5 things to consider in relation to Reward and Recognition programs

At the end of the day, our employees are telling us they want more than just a competitive salary to feel motivated in the workplace. They want to feel safe, secure and appreciated AND be rewarded for both working hard and achieving results.

Effective recognition and rewards programs provide employees:

A fair return for their work (outputs and effort).

Motivation to maintain and improve their performance.

Clarity and consistency of expectation in relation to behaviours and results.

Transparency and consistency in application of recognition and reward programs.

5 things to Consider

  1. Make criteria clear, specific, and achievable. You could end up demotivating your staff if they are not crystal clear on what they need to do achieve the reward or if the goal posts keep changing. If you are rewarding certificates, gifts or incentives for softer qualities like ‘innovation’ or ‘showing initiative’ ensure they are also as clear as possible (as otherwise, this could risk employees believing awards are based on favouritism rather than clear outcomes).
  1. Don’t just reward 1 overall winner or only reward the people ‘you like’. Reward everyone who meets the criteria. Avoid having just ‘your favourites’ as this will surely discourage the rest of the team. Rather than just award 1 overall winner, also think about rewarding anyone who achieves the targets you set and apply consistently. This encourages and motivates more people to try and achieve the outcome.
  1. Individualize rewards. Find out what motivates each person. Generic rewards create generic results. Give people what they want. Remember – the golden rule is now being challenged from “treat people how you want to be treated”, to now “treat people how they want to be treated”. If you don’t know, then make sure you have a way of asking.
  1. Say “thank you” frequently when demonstrating right behaviours / results. In the increasing world of social media, being ‘liked’ and fast feedback/responses is becoming increasingly important to people. Saying “Thank you” is always appreciated for both small and large things. A genuine, heartfelt, public AND private thankyou tends to create a positive culture and chain reaction and lets people know you have noticed/recognised what they have done.
  1. Individual vs team recognition. Generally leaders are measured against team performance and individuals for their own performance. With team rewards, ensure that coasters do not get the same reward as high achievers of you can breed a culture of resentment. In this case, establish a minimum standard that must be achieved by all to activate reward or have a balance of individual and team rewards.

Employees generally perceive that what is rewarded is what the organisation wants. You get what you reward so ensure what you want is clear, communicated and applied consistently.

Types of rewards (other than financial incentives) could be:-

Hand written cards (don’t underestimate the value of these)

Flowers / chocolates

Flexible schedules

Additional time off

Pick of next projects / assignments

Increased responsibility

Certificates (ie employee of the months)


Professional development opportunities

Social activities

Health and Well being initiatives – massage, gym memberships, pilates/yoga, healthy eating programs etc.

 How do you reward your staff?