Why the Majority of Formal Employee Recognition Programs Don’t Work

3 min read
Apr 27, 2016

Why the Majority of Formal Employee Recognition Programs Don’t Work by TINYpulseHow do you recognize the hard work of your employees? If you’re like most business owners and managers, you probably offer your employees bonuses at the end of the year to reward their hard work. You might also have an Employee of the Month program where you celebrate your best worker — or even an Employee Appreciation Day where you celebrate your entire team. Maybe you send out group emails to congratulate individuals on a job well done.

While these more common types of formal employee recognition programs can help motivate your team, they often fail. Here’s why:


Management Doesn’t Follow Through

Imagine you’ve just put an employee recognition program in place — great job! A few months later, business picks up because your employees are increasingly engaged. Because you’re busier, however, you shift your focus away from your employee recognition program. Tsk, tsk, tsk.

Management’s lack of follow-through on employee recognition is one of the main reasons why programs fail.  


Employees Don’t Have An Equal Chance of Being Recognized

Let’s say you have an Employee of the Month program. Over the course of the year, you’ve recognized the hard work of seven employees, with three of those people earning the distinction twice and one of them earning it three times.

Thing is, the rest of the team has noticed you tend to play favorites with the employees you work directly with most frequently. When all team members don’t feel as though they have the same chance of being recognized, programs fail.


The Incentives Aren’t What Employees Want

Why the Majority of Formal Employee Recognition Programs Don’t Work by TINYpulseSOURCE: reactiongifs.com

The right incentives can go a long way toward motivating your employees. On the other hand, if your employees aren’t interested in the incentives you’re offering, there’s a good chance your employee recognition program won’t work. Who wants to work extra hard to get a reward they don’t want?


Recognition Isn’t Given Frequently Enough

Many businesses believe that a guaranteed bonus given at the end of the year is the only employee recognition initiative they need. But your employees bust their tails for you day in and day out. Thanks to the resulting lack of encouragement, recognition programs fail when employees are only rewarded on an annual basis.


Management Doesn’t Ask for Feedback

Why the Majority of Formal Employee Recognition Programs Don’t Work by TINYpulseSOURCE: giphy.com

Employee recognition programs are designed to motivate employees and keep them engaged. Since that’s the case, what better way is there to build a successful program than by asking employees what, precisely, motivates them? If you want to design your recognition program on your own, that’s fine. Just be sure to solicit feedback from your employees from time to time to improve it.


Recognition Programs Aren’t Measured

It’s one thing to launch an employee recognition program. It’s a whole different thing to measure its effectiveness. If you want your recognition efforts to be successful, it is critical that you are able to determine, with certainty, that they are working. To gauge the success of your efforts, you can look at whether employee retention rates improve after you enact your recognition program.

Great employee recognition programs can help increase employee engagement — which in turn strengthens your bottom line. If you’re guilty of trying to recognize your employee’s efforts with a run-of-the-mill program, you may be doing more harm than good.



The Effects of Employee Recognition & Appreciation Report by TINYpulse


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