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10th Jan, 2024

Craig Lewis
Craig Lewis
Job Title
Senior Content Writer

Employee rewards and recognition are a critical part of any successful business, boosting recruitment, retention and productivity, and encouraging development and career progression. 

By creating the perfect employee incentives, an organisation will have a happy and hard-working workforce. 

But what exactly are rewards and recognition programmes and how can they enhance workplace performance?  

Understanding rewards and recognition 

While it is easy to think that salary is the defining motivation when it comes to employees’ deciding where they will work and whether they will stay in a job, employee recognition programmes and benefits should not be ignored. 

Using a system of rewards and recognition is central to promoting a culture of success within an organisation. An effective reward does not always have to be monetary, with benefits like paid time off or other non-financial rewards, or public recognition, popular among many employees. 

While rewards are transactional, recognition is relational. Employee rewards are tangible gifts awarded to employees to celebrate success within the organisation or individually. Recognition is personal praise or gratitude for good work and can be as simple as a written note or a shout-out during a meeting. 

An effective reward and recognition programme will: 

  • Set clear goals and objectives for employees, ensuring any rewards they get are tied to performance. 

  • Keep track of employee satisfaction and performance and will be updated as required. 

  • Incentivise employees by providing meaningful, relevant rewards. 

  • Improve job satisfaction and morale, with creative forms of reward and recognition ensuring people don’t become bored or complacent. 

  • Increase productivity among employees.  

What are the best incentives for employees?

When looking at the rewards and recognition employees most want, it is important to go to the source. Ask your people what benefits they would like and how they would like to be recognised, and be flexible and personalised within what you offer. 

Here are just a few ideas of the best incentives for employees: 

Money, money, money 

While not all rewards have to be financial, no employee will be disappointed to receive some extra cash. Whether contracted bonuses based on achievement over a year, or a one-off spot bonus, extra money will always prove attractive. 

A gift card for a favoured retailer 

This personalised employee reward can be a real winner, making employees feel both recognised for their hard work and valued as individuals.  

Holiday! Celebrate! 

Extra holiday not only celebrates an employees’ performance, but also offers them the opportunity to relax and come back refreshed. Many organisations use employee service awards to provide additional holiday for long-service, with sabbaticals a particularly popular reward for loyal staff. 

Health and wellness 

Employee recognition programmes which have a focus on the health and wellbeing of workers can bring a variety of benefits for an organisation. Rewarding employees with free or subsidised gym membership, healthy snacks, or access to mental health services will not only keep them motivated but can reduce absenteeism and increase productivity by making people feel valued and cared for. 

Life outside the office 

Every employee will have their own hobbies, keeping them stress-free and motivated when away from their desks. Whether your staff love cooking, dancing, singing, painting or origami, giving them a chance to pursue what they love is a great addition to employee recognition programmes. Companies which offer discounted sessions or kit for employees will have a happier workforce. 

Education, education, education 

Continual learning has been found to keep people healthy and happy, stretching their minds and counteracting the potential grind of office life. Offering employees the chance to take courses both relevant to their jobs - which offer the prospect of professional progression - and in areas which interest them outside of work, will keep them engaged and happy. 

Social recognition 

Employee recognition does not have to be confined to an internal environment. Using public forums or social media to herald someone’s hard work will give them a real boost, making them feel highly valued. And, as they say, it costs nothing to be kind. 

Be flexible 

People love the gift of choice within employee recognition programmes. Benefits packages which allow employees to choose a tangible reward for a job well done will make people feel individually valued. A flexible system of rewards will also allow organisations to cater for a multi-generational workforce, where one person may want to concentrate on their pension plan and another on childcare.  

Non-financial awards 

As we have already seen, not all rewards and recognition need to revolve around money. Non-financial rewards can be a really useful tool, particularly when operating between salary reviews. 

A job well done can be recognised with additional support or training, increased authority or new opportunities. Such recognition can take place frequently if deserved, and in the moment. 

Non-financial awards do not have to rely on a budget. It costs nothing to write an email praising someone’s work and even a simple ‘thank you’ can boost morale and lead to better employee retention. The gift of gratitude can sometimes make all the difference.  

Perfecting your employee recognition programme 

Employee reward and recognition programmes can be embedded into an organisation’s culture to improve its overall brand and improve retention rates.  Providing flexible incentives and implementing a culture of employee recognition can boost productivity, stimulate development, increase morale and improve an employer’s brand:  

Increased productivity 

Employees whose organisations value rewards and recognition will usually be prepared to go the extra mile. Employee recognition programmes act as a catalyst for strong performance and can foster a spirit of togetherness and teamwork, with everyone recognised for their hard work.  

Development and career progression 

Incentives for employees bring development and career growth by encouraging people to elevate their performance at work. Rewards and recognition give employees a positive reason to do more and to exceed the expectations the company has for them.  

Employee satisfaction 

Rewards and recognition create a positive relationship between employers and employees. Employers will benefit from an empowered workforce which is encouraged to deliver positive results. Workers who are happy in their jobs and feel they are being recognised for their hard work will be less likely to look for employment elsewhere, improving retention rates.  

Employer brand 

 Employees will talk about their life at work and how they are treated by their employers. An organisation which recognises and rewards its people will build a positive brand through the conversations they have. This can have a strong impact with external stakeholders and in terms of recruiting new talent.

Is your organisation looking to reward and source talent as effectively as possible? Our salary and benchmarking services can help. 

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