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Praising an employee for a job well done goes a long way, so long that a survey conducted by Survey Monkey has claimed that 63% of employees who are recognized for their good work are unlikely to look for a job. 

Positive reinforcement encourages an employee to produce more great work. Therefore, you must focus on best practices and showcase true excellence by celebrating the feats that deserve ‘thank you.’ 

According to a study by Gallup, 72% of employees who get applauded for their performance have recorded a great recognition experience. The same study has also found that employees who receive praise and recognition are likely to be 20 times more engaged than the ones who don’t. 

Therefore, reinforce the culture by improving employee engagement. Celebrating these occasions doesn’t need elaborate preparation: All you have to do is stay alert for the instant to happen and respond immediately, spontaneously, and creatively.

The operative word here is ‘creatively’.

The changing landscape of employee rewards

Employee rewards have come far from traditional bonus structures and generic recognition programs. In an era where talent retention and motivation are paramount, companies actively seek fresh and creative ways to acknowledge and appreciate their workforce. 

The shift towards personalized, meaningful rewards has given rise to many innovative ideas catering to diverse employee preferences.

Let's take a moment to consider some compelling statistics that highlight the significance of employee rewards:

Gallup's State of the American Workplace report reveals that engaged employees are 17% more productive than their disengaged counterparts. Employee rewards play a pivotal role in fostering this engagement.

→ A survey by Glassdoor found that 81% of employees are motivated to work harder when their efforts are appreciated, contributing to a positive and vibrant workplace culture.

→ According to a survey conducted by Gallup, organizations with highly engaged employees experience 21% greater profitability.

→ The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) reports that 69% of employees would work harder if they felt their efforts were better appreciated.

→According to a study by Bersin & Associates, companies with effective employee recognition programs have 31% lower voluntary turnover rates than those without.

These statistics underscore the correlation between employee engagement, retention, and the effectiveness of well-crafted reward programs.

As the business landscape continues to evolve, companies prioritizing employee satisfaction through innovative rewards are poised to attract top talent and cultivate a workforce invested in the company's success.

Employee engagement is a key driver of organizational success. Rewards enhance engagement by creating a sense of purpose, belonging, and accomplishment. When engaged, employees are more likely to invest their time and energy in their work, resulting in increased productivity and innovation.

The link between rewards and employee engagement

1. Aligning rewards with organizational goals

Effective reward programs are strategically aligned with organizational objectives. By tying rewards to key performance indicators and goals, employees understand the direct impact of their contributions on the company's success. When employees see a clear connection between their efforts, the organizational objectives, and the rewards they receive, it strengthens their commitment and engagement in working towards those goals.

2. Building a positive feedback loop

Regular and meaningful rewards contribute to a positive feedback loop within the organization. As employees receive recognition and rewards for their efforts, they are encouraged to continue their high-performance levels, creating a culture of continuous improvement and excellence.

3. Enhancing employee satisfaction

Employee satisfaction is closely linked to engagement and productivity. When employees feel valued and appreciated through rewards, their job satisfaction increases. This, in turn, positively influences their commitment to the organization and their willingness to go above and beyond in their roles.

The impact of employee rewards 

Employee rewards significantly boost morale, motivation, and overall job satisfaction, contributing to enhanced productivity and a positive work culture. Here is how employee rewards significantly impact organizational culture.

The impact of employee rewards 

1. Motivational impact

Employee rewards are powerful motivators, instilling a sense of accomplishment and recognition for a well-done job. When employees feel appreciated, they are more likely to be motivated to consistently deliver high-quality work, contributing to the organization's overall success.

2. Retention and loyalty

A well-designed rewards program contributes significantly to employee retention. Recognizing and rewarding employees for their contributions creates a sense of loyalty, reducing turnover rates and the associated costs of recruiting and training new staff.

3. Positive work environment

A workplace that actively acknowledges and rewards achievements fosters a positive environment. This positivity extends beyond individual employees to influence team dynamics and organizational culture. A culture of recognition and reward promotes collaboration, teamwork, and a shared commitment to success.

4. Employee well-being

Employee rewards are not only about recognizing professional achievements but also addressing the overall well-being of individuals. Acknowledging employees' personal needs and aspirations through thoughtful rewards can contribute to a healthy work-life balance, enhancing job satisfaction and overall happiness.

In the next section, we will explore various creative employee reward ideas that go beyond traditional approaches, ensuring a comprehensive and tailored approach to recognizing and appreciating the diverse contributions of your workforce.

30 Creative employee reward ideas to boost morale and productivity

From personalized thank-you notes to travel experiences, here are 30 employee reward ideas will boost morale and productivity, fostering a positive workplace culture that values individual contributions and promotes a sense of well-being and engagement. 

1. Performance bonuses

Performance bonuses are a classic and effective way to link financial rewards to individual achievements directly. These bonuses can be tied to specific metrics, project completion, or surpassing targets. By aligning bonuses with organizational goals, employees are rewarded for their efforts and become more invested in the company's success.

Google is well-known for its innovative and employee-friendly workplace practices. One of the ways Google rewards its employees for exceptional performance is through performance bonuses.

Employees who demonstrate outstanding contributions to projects, achieve significant milestones, or surpass performance expectations may receive performance bonuses as part of their compensation.

These bonuses are designed to recognize and motivate employees to consistently excel in their roles.

2. Salary increases

A salary increase is a substantial and enduring form of recognition that communicates to employees that their contributions are valued continuously. While performance bonuses offer a one-time acknowledgment, salary increases demonstrate a commitment to long-term employee satisfaction and financial growth.

3. Profit sharing

Profit sharing is a collaborative approach where employees receive a share of the company's profits. This ties individual success to organizational success and fosters a sense of ownership and shared purpose. 

Profit-sharing programs align employees' efforts with the company's financial performance, creating a collective incentive for everyone to contribute to the organization's prosperity.

The Container Store, a retail company specializing in storage and organization products, is recognized for its commitment to employee satisfaction. The company has a unique approach to profit sharing called the "Foundation Principles Bonus."

This program allocates a percentage of the company's profits to be distributed among employees based on their annual salaries.

The belief is that by sharing the success of the business with its employees, The Container Store fosters a sense of ownership and teamwork, motivating employees to contribute to the company's overall success.

4. Gift cards

Gift cards offer a versatile and customizable monetary reward option. Whether for popular retail outlets, restaurants, or online platforms, gift cards allow employees to choose rewards that resonate with their preferences. This flexibility adds a personal touch to the recognition, making employees feel valued and appreciated in a way that suits their tastes and interests.

5. Experiential rewards

Experiential rewards go beyond the traditional and tangible, offering employees memorable experiences contribute to their well-being and personal growth. 

Whether it's tickets to a concert, a weekend getaway, or a spa day, experiential rewards provide individuals with opportunities to create lasting memories. These rewards show appreciation and demonstrate a commitment to enhancing the quality of employees' lives beyond the workplace.

Empuls is a global SaaS company that specializes in employee engagement and motivation solutions. One of their experiential rewards is the "Experiences" category, where employees can redeem points or rewards for thrilling activities such as paragliding, hot air ballooning, or bungee jumping.

This type of reward goes beyond traditional incentives and provides employees with unique and memorable experiences, fostering a positive work culture.

6. Charity

Incorporating charitable initiatives as an employee reward fosters a culture of giving and social responsibility. Companies can organize volunteer opportunities, donation drives, or community service projects, allowing employees to contribute to causes they care about. 

By actively participating in charitable endeavors, employees experience a sense of fulfillment and purpose, reinforcing that the organization values individual contributions and the collective impact on the greater community.

7. Merchandise gifts

Merchandise gifts provide employees with tangible items that are both useful and enjoyable. These gifts can range from high-quality tech gadgets and accessories to lifestyle products such as home goods or outdoor gear. 

Choosing merchandise that aligns with employees' interests ensures that the gifts are appreciated and tailored to individual preferences, reinforcing the idea that the organization values each employee as an individual.

8. Prepaid cards

Prepaid cards serve as versatile and appreciated employee rewards, providing individuals the freedom to choose how they use their recognition. Whether for shopping, dining, or online purchases, these cards offer a personalized touch. 

Recognizing the diverse preferences of employees, prepaid cards allow recipients the flexibility to select rewards tailored to their individual tastes. This practical and customizable approach ensures that each employee receives a reward that resonates with their unique interests, fostering a sense of appreciation and satisfaction.

Xoxoday offers prepaid cards as part of its employee rewards program. Instead of traditional gift cards for specific stores, prepaid cards allow employees the flexibility to use the reward at a variety of merchants.

This can include online retailers, restaurants, or even for general expenses. The advantage lies in giving employees the freedom to choose how they want to use their reward based on their individual preferences.

9. Travel and entertainment

Rewarding employees with travel and entertainment experiences offers a luxurious and unforgettable way to show appreciation. Whether it's a weekend getaway, tickets to a sought-after show, or a travel voucher, these rewards provide individuals with a well-deserved break and an opportunity to create lasting memories. 

Travel and entertainment rewards not only recognize hard work but also contribute to employee well-being by offering relaxation and enjoyment outside the typical work routine.

10. Branded swag

Branded swag, such as company-logoed merchandise, offers employees a tangible and visually appealing way to showcase their pride and connection to the organization. 

From custom T-shirts and water bottles to laptop sleeves and tote bags, branded swag serves as a recognition tool and a means of promoting company identity. Employees appreciate the tangible reminder of their contributions, fostering a sense of unity among team members.

SnackNation is a company that provides curated snack boxes to workplaces, but they also go beyond snacks. SnackNation is known for its branded swag offerings. They create custom merchandise such as branded water bottles, T-shirts, and other items for companies to distribute among their employees.

This not only serves as a token of appreciation but also promotes a sense of belonging and pride among employees for being part of the organization

11. Designated “fun” budget

Empower employees with a designated "fun" budget, allowing them to choose and organize team-building activities or leisure events. 

This not only promotes a positive work environment but also demonstrates a commitment to employee well-being. By letting individuals tailor their experiences, organizations foster a culture of engagement, creativity, and shared enjoyment.

12. Customized gift baskets

Customized gift baskets offer a personalized and thoughtful way to express appreciation. Tailoring the contents of the gift basket to the individual's preferences, whether it's gourmet treats, spa products, or a collection of favorite items, shows a level of consideration that goes beyond a one-size-fits-all approach. 

Customized gift baskets are a versatile and delightful way to acknowledge employees, catering to their unique tastes and preferences.

13. Educational reimbursement

Supporting employees in pursuing higher education or relevant certifications showcases a commitment to their long-term success. Offering educational reimbursement programs encourages continuous learning and positions the organization as an advocate for employee development. 

This investment in education can lead to a more skilled and knowledgeable workforce, ultimately benefiting the company's performance.

Microsoft is a multinational technology company that prioritizes employee education and development. As part of its employee benefits, Microsoft provides educational reimbursement programs to support employees in pursuing further education relevant to their roles. 

For instance, Microsoft reimburses employees for the cost of professional certifications, advanced degrees, or specialized courses. This encourages continuous learning and enables employees to stay current in their fields while contributing to their professional growth within the company.

14. Training and workshops

Organizing training sessions and workshops allows employees to acquire new skills, stay abreast of industry trends, and enhance their job performance. Whether conducted internally or facilitated by external experts, these learning opportunities demonstrate a commitment to employee growth. 

Tailoring these programs to align with individual career goals fosters a sense of investment in each employee's professional journey.

15. Mentorship programs

Establishing mentorship programs creates a structured framework for employees to receive guidance and support in their professional journeys. Pairing less experienced employees with seasoned mentors fosters knowledge transfer, skill development, and a sense of belonging within the organization. 

Mentorship programs contribute to a positive workplace culture where individuals feel valued and supported in their career development.

16. Employee of the month

The classic "Employee of the Month" program remains a popular and effective way to highlight exceptional contributions. Recognizing one outstanding employee each month provides tangible acknowledgment and serves as a source of inspiration for others to strive for excellence. 

This program often involves featuring the employee prominently in company communications and providing additional perks or privileges.

17. Peer recognition

Peer recognition programs empower employees to appreciate the efforts of their colleagues. Colleagues are often in the best position to recognize their peers' hard work and dedication. 

Implementing a system where employees can nominate and recognize each other's achievements fosters a sense of camaraderie and teamwork, contributing to a positive and collaborative workplace culture.

Empuls is an employee engagement platform. One of its features is peer recognition, allowing employees to acknowledge and appreciate the efforts of their colleagues.

For instance, if an employee consistently goes above and beyond his duties, his peers on the Empuls platform can publicly recognize and commend her for her exceptional contributions.

This recognition can take the form of digital badges, personalized notes, or even point based rewards, fostering a positive and collaborative work culture

18. Shout-outs in meetings

Public acknowledgment can be a powerful motivator. Incorporating regular shout-outs in team or company meetings to recognize outstanding contributions allows everyone to witness and celebrate the achievements of their colleagues. 

This not only boosts the morale of the recognized individual but also creates a culture of appreciation within the entire organization.

19. Wall of fame

Creating a "Wall of Fame" or an online platform showcasing notable achievements visually provides a lasting tribute to employees' hard work. This recognition method is particularly impactful as it highlights the collective successes of the team, reinforcing a sense of pride and accomplishment among employees.

20. Remote work options

The rise of technology and connectivity has made remote work a viable and increasingly popular option. Providing employees with the flexibility to work remotely, either full-time or hybrid, acknowledges the importance of work-life balance and allows individuals to tailor their work environment to suit their needs. 

Remote work options contribute to employee satisfaction and can lead to increased productivity.

Buffer, a social media management platform, is known for its progressive approach to remote work. The company operates on a fully distributed model, with employees scattered around the globe. Buffer emphasizes flexibility and trust, allowing employees to choose when and where they work.

One of Buffer's notable practices is the "no office" policy. They provide extensive support for remote work, including tools for effective communication, collaboration, and regular virtual meetings.

Buffer fosters a culture of autonomy, where employees have the freedom to set their own schedules and choose environments that suit their productivity best. This approach not only attracts top talent globally but also enhances employee satisfaction and work-life balance. (Source: Flexos)

21. Compressed workweeks

Compressed workweeks condense the standard five-day workweek into fewer days, typically four. This approach allows employees to enjoy longer weekends, promoting a better work-life balance and reducing commuting-related stress. 

Compressed workweeks demonstrate a commitment to employee well-being and can result in increased job satisfaction and engagement.

22. Gym memberships

Providing employees access to gym memberships encourages physical activity and promotes a healthy lifestyle. Regular exercise has been linked to improved mental health, increased energy levels, and enhanced productivity. 

Offering gym memberships as a reward not only supports individual well-being but also underscores the organization's commitment to the health and fitness of its workforce.

23. Flexible hours

Implementing flexible working hours provides employees with the autonomy to adapt their work schedules to better align with their personal preferences and responsibilities. This approach recognizes that individuals have different peak productivity times and external commitments. 

Flexible hours contribute to a positive work culture by allowing employees to balance their professional and personal lives effectively.

HubSpot, a global inbound marketing and sales platform, is known for its flexible work hours. HubSpot understands the importance of work-life balance and provides its employees with the flexibility to choose their working hours within certain guidelines.

This enables employees to better manage their personal and professional responsibilities, leading to increased job satisfaction and productivity.

HubSpot is named as the best company for happiness, perks & benefits, and work-life balance by employees on Comparably.

24. Wellness challenges

Engaging employees in wellness challenges, such as step competitions, mindfulness challenges, or fitness goals, fosters a sense of camaraderie and healthy competition. 

These challenges encourage employees to prioritize their well-being while creating a positive and supportive community within the workplace. Recognizing and rewarding participants further incentivizes active participation in wellness initiatives.

25. Meditation and mindfulness programs

Incorporating meditation and mindfulness programs into the workplace promotes mental well-being and stress reduction. These programs may include guided meditation sessions, mindfulness workshops, or designated quiet spaces for relaxation. 

By acknowledging the importance of mental health, organizations contribute to a positive work environment where employees feel supported and encouraged to prioritize their holistic well-being.

26. Personalized thank you notes

Simple yet powerful, personalized thank-you notes convey genuine appreciation. Taking the time to acknowledge specific contributions and expressing gratitude in a personalized manner demonstrates a deep understanding of each employee's unique value. 

Handwritten notes or personalized emails can go a long way in making employees feel seen and valued.

Google is renowned for fostering a culture of appreciation and recognition. One unique way they express gratitude is through personalized thank you notes. Google encourages its employees to recognize and appreciate the efforts of their colleagues through a system called "GThanks."

This internal platform allows employees to send personalized thank you notes to their peers, acknowledging their hard work and contributions.

The entire organization can see these notes, creating a culture of appreciation and positive reinforcement.

Google recognizes the power of genuine gratitude in building a positive workplace atmosphere and boosting employee morale. By providing a platform for personalized thank you notes, Google values individual contributions and strengthens the sense of camaraderie among its employees.

27. Customized desk accessories

Providing customized desk accessories, such as personalized stationery, branded merchandise, or office decor, adds a touch of individuality to the workplace. These items serve as tangible reminders of appreciation and contribute to a positive and personalized work environment.

28. Personalized parking spaces

For organizations with on-site parking, offering personalized parking spaces as a reward adds a unique and practical touch to employee recognition. Reserved parking spaces, adorned with the employee's name or a personalized sign, provide a visible and daily reminder of their valued contributions.

29. Write a LinkedIn recommendation

Recognizing and appreciating employees extends beyond traditional rewards. A unique and impactful idea is encouraging colleagues to write LinkedIn recommendations for each other. 

This gesture not only highlights individual strengths and achievements but also fosters a positive and collaborative workplace culture. 

Employees can showcase their appreciation publicly, enhancing their professional profiles and creating a culture of recognition that extends beyond the organization's confines. Writing LinkedIn recommendations becomes a meaningful and lasting way to acknowledge and uplift fellow team members.

30. Session with a financial advisor for their financial wellbeing

Rewarding employees with a session with a financial advisor is a thoughtful investment in their well-being. This personalized experience addresses individual financial concerns, providing valuable insights and guidance. 

Empowering employees to navigate their financial landscape not only enhances their overall well-being but also demonstrates the organization's commitment to the holistic success and prosperity of its team members.

Employee rewards occasions for celebrating excellence 

Uncovering hidden occasions and identifying new heroes to hail every day!

1. Team members who are always on time for the Zoom meeting.

2. While on Zoom, how about the creative minds with the most innovative backgrounds?

3. Finally, how can you not reward the dude/dudette with the least “Am I on MUTE”s in a week?

4. Moving on, let’s reward customers who skip the Wish List and ‘Buy NOW.’ Decisiveness deserves to be congratulated.

5. Anyone who plays ambassador and spreads brand love on social media.

6 Conversely, those who privately message you draw attention to something amiss - like the wrong logo, a misspelled word, or an incorrect attribution. They’re sharing brand love too, but being thoughtfully discreet, so a bear hug, um, reward, please.

7. Samaritans who share your content always deserve an extra pat. Replace ‘pat’ with ‘reward.’

8. Do-gooders who tag your brand and teams on social media (in a positive context). Go ahead, make them feel like royalty.

9. Customers who never default an EMI. Good habits are rare – acknowledge them with an equally exclusive reward.

10. Folks who make it a point to give the COD delivery guy the exact change. Small things matter big: Cue the applause.

11. Curious souls who sign up for your newsletter. Or demo. On the very first visit. Something to make their effort worth its while.

12. If you’re a new joiner and can make friends super quick (nevermind philosophy gurus who offer a million definitions of ‘friendship’ - in our book, sharing a croissant qualifies just fine!), make room in your desk - something nice is on its way.

13. Sharing ‘real’ (and ‘real-time’) tips and strategies on the company intranet to help out peers is a high-value gesture. Reciprocate with an equally high-value lead.

14. ‘Insane’ digital marketers who are never satisfied keep A/B testing (more like A/B/C/D/E/F/G/H, really!) until they scale the next level – the one we all thought was unscalable. Let unboxing follow.

15. Copywriters who can make even error messages go viral with a touch of quirk. Hint: A digital reader like Kindle is a cool way to say “Neat!”

16. UX rockstars who can make visitors hang around for that all-important extra couple of seconds! Let their jaw hang lower when they unwrap their richly deserved prize.

17. Sales rockstars who can call a truce and jam with their Marketing peers - and vice versa! They are trend-buckers, and you know how that tribe needs treating (yes, with a tangible tribute)!

18. Leaders who try to break the ice with juniors and rookies - like taking them out for pizza! Sharing a fancy buffet voucher with these folks - who come factory-fitted with XXL-sized hearts - is the least you can do!

19. Employees who ‘cover’ for colleagues when the latter has a family emergency or bad hair day. ‘Thank you’ in a way they’ll remember.

20. ‘First Mover’ adventurists who adopt tech & trends before others, but most importantly, don’t stop there - passing the magic onto the team and building an overall business edge! Reward material in our books!

21. Folks who are natural cross-sellers and up-sellers. Show them how grateful you are for a gorgeous giveaway!

22. Whistleblowers who bring anomalies to your attention. Nurture these Batman/Catwoman-like vigilantes with something as ‘awesome’ as their invisible capes!

23. ‘Culture Mulch-er who always tips the canteen guy, never forgets birthdays, and is the first to congratulate peers for good work! Shower ‘Les Adorables’ with charming rewards, no less.

24. Optimists treat a dressing down by the boss or client rejection as milestones on the learning curve. Add a smiley to their face with goodies they’ll dig.

25. Teamsters who never book the meeting room if an email will do. Quid pro quo. They saved your time and productivity hours - balance that with an early bonus!

26. Whoever has the guts to look beyond data and go with their gut. Bring on the carrots!

27. Everyone who aces a brand quiz. Yes, it’s bigger than you think. After all, the first step towards being a champion is to know what you are championing. Gotta honor that kind of attachment with something la-di-da!

28. Players with the efficiency and conviction to check out consistently BEFORE time (working late is oh-so-2019!): Ensure the reward comes BEFORE long.

29. Guys who never take their masks off AND carry their sanitizers. You’ve got 1 hour to figure out their wish list: chop, chop, chop!

30. Performers with the ultimate ‘Burnout Buffer’ - a side hobby! Wouldn’t a reward that resonates with that side of passion be just peachy? Bonus for you - it’ll whet their intrinsic motivational triggers, and the euphoria will spill over into work.

31. Be it customers or teams, spontaneous participation in polls and surveys beg a warm “Thank You!” - in kind.

32. Reward top talent for considering your job offers and showing up for the interview (remember, ghosting is becoming increasingly common). Even if you don’t eventually onboard them, you’re probably assured of an excellent review on online Glassdoor-like review sites. In today’s highly competitive talent wars, that’s a huge advantage.

33. Winners of the monthly Growth Hackathon (yes, you must host one regularly, and no, it’s not just for coders - sales, marketing, strategy, operations, and support often come up with cool breakthroughs). Ask them their definition of a ‘victory lap’ - then make that happen!

34. Folks that have broken through the monk-like defenses of a stubborn, high-value VIP client and secured a pitch meeting. Something nice from you is definitely in order.

35. Guest contributors to your blog. They may be unpaid sometimes (especially if there’s goodwill involved or when the VIP is ‘too big for cash’), but make sure their gracious gesture doesn’t go unnoticed!

36. Folks who can make you LOL in your tensest hour. Chances are, the same guys will regularly lift workplace mood with their unique insights and refreshing takes on work and life. Sure, they already come ‘gifted’ (with a sense of humor and perception), but that’s no excuse to skip the reward: It’s got their name written all over it!


Implementing thoughtful and creative employee reward ideas is a powerful way to boost morale, enhance productivity, and foster a positive work environment. Recognizing and appreciating your team members' hard work and dedication motivates them to excel and cultivates a culture of mutual respect and loyalty within the organization. 

Whether through personalized recognition, unique incentives, or opportunities for professional growth, investing in employee rewards pays dividends in overall job satisfaction and retention. 

By continuously refining and tailoring your reward strategies to align with your workforce's evolving needs and preferences, you celebrate achievements and contribute to your company's long-term success and prosperity. Remember, a motivated and appreciated team is the driving force behind innovation and success.

Motivate Employees through an Effective Rewards and Recognition Programs.
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Karishma Bhatnagar

Karishma Bhatnagar LinkedIn

Karishma is a passionate blogger who comes with a deep understanding of SEO tactics. When she isn’t working, you’ll find her in the mountains, experiencing the fresh breeze & chirping sounds of birds.