It’s no secret that employee rewards are important for any company. Rewards boost morale and make employees feel like they are essential to a business.
In 2018, TINYpulse released an interesting report on the importance of employee recognition. This report was pre-pandemic, and we can only imagine that these numbers are even higher given the stresses of the past three years. Back then, 77% of employees said they didn’t feel strongly valued for their work.
The study also reported that well-recognized employees rate their likelihood of working at the same company in one year as 27% higher than their less-recognized coworkers. Clearly, employee recognition makes a difference to a company’s well-being.
It’s also no secret that retaining top talent is essential for a thriving business. Organizing a regular employee appreciation program can give your office the boost it needs to help your business flourish.
A good appreciation program can happen every month or once every three months. Even a once-a-year program can make a difference and doesn’t need to cost a lot to make an impact. What’s more important than the cost is when your employees can see that you’ve put some thought into it.
Five Basic Steps to Start an Employee Recognition Program
We love (and research shows) that giving people lists is a great way to learn how to get things done. Lists make it easier to remember information because they break it up into parts.
Stuart Fischoff, an expert in media psychology and the senior editor of the Journal of Media Psychology, says:
“We end up coming up with a reduction technique to simplify data. If we can break things up into chunks of meaningful data, it’s much easier for us to store and remember them.”
Step 1: Decide what you want your recognition program to accomplish.
Generally, we all understand why it’s important to treat our employees well and make them feel valued. But a top-rate employee appreciation program should be tailored to your company and your people.
What purpose will this serve your company? One way to answer this question is to consider your company’s values. What behaviors — connected to your values — are you hoping to reinforce?
Do you want to highlight the employees who show outstanding leadership or customer service? Maybe your company has been working on a large project, and you want to recognize someone for going above and beyond the call of duty.
Once you figure out the specific objectives of your program and choose the reward that will reinforce your company’s goals, your employees will get the message in a different and possibly more powerful way than being told with words.
Step 2: Decide on what criteria make an employee eligible.
If your team members are going to be inspired to be eligible for this rewards program, they’ll have to understand what it will take to qualify clearly.
How often will you give out this award, and what will it take for them to apply and be considered?
Here are some factors to consider as you answer these questions:
- Will both full-time and part-time employees be eligible? How about temps and interns?
- Will you have a requirement that the person is employed with you for a certain amount of time before they can be eligible for the reward?
- Can the same employee receive the reward more than once?
- Who will be involved in the selection process?
- Can those involved in the selection process be eligible as well?
- What criteria will you use to measure an employee’s success for a particular recognition program?
- Will you use several small programs, a few medium-sized or one large program?
Step 3: Decide how you’ll choose your winner.
How will you decide who deserves to be recognized? Will the team choose a winner, or will the boss make that decision? Will you go for a nomination system?
If that suits your company’s ethos, figure out who can nominate, when, and what should be included.
Consider developing a nomination form where employees can articulate their candidate’s great achievements to your company. Allowing your employees to have input into selecting the winner will further build up your team spirit.
Remember that employee recognition ideas that work for another company may not work for yours. The best employee recognition programs are not the “one size fits all” type. Research and work hard to find the best option that recognizes your company’s culture.
Step 4: Decide what the award will be.
When choosing the actual award, the sky and your imagination are the limits.
The more meaningful it will be to the individual who wins the award, the more your employees will be convinced of their value and worth to you and the company.
Today’s most significant employment issues are different than before. Keeping your employees is taking more time and attention, and implementing a good employee recognition program can be a helpful way to keep your employees loyal.
Step 5: Make an announcement and get started.
Once you’ve completed the four steps above, you’ll be able to make an announcement and let everyone in the company know. You may want to wait until your next “everybody in” meeting, but if that’s too far away, consider sending an email or putting a notice in the staff room.
Whatever you do, make sure to build some excitement around the idea. For example, if you send out a mass email, create a video, a gift, or some other entertainment that will capture interest and get employees to lean in and participate.
If you decide to post the announcement in your staff room, make sure it comes with some bells and whistles. A dull sheet of printed paper probably won’t catch anyone’s attention. But bringing in your kid’s life-sized giraffe stuffie with a notice hung from its neck sure will. Get a big bunch of helium-filled balloons (think in three digits, not two) and float them in the room so no one will miss them. Tie each with a piece of curling ribbon with a small note explaining the program and how you’ll implement it.
You want to build excitement when you first make the announcement. And if you’ve done the work leading up to this announcement, you’ll get the buy-in you desire.
10 Employee Recognition Program Names for Inspiration
Along with all the other work you do to set up your employee recognition program, finding the right name is also essential. Studies report that many employees assume the recognition award will be as interesting as its name. And they won’t feel as engaged if the name doesn’t spark interest and curiosity.
We promised you a list of employee recognition program names that will inspire you and hopefully tie in with your brand and company values. Here are ten categories of suggestions that might help you create a personalized and meaningful connection between you and your staff.
1. Inspiring Recognition Program Names
It’s hard to overstate how inspiring people and names trigger a desire in all of us to follow in their footsteps. You hear a name like Mother Teresa, and most of us are inspired by her kindness and self-sacrifice when caring for those less fortunate than us.
The interest in Ted Talks is another proof that we are all inspired by those who set a goal and do everything in their power to achieve it. It takes a lot of self-discipline and dedication to one’s passions to achieve your goals. Individuals who adopt this trait can use it to empower those around them.
Some inspiring recognition program names include:
- Be Your Best Award
- The Extra Mile Program
- You Make A Difference Award
- Because Of You Program
- All Day, Every Day Award
- Circle Of Excellence Program
- The Wow Factor Program
2. Above and Beyond Recognition Program Names
Going above and beyond can also be called “having a good work ethic. A good work ethic means valuing and demonstrating good, quality, and hard work. Too often, people look for shortcuts, the easy way, the magic bullet, and the path of least resistance. When you have an employee who doesn’t do that, they deserve a little recognition.
Some above and beyond recognition program names include:
- Blood, Sweat, and Hard Work Award
- Celebrate Greatness Program
- Allstar Award
- Ace of Initiative Award
- Mr./Ms. Significant Award
- WOW Award
- Mountain Mover Award
- There When It Counts Program
- Brought the Thunder Award
- The Extra Mile Program
- Appreciate Great Program
3. Top-Performer Recognition Program Names
It takes confidence to calmly analyze situations and solve problems, even when a deadline is staring someone in the face. They know when to compromise and when to stand firm. In addition, high performers tend to have more extensive professional networks than average workers.
Some top-performer recognition program names include:
- WOW Award
- Ace of Initiative Award
- Attention World, Success is Here Award
- Pinnacle Award
- Outstanding Performer Award
- Standing Ovation Award
- Superstar Award
- Alpha Player Award
- Chairman’s Award
- Spotlight Program
- Beyond the Call of Duty Award
- Gold Star Award
- Everest Award
4. Team Recognition Program Names
A team player actively contributes to their group to complete tasks, meet goals or manage projects. Team players actively listen to their coworkers, respect ideas, and aim to improve the product or process at hand. Their value to your company can’t be overstated!
Some team recognition program names include:
- We Are the Champions Program
- Tireless Teamwork Award
- Team Impact Award
- Ace Alliance Award
- Big Kahuna Award
- Come Together Program
- Force to be Reckoned With Award
- League of Superheroes Award
- Super Sales Squad Award
- All Together Program
- The Dream Team Award
- Stronger Together Program
5. Peer-to-Peer Recognition Program Names
It’s one thing to want to work hard and qualify for a recognition award, but there’s something exceptional when your peers determine that you deserve it. Not only does it incentivize the award winner, but it also builds a climate where your employees are invested in rooting for each other.
Some peer-to-peer recognition program names include:
- Coworker Kudos Program
- Office Uplifter Award
- Associate Appreciation Award
- Unsung Heroes Program
- Everyday Hero Award
- Behind the Scenes Award
- Team Player Award
- Sidekick Salute Award
- Caught in the Act of Caring Award
- Standing Ovation Award
- Shout Out Program
- Thanks to U Program
6. Goals and Milestones Recognition Program Names
Whether you’re trying to encourage your employees to hit their goals or want to congratulate them on reaching a milestone, using a creative program or award name is always a great way to transform your employee’s experience through recognition.
Some goals and milestones recognition program names include:
- You Made the Difference Award
- Ready. Set. Done. Program
- Gold Medal Award
- Start to Finish Program
- Leadership Award
- The Completionist Award
- V12 Award
- Key Contributor Award
- You Did It! Award
7. Customer Service Recognition Program Names
It’s vital to reward the employees who are responsible for keeping your clients happy.
Essentially, the three critical qualities of customer service center around three “Ps: professionalism, patience, and a “people-first” attitude. Employees with these qualities make all the difference in a customer service company.
Some customer service recognition program names include:
- Customer Fanatic Award
- “How Can I Help?” Program
- Customer Whisperer Award
- Platinum Service Award
- Bright Smile Award
- “As You Wish” Award
- Client’s Best Friend Program
- Because of You Award
- Circle of Joy Award
- Make a Difference Program
8. Years of Service Recognition Program Names
You probably have employees who have dedicated years to supporting your company, and you can’t imagine doing well without them. Reward this type of dedication with a Years of Service award to celebrate their commitment and encourage others to follow their example.
Some years of service recognition program names include:
- Workplace Backbone Award
- Because You Matter Program
- Victory Lap Program
- Office Mentor Award
- Appreciate You Program
- Celebrate Careers Program
9. Retirement Employee Recognition Program Names
Once these dedicated employees do decide it’s time to retire and start their next season of life, you can’t let them go without a genuine thank you. Show your employees that you value them by installing long-term benefit programs and repaying their loyalty with heartfelt awards.
Some retirement employee recognition program names include:
- Dedication Award
- Extraordinary Service Award
- Legendary Award
- Exiting in Excellence Award
- Victory Lap Program
- Permanent Recess Award
- Legacy Award
- Fun with 401K Award
- Long Haul Award
- Steadfast Employee Award
10. Miscellaneous Recognition Program Names
It’s important to recognize those who have earned it; you don’t need to save them just for the usual workplace expectations. Reward those employees whose contributions aren’t as flashy or overt as some of their coworkers.
Here are a few examples:
- Saves the Day Award
- You Make Us Great Award
- Life Milestone Program
- Big Kahuna Award
- The Best of the Best Award
Lastly, remember that what gets recognized gets repeated. Connect recognition with your values and mission, so your employees can link their positive actions and your company’s overarching vision. Employees who see their peers getting rewarded will start changing their behavior.
Claudine is the Chief Relationship Officer at Level 6. She holds a master’s degree in industrial/organizational psychology. Her experience includes working as a certified conflict mediator for the United States Postal Service, a human performance analyst for Accenture, an Academic Dean, and a College Director. She is currently an adjunct Professor of Psychology at Southern New Hampshire University. With over 20 years of experience, she joined Level 6 to guide clients seeking effective ways to change behavior and, ultimately, their bottom line.