Implementing Employee Appreciation Programs: The First 90 Days

90 days calendar

Your firm has decided to invest in employee appreciation programs, but now what? Here's how to implement one in 90 days.

The decision is made. Your organization is going to invest in an employee appreciation initiative. Now what?

Employee appreciation programs can be incredibly valuable for generating engagement and creating a more positive experience throughout the enterprise, but it's critical to tackle the first few months correctly. Here's how to structure the first 90 days of a new program in such a way that establishes a foundation for long-term success.

Phase One: 30 Days to Drive Interest

Employees are becoming immune to "flavor of the week" HR programs, so how can you get your people excited about this new effort? It's important to generate excitement over time. The snowball effect, where a snowball grows as it continues to roll over, is a great way to visualize how employee appreciation programs should be implemented.

If it fits your culture, you might begin the program with a short town hall meeting where a few key employees are recognized for their efforts. Then, afterward, each team or department should prioritize more individualized appreciation moments to continue the excitement. Also understand that the opportunity to give recognition is rewarding. Research featured in Fox Business shows that givers of recognition feel more confident and are more driven than the average worker.

Phase Two: 30 Days to Make It Sticky

Your employees will likely show interest in the program after the first month, but how can you sustain it and make it sticky? Many HR initiatives start off strong but fail to maintain momentum. As Susan Heathfield of The Balance writes, workers should feel like there is plenty of recognition to go around. If workers feel like appreciation moments are scarce, they might assume they have to earn one at the expense of their peers, which completely contradicts the intent of the program.

It's also important to look at ways to tie the program into the organization's culture. For example, if a core value is "on-time delivery," then look for people that are delivering on time and give them the appropriate attention for their efforts. Be sure to recognize the workers who have internal deliverables as well the ones with external deliverables, which are more often tracked. Everyone should have the opportunity to be appreciated for thier work. This not only reinforces key values and behaviors, but also helps give the appreciation program more stability.

Phase Three: 30 Days to Explore Outcomes

It takes more than two months — 66 days, to be exact — to build a new habit, on average, according to a report explored by Metro. However, in a business context, the time to create new organizational habits such as appreciation can be influenced by highlighting the approach's outcomes and benefits.

Effects of your program could be general, such as improved retention or engagement, or they could be highly specific, such as fewer patient falls (healthcare), higher caller satisfaction (call center) or more creative idea generation (professional services). The way to make an employee appreciation program succeed is to highlight positive results whenever possible. Continuing to showcase these outcomes will lead to continued use — and to potentially greater adoption, once the proof is available for those who might have initially been on the fence about participating.