Employee Recognition Ideas: How To Create a Great Rewards Program

Jennifer Herrity

Updated November 8, 2022

Published October 7, 2019

Jennifer Herrity is a seasoned career services professional with 12+ years of experience in career coaching, recruiting and leadership roles with the purpose of helping others to find their best-fit jobs. She helps people navigate the job search process through one-on-one career coaching, webinars, workshops, articles and career advice videos on Indeed's YouTube channel.

Employee engagement can help increase motivation and productivity within a company. Engaging and rewarding employees for their contributions is an important aspect of a company’s retention strategy. Keeping good employees can help a business become more successful and creating an effective rewards system can assist in both engagement and retention.

In this article, we will discuss why it is important to reward employees and the rewards systems you can use to boost motivation.

Related: How To Be a Good Manager

How to implement an effective employee rewards system

You can design and implement an employee rewards system by following these steps:

  1. Use a survey.

  2. Design a reasonable system.

  3. Inform your team.

  4. Ask for feedback.

1. Use a survey

Surveys offer a way for team members to offer specific, detailed feedback on reward ideas. You can create a structured survey with rewards that employees can choose or leave it open for suggestions. Most surveys are anonymous so employees feel more comfortable voicing their opinions. Consider using an online survey to make it easier for team members to fill out. Online surveys may offer a simple way for you to organize feedback and visualize the most popular suggestions.

Related: Employee Surveys: Your Modern Day Suggestion Box

2. Design a reasonable system

A successful rewards program involves careful planning. You should select rewards that motivate and keep employees while staying within your budget. Ideally, your system should be long term and contain rewards for meeting quotas or milestones. You’ll also need to consider whether you’d like to offer individual or group rewards or a combination of both.

When designing the program, ensure you set attainable goals and that your rewards are appealing enough for employees to remain motivated. Ensure you have an approved budget so you can regularly reward team members when they exceed expectations.

3. Inform your team

The next step is informing your team about the new rewards system. If your team is located within the same office, consider scheduling a meeting to review the program in person. An email that outlines the program works, although your employees will probably appreciate hearing more about the system in a setting where they can ask questions and get more details about how they can qualify for rewards. As part of the discussion, detail the timeline for implementing the rewards system and any milestones they must meet to earn rewards.

4. Ask for feedback

After the system has been in place for a specific period, such as a month or after the first quarter, you can ask for feedback to better gauge employee satisfaction. Request constructive feedback on the rewards and the program as it exists so you can make any necessary adjustments.

Types of employee rewards

Here are six types of employee rewards you might implement in your workplace:

Employee of the month recognition

Recognizing a team member who exceeded expectations each month is a popular reward option in many companies. This recognition encourages employees to work hard so they can earn this honor. You can provide prizes, whether it’s special parking privileges or a plaque. Some companies offer an extra day of PTO or even the option to work from home for a day to their employee of the month.

Provide a meal

You can offer a weekly or monthly lunch for team members who showed excellent work ethic in that time period. You can cater a meal to your workplace or have an off-site lunch. Gathering several employees will also allow for further connections among team members.

Offer recognition in front of the team

When you recognize an employee in front of the team, you can achieve several results. The first benefit is that the employee being recognized feels valued, while the second is encouraging the others on the team to surpass their standard performance so they can also receive recognition. You can highlight your star employees in a team meeting through your company’s internal website or even through a company newsletter.

Give out company promotional items

If your company has apparel or goods with its logo on it, such as hats or mugs, consider offering those items as rewards. When a team member exceeds a quota or provides excellent customer service, give them a promotional item as a reward.

Provide extra PTO

Offering extra paid time off is a reward that most employees will want. You could provide an extra day of PTO to a salesperson who acquires the most leads during a set period. Extra PTO is appealing to people across all levels and departments, so it’s a universal reward you can implement.

Monetary rewards

Most employees view money as a motivational factor, so your rewards system may include monetary rewards to encourage the highest levels of participation. If you provide additional money as a reward, make sure to have a fair and consistent method of implementation and delivery so that all employees have a chance to earn extra funds.

Related: How To Get Motivated at Work

By incorporating the feedback from your employees, you can create an effective rewards system. Depending on your budget, you can implement a program that costs little to no money. You could also try to use several rewards systems at once to increase employee motivation and engagement.

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