Running Your Business

Employee Recognition Awards for Greater Engagement and Performance


  • 73 percent of organizations have an employee recognition awards program in place

  • 89 percent of HR leaders strongly agree that employee recognition improves the employee experience

  • Employee recognition awards do not have to be expensive or elaborate in order to be effective

Posted by March 18, 2018

Employee recognition rewards are a vital aspect of creating workplaces that are positive and engaging for employees.

Although it used to be enough simply to earn a paycheck and have a steady job, employees today look for career opportunities to earn recognition and incentives for their efforts. With the entertainment awards season in full swing, now could be the perfect time to recognize your employees for their hard work and loyalty with an effective employee recognition awards policy.

How Employee Recognition Impacts Organizations

The 2018 Society for Human Resource Management and Globoforce Employee Recognition Report reveals that 73 percent of organizations have an employee recognition awards program in place. Further, 89 percent of human resource practitioners strongly agree that employee recognition improves the employee experience and 84 percent strongly believe it supports employee engagement. In many cases, employee recognition awards can be tied directly to certain performance goals, which motivate and inspire employees to focus on producing their best work.

Creating an Employee Incentive Program

An employee rewards program is more than just “dangling a carrot” in front of employees and hoping that they get the idea. Instead, as the Houston Chronicle notes, the program should be carefully researched and rolled out using a fair system so all employees can experience recognition at some point.

In order to develop an effective incentive program for employees, find out what employees most want out of their career. The elements of a simple and manageable incentive program will include:

  • Rewards that are reasonably attainable and viewed as valuable to employees. Otherwise, why bother at all?
  • Flexible and adaptable rewards for the diverse population of employees you have on board. For example, gift cards in different values and regions can be offered.
  • An incentive program that is easy to understand and participate in. Allow employees to track their progress toward an incentive of their choice.
  • Quick delivery of rewards once they are earned. All employees deserve to have their incentives as soon as possible to motivate them further.
  • Regular company-wide communications from management (no messages reserved for certain groups of employees). Make sure incentives are available for all teams and employee levels.

Fun Ideas for Employee Recognition Incentives

Fortunately, there is a wide variety of employee recognition awards that can be affordably and seamlessly implemented with your current performance management process. The most important part is that the incentives are fun and creative. Here are a few ideas:

Build a rewards box. There are many outstanding resources (like career books, office gadgets, gifts and more) that can be used as an unexpected reward for employees. Keep a few boxes filled with these items in the office, so you can provide immediate recognition.

Just say thanks! According to Buddy Punch, employees appreciate the effort that it takes to say thank you. “Showing your workers gratitude in the form of a simple, ‘Thank you,’ or ‘I really appreciate what you’ve done,’ can go a long way toward helping them to feel more engaged, and improving worker satisfaction,” explains the source. Say it in a fun way with a public thanking ceremony complete with a certificate of appreciation and a lunch with peers.

Go double or nothing. Instead of the standard personal day off, give a top performing employee some much-deserved time off with a four-day weekend (two paid days off). You could even take it a step further and add a gift card to a nice restaurant or hotel so they can truly unwind in style.

Acts of service count. Many younger employees love the idea of working for an employer who supports their favorite causes. Make this an incentive by gathering the team and participating in a day of service for a charity or cause of your employee’s choosing, dedicated in their name.

Learning that lasts. To make employee recognition awards connect with the hard work that an employee is doing to perform well, make it about a learning incentive. This could include paid-access to an industry association conference, tuition support for earning a degree or an opportunity for a career coaching session.

These are just a handful of the many employee rewards you can add to your organization that could enhance employee engagement and boost performance levels.

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