Developing an Employee Recognition Program

Developing an employee recognition program
 Courtesy Canadian Federation of Independent Business

Courtesy Canadian Federation of Independent Business

Brought to you by CFIB’s Employee Management Centre– a wealth of help, information, and resources.

We often hear about employee engagement but what is it? And how does this translate to recognition and compensation? 

Employee engagement is measured by the strength of the connection employees feel towards their work, and the mission of the business, both mentally and emotionally. 

Happiness and satisfaction at work looks different for everyone, and employee recognition is not necessarily a one-size fits all endeavour. Some employees feel fulfilled by a sincere, private acknowledgement of their work, while others prefer public recognition of their achievements. Knowing what each employee needs to feel happy and fulfilled at work, and what they want to achieve, is key to developing rewards that they will value.

With that in mind, we’ve put together some tips to help you develop a successful employee recognition program:

Set Clear Objectives:
  • Determine the purpose and goals of the recognition program.
  • Identify what behaviors, achievements, or contributions you want to acknowledge and reinforce.
  • Align the objectives with the organization’s values and overall business strategy.
Conduct Research and Gather Input:

Gather feedback from employees. Understanding their preferences and what types of recognition they find meaningful will help tailor the program to meet the specific needs and desires of your workforce.

Define Recognition Criteria:

Develop clear and transparent criteria for recognition. Specify the actions, behaviors, or achievements that will be rewarded, ensuring that the criteria align with the organization’s values and support its mission.

Choose Recognition Types:

Decide on the different types of recognition that will be part of the program.


For example:

  • verbal praise,
  • written notes,
  • public acknowledgment,
  • monetary rewards,
  • gift cards,
  • extra time off, or
  • other incentives. 


Offering a variety of recognition options accommodates different employee preferences. 


Remember that some rewards may be considered a taxable benefit by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). Their articles What is a taxable benefit and the Types of taxable benefits as well as their webinar Answers to your taxable benefit questions will provide more information on what you need to consider. 


Communicate the Program:

Ensure that all employees are aware of the program’s purpose, criteria, and how they can participate. Regularly communicate the recognition successes to keep the momentum going.


Train Managers and Leaders:

Train managers and leaders on how to effectively give recognition. They should understand the program’s principles, how to provide meaningful feedback, and the importance of consistent and timely recognition.


Monitor and Evaluate:

Continuously monitor the recognition program’s effectiveness. Gather feedback from employees, track recognition activities, and assess whether the program is achieving its objective. Be prepared to make adjustments when necessary.


Ongoing and Long-Term Commitment:

A successful recognition program requires ongoing commitment and dedication. Celebrate the program’s milestones, and recognize those who have contributed to its success, ensuring that it remains an integral part of the company culture. Make the program visible, bake it into your workflows, and remind your staff that you’d like them to recognize each other. 

Membership with the CFIB is an included benefit when you join the Fitness Industry Council of Canada (FIC). For more information, visit


The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) is Canada’s largest association of small and medium-sized businesses with 95,000 members across every industry and region. CFIB is dedicated to increasing business owners’ chances of success by driving policy change at all levels of government, providing expert advice and tools, and negotiating exclusive savings. Learn more at

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