Getting everyone to take part requires constant expectation setting and giving them feedback on their actions. It also requires continual communication using all available channels to get the message out. And confidence and usage will improve with ongoing education and training in your programs.

I am sure you have multiple ways that you make your recognition and reward programs known to your leaders and employees. Stay focused and keep at it by constantly communicating and educating.

Recognition Reflection: What are the best methods you have found to help people know the recognition and reward options your programs have?

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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