The trouble with most recognition programs is they are not based on specific behaviors but become an entitlement of being employed. Employees start to take for granted that they will get certain perks for work they are supposed to do anyways.
For instance, in customer service, satisfying customer needs is a part of the job. Why would we recognize people for what they are hired to do in the first place?
The best recognition is based on specific behavioral improvements and should not be a continual routine. They also need to be strongly linked to the organization, customer or team good.
Ultimately, for motivation to be lasting, we want to boost pride in the work we do. To do this, we have to assume the work is intrinsically meaningful (and something we should be proud of). Team members chase excellence not money.
Team members who live a philosophy that they contribute to a team and truly support customers, do this because it's the right thing to do. It's who they are. It is not something they need to be bribed to do with perks. The minute you involve the incentive you spoil some of the intrinsic motivation.
Holding people accountable at work does not require praise, it requires accountability. What specifically are people accountable for? How can we measure it? Simply measuring and seeing actual progress is motivating.
People also build pride when they know that their work impacts others. Everyone has the right to feel like they are an important part of the team.
Work needs to be fluid and continually engaging. Purpose is a continual drive and a passion for moving forward, not a goal that we achieve and are done with.
Organizations that place the customer at the center of everything and focus on delighting them and improving value will find team members naturally engaged.