Employee Reward Programs and Ideas To Thank Your Employees

Cassy Aite
September 29, 2023
Employee Reward Programs and Ideas To Thank Your Employees

“A job well done is its own reward.” Or so the saying goes. But in the business world, relying on the idea that employee satisfaction is an innate reward in itself is a dangerous matter. It seemingly ignores the hard work, contributions, and recognition team members crave. And that’s the very thing that keeps employees motivated.

However, even with a limited budget, companies can inspire and appreciate their employees through an employee reward program. With handwritten notes, small gifts, public praise, and more, an organization can increase employee engagement, happiness, and morale.

Human capital is one of — if not the most — valuable asset in a business. If you’re ready to take the next step toward employee recognition, take some of these employee reward programs and ideas to heart.

Employee Reward Programs: Why They’re Crucial To Your Business

Manager publicly recognizing an employee in front of coworkers

Employee rewards programs and incentives are inherently tied to employee appreciation and job satisfaction. But they also play a vital role in motivation, company culture, and employee engagement.

According to a study from Nectar HR, 83.6% of employees feel that employee recognition programs significantly impact their motivation to succeed at work. A further 77% of employees also say they would be more productive if their contributions were recognized at the office.

In addition, employee reward programs are also inherently linked to a plethora of other company-wide benefits, including:

  • Lower employee turnover/higher employee retention
  • Notably more engaged and exciting work environment
  • Peer recognition among co-workers
  • A boost to employee morale
  • Improved employee experience
  • Increased productivity and customer satisfaction
  • Opportunities for professional development

Despite these notable statistics, only 52% of employers currently have an employee reward program — a rather low figure considering the benefits of the program itself.

If you want a staff that’s willing to put in good work day in and day out, believes in your company values and mission, and enables you to build a successful business, employee reward programs and ideas are your catalyst.

12 Awesome Employee Reward Programs and Ideas

Coworkers giving praise and recongition to their colleague

One of the most intriguing aspects of an employee reward program is that you can tailor it to your budget, company values, and individual tastes. This kind of versatility is integral when you implement a reward program for employees; if something isn’t a hit or you get poor feedback, you can always switch to an alternative for better results.

Check out a few of these interesting and engaging employee reward programs and ideas to find the best fit for your organization.

1. Employee of the Month

To foster good-spirited competition, a great employee reward program and idea is an admittedly old-school approach: employee of the month. However, the employee of the month award combines employees’ achievements and public recognition into one complete package.

Along with a picture on the wall or kudos on social media, you can also reward your monthly top performer with gift cards, small gifts, or office perks, such as a free lunch or an employee of the month t-shirt. If you’re not sure what would accompany such an honor, ask. Employees are more than willing to provide suggestions for something that they have a chance to win each and every month.

2. Wellness Programs

Created to alleviate burnout, improve work-life balance, and improve overall health, wellness programs are an integral part of employee engagement. Happy employees tend to be more productive and go the extra mile on projects, benefitting both parties in the employee-employer relationship. Whether you offer mental/physical well-being classes, free massages, or gym memberships, wellness programs are a welcome addition to any employee reward program.

3. Company Swag

Another fantastic employee reward program and idea is company swag. You can reward and recognize employees’ work while simultaneously promoting your brand. T-shirts, tumblers, coffee mugs, or reusable bags that have your company logo showcase your company while giving your staff something they’ll use.

4. Virtual Gift Cards

One employee recognition idea that’s becoming more and more popular is a virtual gift card. Instead of scrounging for gift and reward ideas, a virtual gift card allows both in-person and remote employees to select the prize that they want. From gift baskets to food delivery, a gift card has the versatility that few other employee reward ideas offer.

5. Public Shout-outs

If you want to reward employees for their great work, giving them public recognition is always a crowd-pleaser. Like other types of employee reward programs and ideas, it’s also adaptable to your needs and intentions. You can use several types of recognition platforms depending on whether you want to give a formal or informal shout-out.

For informal public shout-outs, social media platforms or Slack should suffice. If you want to go the formal route, recognizing your employee on the company website or in the company newsletter lets your staff and customers recognize the contributions of your employees — and hopefully — improve your company culture to boot.

6. Extra Day Off

Extra days off are usually reserved for birthdays, work anniversaries, or professional milestones. But if you take the same idea and apply it to your employee reward program, your staff is sure to appreciate the gesture. Depending on the accomplishment, you can offer a single paid day off or a number of days — it’s all up to you and your level of appreciation.

7. CEO for a Day

As a business owner, CEO, or manager, a much-needed day off sounds ideal to recharge your batteries. If you want to take an activity or minor responsibility off your plate for a day, let your prized employee become the fearless leader.

Obviously, you won’t give them free rein. But allowing them to make a speech at a meeting, host a lunch & learn, or make a proclamation for a dress-down day or something similar will give them a sense of belonging and fun.

8. Work-from-Home Days

Commuting is a drag. According to statistics, the average American spends almost 14 days (330 hours) going to and from work. That’s a lot of idle and wasted time.

In the spirit of encouraging employees to use their time wisely and giving them a break from the daily grind, offer a work-from-home day. They’re still in the “office” and working toward the bottom line, but they’re free to do it in their pajamas.

9. Reserved Parking Spot

Some parking lots are massive — they house several companies or hundreds of workers. For employees in the middle of onboarding, entry-level workers, or those who just seem to arrive right on time, that means a lengthy walk through the elements.

If your business has a large parking spot, a much-appreciated employee reward program and idea is a reserved parking spot. They won't have to walk far, and they’ll love the spot when the weather gets downright nasty.

10. Catered Team Lunches

Team lunches are as much of a social event as they are an opportunity to discuss vital information. But if you want to forego the professional side of the equation in favor of something a bit more fun, team lunches can be an awesome employee reward program idea.

You can bring lunch into the office, hire a few food trucks in the parking lot, or give them a gift card to choose their own food. They might love the event enough to want to continue it regularly with something like Lunch Roulette.

11. Handwritten Notes

Online shout-outs are a superb way to show appreciation, but there’s something about a tangible reward that feels a bit more real. That’s why you should put your creativity and penmanship to the test with a handwritten note of thanks.

Personalized handwritten notes exude your enthusiasm for an employee’s work, and more importantly, help them feel special.

12. Team-Building Activities or Retreats

If you have a larger budget and your team constantly outperforms, an offsite team-building activity, team meeting, or retreat is surely warranted. As part of your employee reward program and ideas that you’re considering, this one isn’t always affordable, but shopping around can present perfect options for your budget.

During these retreats, you provide your employees with a chance to socialize, learn vital skills, and have fun while doing it. You can include your entire team in these activities or retreats or just invite a select few who have gone above and beyond. Again, it’s all about recognition, instilling competition, and rewarding those who excel on the job.

How Hoppier Can Streamline Your Employee Reward Program

To some degree, any employee reward program or idea that you choose is probably going to be a hit with your staff. But if you want to reward employees with the ability to choose their own gift, let Hoppier help.

Thanks to individualized or bulk virtual gift cards, you can implement a company-wide employee reward program that’s affordable, easy to use, and convenient. With Hoppier, any unused balance left on the gift card goes right back into your bank account, avoiding sunken costs and monetary waste.

Hoppier sales team reward gift card example

Sometimes the best employee reward programs and ideas are the ones that allow your staff to choose the perfect gift for all of their hard work.

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