Employee Recognition and Rewards Part I: You're a Star!

"Millennials are accustomed to attention and praise from their earliest days and expect regular affirmation in the workplace. They are also prepared to switch jobs earlier and more frequently than previous generations, so employers need to take particular steps to maintain Millennial engagement," said Rodney Mason, GVP of Marketing with Blackhawk Engagement Solutions, an international incentives, and engagement company.

Remember when continued employment and a steady paycheck was enough of a reward for a job well done?  If you replied no, there’s a good chance you were born after 1982.  If you’re shaking your head and proclaiming, “Hear, hear!  Those were the good old days,” you’ve got the old right in that statement. Millennials will make up over 75% of the workforce by 2015. Take a look at your workforce, and understand that recognition must go beyond a paycheck nowadays! 


Millennials don’t just expect recognition, they demand it.  Work environments devoid of pathways for praise will find themselves with a revolving door.  Millennials move more often than Gen Xers or Baby Boomers.  If retention matters to your business, recognition should matter to you.  Your goal should be slow down their pattern of switching jobs, show them a road to growth, and ensure that road is littered countless opportunities for small successes.  Like it or not, this is your team and what matters is getting the most and best out of them, participation trophies and all!

Now that we’ve acknowledged that recognition is essential, you’re likely wondering, where do I start?  Glad you asked.  This article is the first in a short series on Employee Recognition and Rewards.  As today’s title suggests, we’re going to start with a star.  This simple system allows your entire staff to participate quickly and inexpensively in peer-to-peer and supervisor-to-staff recognition.  It’s something we do here at GYM HQ.

  • Start with a clipart created star form.  You can see the one we use here in the picture.  It was delivered through my doorway anonymously via paper airplane; a pretty sneaky delivery method with a note that brightened by afternoon.
  • Explain the program to your staff and encourage them to give out as many stars as they’d like.  They can give them to helpful teammates, overachievers, cheerleaders, or consistent performers.  What matters is they give them.
  • Place the star forms in an accessible area, like your breakroom, and keep the stack stocked.
  • Ask your managers to champion the process by getting some stars out early.
  • Encourage your team to display their stars at their desks/ cubes, on their lockers, or on your club bulletin board.
  • Hold a monthly meeting where stars are shared with the entire group.  We have a PowerPoint presentation on loop in our breakroom with the stars from the previous month included amongst the latest in news and announcements.  This allows team members across all departments to see what their teammates are achieving.
  • Give prizes!  We do a monthly drawing.  Every five stars turned in from the prior month gets a team member one ticket for our drawing.  Winners (2) receive their choice of several prizes.  Our current choices include gift cards, early leave days, and longer lunches.

It’s that simple.  A stack of copied stars, some pixie dust from manager-driven participation to get things moving forward organically, and closure with additional rewards at the end of each month.  You’re off to the races with your very own recognition program!

As a closing note, we tend to pick on millennials a lot.  But admit it, EVERYONE likes to be told they’re doing a great job from time-to-time, even you!