The Dow Chemical Co. has tens of thousands of employees in every corner of the globe. The company bases its recognition strategy on building a culture of appreciation and acknowledging the efforts of all deserving employees on a personal level. Following are highlights of Dow's highly successful program, Recognition@Dow, which was named the Best Recognition Program in 2006 by the Incentive Marketing Association.

  • Executive Sponsorship

    Recognition@Dow is managed by a small team of managers from the human resources department and is fully backed and driven by Dow's senior management, including President & CEO Andrew Liveris.

  • Program Training

    To maintain interest and enthusiasm around Recognition@Dow, the company has developed workshops to educate employees about Recognition@Dow and to update them on program enhancements or changes, such as the recent launch of a peer-to-peer nomination feature. All managers throughout Dow are also trained on the program.

  • Program Communication and Nominations

    Dow uses its internal communications Web site, which includes frequently asked questions and success stories, to promote the program. In the nomination area of the site, peers and managers can submit the names of employees to receive awards. This site is geared to peer-to-peer nominations but also includes manager-to-subordinate programs that require pre-assigned “Approvers” to view a nomination order and decide whether to approve.

  • Everyone is Eligible

    All Dow employees around the globe are eligible for recognition, and there are many levels of awards. The platform supports multiple languages, including simplified and traditional Chinese, Korean, Japanese, and Thai, which were recently added to the program.

  • Award Selection

    With a diverse, global work force in mind, Recognition@Dow was designed to offer personal choice. Four e-thank you/e-card options are available, which may be used by anyone for anyone deserving recognition. At the “Carat” levels, awards include gift certificates that may be issued in any available currency, as well as gift certificates that allow employees to shop locally for their preferred brands. The program has thousands of participating merchants in the areas of shopping, travel, dining, and entertainment.

  • Program Measurement

    To measure the program's effectiveness, Dow sets targets for award distribution and monitors usage and spending. Dow also runs employee and leader satisfaction surveys. Dow management can track levels of participation for both employees and managers; each month, top managers (“Leaders” in Dow-speak) receive reports on the award activity within their organization.

There's proof that the program is working: In its first 11 months, more than 93,000 recognition events passed through the system, and in a recent survey, 90 percent of Dow employees reported that they had nominated someone for recognition.


Bob Nelson, PhD, is president of Nelson Motivation Inc.; a frequent presenter to management teams and conferences; and a best-selling author of several books, including 1001 Ways to Reward Employees and The Management Bible. www.nelson-motivation.com