Are you on board with employee recognition? Perhaps you’re ready to restart recognition after shutting down efforts during the recession. Perhaps you want to start up a strategic employee recognition effort for the first time. But one major concern you have is “how much will this cost me? What’s the proper budget for a truly strategic recognition programme?”

Before considering the cold, hard money question, you must first answer this one: “What’s the goal of your programme?” If all you want to do is give people a trinket on their major milestone anniversaries with your organisation, you needn’t budget much. But if you want actively drive the culture of your organisation to create an environment of appreciation and productivity, then the money factor becomes much critical question.

In “2010 Recognition RX: Engaging Employees for Economic Recovery”, the Recognition Council never gives an actual figure or percentage, but they do offer this excellent advice:

“Recognition and rewards programmes that do not align with overall corporate strategies are usually looked at as an expense instead of an investment. These programmes often can’t be justified because they lack an underlying recognition strategy. Without a business-focussed strategy, there is very little to defend and so these programmes often are the first things to be eliminated in tough times. A well-devised recognition strategy will ensure the programme ties directly into the corporation’s business objectives, mission, vision and values. When your recognition strategy is linked to corporate objectives, it is much easier to defend and keep, as well as deliver a better overall result.”

This is the approach Globoforce has been preaching since our founding. It is the key best practice in our philosophy of recognition – only recognise those behaviours or actions that reflect your company values in contribution to achieving your strategic objectives. This helps your employees to understand how your values and objectives are real in their everyday work as well as giving you the ability to clearly and easily report on employee understanding and demonstration of your values and objectives across all regions. With this knowledge, you can now directly address low performing areas to bring everyone up to speed.

So what’s the answer? How much do you need to budget? Just 1% of total payroll will transform your culture, focus all employees on precisely those objectives you need to achieve and unite everyone in a common purpose.