Employee recognition is the timely, informal or formal acknowledgement of a person’s or team’s behavior, effort or business result that supports the organization’s goals and values, and which has clearly been beyond normal expectations. It can be seen as a communication tool that reinforces and rewards the most important outcomes people create for your business. When you recognize people effectively, you reinforce, with your chosen means of recognition, the actions and behaviors you most want to see people repeat.

Nearly six out of 10 HR professionals say top management fails to make recognition a priority, and only 38 percent say top managers are very involved in employee recognition and lead by example. These are some of the findings of an online survey of more than 1,000 HR professionals from U.S. organizations, by HR.com and Terryberry Co., an employee recognition program provider. “One of the key defining traits of any successful organization is in how it recognizes and rewards people,” said Anthony Luciano, senior vice president of sales and marketing for TharpeRobbins, a recognition and rewards provider, in a statement.

To be effective, recognition must be linked to measurable performance and specific behavior. That means determining what the corporation values, communicating those values to managers and those who report to them, encouraging expressions of appreciation, and awarding spot recognition to individuals (and to teams) that do excellent work.

  • Determine Corporate Objectives

The first step in building an employee recognition program in your organization would then be to determine corporate objectives and communicate them effectively to the entire organization. The department driving the recognition program should be clear on what they want to achieve from such a program.

  • Create Goals and Action Plans

The second step would be to create goals and action plans to achieve these objectives bringing your employees one step closer to being recognized. “Presenteeism,” or just showing up at work and doing the minimum is responsible for $150 billion in direct and indirect costs to American businesses annually, a study in the Harvard Business Review found out. By rewarding attendance, you’re putting out a message that showing up in office is valued and indirectly lowering costs incurred by the company.

  • Transparency in Process

No recognition program should go without clear guidelines on equality in the specified program.The program should not be seen by employees as being partial or done with vested interest which would ultimately backfire on the organization. To avoid this clear policy should be laid out on the set of actions which can be rewarded and the details on who has authority to do so must be stated before the program is launched. In fact the approach and content of the recognition program should be seen as consistent throughout the organization.

  • Implement a Tangible Recognition Program

Employees feel most appreciated when their manager recognizes them, even more so than if the big boss does. And expressions of recognition don’t have to bust anyone’s limited budget. But if you have an ‘informal’ recognition program, you don’t have a recognition program. Unless the program is spelled out and managers across the organization are using it, you don’t have an effective recognition program.