Top five pros and cons of using a Recognition System to support your Recognition Strategy

Written by
Ivan Pierce
March 8, 2024

It’s one of those amazing phenomena in life and business where both the giver and the receiver of recognition feel great!  Creating a culture where people value and show gratitude for each other’s contributions is almost a utopia, particularly in today’s minefield of psychosocial hazards and high work demands.  

If you’re researching how to improve your approach to recognition you are likely seeing lots of cool looking recognition systems claiming to be the silver bullet.  Let’s take a moment to consider both the pros and cons of investing your recognition budget into one of these off the shelf platforms.

As a Chief People Officer in the Australian Financial Services industry for 15+ years I have tried every way possible to refine recognition strategy to deliver tangible results.  Through trial and error (and loads of measurement), fortunately we were able to crack the code in our organisation. This included building a bespoke recognition system internally that was uniquely suited to our needs. We won multiple national awards for Best Reward and Recognition Program as well Best HR Systems, so we’ve got some insights to share.

Let’s start with the positives:

Top five pros of recognition systems

  1. Provides structure

A well designed recognition system can assist with providing a structure within which a good recognition strategy can operate (but, it can’t ‘be’ the strategy).

  1. Delivers consistency

A recognition system can help ensure consistency in how recognition is delivered to people across your organisation.

  1. Helps with Administration

A good quality recognition system can help with the centralised administration of the recognition program, particularly if that includes rewards and prizes (think about what your Finance team needs from a tax perspective).

  1. Ease of use and distribution

A well refined system should make it easier for people around your organisation (whether leaders or peer-to-peer) to give a colleague online recognition.  It can be particularly useful for sharing recognition broadly and allowing others to add their support by ‘liking’ posts etc.

  1. Gamification is cool

A good quality system should look great and be fun for people to interact with.  The best systems will also have gamification mechanics that will further encourage a proportion of your people to be active recognisers. 

And now, let’s consider the potential downside:

Top five cons of recognition systems

  1. Cost

Limited recognition budget can be consumed quickly by system costs. So the savvy HR exec will need to consider whether that money can deliver better results if spent on recognition events, personalised gifts or printed materials. 

  1. Personal touch

What many employees want from recognition is for it to feel genuine and personalised, which can be challenging to achieve if your strategy is purely system driven.  

  1. Utilisation and Engagement

Will people use it? Any system-based solution is only as good as its engagement strategy. How will you (or your system provider) ensure high utilisation rates?

  1. IT Department Prioritisation

In the current environment where data security and privacy are front of mind, it’s unlikely HR can just make the decision in isolation to rollout a new recognition system, so you’ll need help from your friends in the IT department. Organisations often prioritise their internal IT teams work on projects that are profit or customer focused, so it can be challenging to expedite rolling out this type of system.

  1. Principles and Flexibility

It’s important that any strategy around recognition is principles based and tailored to the unique needs and culture of each organisation. So be careful to consider when considering a system if it is flexible enough to fit what you need rather than adjusting your strategy to fit within the parameters of the system.

Often as we embark on developing a new strategy for a topic like recognition we can be tempted to look for a tech solution that will be the panacea before we have even considered our unique needs, organisational culture and key principles.  

Unless you are very clear about your needs and how a system can meet them, in our view it is wiser to start with strategy first.  Design your approach with existing tools in mind and see how your people respond through seeking feedback. You can always introduce a system later if that happens to be what the feedback indicates.

If you’re not quite sure what the next steps are for your organisation, a great place to start is by considering a maturity model. This allows you to gauge where your organisation is at, consider what is possible and set an appropriate roadmap that suits your aspirations, resources and budget. Feel free to contact us here at exsona for advice on your recognition strategy or jump onto our website ( and download our Recognition Maturity Model.