Types of Recognition

Recognition Professionals International (RPI) defines three types of recognition – formal, informal, and day-to-day. Organizations use all three types of recognition in a recognition strategy.

Formal Recognition

Formal recognition is a structured program with defined processes that link to organizational goals. It has a nomination process and an awards ceremony. Employees receive public recognition in a formal setting. In most organizations, this type of recognition occurs annually, and only a small number of employees are recognized. Examples include years of service or values champion awards.

Informal Recognition

Informal recognition is less structured then formal recognition. It is designed for individuals and teams rewarding progress towards a goal. Informal recognition typically includes a low-cost celebration with mementos or refreshments. An example is hosting a department-wide lunch when a major project is complete.

Day-to-Day Recognition

Anyone in the organization can give day-to-day recognition. This includes verbal praise or a thank you note. This type of recognition is designed to recognize behaviors that support the organizational values.

A good recognition program includes rewards, awards, incentives, and celebrations. These terms are defined below:

Reward: An item given to an individual or team for meeting a pre-determined goal and is sometimes cash-based

Award: An item given to an individual or team to commemorate a specified achievement that is typically non-cash

Incentive: A contingent reward based on achievement of pre-determined performance results within a specific time period

Celebration: A planned or spontaneous event in recognition of individual or team achievement

Test Your Knowledge
Below are examples of these key recognition terms. Match the term on the left with its description on the right.

A. Jim is retiring after 25 years of service. Jim’s workgroup has planned a luncheon in his honor for next Thursday.
B. The sales department has been split into three teams. One of the teams has just been recognized for reaching their third quarter goal six weeks ahead of schedule. Each member of the team received a $100 American Express gift card.
C. Janet in Human Resources is looking for an item to symbolize the CEO’s dedication and persistence. The CEO just completed a successful merger which has positioned the company as a market leader in their industry.
D. Twelve months ago the CEO identified safety as a major focus area of the company. A safety committee was formed to reduce the number of accidents by 8%. The number of accidents has decreased by 10% over the last year. To celebrate this milestone the CEO has planned a special company-wide lunch to recognize the safety committee for their hard work.
E. Michael is a new hire in the customer service department. When he is able to process 20 calls each hour, he will be eligible to win a sweatshirt with the company logo.

How did you do? Check your answers below.
Reward: B; Celebration: A; Recognition: D; Incentive: E; Award: C