Employee Rewards and Recognition Ideas To Thank Your Team

Cassy Aite
April 29, 2024
Employee Rewards and Recognition Ideas To Thank Your Team

“A job well done is its own reward,” so the saying goes. But in the business world, relying on the idea that employee satisfaction is an innate reward in itself is dangerous. It seemingly ignores the hard work, day-to-day contributions, and recognition team members crave — the things that keep employees motivated.

However, companies can inspire and appreciate their employees through an employee reward program and initiatives, even with a limited budget. 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 rewards and recognition ideas to heart.

Employee Rewards and Recognition Ideas: Why They’re Crucial To Your Business

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 — and that’s going beyond your basic Employee Appreciation Day celebrations.

In addition, recognizing employees’ contributions regularly can promote company-wide benefits, including:

  • Lower employee turnover/higher employee retention
  • Notably more engaged and exciting work environment
  • Peer recognition among co-workers
  • Positive impact on employee morale
  • Improved employee experience
  • Increased productivity, teamwork, and customer satisfaction
  • Professional development opportunities
  • Promotion of positive feedback

Employee reward systems and consistent recognition are also excellent ways to foster a culture of recognition, which in turn develops loyal and engaged employees.

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 Engaging Employee Rewards and Recognition Ideas

Employees clapping for another employee during a recognition event

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 while adding a personal touch. This versatility is integral when implementing 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 rewards and recognition ideas to find the best fit for your organization.

1. Employee of the Month

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

Along with a picture on a “wall of fame” or kudos on social media, you can 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 they have a chance to win each and every month.

2. Wellness Programs

Wellness programs are an integral part of employee engagement, created to alleviate burnout, improve work-life balance, and improve overall health. 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 physical well-being classes, free mental health assessments, or gym memberships, wellness programs are a welcome addition to any employee reward program.

3. Company Swag

Another fantastic employee rewards and recognition idea is company swag. You can reward and recognize employees’ work while simultaneously promoting your brand. Just make sure you aren’t doling out gear that will sit in a closet or end up in the trash.

Reusable bags, blankets, coffee mugs, and tumblers with your company logo showcase your company while giving your staff something they’ll actually use.

4. Virtual Gift Cards

One employee recognition idea that’s becoming increasingly 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 offers the versatility that few other employee reward ideas offer.

For larger companies, bulk virtual gift cards can save the time and hassle of purchasing one for each individual.

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 rewards and recognition 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, recognize your employees on the company website, in the company newsletter, or at a company-wide meeting. You can also let your staff and customers recognize your employees' contributions — and hopefully improve your company culture to boot.

6. Extra Day Off

A person enjoying a day off on the deck of a boat

Extra days off are usually reserved for birthdays, work anniversaries, or professional milestones. But if you apply the same idea 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. Let your prized employee become the fearless leader if you want to take an activity or minor responsibility off your plate for a day.

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 among outdated employee rewards and recognition ideas.

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.

Offer a work-from-home day to encourage employees to use their time wisely and give them a break from the daily grind. Employees are still in the “office” working toward a project or goal, 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 seem to arrive right on time, that means a lengthy walk through the elements.

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

10. Catered Team Lunches

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

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. So 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

A team retreat in the middle of the woods

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 rewards and recognition 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 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 rewards and recognition ideas you choose are 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 gift card

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. Discover how Hoppier can turn these employee rewards and recognition ideas into a streamlined, enjoyable experience for everyone involved.

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Make Hoppier your unfair advantage today, schedule a demo


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