Workplace Incentives: How to Maximize Program Participation

Date: March 9, 2022
employee participation

If you’ve just secured (or are on your way to securing) management buy-in to launch an employee recognition program, you might be feeling excited to see your ideas come to life. You might also find yourself feeling anxious about taking the next steps. What if the whole workplace incentives program is a total flop and your employee engagement with it isn’t what you imagined? 

Not to worry — this can be avoided with careful planning before, during, and after you launch your recognition program. In this post, we’ll share a few ways you can maximize participation in your employee recognition program as you go through the rollout process so that you’ll be on your way to building that strong culture of connection your organization has been missing. 

Before launching your employee recognition program 

Keep it simple 

There are plenty of creative ways you can build recognition practices into your company culture, like encouraging managers to give recognition in departmental meetings, creating service awards, or encouraging peer to peer recognition. But ultimately, when building recognition programs you don’t want to go overboard and add so many components that they become overwhelming to participate in. This is why many leading organizations have shifted to using purpose-built recognition software. These tools keep matters simple by centralizing recognition practices all in one place for staff at all levels of the company to see. A huge plus of recognition platforms is that they are built to integrate into popular company communication tools and workflows to make giving and receiving recognition a straightforward task. Before you roll out your recognition program, evaluate how easy or complex it is to understand, and decide whether the use of employee recognition software will help you reach your goals more easily. 

employee recognition

Get your leadership team on board as employee recognition champions 

Building a strong culture of recognition is a team effort. The best way to inspire your whole company to participate in your workplace incentives program is to involve the company leaders within your organization first. Having your leadership team model the behavior you want to see rippled through your company as program champions is one of the best ways to make the most impact since people are likely to repeat the behaviors they see from those they look up to. 

employee recognition

Before you launch your employee recognition program to the whole company, host a few dedicated meetings with your leadership team to:

  • Explain the structure and goals of your employee recognition program.
  • Encourage their active participation in the program on a regular basis.
  • Share examples of outstanding behavior and employee achievements to look for as well as best practices for giving peer recognition when it is due.
  • Get them familiar with your chosen recognition tool and how to use it, e.g. training sessions on how to use the software to give sincere recognition.
  • Encourage them to get comfortable giving public recognition within your recognition software. This will help populate the dashboard with lots of activity to see by the time your entire company joins in.
  • Discuss any ways leaders are currently giving private recognition (like treating employees to lunch, giving them gift cards, or giving kudos in departmental meetings) that can be taken online to live on your dashboard for the whole company to see instead.

Using this top-down approach will help set the tone for the rest of your organization to follow. 

During the launch of your employee recognition program

Generate hype with a strong communications strategy 

How you launch your workplace incentives program is everything. If you fail at generating enough excitement around your program or developing enough awareness around its launch, it’s not likely your staff are going to be very eager to participate. 

employee recognition

It’s up to you to decide what marketing mediums you want to use to launch your program, but we recommend going with a marketing mix of internal communications so you have more than one touchpoint to excite your staff with for a positive impact. Some ideas are: 

  • Sharing a teaser of your upcoming program launch through a dedicated internal email newsletter.
  • Inviting your workforce to a special company-wide town hall meeting or Zoom meeting where you can present the details of your program and answer any questions.
  • Sharing the program on company-wide communications tools like Slack where your employees are already very active so it can’t be missed.
  • Developing an engaging launch video that you can share in-person at your launch event, over Slack, or distribute over email.

Now that you have some ideas on where and how you can launch your program, here are a few things to cover during your launch: 

Just like with your leadership team, share the big picture of your recognition program with your staff. Explain the reasons for starting the program and the benefits you expect to see both short and long term. Be sure to always mention what’s in it for them.

  • Share concrete examples of everyday behaviors that are eligible for recognition.
  • Give a demonstration of the software tools you’re going to be rolling out as part of your recognition, using examples.
  • Direct your staff to training resources so they can develop the technical know-how of how to use your recognition platform. You can develop your own branded version of this, or turn to existing training materials from your software providers.
  • Assign a program representative so that your employees always know where they can direct their questions and get assistance if needed. 

Successful employee recognition programs that drive employee engagement come paired with strong communication strategies that clearly share the tangible benefits of the program.

After launching your workplace incentives program 

Regularly look for opportunities to increase your program’s visibility 

How do you keep the buzz around your employee recognition program alive once your staff have gotten in the flow of it? Always be on the lookout for ways to shed light on your recognition program both in the office and in your internal company communications. If your company offers a hybrid working model, then you need to make sure you’re doing both. 

employee recognition

Some ideas for increasing the visibility of your program are to: 

  • • Display a live stream of your employee recognition software on TV monitors around the office so employees can regularly see their peers giving recognition for a job well done.
  • • Dedicate sections of your internal newsletter, town hall meetings, and quarterly company events to sharing recognition highlights from your dashboard.
  • • Stay on top of communications from your recognition software vendor in case they release any new integrations for tools your company is currently using. The more you can wiggle your program into your existing workflows and in tools like Microsoft Teams and Slack, the more reminders your workforce will get to engage with it, and the easier it will be to help keep your program top of mind. 

Launching your recognition program can be a very exciting time and the start of a brand new chapter in your company’s history. We hope we’ve given you some good ideas on how to maximize participation and engagement with your new program and helped you understand the work that needs to be done before, during, and after launch for it to truly be a success. 

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