Ask the Experts: Launching a Successful Social Recognition Program

June 12, 2018 Sarah Mulcahy

Rob Schmitter and Melanie Schrems

Last week I shared that my colleagues Rob Schmitter and Melanie Schrems were hosting a webinar on securing budget and building a business case for recognition.

If you missed the live event on Wednesday, follow this link for the full recording (which is about an hour long):

We received lots of great questions during the session, specifically around tactics for designing and launching successful social recognition programs. I’ve asked Rob and Melanie to answer some of those questions below, in case our blog readers are facing similar challenges in their organizations.



Have you ever piloted a program with a department or two before launching to the entire organization?

We can launch a recognition program all at one time, and it’s a lighter lift as an organization. But there are some cases where we’ve launched in phases or pilots. Some organizations will launch a pilot and run an employee survey pre- and post-pilot. The results of these surveys are almost always positive, and they’re used to help build a strong business case for rolling out the recognition program to the rest of the organization. We work with you to come up with a launch plan that meets your needs.


How do you define award? Does it always need to have monetary value?

Nope! Awards don’t always need to have monetary value. With human applications, there are multiple ways to create those touchpoints. An e-thank you or non-monetary award is one option. However, we suggest that a well-designed recognition program offers differentiation in award levels so the value of the award can correlate to the level of achievement.

While there are some levels of achievement where a non-monetary award may be appropriate, I would contrast that with someone who works on a project for multiple hours, redesigns a process or program, or invents a product that saves the organization millions. All these levels of achievement and effort likely deserve recognition with a monetary award. What’s important is that you offer a differentiated collection of awards.


Is it better to offer a one-size-fits-all recognition solution or to differentiate among employee groups?

If you want to build a true culture of appreciation where all employees feel a sense of inclusion and belonging, we strongly suggest a comprehensive solution that creates a more positive employee experience across the board. Take a look at some of our customer stories to see how they’ve approached modernizing recognition in their organizations.


How do you prevent some people working in more secluded roles from feeling left out, while others appear to be favored due to being in a highly visible role?

Research tells us that the way people work today is more team-based and cross-functional than hierarchical. As such, it’s highly unlikely that a manager has full visibility to all projects and tasks assigned to his or her direct reports. That’s why it’s important recognition be peer-based – so anyone in the organization can nominate a colleague, direct report, or even an executive for a recognition award. This way it doesn’t matter so much if an employee is in a customer-facing or a support role – everyone has a fair shot at giving recognition where it’s deserved and receiving recognition for demonstrating behaviors that align with organizational values.

About the Author

Sarah Mulcahy

Sarah is senior content marketing manager at Workhuman. When not writing and reading about all things culture, leadership, recognition, and appreciation, she enjoys iced coffee, running, and spending time with her daughters, Mabel and Eva.

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