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Recognition in The Real World
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Takeaways: Why Most Recognition Programs Don’t Work (And What to Do about it)

Posted By Ava Ewald, Wednesday, April 29, 2020

In RPI’s April 2020 webinar, Dr. Paul White spoke about a few of the reasons why a recognition program may fail. While recognition programs may have great intentions, the way they are received may be a different story. In this webinar, Dr. White showed the importance of paying close attention to your recognition program.


1.       Employees’ attitudes toward unsuccessful recognition programs

Dr. White explained that he has spoken with many employees who have negative opinions of their employer’s recognition programs. One of those opinions, he explained, is that the employer only created the recognition program to check a box, not necessarily to appreciate their employees. Creating a recognition program is not enough — you need to tune in to employees’ emotions and ideas in order to properly recognize them.


2.       Recognition versus appreciation

While both are necessary in a recognition program, Dr. White made it clear that recognition and appreciation are not the same thing. Recognition is for specific actions or job performance, while you appreciate an employee for their overall value or qualities. Dr. White stressed that both need to be part of a recognition program for it to be successful. The #1 factor in determining an employee’s enjoyment of their job comes from how appreciated they feel.


3.       The 4 conditions of feeling valued

Dr. White also shared the core conditions of a successful, impactful recognition program. First, the recognition must be regular. If you recognize an employee once, that employee will not continue to feel appreciated. Second, they must be appreciated in the way they want. For example, some people do not enjoy being recognized in front of a group. Taking the extra step to make sure they enjoy an event or item will make the recognition much more impactful. Third, you must individualize recognition. Make sure you understand your employee’s hobbies, favorite sports teams, musicians, etc., to add a personal touch to the recognition. Finally, while you may be authentic in your recognition, you need to make sure that it is received that way. If your employee thinks you are just checking that recognition box, you will not make an impact.


Tips for Appreciating Remote Workers:

Research shows that remote employees often have different preferences for appreciation than their in-person counterparts. Now that many employees are remote, these preferences are important to keep in mind. Dr. White explained that remote employees often prefer quality time over gifts, words of encouragement, etc. Finding time to have one-on-ones with employees will allow them to feel supported and heard.

-          Take advantage of video conferencing when possible. While nothing can fully substitute in-person communication, seeing facial expressions and hearing voices promotes human connection.

-          Do not skip the small talk. Make time to connect with employees about non-work things.

-          Move forward by discussing potential positive outcomes for your organization.


Overall, now more than ever is it important to maintain genuine, human connection. If you would like to checkout Dr. White’s full webinar, click here.


Learn about RPI’s 7 Best Practice Standards here

Register for our virtual conference in September.



Tags:  employee appreciation  recognition  webinar 

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With Effort and Creativity, Every Day Can Be Employee Appreciation Day

Posted By By Jess Myers, RPI, Thursday, February 15, 2018
Updated: Tuesday, February 13, 2018
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The calendar tells us that Friday, March 2, is 2018’s version of international Employee Appreciation Day. And despite the recent backflips in the stock market, the current economic situation in most of the working world means that experienced, talented employees are more valuable than ever. That means that recognition efforts like those Employee Appreciation Day encourages need to be undertaken once a week, if not once a day, rather than once a year, in the best workplaces.

More and more companies large and small are focusing time and resources to develop an employee recognition strategy designed to ensure that staff feel valued.

Recognition experts stress that this annual event is not and was not ever meant as a one-time celebration, but as a way to acknowledge a year-round culture of appreciation within companies and organizations that makes every day an occasion to recognize good work and encourage employees. More and more member organizations look at Employee Appreciation Day as a chance to be creative and spotlight the many efforts to recognize good work.”

Recognition efforts range in scope from simple events like a root beer float bar at work all the way to elaborate incentives like travel and fiscal rewards. Successful companies like Disney, Southwest Airlines, Cleveland Clinic and others routinely partake in these efforts based on strategy, and the results are clear to see.

Ensuring employees feel valued has been shown to boost productivity and pay dividends for businesses and organizations. Detailed in a RPI webinar, among the many ideas that experts offer for employee recognition activities are:

Food – Everyone loves free food, be it a simple snack, a sweet treat, or a full meal, and there’s something special about an employee being served a meal by their supervisor that reinforces the notion of value and recognition. Everything from food truck appearances to ice cream socials are encouraged as a way to recognize employees through food.

Team activities – Getting out of the office is imperative to the mental health of employees; even if it’s just to the parking lot for a group stretch.  Team activities can be a valuable way to recognize employees and foster a team spirit among members of your organization. Make the office feel different for a day. Some workplaces practice theme days, where workers dress in the colors of their favorite sports team, or emulate their favorite superhero. Games like Jenga contests or a video game setup can bring a spirit of friendly competition to the workplace as well.

Wellness – Some workplaces provide healthy snacks or energy-boosting foods to give employees a needed jumpstart, especially in the afternoons. A popular wellness activity is to bring in massage professionals to provide back and neck rubs.

Other ideas:

  • Create a workplace cookbook, with each employee contributing their favorite recipe, and each of them getting a “book” featuring all of the foods. 
  • Remember off-site and “virtual” employees and find ways to include them, so they feel as recognized and valued as on-site employees.
  • Whatever you do, start small and build gradually, with more activities and edibles as the employee recognition culture grows within your organization.

For other webinars and a wealth of information on Recognition Day, please view RPI resources.

Tags:  employee appreciation 

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RPI Success Stories: Cleveland Clinic

Posted By Jess Myers, RPI, Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Founded nearly a century ago, in 1921, Cleveland Clinic has grown from a small surgical practice into one of the world’s most renowned names in healthcare. From its base in Ohio, Cleveland Clinic now has facilities in three states and three countries, with over 1,400 beds.

Known as a great place to go for care, Cleveland Clinic is also renowned as a great place to work due to its top-level employee recognition program. The clinic received the RPI Best Practices® Overall Excellence Award in 2015. In its participant guide entitled “Building a Blueprint” RPI took a closer look at Cleveland Clinic’s methods of assessing and improving its employee recognition programs in this case study:


Cleveland Clinic currently utilizes the annual employee engagement survey to gauge employee satisfaction with recognition programs. The scores for the Q4 question on recognition have increased year over year from 3.26 in 2009 to 3.95 in 2013, while at the same time employee engagement and patient satisfaction scores are on the rise. These indicators, along with the high utilization of the program, point to the overall satisfaction with the recognition program.

Recognition Strategy

Driving change is a challenging task for any organization. In 2010, Cleveland Clinic, with over 43,000 employees—including 3,100 physicians and scientists and 11,000 nurses—embarked on a remarkable journey; the creation and roll out of an enterprise-wide employee recognition program called Caregiver Celebrations.

Driven by a passion for patient-centered care, the clinic embraced a new vision statement, “Striving to be the world’s leader in patient experience, clinical outcomes, research and education.” While physicians and nurses are the primary caregivers in any hospital, the increased focus on the total patient—and not just the patient’s clinical outcome—drew attention to the vital role played by other hospital employees. Thus the new organizational imperative, “we are all caregivers.”

Caregiver Celebrations, which is a part of the Total Rewards strategy, is a recognition program that is designed specifically to drive the clinic’s overall mission of “Patients First,” improve employee engagement, and ultimately, deliver world class care to patients. Fundamentally grounded in Cleveland Clinic’s core values, Caregiver Celebrations is built upon a rewards and recognition technology platform that enables recognition to flow to and from key stakeholders, including staff, patients, and supporting partners.

Extremely flexible and easy to use, Caregiver Celebrations uses totally customizable programs and powerful analytics to deliver robust recognition tools, highly reliable metrics and continually fresh award experiences.

The Cleveland Clinic case study is included in the course materials in the Certified Recognition Professional program. For more information on CRP certification, please visit To view a webinar on CRP, click here.


Tags:  culture  employee appreciation  RPI Best Practices  Workforce recognition 

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