Better Ways to Reward Employees

Employee awards

From a performance perspective, it seems to makes sense that companies spend from 1 to 2 percent of their payroll budget to dole out gold watches, plaques and other employee recognition awards. But what’s surprising is that the number one thing these programs recognize is not performance, but for sticking around.

No wonder these tenure-based awards have no impact on organizational performance.

What may be of more value to the company and the employee is the recognition of employees on the basis of their positive impact on company culture or the results they achieve. And there are plenty of ways to do that in a formal or informal setting and at the corporate or department or team level. Here are a few ideas.

Presentation: Company-Wide Formal In-Person

Companies often use annual award ceremonies to recognize employees who best mirror a company’s culture, demonstrate innovation or perform their assigned function extremely well. In addition to company-wide recognition, the employee may receive a plaque or gift.

For example, a company might acknowledge an employee’s contribution during an annual event, as well as give the employee a $500 cash award for thinking of ways to streamline a production process. Annual awards also recognize employees who reflect company values, such as integrity.

Presentation: Formal In-Person

A company might reward an employee, who according to his manager, supervisor or peers, exhibits certain behaviors or achieves certain work results. The employee recognition ceremony might take place on a weekly, monthly or quarterly basis. The award presented by company leadership to the award winner might be a gift card, gift or time off from work.


Presentation: Informal In-Person

When a manager becomes aware that an employee is completing quality work consistently, is clocking a large number of overtime hours, or is making exceptional contributions to a project, he might informally acknowledge the employee’s efforts.

The award, which might be a cash bonus, a gift or gift card, or a certificate or thank you note can be given at any time and for any reason. The manager might also give the employee a handwritten note of thanks or an invitation to lunch.

Presentation: Company Headquarters

A company could recognize an employee’s work with an article in its company newsletter or on its website, intranet or social media accounts.

Efforts to publicly recognize an employee’s on-the-job contributions to the company’s operational or financial success can be made soon after the employee made the contribution.

The company recognition might also appear in print in local or national media and announced verbally in a staff or department meeting.

It makes perfect sense for a company to boost employee morale through the distribution of awards. Be creative with it. Make it a regular thing. The important criteria is that the awards be given with sincerity.

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