Incentive Awards for Employees: Employee Recognition Programs

Date: May 4, 2022
employee recognition

For businesses that want to create a high performing culture, a the right incentive awards for employees in your recognition program are vital. Recognizing people isn’t just a basic human need, it’s a powerful tool that in the right hands can be used to increase motivation, boost engagement and send your productivity soaring.

Put simply employee rewards and recognition programs are the secret sauce behind some of the world’s best corporate cultures. 

If you haven’t already implemented one in your organization, the good news is that thanks to employee rewards and recognition platforms like Bucketlist, it’s now easier than ever to build an effective program. The bad news however is that companies can sometimes struggle to get their people to participate in their program once it’s been launched. 

So to help you make sure that your employee recognition program is firing on all cylinders, we thought we’d take a look at how you can set expectations and encourage uptake among your employees. 

The Problem with Participation in Employee Incentive and Recognition Programs

employee recognition program

Before we start to think about fixing the problem of participation, we’ve first got to understand why employees are reluctant to engage with recognition and reward programs in the first place. 

Part of the problem is that people are naturally resistant to change. One study found that 81% of employees would rather their roles and duties stayed the same rather than adjusting to new practices, tools and technologies. 

More commonly in our experience however, the problem isn’t that employees are reluctant to embrace reward and recognition programs, it’s that they don’t know how to. Indeed in many cases people simply don’t know when it’s appropriate to recognize someone for their actions, how often they should do it, or even if it’s something that should be led by them or their managers. 

That’s why setting employee expectations for your employee recognition program is so important.

How to Create a Culture of Engagement with Employee Incentive Awards

If you’re looking to get your people to participate in your rewards and recognition program, here are five tips to help you create a culture of engagement

1. Communication is key when it comes to an employee recognition program

If you’re planning to implement effective recognition within your organization you’ve got to do more than send out an email and add a line to the company newsletter. Educating your people on what your program is going to look like and how you want them to use it is going to be vital to its success. Alongside the how and the what, it’s also important that you tell your employees why you’re implementing a program in the first place as this will help them to see the value of rewards and recognition for themselves. 

Find out how to maximize participation with an effective communications plan. 

employee recognition program

2. Start from the top

Typically where managers lead, your people will follow. That rings doubly true for employee recognition programs because people assign more value to acknowledgement they receive from management figures. According to a recent Gallup survey more than a quarter of employees said that the most memorable recognition comes from managers. So if you’re looking to create a culture of engagement make sure that it starts from the top and you’ll soon be reaping the benefit of the trickle down effect. 

employee recognition progam

3. But don’t forget the power of peer-to-peer

It’s not just managers who can help to fuel a successful employee recognition and rewards program however, your people have a vital role to play too. In the wake of the global pandemic and the rapid shift to remote or hybrid working that many of us have experienced, one of the most popular trends we’re seeing is the rise of peer-to-peer recognition. Fuelled by a desire to recreate the kind of interpersonal connections that punctuated office working, peer-to-peer recognition is a simple but effective tool that can help to create a buzz around your program and ensure that your entire organization wants to get involved. 

employee recognition program

4. Make it timely

Some recognition programs fail because people don’t engage with them often enough. Others falter when too much recognition dilutes its effectiveness. The key to getting the balance just right is not how much or little recognition you share, but when you share it. In our always on interconnected world people are used to receiving feedback in real time, so it’s no use waiting for someone’s end of year review in order to praise their good work. Indeed according to researchers, the effectiveness of recognition starts to wear off in just one week, so the best time to acknowledge someone’s efforts is as soon as possible. 

timely employee recognition

5. Help people to understand their impact 

In order to successfully implement incentive awards for employees you’ve got to make sure it aligns with your company’s values and echoes the kind of culture you want to create. Today’s top talent aren’t just looking for a paycheck, they’re looking for a purpose. That means that you need to ensure that your employees can directly connect the actions they’re being rewarded for, with the goals, vision and purpose of your organization as a whole. This helps individuals to see the impact their efforts have on the bigger picture, and creates roadmap for success that both they and the company as a whole can strive towards. 

To find out more about Bucketlist’s platform visit or contact us for a free demo. We’d love to help you improve your company’s employee recognition program!

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