The 3 Fundamentals of Employee Recognition Programs

Everyone agrees that employee recognition is important but there is a limited consensus on the right way to go about it. From giving away vacations for outstanding job performance to stapling gold stars on a board of construction paper, employee recognition varies from organization to organization depending on culture, managerial styles and arguably the most determining factor: financial resources.

Philly311 celebrated it's 5 millionth call and 4th anniversary this past December

At the Philly311 Non-Emergency Contact Center, our employee recognition program is most affected by financial constraints. Being a department in municipal government, we do not have the money to send our agents to a tropical island every time they record a 100% customer satisfaction rating. (Although it’s clear they deserve it) While we can’t give our agents recognition with a huge price tag, however, we were able to create an outstanding employee-led recognition committee; it works for us financially, while still making the call center fun for the employees who deserve it most. I think there are three components to our program that could work for any organization’s employee recognition efforts.

Sustainability: Create a program that is either completely or partially self-sustaining. For us, we created a bi-weekly raffle that occurs after payday. Employees pay a dollar per ticket and win a prize of the recognition committee’s choosing. The money collected from the raffle goes partly to the next week’s prize; the rest goes into the recognition committee’s fund.

The Right Employees: While it’s probably not a good idea to keep any employee from participating in an employee recognition committee, as a manager you can choose who chairs the program. When choosing a chair it’s important to look at the employee who is enthusiastic about his/her job, who gets satisfaction from daily tasks and is proud of the organization. This energy will spread throughout the committee—through its programs and events and help to make your organization more tight-knit and committed to success from the bottom-up.

Empowerment: If you create a program that’s led by employees, let them lead it—they know what they want better than you do. Giving employee-led committees the power to design their own events and manage their own funds only creates a greater sense of trust and appreciation. The bonus is that employees will be more satisfied with events and parties if they’re the ones calling the shots. It’s a win-win.

How do you recognize your employees? Does your organization incorporate these three factors into your employee recognition program? Let me know in the comments.

0a87dc88be2bd3c4377aed9a2380550eRosetta Carrington Lue is the Chief Customer Service Officer and Senior Advisor to the City of Philadelphia’s Managing Director. Follow Rosetta on Twitter @Rosettalue or visit her blog at

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