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Employee Rewards and Recognition Ideas: A One-Stop Guide

Kate Williams

Last Updated:  

30 May 2024

6 min read

Daniel used to be a driven guy. A year ago, he had graduated from college with stellar grades and was determined to earn the same recognition at work. Now, he dreads Mondays and does the bare minimum to get by. 

What happened? Whenever Daniel would send in his work, his boss would reply with ‘Received.’ or ‘Thanks.’ At times, he didn’t get a response at all. The feeling set in that Daniel’s work didn’t matter. If he worked really hard or used his creativity, it didn’t matter. Nobody cared, and so he stopped caring as well. Of course, that’s only half the story.

Creativity and hard work are extremely valuable to any organization, and Daniel’s boss greatly appreciated the effort. His mistake, though, was refusing to show timely appreciation.

Creative, self-driven employees like Daniel serve as a precious asset for companies, but only if you value them. Without employee rewards and recognition, your organization will eventually suffer from low employee engagement

Four Ideas for Employee Rewards and Recognition

How do we go about it? It can be tricky to reward your employees without it feeling like a corporate gimmick. If your efforts are genuine, however, that will get across. Here are the four types of employee rewards that are the most effective. 

1. An Employee Appreciation Day

An employee appreciation day is a popular way of giving employee corporate awards. You can have a low-key ceremony to celebrate people or teams who have done great work. Taking a day out of the year for employee recognition is never a bad idea.

The categories for awards will depend largely on the goals of your organization. Appreciation is a very powerful tool that guides employee behavior. If you play your cards right, you will have employees who are taking the initiative to fit the goals of your company.  

You can also go beyond awards on employee appreciation day. You can take the whole team out for a company-sponsored meal and even plan team activities that encourage peers to share appreciation notes. Peer-to-peer appreciation improves employee morale and keeps your workforce happier. 

If you are spending a day showing your employees how much you value them, it’s never a bad idea to take their suggestions. What would they love to do? With SurveySparrow, you can send out a quick employee survey to get ideas for your employee appreciation day. 

2. An Employee Recognition Wall

Are you looking for ideas to decorate your office? A lively workspace helps employees feel active and ready to take on challenges at work.

What’s more, an employee recognition wall kills two birds with one stone: it’s a way to give employee rewards and recognition, and it makes your office feel happier and more welcoming. 

There are a few ways you can go about maintaining an employee recognition wall:

  • It can be a wall with the recipients of weekly awards for the whole office to see. That will make everyone excited to get their name on it. That will mean, however, that you will have to take on the task of giving weekly employee awards. 
  • Another great idea for an employee recognition wall is to use it for gratitude notes. If an employee wants to thank a coworker for helping them out, they can just write on the wall. Such gratitude notes will make the office a warm place where employees feel appreciated. 
  • Since it’s part of the decor and on display, it will make a good impression on visitors. It also sends a signal to potential hires that your business prioritizes employee recognition. 

3. Bonuses And Gifts

Bonuses and gifts are perhaps the oldest forms of rewards and recognition. There’s a simple reason that they’ve been around for so long – they are effective at expressing employee appreciation.

Everybody likes an unexpected bonus. When an employee goes above and beyond for a company, however, bonuses are even more appreciated. They communicate to the employee that their work did not go unrecognized. Companies that show care for employees in this way will simply have happier and more productive employees. Annual bonuses are great at keeping employee morale up.

When it comes to gifts, you want to make sure that they are meaningful. To an employee, a personalized gift can go a long way to show that you care about them. You can find out personal preferences by speaking to team members. For companies with remote employees, on the other hand, rewards and recognition don’t have to be limited to physical gifts. Plenty of digital options allow you to reward remote employees and thank them for their hard work.

Companies that deploy employee appreciation effectively through bonuses and gifts see a significant rise in employee satisfaction. When it comes to employee rewards and recognition, nothing really beats a significant bonus or a company-sponsored trip. With these classic employee awards, you can’t really go wrong. 

4. Employee Engagement Surveys

At work, employees often suffer from not feeling free to communicate their worries. This is because a large part of employee recognition involves seeing the person behind the employee and addressing their issues. But at most organizations, this is simply not a priority. 

If you want your employee rewards and recognition to be effective, you need to start by giving employees a channel to voice their concerns. When they do that, they feel like the company values them. An employee engagement survey serves that purpose well. 

Surveys are often seen as boring, tedious studies that employees have to spend their time on. A well-done survey, though, can feel like an opportunity to have a conversation. With beautifully crafted employee engagement surveys from SurveySparrow, you can give your employees a space to communicate. 

An employee engagement survey does two things:

  1. First, it finds out whether an employee is engaged at work.
  2. Secondly, it finds out what might help employees be more engaged.

By conducting regular employee surveys using SurveySparrow, you will show care for your employees and get reliable data about their engagement levels. 

Do Employee Rewards and Recognition Actually Matter?

When the Human Resources wing tries to organize activities like employee rewards, they are often met with dread and disinterest. Employees don’t want to spend their time on another office ritual. That, however, is no reason not to carry them forward. 

Disinterested employees don’t see the bigger picture. That’s the job of the leader. Not only are employee rewards and recognition effective in making employees happier, but they also lead to improved quality of work. Here are a few reasons why you should care about employee rewards and recognition. 

Retain Top Talent

It’s not a coincidence that Google is both a great employer and a wildly successful business. The two often go hand in hand. Everyone knows that attracting and retaining top talent is critical for any business. Employee rewards and recognition are an important part of that effort. 

Smart, talented people, thrive on being appreciated. For them to stay at your organization, they need to believe that their unique talents are not just employed but actively appreciated. An active employee awards programme will make sure that your best employees know that their presence is valued. 

Encourage Better Performance

What makes employees produce better work? It’s a question that many have wrestled with over the years. If there is one thing we know, however, it is that people crave appreciation. If you link better work quality with more appreciation, you have a winning formula. 

The standards for performance at a workplace are set collectively. Every employee will at least want to match up to the effort their colleagues are putting in. Employee rewards and recognition create a culture of excellence where all employees are motivated to give their best. 

Increase Employee Engagement

We all know how important employee engagement surveys are for companies. Employees who are interested in their work not only work harder but also use their creativity and don’t hesitate to go the extra mile. Employee appreciation gives you a very direct rise in employee engagement. 

People intrinsically want to be recognized at their workplace. When they don’t get that appreciation for a while, their engagement and satisfaction levels drop. Through employee rewards and recognition, you can make the workplace an exciting space for employees that challenges and fulfils them.

Wrapping Up

We’ve listed the most effective employee rewards and recognition activities that will help make your employees happier. With employees jumping ship so frequently these days, inspiring loyalty to a company is indeed a challenging task. If you take care of your employees, though, it becomes a lot easier. 

If you want to understand the power of employee appreciation, a little introspection goes a long way. Think back to a time when you were appreciated recently. You will find that it automatically made you crave that experience, and you were willing to work hard for it. That’s exactly how employee rewards and recognition improve the performance of your workforce. 

The other possibility is always lurking in the corner: Like Daniel’s boss, you take employees for granted and fail to appreciate them, losing out on top talent and lowering engagement levels. To avoid all that and create a healthy, productive culture at work, take employee rewards and recognition very seriously. 


Kate Williams

Product Marketing Manager at SurveySparrow

Excels in empowering visionary companies through storytelling and strategic go-to-market planning. With extensive experience in product marketing and customer experience management, she is an accomplished author, podcast host, and mentor, sharing her expertise across diverse platforms and audiences.

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