A new year is almost here. Kick it off with a strong start and get your employees moving in the right direction. Employee recognition goes a long way to inspire positive action among your staff. Human Resource professionals suggest using a recognition program to reiterate the company’s values to its employees. According to a related survey conducted by Society for Human Resource Management , "Recognition was perceived to positively impact engagement for 90 percent of respondents practicing values-based recognition vs. just 67 percent for non-values based programs. Retention was likewise affected—68 percent of values-based programs perceived a positive impact vs. 41 percent for non-values-based programs.” Let’s take a look at a few simple steps to ensure your company incorporates an effective employee recognition program throughout the year. Identify the Rules Be mindful to identify the rules and make them widely known internally. Ask the following questions: Are the selection guidelines defined and clearly communicated? Does the selected employee understand which specific actions and behavior led to their recommendation? Do fellow colleagues know why an employee is being recognized? If an employee has done something noteworthy, then let it be known! Isn’t that the whole point of employee recognition—to highlight a valuable asset or desired behavior of an individual and inspire duplication in the future? Additionally it is significant for employees to know the selection criteria of the recognition program. Once the rules are communicated, employees can concentrate on improving specific aspects of their work performance and focus on developing certain professional skills and characteristics. Open Policy All employees should be eligible for formal recognition. Yes, ALL employees should be actively engaged in the workplace; therefore, acknowledgment is well deserved whenever any employee exhibits exemplary behavior, positive action or other valued characteristics such as teamwork, leadership, efficient time management, etc. Reinforce this open policy by allowing employees on all levels, staff and management, to participate in the nomination process. This eliminates the possibility of presumptive biases and potential prejudicial allegation being factored into a nomination. Create a Buzz The experience of winning should be exciting and memorable, not dull or predictable. The same should apply to employee recognition. As a company that wishes to honor its employees, it is ideal to emphasis the employee’s achievement deemed noteworthy of acknowledgement. Common methods used to honor recognized employees include a simple gathering, a company sponsored lunch or a brief write up in the monthly newsletter. Don’t be afraid to increase the stakes. Sure, a raise isn’t the most cost effective method of creating a buzz. However, why not offer those “star” employees preferential application status when new job opportunities arise within the company? Or maybe offer to address a need for new equipment or software to increase efficiency within a particular department. Investing in your employees makes them feel valued; this, in turn, invokes a higher retention level. Regardless of the way in which your company expresses appreciation for those who excel professionally, there should be genuine excitement surrounding all employee recognition. Following these three simple guidelines will help your company further emphasize employee recognition as a priority moving forward. Opt to build your company’s employee recognition program on sustainable values already identified as essential to strengthen and inspire the professional growth and dedication of your workforce as a whole.