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How to Start an Employee Award Program

After manufacturing giant 3M introduced its Annual Energy Recognition program which highlights engineers and employees who promote green initiatives the company noted a 22 percent improvement in energy efficiency from 2005 to 2009 and accrued $100 million in savings, according to the U.S.

Department of Energy. North Carolina-based food chain Bojangles installed the Bo Star awards program, which regularly awarded employees who would go above and beyond the call of duty in customer service. According to Hcareers, Bojangles was able to reduce employee turnover by 40 percent after the program started.

Joie De Vivre Hotels of San Francisco reported the same effect after installing an employee reward and recognition program, adding that employee satisfaction increased tremendously as well.

The message is clear: Employee rewards programs get results. According to a survey conducted by Bersin and Associates, businesses with successful programs had 31 percent less voluntary turnover compared to other companies. Moreover, the same study reported that workplaces that recognized staff enjoyed better employee engagement, productivity and customer service when compared to organizations that didn't practice recognition.

Employee award programs are a great way to improve morale. More than that, they can produce measurable returns that benefit your company. However, not just any reward program can produce the same outcomes measured by researchers and used by successful organizations. It takes careful planning to implement a successful employee reward program.

Launching an Effective Employee Rewards Program

The ground rules First and foremost, it's important that you establish a clear and concise list of rules regarding your employee program and make sure all of your workers understand the guidelines thoroughly. Misunderstandings can make recognition programs tricky. If your workforce doesn't know how to earn an award, they can't be expected to perform to match the criteria.

Worse yet, without a detailed program template, employees may suspect favoritism when certain workers are rewarded over others. That's why creating a shareable written rubric is key. Not only does a sleek and easy-to-follow document put everyone on the same page, but it can encourage other positive effects as well.

Designing a shareable document makes it easy to remind workers about program's goals and guidelines, which can spur participation. Also, that document will make it simple for employees to track their own success and measure how they stack up in your model which can improve several facets of your business based on your criteria.

Award Program Best Practices

Strategy is everything, and optimizing your award program in a way that serves the business is critical. The first step: base your program on easy to measure units. Remember, someone will have to run the numbers for this program regularly to give it credibility. You want to show exactly why one employee is being rewarded. Talking about specific goals that were hit and examples of exceptional performance gives legitimacy to your program and can help motivate others. Moreover, it can help personalize the experience and make the process special for award recipients. Here are a few examples of programs that are easy and some that are more difficult to quantify.

Top Salesman Rewards

A tried and true employee award, the top salesman project awards employees based directly on sales metrics. The more an employee earns for the company, the more likely they'll receive recognition and an award. It's the easiest measurement around and normally the data is already collected to begin with.

Customer Service Superstar

Workers may not be linked directly to sales, but they may still interact with clients and assist in retention, which is a perfect opportunity to start a customer service-based awards program. Less quantifiable, these programs rely on call center metrics, customer feedback and other review services. An added bonus, these programs show workers how their effort benefits people directly and can show them that what they do is recognized. Outstanding performer Less quantifiable than the other two, an outstanding performance program is based on individual instances when employees go above and beyond on the job. You'll have to document these occasions, but this method can benefit the workplace tremendously. Focus on acknowledging stellar job performance and times when employees embody behaviors your company seeks to perpetuate.

Create a Timeline

No matter what program type you choose, it's essential that you create a timeline that the project follows. You'll want to make time for program updates, reminders and goalposts that can fuel productivity and engagement. For example, instead of setting one award-winning quota during a quarter, set a series of benchmarks that lead up to the quota. This will make it easier for workers to follow along and push forward when milestones come up. Additionally, working company events into the reward program timeline can create a big incentive for employees gearing up for important business meetings or other projects. Of course, this also means picking a particular time for the big event.

Hosting an Awards Ceremony

Having an award ceremony is critical. These events create a valuable opportunity to recognize an employee and highlight company successes. There are a few facets to scheduling the most affecting award celebration.

Gather as many people as possible. There's a delicate balance to consider when making an award ceremony mandatory or not. The event should be fun and lighthearted, but primarily it needs a large turnout to be truly effective. Being recognized by your coworkers is a huge motivator in and of itself. Moreover, one employee's success can inspire another to try harder. Not only that, broadcasting an employee's achievements can help other workers get an understanding of the broader picture. It can show how your organization fits into the greater scheme of the industry and showcase how the company improves the lives of others. It all starts with a big turnout.

The prize is the most important part. All of the work you and your employees pour into this program leads up to one critical thing: the award. First and foremost, that means the prize must be meaningful. Simply doling out money or giving a gift card doesn't make the occasion feel important. You want a personalized gift, one that is thoughtful and garners the attention of the workplace at large. This is why so many organizations focus on crystal awards and plaques. These prizes come with clout and distinction. You can go above and beyond by making these gifts cater to the individual personally. Inscribe a custom message or provide an additional gift that pertains directly to an employee's interests. You want to make the experience memorable, and the best way to do that is catering directly to a worker's likes and tastes.

Customer Favorite Recognition Awards

Updated Saturday 11-26-2022
Double Victoria Jade Award
from Michele Random of Boise Idaho

Double Victoria Jade Award

Amazing Quality Awards
Highly recommend Successories products. I have ordered from them for years and they never disappoint. High quality and very well made products!

Brilliance Acrylic Award
from Audrey of Undisclosed

Brilliance Acrylic Award

Perfectly Professional and Portable!
The award was perfect! Our work team wanted a sturdy award that looks professional and will present nicely and last throughout the recipients career but it also has to be able to be shipped around the world. Love the accent color to give it more flare and the font size and proportion were spot on. Very nice product, will be ordering more!

Flare Crystal Award
from Jaimee of Undisclosed

Flare Crystal Award

Sleek and Elegant - Must Buy!
I chose this product to award the champion of our inaugural ping pong tournament and was impressed with the clean etching and vibrancy of the blue embellishment. It came in a sleek black box with a magnetic clasp for safe keeping. Can't wait to present this to our employee!

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