Is It Time to Rethink Your Employee Recognition Program?

employee recognition program

Guest Article Written By Kristy Sundjaja

Reward and recognition programs have a tendency to get on auto pilot, with a few star employees and top sales people lauded by management the same time every year as crystal trophies collect on a handful of desks. But as a new breed of employee enters the workforce—one the values rewards and recognition for a job well done—companies are starting to turning to these programs as a way to keep their entire staff satisfied, motivated and productive.

For LivePerson, a leading provider of digital engagement, we’ve looked to reward and recognition programs as one way to keep our 1,200 employees invested in not only their own success, but that of the company. And we’re not the only ones that are investing heavily into programs like this. Nearly 75% of companies have some kind of program in place.

However, after an internal employee survey conducted in 2013 uncovered that LivePerson employees weren’t satisfied with the current methods of recognition, we knew we had to rethink this critical element of the employee journey.

Designing an Employee Recognition Program Where Everyone Wins

The first step in redesigning our recognition program was to look to our mission of creating meaningful connections, and our values of being and owner and helping others. Using those established ideals, we created a reward and recognition program, the Outstanding Employee Awards, that served to recognize our employees. This program also brought them closer together through the peer-to-peer nomination style while shedding light on the behaviors of our most successful employees. The results were phenomenal. We had almost 600 nominations from across our company, an engagement rate that more than doubled our goal. And not only did the winners feel great, but their peer nominators felt involved and heard as well.

Here are some ways that you can use your company’s culture to establish a strong program to reward and recognize your employees and involve everyone, not just a select few “usual suspects”:

Encourage peer-to-peer recognition. Employees are the ones that see the day-to-day success and accomplishments of their peers — especially those who are behind the scenes and might not have lots of public exposure. It not only inspires more connection and collaboration among employees, but colleague recognition can make a bigger impact than manager recognition (not to mention it’s 35% more likely to have an financial impact than manager recognition).

Involve a community aspect. Millennials want more than just a job that pays the bills. Instead, they are looking for purpose and expect the companies they work for to give back to the community in one way or another. Including a volunteer day is an easy way to make employees feel good about themselves and their company.

Connect them with leadership. In large, global companies especially, employees can feel pretty disconnected from the executive team. A chance to spend some time with them outside of the office can go a long way to making an employee feel special.

Give them a break. In this digital era, employees tend to work around the clock, even on what should be a stress-free vacation. This can lead to serious work fatigue, so encourage them to shut down the laptops, stay off their emails for a few days, and get some R&R.

Look past cliché team activities. Bringing your employees together for a day of fun is a great way to connect them, especially if your company, like LivePerson, believes that true innovation comes from collaboration. Encourage team or group activities that they wouldn’t normally do, but be sure to look past the ‘team building’ trust falls and look to more unique experiences that bring them closer together. And you may just uncover some hidden skills and talents that could be beneficial to the whole company.

Above all, stay true to your culture. Before your company launches into a reward and recognition program thinking that it’s the way to reboot unmotivated employees, it’s important to keep in mind how a program like this would fit into your own company’s culture.

Do you have other ideas that have worked to reward and recognize your employees? Please share!

KristySundjaja_54153Kristy Sundjaja is Chief of Staff and Global Head of People at LivePerson, the global leader in intelligent online consumer engagement. In her role, Kristy integrates and aligns business and people strategies to deliver the company mission of creating meaningful connections to consumers and brands. LivePerson currently employs 1,200 people in 13 locations around the world