While we’re still in the dog days of summer, Labor Day is just around the corner. A popular holiday for the final vacation of the summer, but also a great opportunity to promote – or debut – your reward and recognition programs. After all, Labor Day is all about celebrating the American worker.

Did you know? The Labor Day holiday was the brainstorm of leaders in prominent unions and is a testament to the resilience of American workers. They fought tooth and nail to establish rights that are now commonplace in U.S. businesses. Just as we all owe them a great debt, your organization should strive to honor the staff who make everything possible.

Let’s look at some of the ways you can get this initiative started and how doing so can help you improve employee engagement and productivity.

Understanding the formula for successful employee recognition programs

According to a presentation prepared by the Organizational and Professional Development Division of Human Resources at the University of South Carolina, an employee reward and recognition program will best succeed if it works as follows: the right rewards, going to the right people for the right reasons and producing the right results.

You can meet those four qualifications in many different ways. As an HR leader, you and your team should start by determining what reward program structure will work best for your company and your employees. For example, should your team managers and company leaders be responsible for providing rewards to employees, or would a peer-to-peer recognition structure be more effective?

Ways to reward and recognize your employees this Labor DayEmployees who are recognized and rewarded for their successes will be more likely to have greater commitment to your organization.
Defining the achievements you’ll reward

There should always be clear parameters regarding the conditions that lead to rewards. As detailed by the Society for Human Resource Management, these can include:

  • Length of service
  • One-off instances of excellent work
  • A steady track record of success
  • Client/customer retention
  • Innovations that make the organization a better place overall

A lot of this depends on the type of organization : A tech startup that’s been around for just a couple of years and is still getting its feet off the ground, for example, won’t be able to cite and celebrate the length of employees’ tenure and work anniversary because no one on staff really has that much service time. But that doesn’t mean employees don’t deserve citations and rewards for the successes they achieve – of course they do! This is especially true when you consider that the early days of starting a company can be very demanding.

“Many different employee achievements are worthy of rewards and recognition.”

For businesses that have been around awhile, you definitely want to acknowledge employees with long tenure, especially if they have an established reputation for success. SHRM noted that five-year increments are common lengths of time for such rewards. This will vary between companies, but you should be careful not to make the intervals too short or too long.

Also, it will be important for you and other leaders to make it clear that tenure-based rewards aren’t being given out to employees for their tenure a;one. They are being rewarded for achieving benchmarks of success during that time. While most employees will recognize this fact on their own, you want to avoid assumptions of “cronyism” – or worse, the Peter Principle of tenure receiving unfair treatment or promotion over talent if someone others consider to be “flawed” receives a pat on the back on their 5-year anniversary. .

Figuring out the right rewards for the right achievements

TalentLyft noted that there’s no single reward – or reward structure – that HR professionals consider to be better than any other. It all depends on what’s best for your organization. Sometimes verbal or written praise, delivered informally through a quick chat, is enough, according to Bonusly. This is ideal for smaller-scale achievements that are still noteworthy, especially in instances where you know an employee was having doubts about their work on a certain project or their overall role. In other situations, though, rewards should be more substantial.

The nature of a worker’s achievement should also dictate the rewards associated with it. For one-off successes or impromptu company contests, something like a gift card or a small cash bonus will work. An Amazon gift card or perhaps a gift certificate to an esteemed local restaurant might be exactly what an employee needs to plan a particularly great night during the Labor Day weekend. Continuing achievements, like exceeding sales quotas, helping to retain clients, upselling clients on your services, deserve bonuses from a recurring program. In such cases, you’ll want to make sure that the conditions for earning bonuses are clearly defined in transparent, easily accessible company policies.

Last but not least, offering additional vacation or personal days will probably be immensely popular among employees – especially in light of the upcoming holiday! MetLife’s 17th Annual U.S. Employee Benefit Trends Study found that unlimited paid time off (not literally unlimited; more like “not restricted in when you request it”) is the most popular emerging benefit for American workers right now. So you should strongly consider offering extra PTO days as rewards – as long as they’re given out for the most exemplary successes.

Leveraging HR technology for better reward and recognition management

Launching a successful rewards program, whether it’s tied into Labor Day or not, requires that you manage it the right way from the start. Having an HR platform that helps you track and manage performance, attendance, anniversaries,  – and other data you may want to tie to your rewards and recognition program will streamline program management and administration. In conjunction with a well-constructed rewards program that has clear benchmarks and associated incentives, you can help ensure that employees feel valued for their hard work, boosting morale and supporting the organization’s bottom line.