Can you create your own employee recognition scheme?

I was recently talking to some employees in a very sales-centric call centre and it became apparent that even the most money-oriented workers crave recognition for the efforts they make that don’t necessarily translate into -or result in- sales figures. This was a mixture of turning around customer opinion, resolving complex problems for customers, and helping colleagues.

By: James Blair on

They loved, and thrived on, the financial incentives and bonuses that a successful day, week, or month on the phones could bring, but the other side of that same coin was the sting of not having these other (often not insignificant) efforts and achievements recognised. It’s a double whammy to spend time helping customers or colleagues if that is time off the calls that, therefore, negatively impacts the sales figures on which you are recognised!

It was, therefore, a bit of a no-brainer that a non-performance-focused recognition scheme was required to accompany the existing target-related financial rewards. This is a living example of some of the stat’s and findings from various studies around employee recognition and engagement.

And that got to me thinking about the types of recognition and reward, and whether a meaningful scheme could be set-up in-house.

Most companies like to believe that they are doing a good job of thanking and rewarding their employees. The sad truth is that many of their employees disagree. And employers that want to keep hold of their best people need to address this quickly.

Social recognition can be set-up pretty easily – shout-outs, congratulations and digital badges can show appreciation and recognise individuals’ efforts and achievements. This is a great first step and, as long as it’s maintained (and not abandoned at the arrival of the first competing objective), can absolutely boost morale and engagement.

Monetary recognition is also reasonably easy to instigate and run effectively. As per the call centre example, avoid falling into the trap of only offering rewards for target-related performance. You want to be encouraging team-working, inter-team support, collaborative working, loyalty and other significant achievements here. It’s not all about cold hard cash, either. Gift vouchers or cards are hugely popular. Early finishes, an extra day’s leave, and trips or events are other options. The call centre mentioned above is planning team meals and competitive bowling nights (lockdown permitting).

Peer-to-peer recognition is a little harder to set-up and will take more ongoing manpower if you are going to run this yourself. But peer-to-peer feedback is an essential part of an effective recognition package. Giving recognition and appreciation is as morale-boosting for employees as receiving it. The opportunity to thank your colleagues in a structured and formalised way can reap huge rewards in terms of team-building, engagement and a broader sense of belonging. This part of your recognition offering may, then, be better left to the experts or outsourced to save you or your frazzled HR team the extra workload!

Of course, any recognition scheme should be aligned to the company’s culture so that the right behaviours are recognised, shared and, therefore, encouraged.

Top-level buy-in is essential from the start, and the recognition needs to be frequent and ongoing. (The outsourced peer-to-peer platform should assist greatly with this by providing real-time recognition.) It’s also advisable to run the odd promotional campaign to keep interest in the scheme high. Recognition is a much-needed positive (especially in the current universe of concerns and uncertainties) so keep it fun.

With everything that’s going on right now, this may not feel like the right time to be health-checking your internal comms and staff engagement but, actually, this is the perfect time to engage, reassure, motivate and recognise your teams. It’s more important than ever as we move into the next stage of wherever we’re all going!

The reward for all of this recognition and appreciation is a team that recognise and appreciate you as their employer as well as their colleagues. And that is almost priceless.