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3 Common Problems with Employee Recognition

Posted on August 27, 2015
Kayla DineenWritten by Kayla Dineen | Email author

Wait a minute… aren’t HR professionals typically writing about how important employee recognition is within an organization?  You may be a little thrown off by the title…well let me ease your mind, this blog will reiterate the fact that employee recognition plays a vital role in employee morale.  The problem with employee recognition is that many organizations are making significant attempts to recognize employees, but they’re not quite hitting the mark. Below are three common missteps that organizations make when administering an employee recognition program.

3 Common Problems with Employee Recognition Programs and What You Should Do Differently

  1. Employee recognition isn’t personalized. Leaders often recognize their employees in the same manner that they want to be recognized. Some individuals like hand-written notes, some value public recognition, others just need a simple thank you to affirm they are appreciated.  It’s important to understand how your employees want to be recognized and to personalize your efforts; this will make a significant impact on your staff and make them feel truly valued.
  2. Employee recognition is not communicated. I’ve worked with clients that have great recognition programs – spot bonus programs, shout-out bulletin boards, supervisor bonus program, but the recognition doesn’t get past the receiving employee.  Publicly announcing accomplishments of your staff validates to the employee that you appreciate them.  It also encourages other employees to exude the behaviors that are being recognized by leadership.  In addition, public recognition reminds employees of their opportunities for recognition and rewards, which in turn increases level of effort and employee morale within your organization.
  3. Employee recognition is inconsistent. It’s important to determine what behaviors and actions you want to recognize and reward, and then follow through with actually recognizing and rewarding these behaviors consistently. If recognition is sporadic, two things are likely to happen: 1) employees may feel that recognition programs are unfair and managers show favoritism; and 2) the organization will not encourage the desired behaviors and actions through an inconsistent recognition program.

appreciation recognitionIf you have a recognition program in place, great! In an effort to evaluate the effectiveness of your program, I encourage you to identify if you’re recognizing individuals personally and consistently as well as making sure to communicate significant efforts and contributions to all employees. If not, consider enhancing your program to incorporate these essential aspects of employee recognition.  If you don’t have an employee recognition program in place, it’s not too late to implement one! Check out some of my colleagues’ articles for further guidance on recognizing your employees: Low Cost Employee Recognition Ideas and The Best Ways to Recognize Your Employees. Just remember, make sure they are strategic, personalized, consistent and communicated across the organization!


  1. by Rachel on August 18, 2016 at 12:00 pm

    Personalizing employee recognition is definitely important, because the whole point of recognition is to make them feel special. If they feel like you’re just doing the same old routine for them, they won’t actually feel appreciated.

  2. by Bruce on December 7, 2017 at 4:30 pm

    I too think employee recognition is overlooked. A company isn’t much without its employees so it’s really necessary to make sure they are feeling appreciated.

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