Develop the Best Employee Recognition Program

Discover how to create an employee recognition program that makes a big difference to employee engagement and staff turnover

June 27, 2022
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Recognizing your teammates for their hard work is a simple way to drive employee engagement, reduce staff turnover, and make your company a great place to work. But without a dedicated program in place, employee recognition will more than likely get overlooked during the day-to-day of the business.

In fact, respondents to one survey said it’s been an average of 50 days since they last felt recognized in any way at work.

Read on for our guide to creating a simple employee recognition program that makes a big difference.

What is an employee recognition program?

An employee recognition program is a system that helps you acknowledge your staff for who they are and what they do for your organization.

There are plenty of ways to celebrate a teammate and encourage more of the behavior you want to see from them, from an annual awards ceremony to a simple “thank you” from a manager. 

An effective employee recognition program is a framework that makes it easy for you to spot when an employee has done something praise-worthy and recognize them in a way they’ll appreciate.

Why is an employee recognition program important? 

Recognizing and rewarding your teammates is one of the most effective ways there is to improve employee engagement, productivity, and retention. 

A massive 40% of employees say they’d put more energy into their work if they were recognized more often, while 37% of workers believe the most effective thing their organization can do to cause them to produce great work is to recognize them.

And you don’t have to throw a ticker-tape parade every time you want to recognize one of your teammates. Small employee recognition practices can make a big difference. In fact, 70% of employees say that motivation and morale would improve “massively” if managers simply said “thank you” more.

Employee recognition is so powerful that it even drastically outweighs performance-based rewards such as “pay me more” and “give me a promotion” as ways people say their employer could get the best from them.

Putting an employee recognition program in place will ensure you’re reaping the benefits of recognizing and rewarding your staff for their hard work and effort.

How do you create an employee recognition program?

A rewards and recognition program doesn’t have to be formal or complicated (after all, employee recognition works best when it’s fun and straightforward).

But a system that helps you spot when a member of staff deserves a shoutout is essential if you want to enjoy all the perks that come with recognizing your employees.

Here’s how to create an employee recognition program in five simple steps:

Define your “why?”

The most effective employee recognition initiatives are built on a clear “why”. You might want to reduce staff turnover, or address an employee engagement issue, or empower your people managers to recognize and reward their reports outside of annual reviews.

Get clear on the “why” behind your employee recognition program and it will have the best chances of success.

Learn how to recognize your employees effectively

Not all employee recognition is created equal. The recognition you give your employees will have the biggest impact if it:

Is timely

Recognition is most effective when it’s given immediately, regularly and consistently. Organizations that double the number of employees that are recognized for their work on a weekly basis experience a 24% improvement in work quality and a 27% reduction in absenteeism.

You’re missing a trick if you’re waiting until annual review time to let your employees know all the great things they bring to your organization.

Is tailored to how they like to be recognized

Some people love the idea of having the whole office’s attention drawn to their good deeds, while others hate being the center of attention and would much prefer a private thanks from their manager.

There are as many ways to show appreciation as you have employees, but a few that always go down well are. So, task people managers with learning how each of their reports prefers to be praised and then recognize them in the way they best respond to for the best results. 

Is unconditional

Want to make sure each and every one of your employees feel truly recognized? Focus on giving them unconditional praise. 

This means celebrating them for who they are, not what they’ve done for your business.

Taking the time to recognize an employee for their attitude, the way they interact with their colleagues, or the way they approach their work will go a lot further than rewarding them for hitting a tight deadline or achieving a KPI.

Build a team of champions

We all intuitively understand that praise is a great motivator and key factor in our mental wellbeing. And yet 65% of employees say they haven’t received any form of recognition for good work in the last year.

To make employee recognition the norm in your business, you’ll need to form a task force to take the lead on baking recognition and rewards into your company culture.

The most meaningful feedback comes from a person’s line manager – followed by an acknowledgement from a senior leader or CEO. So, be sure your team of employee recognition champions is filled with plenty senior team members to make sure it sticks at that level and makes the biggest possible impact.

Get the right tools

The tools you provide your employees with are going to have a huge impact on the success of your employee recognition program. In fact, 44% of all workers will provide peer-to-peer recognition on an ongoing basis when given a simple tool that lets them.

Giving your people tools that make it easy for them to praise their colleagues – like Assembly’s Give Recognition Flow – is a simple way to make sure your recognition program sticks. 

Start recognizing employees today with Assembly. Book a demo to learn more

Once your recognition program is in full swing it’s time to measure the impact it’s having and make adjustments if needed.

Surveying your staff about how recognized they feel at work before you launch your program and then again after it’s been running for a few months will give you invaluable data to go off. 

Asking your teammates if they feel recognized in weekly check-ins and one-to-ones is also a good way to keep your finger on the pulse of how recognized different departments or seniority levels across your business are feeling and adjust your approach accordingly.

All this data can help you refine your efforts and make sure your entire team feels recognized for everything they do for your business.

Empower your organization with all the tools you need to launch an employee recognition program and start measuring the results with Assembly. Book a demo to learn more.

Browse our Free Employee Recognition Guide

Get the foundational knowledge on creating an employee recognition program that boosts employee engagement and helps them feel valued.

Explore Guide

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Assembly SOC 2 compliant?

Yes, at Assembly, security is a top priority. Each quarter, we have ongoing security work that is everyone’s responsibility. While we maintain a strong security posture, it was important for us to prove to our customers that we do everything we claim to do. This led us to pursue a SOC 2 Type II report that would provide evidence of our compliance with industry gold-standard security practice.

What's the ROI for employee recognition?

There is study after study showing that employee recognition leads to increased engagement. This in return creates an environment where employees are happier and more motivated which increase productivity and reduces voluntary turnover significantly. In order to filled critical roles, companies tend to spend nearly twice the value of an annual salary. Assembly is an investment in your employees that supports your bottom line.

Does Assembly offer longer-term contracts?

Yes, we will offer contracts for companies with longer-term agreements to help larger customers have more certainty around future costs.

The minimum agreement term is a 12-month subscription.

Does Assembly offer onboarding support?

We do and for FREE! Any new customer needing further support to get started with Assembly to ensure you're set up for success can request custom onboarding support. Improving your employee experience is about much more than just using our amazing software; it’s about transforming your business to create a workplace that people love. That’s much easier to do with the personal support and advice from our passionate people experts.

Is there a free version of Assembly?

Yes. We offer a completely free plan for up to 50 team members. This plan is intended for teams or organizations that are looking to get started with an employee engagement tool. Keep in mind, this plan is limited in features.

All customers can open an Assembly account for free and get started without a credit card. Then you can change plans as necessary.

How much do rewards cost?

At the time of redemption (when your employees exchange their points for a paid reward) you'll pay face value. If a reward is a $10 Amazon gift card, your cost will be $10. All paid rewards are billed for on a monthly basis.

The good news is that you don't have to pay for rewards upfront because we only charge you when points are redeemed, not when they're earned.

Does Assembly offer discounts?

We offer discounts or educational or charitable organizations. In order to secure a discount, you'll first need to book a demo with a customer support specialist.

For all other organizations, we are willing to consider longer-term agreements in exchange for discounts. To set up annual plans or longer, you will need to book a demo with a customer support specialist.

How do I cancel my plan if needed?

If you're on a month to month plan, you can go here and cancel anytime. If you're having concerns or need help setting up your account for success, you can always book a demo with a customer support specialist.

If you're on a longer-term custom plan, you'll need to reach out to your customer support specialist to cancel your account or email us at

What customizations are available?

Great question! You can customize your core values to match your organization's to boost and track alignment. You can change your currency from the 🏆 emoji (our default) to any emoji of your choice. You can swap our logo for your own. You can also set up company culture rewards such as, "Lunch with the CEO," "Buy a book on us," and so much more!

Who can give or receive recognition?

While we recommend a peer to peer set up where anyone in your organization can give or receive recognition, you can set up Assembly however you want. If you need to limit the people who can give or receive recognition, that's perfectly fine and can be done from your Admin, here.

What integrations are available?

Assembly connects to the tools your employees use every day to offer an easy, seamless experience with minimal change management.  

Assembly has integrations with HCM/HRIS systems like ADP, Google, Office 365, and Slack. We also integrate with communication tools like Slack and Teams so you and your employees can access Assembly wherever they work now.

What's your average adoption rate?

That depends on the company's permissions set up. That said, over 90% of the employees on Assembly's platform are recognized on a monthly basis. That means nearly every employee across all of our customers are receiving regular recognition from their peers, managers, or leadership. We're extremely proud of this.

Must rewards be set up to use Assembly?

They are not required. You can use Assembly without having rewards set up. However, we don't recommend it if you intend to have a high adoption and usage rate. You can always keep the costs down by offering internal culture rewards that are fulfilled by you internally.

Are points required to use Assembly?

No, you can remove allowances from anyone or everyone. It's up to you but we do recommend using points whether they're worth a real dollar value or not. Companies that use points have a much higher engagement rate even if those points don't exchange for real dollars.

Could find the answer you are looking for?

Please schedule time with an expert and we will help you to get all your questions answered