How to Create An Employee Rewards and Recognition Program

Employee rewards and recognition programHow to Create An Employee Rewards and Recognition Program

When it comes to employee rewards and recognition programs there is massive debate on the value of these type of programs and if they really do play a role in retaining talent. Here is the shocking truth about how employees as most companies are feeling today.

  • A study of over 1,700 employees conducted in 2012 by the American Psychological Association (APA) indicated that more than half of all employees intended to search for new jobs because they felt underappreciated and undervalued.
  • According to a recent OfficeVibe study, 63% of employees feel like they do not get enough praise.
  • According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the number one reason people leave their jobs is because they “do not feel appreciated.”

The need to show your clients and employees that you appreciate and value their hard work is important especially to your company’s culture as a whole. We have to remember, that each individual is different so one person might value gift cards and another might value flexible hours.

I believe a successful employee rewards and recognition program takes the following into consideration:

  1. Make it personal, unique and memorable.
  2. It is not just for holidays or special occasions. Give recognition all-year long!
  3. Customize the presentation, instead of the item itself so they can get more use out of the item.
  4. Include a personalized and hand-written note, which is more meaningful than a quick email.
  5. Know your limits.  Meaning, know your internal policies as each company is different in terms of the process and amount of money you can spend on each client or employee.
  6. Know your team and what they like so you can customize a gift accordingly. I recommend creating a form that is part of your onboarding process or that you as a manager create in order to get a sense of what they might like as possible rewards for their great work!
  7. Get to know their preferences of how they like to receive recognition as some people do not like public praise and prefer that to be private or 1-on-1.

I think many companies want to do more for their employees; however, what I typically see is that they feel as if they need a huge budget in order to do so. Here are a few ideas to get your employee rewards and recognition program off the ground quickly without spending a bunch of money.

  1. Give them a day or two off! Everyone wants more vacation time.
  2. Give them a special certificate or plaque they can put on their desk.
  3. Have a “hall of fame” or “employee of the month” wall.
  4. Provide the option of flexible hours for being a rockstar (especially if they are consistently showing up and doing awesome work).
  5.  Write a hand-written card or note thanking them for a job well done.
  6. Post on your company’s social media profiles a photo and shout out of the awesome work they are doing. (Bonus: Great for PR and public perception!)
  7. Take them out for a fancy lunch.
  8. If your industry requires business attire, relaxing the dress code for a week.
  9. VIP parking spot
  10. On the spot cash bonus gift cards
  11. Buy sweet treat for that individual and/or team
  12. Donate to a charity of their choice
  13. Opportunity to be part of a special project that will help grow one of their skill sets
  14. Branded merchandise or swag item of choice
  15. Take the individual and their family to a fancy dinner or happy hour
  16. Include them in a promotional video shoot or materials for your organization.
  17. Give them a shout-out on your website (HINT: maybe even on the career’s page where others can see how well you treat your employees).
  18. Customized healthy snack basket
  19. Bring a pet to work day, which is proven to reduce anxiety and stress!
  20. BONUS: Give them the gift like Sacred Summer essential oil that they can use at their desk while at the same time helps improve mood, productivity and stress!

There are many ideas here to choose from so hopefully this list will get you started. Remember, make it memorable and personalize it as much as possible so they know that you took them time to acknowledge their hard work.

When you’re ready. Here are some next steps:

  1. Grab a copy of Fatal Flaws of Employee Wellness Programs. Create a wellness strategy that will actually get results. Available on Amazon here. 
  2. Let’s skip theory and talk about your company. Set up your call here at

Photo by Hanny Naibaho on Unsplash


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