Employee Celebrating

Ask Madison: Can a large company successfully create a personalized employee recognition program with a small-company feel?

March 2, 2021
| ByJudd Weisgal
  • Enterprise-level companies and leadership can and should champion a program for their employees. Large companies must seek to eliminate red tape and simplify to make things happen.
  • We explore how to step back and remember the benefits of a personalized R&R program that offers a small-company feel
Big company characteristics to consider

The pros of working for a large company can be quite attractive. The credibility and name-brand of an enterprise-level organization offers a boost to resumes, the ability for growth and increased access to opportunities to be involved in new projects. Networking opportunities can increase as well, even if just based on sheer workforce numbers alone.

When you lead an industry and have abundant manpower, vendors and other organizations often seek you out for partnerships, new product pitches, and select program opportunities that can be rolled out in grand fashion. The economies of scale can be worthwhile to the organization as a whole as well as the individual employees who comprise the workforce. Not to mention, larger can also apply to budgets as well, which can be a plus when trying to launch something new like a company-wide employee rewards and recognition program.

Sometimes, however, being a large organization can have its drawbacks. In some organizations, departments can feel siloed and disconnected – It can be a challenge to create a unified program across a large workforce and varied departments with different levels of responsibility. Add to the mix the introduction of new remote work models and you could be faced with team members – hundreds of them – sitting in locations across the globe, in different time-zones, working according to different schedules.

These are all important traits to consider when the goal is to launch a program that recognizes and rewards individual team members for jobs well done in a traditionally large company. And while an enterprise organization may have the bandwidth to go really big, a clear course of action focused on the finer details must be established to ensure a smooth roll-out with enduring success.

How can a big-city company deliver recognition with a small-town feel?

  • First, you must build a business case that organizational stakeholders can buy into.

Research has shown that when managers are engaged in recognition and reward activities, employees respond positively. In fact, while employees enjoy peer-to-peer recognition, 75% of surveyed employees noted job satisfaction when they receive direct recognition from managers once per month, and it increases to 85% when it happens once per week.

  • Ask for input and hear what team members have to say.
    If you are building something meaningful for the workforce, it is good practice to gather their expectations and feedback. Nothing can be more frustrating to launch something you feel is so exciting, bold and innovative, only to watch a lackluster, fizzled response because ideas and vision weren’t aligned. Again, a key stake for ultimate success is buy-in.
  • Ensure you think of EVERYONE, but make participation something they look forward to, not something burdensome.
    Yes, if you have an organization of 100s or even 1,000s of team members, handwriting thank-you notes every day to recognize effort may not be feasible or practical. But having choices, and more importantly, training managers and teams to tap into those choices, so that rewards can be tailored for recipients based on their individual preferences will go a long way in personalizing each experience. If the program is built in such a way that it can scale to a small, easy process, the end result is that most everyone will feel recognized and will be excited to join in.
  • Recognize uniqueness as a cornerstone of your program.
    If the driving force behind your enterprise-level R&R program is celebrating uniqueness then each component will essentially elicit a personalized feel. Rewards and redemption online platforms, like
    Madison’s Global Storefronts, can benefit from large-company offerings, but can zero in on local preference, so that available rewards having meaning to their recipients based on where they live, their cultures and lifestyle. Offering a reward of snow-boots to team members who live where they have never seen snow, would probably not feel very personalized. Thankfully through technology and innovative planning, you can break down your offerings to a level that is relevant and well-received by employees.
  • Shrink distance and space with Social Recognition tools.
    Madison recognized early on in the rewards and recognition industry that using
    social networking platforms could make team members feel visible, included and recognized no matter where they sit. This creates an atmosphere of familiarity and connectivity, and can be universally applied for all employees, no matter the department, the location or the size of the company.
  • Recognize up, down, and side-to-side.
    Meaning, don’t be afraid to recognize anyone’s good work no matter their title, their role, or their longevity in the company. This inclusive mindset will pave the way for leadership to engage as well which is critical to the success of an R&R program.
  • Always carve out a segment of your R&R program to be dedicated to milestones and service anniversaries.
    Team members will appreciate the sentiment that is personalized to their achievements in recognition of their contributions to the organization.
  • Think beyond “work.”
    Expand recognition to include a component that focuses on non-work achievements. This ensures an individualized approach when you recognize team members for their roles in their communities, their work with charities and goals they have reached on their own time. Robust R&R programs, like Madison’s, include
    charitable-matching programs and donation-sharing tools to support the causes that are meaningful to employees for the greater good. With these types of components, as a large organization you are now drilling down to single-person appreciation and calling them out for their good work that transcends their work-life.

“I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”  ~ Maya Angelou

While being part of a large organization opens doors to new possibilities, employees sometimes experience the feeling of being viewed as a “number” or a small fish in a huge pond. With careful planning, strong communication, and prioritizing actions and program components that put the person first, stakeholders can develop a system that makes individual employees feel like they are seen and appreciated even amongst a large workforce.

At Madison, it’s not business as usual, but instead, we are focused on support. Supporting our invaluable customers by maintaining business continuity, sharing advice about new working models and providing an opportunity to connect with others. 

While you adjust to your new working routine – whether it be at home or part of an essential service - please join the conversation. Ask Madison is an opportunity to share ideas, ask questions and help create our ‘new normal’, together. We believe that employee recognition is an essential business function and that, now more than ever, it is our responsibility to celebrate each other, recognize every milestone and collaborate together—even though we may be sitting apart.

Have a thought on this article, share your comments and share this post using one of the social media links. Have a question? Ask Madison by emailing info@madisonpg.com or leave a comment below.

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