Although implementing a recognition program is low-cost way to reinforce corporate values and the employee value proposition, a fair number of companies have yet to offer them, says Laurie Bienstock, director of rewards for North America at Towers Watson, a global professional services company. In fact, according to a recent global study by Towers Watson, 59 percent of employers report having performance-based recognition programs, and 76 percent of respondents say they have service-based recognition programs. Given these figures, there is still plenty of room for more employers to consider offering recognition programs, but they must also develop effective communication strategies, which isn't always the case.

"One of the main challenges many organizations face regarding recognition programs is that they are not used consistently throughout the organization," Bienstock says. "Some parts of the organization and some managers may be solid users of the program whereas other parts of the org may not use the program as consistently."

The Towers Watson study even finds that 53 percent of employees report that they understand how recognition awards are determined while 41 percent of employees say managers execute the recognition programs well, suggesting that improvement could be made regarding communications, Bienstock says.

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