Why You Need to Recognize Your Employees at Earlier Milestones

September 23, 2015
Why You Need to Recognize Your Employees at Earlier Milestones

Adapting Recognition for Today’s Workplace.

Employee recognition programs aren’t the same today as they were ten, or even five years ago. With the rapid changes we are seeing in today’s workplace, employee recognition programs that are effective and valued must adapt and change right alongside. It used to be common practice to reward five and ten year milestones, and other long service awards. Not so today! While these long service awards are still in place and very effective, it is now more common to see shorter timespans for employee recognition milestones. Today several companies start recognizing their employee at one, two or three years of service.

Today’s Changing Workforce.

One reason we are seeing the need to shorten and adjust recognition milestones is the different nature of our workforce today. While it used to be quite normal for an employee to find a job and advance through the ranks with one company, today’s situation tends to be much different. People are often seeking better paying positions or positions that meet their education or credentials, and so we often see people taking “in between” jobs until they can find something better. This of course has always been going on, but there is an increase in this in recent years. Another contributing factor is the need or the lack of recognition. Employees will often leave their job due to lack of recognition.

This contributes to the higher turnover rates many businesses see today and creates a huge employee retention issue that is only expected to rise in coming years. It’s not uncommon now for an employee to stay for only a year or two and then move on. But it’s not just the employees that have changed; it’s the workplace itself.

Staying Competitive in a Global Market.

There are many factors that contribute to the changing nature of our workplaces today. For many businesses, staying in the game has become so competitive that it’s necessary to streamline operations ­– including staffing. For many establishments it’s simply a luxury to think of having full-time positions, complete with benefits and retirement packages. It’s just not in the cards when you’re trying to be competitive in a global market. But there are things that you can do to show your employees that you appreciate them, as well as very reachable targets for retaining valuable talent.

Adjusting to a Changing Workplace.

While some companies are fortunate enough to be able to create a culture of loyalty amongst their team members, many others either struggle to do this (for various reasons) or even are unable to because of financial limitations. Many businesses are now offering more part-time positions, job sharing and shorter-term positions in an effort to reduce costs. While the workplace today has always been a growing and changing thing, there are some very unique considerations in the 2015 workplace.

One of these considerations is the presence of multiple generations working together along with an increase of younger generations coming into management level positions. The effect on the workplace is interesting and very dynamic. There are a lot of positive outcomes when you are able to blend a variety of talent and experience together. But it can also be a bit tricky because of the age gap and different values that are present in various generations. The key here is to use these differences to your advantage. Make the most of them. Recognize what’s important to them and find ways (even if they are very small things) to give your employees what matters to them.

When it comes to your recognition program itself, remember that many younger generations appreciate types of recognition that differs from those their elders prefer. Taking this into consideration can be a critical factor in improving your employee retention across multiple generations. Tailoring your recognition program to fit your group of employees will have a very positive effect on your workplace and allow you to achieve better results in your day-to-day operations, attract new talent and keep the stellar workers you already have.

How Employee Engagement Can Work For You.

Employee engagement is one seriously overlooked factor to employee retention and satisfaction. People who feel engaged (even in production type work) in what they are doing produce much higher quality work/product/service than those who are simply punching the clock. Knowing that engaging your employees is powerful and knowing how to do it are two entirely different things, but very possible.

It starts by thinking quite simply about your organization, what you do, you goals and the team members you have. Ask yourself and your team members how you can improve the work itself. One of the best ways to engage your employees is to allow them input and a measure of control over their actual work. If they can improve and suggest changes, implementing their own ideas, you’ll see commitment and engagement rise dramatically. Pairing this with a recognition program, points program or peer-to-peer program will allow you to empower positive behaviours and outcomes that drive employee engagement.

The second part to employee engagement is to provide the necessary coaching in areas that need improvement or fine-tuning. Training is helpful, but once team members know the ropes, encourage and remind them of the direction to take and back up your efforts with tangible rewards for the right actions and behaviours. You can do this through verbal, public or other types of recognition. There are excellent recognition programs today that can be paired up to reinforce your initiatives. We have found that the best way to do this is by allowing the employees to recognize each other through a Peer Recognition Program.

Flexibility is also a big contributor to engagement. Nobody likes feeling like a prisoner in their own life, so allow as much flexibility as possible for people to do their jobs well in their own way. Including all team members in these efforts is important; leaving someone out will achieve the very opposite result you desire. No matter what the person’s position is in you team, allow everyone to find meaning in what they are doing.

Why You Need Shorter Recognition Milestones.

We have been talking about several of the many reasons we are seeing companies calling for changes to their recognition programs. The core response we have to these issues is to shorten the length of your recognition milestones. Keeping timeframes quite short for various rewards and recognition milestones allows for small changes to have a bigger impact on the overall team.

Paired with the reality of higher employee turnover rates, shorter time frames allow for you to potentially keep talent that may have considered you a temporary job. Valuing and encouraging contributions from your employees at 1, 2, 3 and 5-year milestones is a great place to start. You can even implement a more incremental recognition program through points programs or peer-to-peer programs that allow you to track and reward certain actions and achievements. That means you can have a real impact on your team through immediate recognition.

We’re here to help. If you’d like to discuss how to fine-tune your recognition program to meet today’s unique workforce, we can help. Our team specializes in custom-tailoring our recognition programs to your business.


Alan Whittaker

Vice President Sales & Marketing
Williams Recognition Ltd.

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