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Put Your Employees in the Spotlight with a Recognition Program

I recently went to the salad bar at a local grocery store.  When I got to the register, I realized I had left my wallet across town!  I had earned enough points to receive a free salad, but my bill was 76¢ over budget.  Amazingly, my clerk whipped out her own coin purse and paid for it!  After thanking her profusely, I immediately found a manager and sang her praises. I am hoping that the company did something with that report to applaud her efforts, because her actions meant a lot to me—and my growling stomach!

Have you ever had a customer praise one of your employees for going above and beyond?  Did you do something to celebrate that employee and their success?  You should have, because your employee helped strengthen your customer’s sense of loyalty to your store—and the odds are that the customer is going to return, as well as tell others about their positive experience.  And that will result in more traffic, more opportunities to gain loyalty, and increased sales!

Employee Recognition Programs are a great way to reward your team for their hard work, especially when they go the extra mile.  Winners—and nominees alike—can hold their heads high for being recognized among their peers for their contributions.  In addition, companies may experience increased employee morale and higher retention rates because employees are more satisfied with what they are doing.

I have worked for two different companies that had formal recognition programs, and both were very successful, even though they followed different approaches.  At my previous company, an employee received a special award—in this case a giant stuffed gorilla—for going “above and beyond”.  The employee was able to keep it at his or her desk for the month and was then tasked with nominating the next winner.  The rule was that nominees had to be from different departments, which encouraged employees to get to know one another, live up to their company’s core values and excel at their jobs.  Winners received other prizes as well, including a gift card and a smaller stuffed gorilla to keep forever. 

Here at CarterEnergy, we have two different peer-to-peer recognition programs that reward positive behavior, recognize contributions, encourage teamwork and promote job performance.  The first is a program that allows employees to distribute cards with special “cudos” messages to co-workers as a way to say “thank you” or to recognize someone for going “above and beyond” the call of duty.  Cudos cards are then redeemed for merchant gift cards, as well as entered into quarterly prize drawings.  The second program, initiated quarterly, recognizes and rewards employees who consistently exhibit the company’s values for success in everyday situations.  Employees submit nominations, which are reviewed by a special committee which determines the final winners, who receive a plaque and a gift certificate.

You may want to consider programs like the ones I’ve described, an “employee of the month” club, or a points program that takes into account accolades from customers (and other co-workers), observing great service first-hand, quarterly reviews, training programs, etc.  Depending on your business type, you may want to set up a toll-free number for customers to call to provide feedback about your employees.  This works great for front-liners in a service role, as well as your driving team.  You’d be surprised how many positive reviews come in via this method!  Be sure to include rewards that are appealing to your employees, such as gift cards, extra time off, or even an end-of-the-year party or bonus, etc.  Remember, you are in control and can set whatever parameters you want, making your program more traditional, or even fun and unique!

Everyone loves to be recognized for their accomplishments, big or small—and knowing that you’re appreciated can be very motivating to employees, encouraging positive behavior and excellent customer service.  In addition, these programs can say a lot about your company’s culture to the business community—and prospective employees, helping you attract better talent!

So the next time a customer approaches you about a positive experience, don’t ignore those words of praise; find a way to do give your employee more than a simple “thank you” for doing their job.  Put them in the spotlight and encourage them to keep that great service coming—because it’s going to contribute to your bottom line and your employee’s job satisfaction!


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