Do Employee Recognition Programs Make Your Eyes Roll?

Do Employee Recognition Programs Make Your Eyes Roll?

If “employee recognition programs” makes your eyeballs do a backward somersault read on. I was pretty skeptical about these corporate feel-good initiatives as well until we launched one this year. The reason I was converted, I discovered that it  Ain’t What You Do, It’s The Way That You Do It.

Recognizing and rewarding people for their accomplishments is always a good idea, especially if the recognition is timely and sincere. Where it goes bad is when it’s boss-driven and management executed.  The result is employee cynicism and non- participation.

“In many cases, recognition programs actually are backfiring and creating negative reactions among team members. In fact, the three most common reactions I receive from employees when they talk about “employee recognition” are apathy, sarcasm, and cynicism.” – Paul White

Done wrong, employees will perceive these programs as at best, tokens, at worse, condescension.

This is true especially if the “rewards” are impersonal. Not taking the time to know a little about your employees will leave them feeling that the program is just a feel-good stunt that benefits the company first.  “One size fits All” rarely does – not with socks, nor with people.

Recognition rewards have become big business. Companies such as, Kudos, Motivosity are social platforms that offer features like Activity tracking, Peer to Peer recognition, and Performance Management. These are popular with large companies, who, ironically or because of it, aren’t known for their personal personnel management.

“The secret of success is sincerity. If you can fake that, you’ve got it made.”- George Burns

eyes rolling

WOW! Another Employee Recognition Program.

i24 Call Management Solutions has a long history of recognizing the contribution that its “internal clients” make to our company culture.

We hold a celebration week anytime we win a major award and we celebrate each holiday to the fullest. But we wanted to find a way to recognize and reward people for exceptional behaviour as well as exceptional work. We wanted our core values of excellence, integrity, respect, fun, and passion to occupy the same level of importance as our performance goals.

The “WOW” light went on late last Fall when we decided to replace another recognition program that we felt wasn’t meeting its goals. We knew that whatever replaced it couldn’t be driven from the top so we set out to involve all departments by holding several meetings to discuss the strategy. We fine-tuned the project between November and January before launching in February.

We started the planning process with three basic questions: Why do it? What is it? and How do we do it?


Why WOW now? While it was important to recognize WOW moments, the overall goal was to recognize the day to day acts of generosity that our team performs. We all need to feel we matter so we prepared a “Thank You “pin-board where everyone could pin a special WOW thank you note.  These “thank you’s” would remain on the board for a full month. Anyone seeing these notes would walk away with a good sense of who their peers are and how they contribute to our i24 culture.


A “WOW” moment is unexpected, creative and helpful. A WOW person is someone who is positive, generous and helps without hesitancy and without expectation of a reward. For example, it could be someone who takes it upon themselves to redesign a promotional brochure and slays it or someone who bakes awesome cookies and brings them into work to share with the team.


We knew it had to begin at the top but also recognized that to survive, it had to be adopted by the full team. So we spent a full month branding the project, preparing supporting documents, meeting face to face and answering questions from everyone involved. We also formed a WOW committee that represented all departments that would name the monthly WOW award recipients.

The WOW Effect.

We are entering our fifth month of the WOW project and are surprised both by the consistent level of participation from our team and also the insights we have gained.

The WOW project has exposed our company culture of the values of the people working with us.  Who doesn’t like to receive a “thank you”?

Employee Recognition Program Motivation and benefits:

Our business culture is our brand personality. Like our individual personalities, it is unique and made up of our life experiences. The WOW project gives us insights into our team who, in turn, drives our success.

After four months of the WOW Employee Recognition program, we have seen a rise in morale, communication and client satisfaction.

The i24 Call Management Solutions mission is to be an important part of our client’s success. And having a team where every person feels they matter is essential to succeed in this goal. It’s how we give our clients their own “WOW” moments.