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Ten Tips for Designing an Amazing Reward and Recognition Program

These best practices will help you get the most from your investment.


Designing and developing engaging and exciting recognition and reward programs requires a lot of personal effort and commitment. The following tips will help you craft the best programs for your organization's goals.

  • Assemble a team. Solicit the best possible team members to support you in designing an amazing recognition and reward program. The team members should be willing to put in the time and effort required to deliver a great program.
  • Conduct a gap analysis. Find out the strengths and weaknesses of the current recognition and reward program. Harness the strengths you have and focus on improving the areas needing to be enhanced.
  • Determine your program’s purpose. Craft a written recognition purpose and philosophy, along with a rewards purpose. Know the difference between recognition and rewards and make sure everyone knows how best to use them.
  • Ensure strategic alignment. Be sure the program aligns with your organization's values, culture and business strategy.
  • Set recognition and reward goals. Define the purpose of each recognition and reward program you feel you need. What should each program focus on and what outcomes must you achieve to reach your goals?
  • Draft a statement of work. Whether working with an external vendor or with your own team, you or an assigned project manager should list all the elements you want to include in the reward and recgnition program. 
  • Design and develop. This stage requires the most time and talent. Monitor program development and conduct user-experience tests.
  • Assess progress. Set regular progress-check sessions to see the details of the programs as they're developed and to address the critical decisions needed for the business rules of each program.
  • Test before launching. Have stakeholders experience the program and provide candid reviews to make last- minute changes and refinements.
  • Prepare for liftoff. The success of recognition and reward programs depends on communication, planning and support, along with education and orientation for those who will participate in it, so be sure to follow through with these critical final steps.

Incentive columnist Roy Saunderson is the author of Practicing Recognition. He is also a recognition strategist and the Chief Learning Officer at Rideau Inc. Saunderson provides consulting, learning and thought-leadership services, focused on helping leaders and managers give real recognition the right way. He can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter and at his AuthenticRecognition.com blog.