Effective Ways to Implement the Rewards and Recognition Program

Effective Ways to Implement the Rewards and Recognition Program

How do you implement a perfect reward and recognition program? Here's a three-step process to get you through.

Disha Goel
Disha Goel

A Reward and Recognition program sounds like a simple concept: engaged employees perform more brilliantly and produce greater results than employees who are not engaged. Take the logic one step further and you could say that the result of having engaged employees is a greater business success. If you understand this, then a bigger question you need to answer is, ‘Is your rewards and recognition program old school or new school?’. For a start, here are some rewards and recognition best practices that one must follow.

In this article, we take a deeper look at some rewards and recognition programs best practices that one must follow, how to implement an employee recognition program, types of employee recognition and some employee reward ideas that make a difference to the organization.

9 Rewards And Recognition Programs Best Practices You Must Implement

In the past, companies rewarded the use of their employees’ hands. In today’s knowledge-based economy, employers also need to win their employees’ heads and hearts. Precisely, modern recognition strategies are more result-oriented. Based on industry best practices for rewards and recognition, that include radical new ways to appreciate the greatness of employees, we’ve created 9 ways to breathe life into any R&R program. Dive in and learn how you can reimagine rewards and recognition program which can assist continuous performance management.

“In The Moment” Recognition

As we discussed in our previous blog, one of the most common mistakes which leaders have been doing in the past is waiting for an annual review to reward their employees. As opposed to waiting for an annual review, new R&R technology allows you to recognize and reward behaviors as they happen, which is more effective in creating a positive impact on employees. The immediacy of recognition reinforces the connection between praise and the positive behaviors and activities you want to see repeated at your workplace.

Integration with Performance Management

If you are one of those companies which have tailored its R&R programs to recognize years of service or special achievements, then probably it’s time you need to restructure it. Today, recognition strategies are also used to increase the effectiveness of performance conversations and feed into a continuous performance management process.

Choice of Rewards

Will employees be able to choose their rewards? It is a better experience if they can. The more choice, the better. Although the old style of recognition awards may be a relic, there are a number of ways you can modernize your employee recognition program, and make it more effective and personalized. If you want to follow rewards and recognition program best practices then make sure your Rewards and recognition vendor offers a variety of options when it comes to rewarding choice, so employees can choose rewards that are individualized to them.

Personalized awards are a clear win. Check out Empuls and offer perfect rewards to motivate your employees>>

Not Just For Large Companies

Whether your company has 50 employees or 5,000, people are always an organization’s most important asset, and implementing the centralized R&R program as a key component of the total compensation and rewards package has become a necessity. Employee recognition has proven to be instrumental in contributing to a positive workplace and organizational success.

Reinforcing Culture

Often employees and teams are distributed across different locations. If you want your program to have longevity, your centralized, values-based R&R program must be built into your corporate culture rhythm, where everyone is working towards a shared goal, while keeping up with the industry best practices for rewards and recognition.

Make Recognition Public and Social

One-to-one recognition is powerful on its own, but it is even more effective when it can be seen by others or shared via employees’ personal networks. Public recognition reinforces teamwork and encourages the positive behaviors that you are trying to drive organization-wide. Encourage recognition sharing, both electronically and at company meetings to build a culture of recognition. Younger employees are taking over the workforce and social media tools like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are the way this new generation of worker communicates. By allowing employees to share recognition with their personal networks, you will not only make recognition more meaningful to them, but you will also be able to leverage their social networks to promote your employer brand online or support recruitment efforts.

Measure, Review and Improve

Since we already know by now that modernized R&R strategies are result-oriented, ensure that whatever your programs look like, you can easily record the activities to make decisions on how to improve the program using data, not desire. Define the metrics you want to change based on your corporate goals - and monitor them. Also, ensure managers have access to reporting to see what an employee has been recognized for overtime.

Peer Recognition Rules

One of the rewards and recognition programs best practices is a peer component that allows employees to recognize one another. Peer to Peer Recognition breaks down the notion of top-down recognition from managers and fosters a sense of camaraderie, teamwork, and working together toward common goals.

Keep Your Program Alive

Launching a program with a big bang is great as it gets people excited about the program, however, keeping the program going and sustaining momentum takes care and ongoing effort. Choose a unique look, feel, and name for your reward and recognition program, that reflects your corporate brand and culture. Build rhythm around communicating the top employees recognized and those who are recognizing others most often. Don’t let it die!

For more information about rewards and recognition, schedule a free demo of Empuls now!

7 Types Of Employee Recognition

While there are many factors to the success of your business, your employees are certainly among the main ones. When your employees are fully engaged in the workplace and are satisfied, they bring positive vibes to the workplace and ultimately improve the bottom line of the company. When your employees couldn’t care less about the company, not only will they be of no benefit to the company, but they might actually be a hindrance. They bring negative energy to the workplace and drain the other employees of their positive energy. So, how do you get your employees to be more engaged in the workplace and more satisfied with what they are doing? A great solution to this is employee recognition. When employees get their work noticed or when they feel appreciated for the contribution they are making to the company, they are more likely to put in more effort and are also more likely to be both engaged and satisfied. Employee recognition, however, cannot be narrowed down to one activity. There are a host of ways that recognition could be done for your employees. In this article, we will explore 7 of the most powerful and effective methods of employee recognition.

Collective Recognition – Rewarding High-Achieving Departments

The first step is to recognize the best performing teams in the office. There will always be some form of teamwork in the office on some tasks. With such tasks, it is much better to recognize the whole team than to recognize a single employee, since everyone will want to receive some kind of recognition for the work they have done to contribute to the team’s success. You can reward the best performing team by giving them goodies, such as free movie tickets, or shopping vouchers, or taking them out to lunch with upper management or something of the sort. The idea is to give them some kind of collective reward that not only makes them feel good but ensures they continue to bond with each other outside of work. It will encourage them to work together more in the future.

Performance-based rewards are great for sales teams and channel partners. Explore Compass: the perfect tool for digitizing incentive programs>>

Democratic Recognition – Asking Employees to Vote for the Employee of the Month

While employees generally want some kind of recognition for the work they are doing, that recognition will have a special meaning when it comes to their colleagues. Instead of simply choosing an employee of the month, which can easily be misconstrued for favoritism, ask the employees and management themselves to pick the employee of the month and to give their reasons for picking the employee. According to Betterworks, almost two-thirds of managers wish they had a better way to collect feedback from their team and peers. On the one hand, the employee will feel good that their peers in the workplace recognize their efforts and think they deserve to be an employee of the month. On the other hand, when voters give their reasons for picking a particular employee for the award, other employees can take it as a learning opportunity to find out what it takes to be a high-achieving employee.

Your employees will likely be doing a lot more with their lives than just work. They may have bought a new house, got their first child, made a blood donation, completed a marathon, and so on. When you recognize them for these achievements outside of the workplace, it means a lot to your employees. Sometimes, all it takes is a “congratulations” from upper management. The mere acknowledgment of their superiors for their efforts in their personal lives will make them feel appreciated as more than a mere employee at the office.

Structured Recognition – Employee Appreciation Programs

You can take the employee recognition seriously by starting a structured employee appreciation program. It can be points-based, for example, and focus on the positive qualities that employees bring to the workplace. These can include punctuality, finishing work ahead of schedule, exceeding targets, and so on. It could be a little competition among the employees to try and rack up as many points as they possibly can. These points can then be aggregated at the end of a collection period, such as a month, and be redeemed by employees for various benefits. They might include leaving a little earlier than usual, gift vouchers, an extra day of leave, and so on. When such long term employee programs exist, they help to keep employees constantly motivated as there are incentives for them to do so.

Celebratory Recognition – Have a Celebration Calendar for Employees

Employees will obviously have major milestones, such as anniversaries and birthdays. It would mean a lot to them if management celebrated their milestones along with them. You can organize surprise parties or a simple birthday cake for the office to enjoy, a gift voucher, and so on. You can even get a birthday card and get every one of the employee’s colleagues to write a little note in it.

With Empuls #1 employee recognition company, never miss your employees’ major milestones. Click here to explore the perfect employee rewards and recognition platform>>

Milestone Recognition - Recognise Professional Development Milestones of the Employee

Your employees will have some ambitions and set goals for their professional development, and it would mean a lot to them if their organization showed interest in that. There are different ways this could be done. The first way is to reimburse a portion or the full cost of their professional development courses. Even if you don’t have the budget for reimbursement, a structured mechanism of providing a knowledge base of development opportunities could be really helpful for them. This could include sending periodic career development newsletters or simply forwarding useful emails and links on courses that might interest them and that might help to fast track their development.

This kind of interest shows that the management wants to genuinely help employees make it further along the path of their professional development, and they will definitely appreciate it. You can even offer them short courses and internal training sessions to kickstart their interest in development. Yet another way that you can show interest in the professional development of employees is to start recruiting in-house. If there is a new position that requires certain skills, start by advertising it to your own employees. If any of them have the required skills, they can apply for the job and get a promotion. This will encourage employees to constantly upgrade their skills for a chance at promotion.

Personal Recognition - Thank your Employees Personally

Employees tend to assume the worst when they are summoned to the management’s office. However, you can turn those assumptions on their heads by calling an exceptional employee every now and then just to tell them how great they’ve been doing and that your company is grateful for having them around. Such chats will leave them feeling appreciated and motivate them to work even harder in the future. There are lots of ways to show recognition to your employees without necessarily spending a lot of money as management. A simple “Thank you” every now and then can go a long way in giving your employees the motivation they need to constantly do their best for the company. Let’s explore 10 crucial ideas for employee rewards.

10 Ideas to Make a Big Difference with Employee Rewards

No matter the scale, the size, or the niche your business operates in, chances are that your employees are a big part of why it is as successful as it is. This is why employees should always be rewarded for their efforts and commitment in one way or another. According to studies, 65% of employees prefer non-cash reward incentives with 47% expressing that they want to be rewarded spontaneously and with little to no fanfare. However, only 14% of organizations provide their upper management with reward systems and tracking tools, with only 37% admitting that they take all employees into consideration in terms of rewardability.

The fact of the matter is that it is not always about the yearly income or bonuses – rewards can take many shapes and sizes. With that in mind, let’s take a look at several great ideas for employee rewards which can make a big difference for your internal culture and overall productivity.

Benefits of Employee Rewards and Recognition

Before we get into how you can improve your employee reward systems, it’s worth noting why the addition of such a system can be beneficial. Employees whose work is rewarded on a productivity basis will likely perform much better both individually and in a group environment going forward. With that said, an employee reward system’s benefits include but are not limited to:

Higher Employee Retention

Employee retention is a large issue in today’s modern, high-speed society. Employees often change companies based on their place of residence, family status, professional development, and other factors. Adequate employee rewards that cover those needs will allow you to retain high-quality talent in your company for extended periods, thus improving your employee retention rates across the board.

Improved Internal Culture

Employee relations play a big part in a company’s overall development and growth. Reward systems that objectively praise productive and successful employees without selection or discrimination can truly transform your office space. Satisfied employees will spread positive word of mouth about your management standards and attract more stakeholders to your door through sheer positivity and satisfaction with their employment.

Leadership Nurturing

Lastly, every company should look for opportunities to groom employees for leadership roles in management as well as to specialize in certain roles and departments. Employee reward systems can introduce a spirit of growth and competition among your staff members, ensuring that they want to become more goal-oriented and develop professionally. This will create a leadership pool for your HR department to choose from in regards to promotions and cross-department transfers depending on individual employee’s wishes and competencies.

Making a Difference with Employee Rewards and Recognition Program

Weekly Employee Highlights

One of the easiest ways to introduce employee rewards to your office space is to implement employee highlights. These can be done on a weekly, biweekly, monthly, or quarterly basis depending on the scale of your business and number of employees on the roster. Make sure to highlight more than one employee in each reward cycle, with an emphasis on different product categories. For example, Mark can get a “Best Overall Performance” reward while Karen can also get the “Best Customer Support Agent” reward at the same time. The clothing retailer Zappos is a great example of how you can introduce monthly employee reward cycles to your office space. Create a list of 3 to 5 reward titles unique to your business and let your managers track the employees’ progress throughout the cycle. Pool your results and post employee rewards for the entire company to see on your website, entrance hall, or other predominant spaces.

Unexpected Leave of Absence

Everyone likes days off and leaves of absence, especially if there are no catches involved. This can be used as a great baseline for your employee reward system in terms of high RoI on what you actually spend on it. For example, Ultimate Software is a company that treats its employees to vacation time and full-fledged travel every two or so years depending on their performance. This is done unexpectedly, without announcing anything weeks in advance for employees to chew on. Instead, these rewards can come suddenly and every time an employee shows commitment, productivity, and loyalty to the company. Again, managers should be made aware of the fact that they should track employee performance and report on their findings for the reward system to take place.

Employee Anniversaries

The longer an employee is under your employment, the more chances your managerial staff will have to get to know them. Important dates such as birthdays, employment anniversaries, and others can be celebrated with small, internal gifts, and treats. You don’t need to spend large amounts of resources to cater to each employee’s specific preferences. However small things such as a pineapple-flavored cake for Michael who is a fan of pineapples work wonders for morale. This type of reward will have a positive effect on everyone in the department or the company (depending on its scale), so make sure to explore the possibility in greater detail.

Company-Wide Achievement Board

Permanent achievements made by individuals within a company should always be highlighted and rewarded accordingly. A good example of this practice can be found in Robert W. Baird & Co. which offers permanent stock and company investment to exemplary employees.


An achievement board can be used to highlight employees who have shown exemplary success in their job positions, changed important company production pipelines, and affected others around them. These achievements are unique in nature and should only be recognized by managers and the upper echelon of the company as transformative for the business. As such, they deserve the highest praise and a permanent exhibit on a company-wide achievement board for employees and visitors to see. Employees whose names, titles, and faces are displayed on the achievement board will know that their place in the company is important and worth fighting for even more than previously, solidifying your employee reward system as an effective productivity tool.

R&R Break Room Development

Employee rewards don’t have to be individualized and centered on specific staff members. Instead, you can emphasize teamwork and solidarity by introducing team-based reward systems for your employees. A great example of this could be the ongoing development of a joint break room for everyone to use freely. Make your workforce earn their keep by offering nifty breakroom upgrades in the name of performance. Items such as an espresso machine, a plasma TV, or lazy bags can be literally “earned” through a series of performance-based activities. If all employees work for the benefit of their company and focus on singular objectives that lead to the betterment of their business, the break room will receive further updates and additions. This is a great way to boost teamwork and morale across the board without placing any one employee on the proverbial pedestal.

Management Thank-You Notes

You might think that small thank-you notes don’t do justice to your employees’ commitment but you would be wrong to think so. Employees, especially those on the junior level, always look for some form of recognition by the upper echelon of the company. Simple appreciation notes based on their productivity, commitment, years of employment, and other variables can go a long way in ensuring their ongoing employment. The company Net App utilizes a similar thank-you system in which board members and CEO often thank employees in person for their time with their company. This type of camaraderie is often lost in the corporate sector and it can have hugely positive effects on your employees without requiring any additional costs or resources for it to work.

Choices of Seminars

Professional development opportunities play a big role in whether or not employees will retain their positions or look for a new career opportunity. In that regard, you should make it possible for employees to choose among a plethora of development seminars, events, conferences, training, and other opportunities. These can come as rewards for productivity and commitment or simply for certain periods of time under your employment. You should always make it possible for individual staff members to pick which events to attend among two or more choices, however. Don’t push single choices into their hands as rewards since their professional development will also serve your company just as much as them. Create a choice-based development system based on productivity and it will undoubtedly be seen as an adequate reward system.

VIP Tickets & Events

On a more casual note, employees have private lives, hobbies, and lifestyles. You can play the “friendly employer” card just as easily by introducing a reward system based on popular events, concerts, festivals, and other happenings. Similar to professional development, you should make several choices available to your employees at any given moment in order to create a sense of freedom and choice. You can also introduce VIP seats to sports games, family tickets to sports camps, and other rewards which lead to a greater sense of belonging and acceptance for employees.

Company-Wide Team-Building

Employees often think themselves below the upper management, despite being the same in terms of rights and background. However, a good way to level the playfield every once in a while is to introduce company-wide team-building activities to the office. his space can be used not only as an employee reward system but also as a way to illustrate that every employee is the same in terms of importance to the company. Such problems are often present in large companies where employees often don’t see CEOs or board members for weeks on end, further distancing them from any form of meaning and importance. Team-building activities can be anything from cooking and having lunch together, doing physical exercises, or competing in video games with the entire company staff present.

Ensure a seamless flow of communication with Empuls, # 1 employee recognition company, and keep your squad on the same page. Learn more>>

Ask them Directly

Lastly, you can ask your employees directly about the types of rewards, incentives, and employment benefits they would like to see. Prepare to hear different and unexpected responses however since not every employee will have a realistic image of what is possible or not. Realistic suggestions will always find their way to your HR department and allow them to come up with a mutually-beneficial solution. That way, employees will feel a greater sense of importance since their suggestions have been taken into serious consideration and found their implementation in the employee reward system. Communicate with your staff members and find out what they like and dislike – it’s one of the best ways to craft a reward system that will bring concrete results and change to your company.

Empuls, an Employee Recognition Company like no other

The difference within your employee structure will only come if you take the time to assess the current situation and identify critical bottlenecks. Don’t blame your employees for lack of productivity or morale in terms of 9-to-5 work hours with little to look forward to in terms of benefits or development. Add a human element to their employment activities and your internal culture will bloom as a result.

An employee recognition company like Empuls can be your true partner in transforming the way rewards and recognition is carried out in your organization. You can also automate rewards and incentives delivery by connecting your applications with Plum RaaS APIs. Get in touch with us today to know more.

Build a culture of employee recognition with Empuls. Effective rewards and recognition programs can ignite purpose and potential in your team. With Empuls, you can start an RnR program that’s candid, social, frictionless & fun. Want to know more? Book a demo or start a free trial.

Disha Goel

Disha Goel LinkedIn

Disha Goel is a Data analytics and Business Intelligence professional from the Greater Seattle Area currently working at the intersection of financial services products and business.