reward employees

A good Employee Rewards Program should be flexible enough to work in many situations, and for many different types of employee recognition.

  • You want a program that rewards specific activities, accomplishments and events; and you want to spell out what these “pre-established” rewards will be, so employees can align their work efforts with these desired activities.
  • But you also want a program that allows each manager to use his or her “manager’s discretion” to reward behaviors and activates which have a positive impact on the work environment, but might not fit into a measurable or pre-established category.

Here are some good examples for both types of rewardable activities:

  • Pre-established Rewards are specific things that the company spells out in advance, as part of the Employee Rewards Program guidelines. These specific activities, accomplishments and events are measurable, and when an employee does one of these things they should know that they will definitely earn a recognition reward.
    • Birthdays are an effective event to be recognized and rewarded for two good reasons. First, birthdays are important to everyone, and they remain “our special day” even when we get older. Yes, the celebration level tends to drop as we get older, but birthdays never stop being important even to those who say they’ve stopped counting them. By recognizing each employee’s birthday you let each person know that their personal events are important, the company knows what day it is and wants to help make that day special. Second, everyone has a birthday at some point in every year, so every employee will be part of your Rewards Program as each birthday comes around. It’s important that every employee gets the chance to participate in your Rewards Program and be recognized in some way, on at least one occasion throughout the year, and birthday’s work well for this.
    • Work Anniversaries are another good event to recognize, because their special meaning is a direct tie between the employee and the company. By recognizing work anniversaries you’re letting each employee know that you’re watching their career, and celebrating their longevity and dedication to the company. Work anniversaries also ensure that every employee is recognized and rewarded at least once each year, just like birthdays do. Again, it’s important for each and every employee to be recognized at least once each year, so that everyone feels like they’re part of your Employee Rewards Program.
    • Completing a Training Program is an important accomplishment, and presents a very good opportunity for employee recognition. You want employees to be excited about the opportunity to “receive training,” especially if it improves their value to the company or their ability to do their job more effectively. Training comes in many different forms, so you should match the level of training being completed to the recognition reward being given.
      • Smaller (SILVER Level) training can include successfully completing a class on workplace safety, CPR, nutrition and wellness, emergency response, forklift certification, a new employee training course, and many others.
      • Mid-level (GOLD Level) training can be something more involved and time consuming such as cross training to be able to fill in at a different job, customer service training, advanced sales training, learning a new software system, a new piece of equipment, or a new set of manufacturing procedures.
      • High-level (PLATINUM Level) training should be a significant reward for a significant accomplishment, such as training for a supervisor’s position, required continuing education courses, government mandated certification courses, advanced training for your industry, or an official degree from an outside school or college.
    • Company Goals are a great way to motivate an individual or an entire department, and successfully accomplishing the goal should result in a recognition reward that’s equally match to the accomplishment. This can be an attendance goal for not missing work; a safety goal for setting a new record number of days without a safety violation; a productivity goal for the most orders successfully processed in a day/week/month/quarter; a sales goal for the highest individual or team sales effort; a customer goal for landing a specific new account or taking a customer from a competitor; or any other type of activity that your company measures and tracks.
  1. Manager’s Discretion Rewards should be used to encourage all the different types of positive daily behaviors that your company wants to see more of, but that can’t easily be predefined and spelled out in advance. These are the “good deeds” that help create an enjoyable workplace environment, make us happier at offices, and lead to improved interconnectedness and improved employee engagement and job satisfaction.
    • Taking a Leadership Role is a great way to spot individuals who should be considered for a raise or for career advancement. But most of the time you can’t give out a pay increase or promotion at the first signs of leadership, you need to see this trend continue repeatedly over a period of time. So a great way to show your appreciate, and encourage this type of behavior, is by recognizing the initial signs of leadership with an employee reward. Giving a reward is a major step up from just saying “thank you” and will leave a much larger and longer lasting impression, which will result in more leadership activities.
    • Outstanding Customer Service is something every company says they strive for. But, when each significant act of outstanding customer service is recognized and rewarded, your company is on the fast track towards actually accomplishing this very elusive and important goal. You can’t reward each significant act with a pay raise or a promotion, but you can encourage an entire department to strive for improved customer satisfaction through your Employee Rewards and Recognition Program!
    • New Ideas and Thinking Outside The Box, these are sporadic occurrences that you can’t specifically plan for, but when they happen they have a big positive impact. Gage the potential positive impact that a new suggestion can have on your department, and give a SILVER, GOLD, or PLATINUM Level recognition reward to match the importance of the new idea. This will encourage more employees to think about other areas that could be improved, and come forward with their suggestions. The people on the front lines doing the work almost always know where the problems are, and they often know what the best solution would be. But many companies have gone downhill because their employees didn’t feel it was appropriate or encourage for them to speak up. Solve this problem by making it very clear that new ideas will be rewarded, even if they’re not perfect, you still want people to come forward with suggestions for improvements in all areas of the company!
    • Volunteering For Extra Duties, or for unpopular tasks, should result in a recognition for team spirit and helpfulness. These can be directly work related, like taking out the trash or helping to organize the company’s holiday party. They can also be indirectly work related, like cleaning up the break room, giving blood at the company blood drive, or running emergency errands.
    • Putting In Extra Time at the office usually results in overtime pay, but it’s still not easy getting people to work extra when it’s needed. Coming in early to open the office when it’s not your normal schedule, or staying late to help finish an important project, working through a weekend or working over a holiday; these are all great examples of people giving extra effort. If you want to see more people doing it, then it’s a good activity to recognize and reward.

This is just a sample of specific activities, accomplishments and events which you want to encourage throughout your company. Make notes on how these things can be adapted and applied to your specific business, and then find a professional Employee Rewards Program Vendor who can help you work these things into your program. Time and time again, when employees are asked why they left a company, or why a company failed, it’s because the employees didn’t feel appreciated for giving extra effort, so they stopped giving it, and they grew disengaged with their job. A well run Employee Rewards and Recognition Program solves this problem, and leads quickly to a significantly improved working environment. If you need help getting this type of program started at your company, consider working with someone like They can have your program up and running within 30 days, you’ll quickly be on the way to a more engaged workforce, improved job satisfaction and productivity, and a better Company Culture!