How To Build Buy-In For Employee Recognition Programs

You’ve done the research, and you’re sold on the solid benefits of an employee recognition program for your company.

You already know such programs bring clear results in boosting morale and productivity and in reducing the costs of turnover and disengagement. Now all you have to do is convince everyone else!

This step is essential because without buy-in from employees and managers, your employee recognition program is sunk before it even starts.

Don’t let that happen. Follow the steps outlined here to ensure consistent buy-in and, ultimately, success.

Find Your “Why” and Make Your Case

This is your first and most important step. Spend time clarifying the reasons you want an employee recognition program, so you can do a more effective job of selling it to others. As you go through the other steps, there will be plenty of obstacles and challenges along the way, so keeping your “why” in clear view as a reminder to persevere.

Your next step is to uncover some cold, hard data in support of an employee recognition program at your company. Gathering evidence of ROI will help leaders make educated decisions.

Get Your Managers On Board First

Start with a small initial team who are willing to help you promote and reinforce your company’s recognition program. Reach out to some team leaders with a strong track record and see if they would be interested in assisting you in this project. Ideally, these champions understand the organization well enough to guide you.

Eventually, you’ll be able to build support across all teams and all levels, from your most senior leaders to your newest recruits. Your goal is to build a Culture of Recognition that moves seamlessly from supervisors and among peers.

Define Your Objectives

How will you know if your employee recognition has been successful? Answering this question will help you define clear parameters and objectives. Use these objectives as you go along to gauge how well the implementation of the program is working. Here are some important questions to consider.

What Kind of Behaviors Will Be Rewarded?

Use the objectives you’ve identified to determine what kinds of behaviors you aim to reinforce. For example, you may want to reward effective collaboration or the timely completion of projects. These incentivized behaviors should be clearly tied to the core values of your company. In addition, it’s a good idea to automate recognition for special dates like work anniversaries and/or birthdays.

What Types of Rewards Will You Offer?

Tangible rewards work! But the intangible things, like a heartfelt, specific message of thanks is what truly hits home. It is an effective practice to offer a balance of tangible rewards and intangible “Thank You” recognition. Offering rewards that people will be excited about, even with some company swag thrown into the mix can make for a great recognition experience.

How Often Will Rewards Be Given?

Recognition works best if it’s awarded frequently. Build an expectation that behaviors will be rewarded as soon as they happen, and that praise will be offered as a routine part of department meetings. And of course, don’t forget milestones, anniversaries, and special calendar days like Employee Appreciation Day.

Follow Best Practices

When you work with a recognition provider like Xceleration, you’ll follow an approach driven by best practices.  One example of this approach is to balance praise with tangible rewards. Remember that any recognition should come with a specific explanation of the behavior which is being praised or the company value the recipient exemplifies.

Here are a few other proven “best practices” for employee recognition programs.


While it’s important to recognize employees on significant dates (as mentioned above), it’s a mistake to rely solely on these.

The most effective recognition links a reward to a specific action or behavior. This provides immediate reinforcement of the behaviors that you want.


A 2022 Gallup poll found that only 22% of individual contributors and 20% of project managers feel they receive the right amount of recognition for their work. For senior leaders and other managers, the stats are not much better. So make sure frequent recognition is embedded into your employee recognition program from the top-down and bottom-up.


If the recipient is open to it, praise and recognition should be made public, easily visible to other employees. This makes your employees feel a deeper connection to each other and makes the workplace a fun place to be. Another benefit to public praise: it motivates others to improve so they have the opportunity to achieve recognition, as well.


By tying recognition to company values, you are creating a vision of where the company is going in which everyone can participate. Working towards a shared goal fosters a sense of community. So as you’re implementing an employee recognition program, use your company’s core values as a guide.

And finally, make sure that all managers are poised to lead the way, giving out prompt, visible, and values-based recognition and setting an example for others to follow.

Launch Your Program Effectively

When you’ve completed all these steps, you’re finally ready to launch your program! But to do so effectively, announce the kick-off through a variety of mediums including emails, meetings, and newsletters. If your program involves learning to use new software, consider sharing a how-to video to simplify the process.

Measure the Program’s Success

There are a variety of metrics you can analyze to gauge the success of your employee recognition program. You could simply measure the frequency of recognition, or you could take it a step further and find links between frequency of recognition and increased company profits. 

Here are some tried-and-true measures that provide evidence of success.

Employee Retention

Take a look at how recognition rates compare for those who have stayed with your company as opposed to those who have left. You’ll find that this comparison tells a surprising story about how much employees value recognition, even if they don’t always admit this is the case.

Community and Belonging

Do all your team members feel connected? Do they feel that your company is a place where their contributions are valued? Examine how recognition rates might play into creating a strong sense of community in your company.

Reach Out to Us Today!

Do you need help finding the perfect platform to build buy-in for your employee recognition program? A solution like Xceleration’s RewardStation is a great way to make employee recognition seamless, flexible, easy and fun.

Reach out to Xceleration today to find out how we can help.

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