Making Social Recognition Stick

Social recognition software gives organizations a valuable tool to acknowledge employees, encourage the right behavior and track performance. But it takes more than a piece of software to make the program work.

To make social recognition a core part of the corporate culture, experts offer this advice:

  • Identify a specific performance issue, such as improving safety or increasing collaboration, and build recognition opportunities around those goals. You want feedback that aligns with specific business drivers, said Daniel Debow of
    To achieve that, you can educate employees about when and why recognition is appropriate, create custom badges to acknowledge desired behavior and build recognition reminders into the workflow when goals are achieved.
  • Encourage leaders to be active supporters. Executives and managers must speak publicly about the program and why it’s important to the business, and use the tools regularly themselves, said Stacia Sherman Garr of Bersin by Deloitte. If leaders don’t promote the program, it won’t be viewed as a priority and employees won’t use it.
  • Train staff on when and how to give recognition. Providing employees with examples of written acknowledgements and scenarios where feedback is appropriate will give them more confidence when they use the tool, Garr said.
  • Choose technology that is easily accessible and simple to use. Employees will be more likely to send recognition if the link is available wherever they do their work, and there are not a lot of approval or log-in steps to slow them down, said Alan Lepofsky of Constellation Research Inc.
  • Capture feedback in your talent management system. Recognition programs can provide valuable data about who is doing a great job, and what kinds of behavior are prevalent or lacking, Lepofsky said. Managers can use examples of recognition as part of their performance review process to get a better sense of their team’s accomplishments, while HR can analyze the collective data to get a pulse on engagement and performance across the company.
  • Talk it up whenever you can. Like any internal program, use will fade with time, Garr said. To keep it fresh, send out regular reminders to use the tool, publicize kudos sent in company communications, and offer incentives, such as the opportunity to give a financial award to a colleague for a job well done.