The Resources You Need To Drive Recognition

If you had a magic lamp and were allowed three wishes of the genie that would appear when you rubbed the lamp, what resources would you ask for to help you with managing your recognition programs better?

And, I am not just talking about money alone. There are people and organizational resources you can draw upon that could help drive recognition practices and programs for you.

It’s fascinating how some company leaders bemoan the lack of employee engagement in their organizations. But they won’t invest wisely in one of the top drivers of engagement, namely, employee recognition.

What are the resources you need to really drive employee recognition? Consider the following list just for starters.

Executive Sponsor

Having an executive leader who will champion the cause of employee recognition is a vital support for you. Not everyone is lucky enough to have a senior leader to report to and advance the cause of recognition.

When you have a leader that gets it, they become the strategic linkage to align recognition to the bigger business strategy and goals. An executive sponsor will represent recognition at senior leadership team meetings. They can carefully advocate for needed budget spend and resources.

Getting an executive champion would be a great resource to have.

Program Operations

You will need the salary, time, and resources to run the operational management side of employee recognition. Too often managing recognition is a part-time job on top of other human resources or compensation and benefits duties.

Think about the following list of operational responsibilities – and I am sure there are plenty more areas too.

  • Developing or facilitating a company-wide employee recognition strategy.
  • Setting goals, objectives and plans for employee recognition each year.
  • Ensure the recognition strategy is aligned with the organization’s business strategy and goals.
  • Forecasting and projecting budget spend on employee recognition and managing ongoing financial accounts.
  • Hiring, supervising, and training of staff where permitted.
  • Implementing strategies and procedures related to employee recognition.
  • Analyzing recognition strategy and recognition program effectiveness.
  • Liaise with procurement if looking to outsource a recognition service provider or sourcing other products and services.
  • Working with your Information Technology team or a recognition service provider.
  • Reviewing recognition output reports regularly and identify areas needing improvement as required.
  • Increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of the recognition programs.
  • Calculating the ROI and business impact results of your recognition programs.

Maybe you’re managing all of these areas well right now. If you’re not though, then you need staffing supports on the administration side so that you can.

Program Administration

Much of your time is likely spent with administering the recognition programs your organization has in place, as well as implementing your company-wide recognition plan. Depending on the available time, money, and resources available to you, your responsibilities could include:

  • Development of policies and procedures for managers and employees on recognition practices and programs.
  • Creating formal award nomination and selection criteria.
  • Ensuring tax compliance on all monetary or tangible awards.
  • Event planning and execution of planned celebration events.
  • Measuring the success of recognition practices and programs.
  • Designing, developing and administering employee recognition surveys.
  • Coaching leaders on how to give effective recognition.
  • Holding regular program review meetings with recognition service provider.
  • Staffing the different areas requiring administration.
  • Directing quarterly and annual recognition plan reviews for accountability and redirection as needed.

These and many other areas of responsibility require at least one full-time person to administer them. If you don’t have that staffing then make sure to ask for it or you won’t get it. You might even be able to get a short-term disability person who needs to return to work on light administrative duties.

Tangible Recognition Costs

Surveys on the budget costs of employee recognition programs show a range of $22/per employee per year in education and healthcare to a high of $199/per employee per year in the financial industry. The average overall dollar-spend per year for employees is $139.00 per employee per year.

However, these surveys from WorldatWork and Conference Board do not tell us what those dollar amounts were spent on according to respondents. The broad question was just answered by respondents as they saw fit. Is it just what the employee receives? Does it also include administrative and operational costs? No one knows for sure at this time.

No matter what the industry says the spend is, you have to plan for many expenses that need to be covered, such as:

  • Education for managers on effective recognition giving skills.
  • Communications support to help with recognition content management.
  • Posters, printed materials, and other promotional items.
  • Career milestone awards whether symbolic or merchandise.
  • Formal award events from the venue, programs, and refreshments.
  • Formal awards, plaques or trophies.
  • Topping off tax liability.
  • Staffing salaries.

Imagine what you could do if the had sufficient staffing or monies to cover the above and more.


From Recognition Professionals International best practice standards, communication planning is often one of the lowest scoring standards from best practice award nominations submitted. Too often, there’s a lot of glitz and glamor associated with invitations, programs and other promotional material for formal awards, or with program launches. What is often lacking, though, is the year-round communications needed to educate, prompt, and reinforce recognition practices.

See if your current communication plans cover the following:

  • Senior leader talking points.
  • Ongoing content management updates for your recognition programs.
  • Resource materials to teach principles of effective recognition giving.
  • Communication broadcasts and campaigns to reinforce and remind.
  • Event promotion and award notification reminders.
  • Guidelines for giving effective award presentations.


It is important to create the right look and feel for your recognition programs, practices, and promotional content. This requires some marketing and branding professionals, or external consultation, to help develop an image that reflects the needs of recognition with the company branding.

You might need some short-term investment in areas such as:

  • Developing an acceptable program name and usage of the final program name.
  • Designing graphics, logos, and collateral elements.
  • Branding guidelines with a color palette, typography, and use of logos and photographs in the recognition program.

When your programs and communications look the part then recognition will be more appealing to engage with.

Vendor Administration Fees

If you are considering procuring the services of a recognition service provider for your programs, you’ll have to be prepared for the different types of services you contract for.

For example, the following maybe costs you would have to incur:

  • Setup fees. These are typically variable in the actual cost amount. They are based on the scope of the project contracted. If you have had a previous vendor, for example, there will likely be vendor conversion fees to cover the transition costs.
  • Ongoing administration fees. Depending on the scope of the recognition programs, these ongoing administration fees will vary according to the level of customer service requested and types of recognition programs required. Typical, out-of-the-box solutions have set rates or a bank of IT support hours and marketing/communications hours included in the total costs.
  • Account management services. All account management services are routinely bundled into a per employee per month (PEPM) fee or an annual administrative fee. In rare cases, fees can increase if the client seeks customizable reported or other services beyond the statement of work.
  • Other support services. You may need to allocate funds for enhanced IT platform development costs or additional marketing and communications materials, such as printed items like posters, etc.

Like many things in life, you pay for what you get. Fees for outsourced services, such a recognition service provider, can bring peace of mind knowing you have a complete solution.

Learning and Development

Another best practice that can be low on evaluation scores is education and training around employee recognition. Consider that WorldatWork, in their 2017 Trends in Employee Recognition survey, found that only 13 percent of managers receive formal training on their company’s recognition programs.

Now, imagine if you had the funding or better investment in recognition education. You could do some or all of the following:

  • Completing the annual education and training plan and objectives.
  • Incorporating in-class instruction and recognition education into your leadership curriculum.
  • Developing and designing online micro-learning content on specific recognition skills needed in your company.
  • Creating and managing the regular content development of articles and other resources on giving meaningful employee recognition.

Putting an emphasis on educating and training people, on the why and how of recognition giving is an essential investment to make recognition happen.

As you can see, there are a lot of areas to choose from, when you’re looking to spend monies and time wisely with initiating or enhancing employee recognition practices and programs.

Recognition Reflection: Which one or two resource areas do you need right now to drive recognition 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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