6 Employee Rewards Program Mistakes


Gina couldn’t understand what was going on. She rolled out an employee rewards program last year, but it didn’t seem to be working as well as she saw at other locations.

What did she do wrong?

In order to reap the benefits of an employee recognition program, you have to do it right. If you make these six mistakes in your employee recognition program, you aren’t likely to see any benefits at all. Even worse, you might actually decrease employee engagement.

1. Inconsistent

The annual awards banquet is a staple in many organizations, but it shouldn’t be the only time employees are recognized and rewarded. It can be difficult to visualize something that happens once a year. If you recognize your employees each month based on their achievement, they will be more consistent month-to-month (versus yearly recognition).

2. Untimely

In recognition, as in life, timing is everything. When an employee does something worth recognizing, it’s important to not wait long before recognizing and rewarding them. If you wait too long, they may forget what they’re being recognized for. Or, even worse, they might be frustrated that you waited so long.

Provide recognition as soon as possible after the employee does exemplary work. This builds on the sense of achievement they’re already feeling about what they’ve done.

3. Generic

One size does not fit all when it comes to rewards. If you’re giving the same reward to everyone, it’s not individually rewarding. This is a core problem with “employee of the month” awards. Instead, use personalization. Find out what your employees want, then offer them the opportunity to earn it. Similarly, vary the incentive to reflect the effort needed to achieve it. Bigger goals deserve bigger awards.

In order to reap the benefits of an employee recognition program, you have to do it right.

4. One Winner

Another mistake some companies make is creating a program where only one person can win. If everyone thinks that “Jack from sales” is the one who is going to win, they might not even try. Instead, create categories for multiple rewards and winners.

5. Arbitrary

One of the biggest mistakes companies make when implementing an employee rewards program is giving the appearance that the rewards are based on random choice. At best, employees won’t know what to do to earn the reward. At worst, you might look like you’re playing favorites. You need to make sure that everyone knows exactly what they need to do in order to earn the reward. Make it clear that your program is objective and fair.

6. Private

While private recognition is always appreciated, the best reward programs are publicly presented. If someone is doing something well, shout it from the rooftops. Not only is it rewarding for the person who receives the recognition, but it’s motivating for everyone else in your company.

Bringing it all together

When you plan and implement your monthly employee rewards program, keep the following things in mind:

  1. Be consistent
  2. Be timely
  3. Personalize each award
  4. Create categories based on your organizational structure
  5. Develop a specific system so employees know how they can win
  6. Present awards publicly, in front of the entire team

If you’d like to have a conversation with someone from MyEmployees, write us here or schedule a quick call that fits your calendar.

Want more information on how to run your recognition program? Visit our Recognition ABC’s page. There, you’ll find free tips and tricks about how you can improve employee recognition, including:

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