Employee Rewards

7 Employee Rewards Ideas Your Team Will Love

June 3, 2022
min read

Are you trying to reward your employees for their efforts but can’t figure out how to accomplish the perfect show of appreciation? If the answer is yes, we have you covered! But if you’re not, look at our other blogs to understand the importance of employee recognition and we’ll meet you back here to put that new knowledge to work!

Employee rewards are necessary in the workplace if you’re looking to maintain long-term success and foster a healthy, productive team environment. Your people work long hours and give it their all to ensure that your business runs like a well oiled machine. They are not just one part of the whole, but are crucial factors in determining how smoothly the organization can run. 

By understanding the importance of your employees, you can work to make their value known and offer rewards that resonate and cater to their specific needs. 

You don’t have to spend hours trying to figure out the best rewards ideas - we’ve done that for you! Simply scroll down and pick your favorite idea so you can start giving your employees the recognition they truly deserve. 

Why It’s Important To Reward Your Employees 

According to a study conducted by Annamalai University, there is a direct relationship between employee job satisfaction and job recognition/rewards.

The study found that when the right employee rewards were offered, increased motivation and satisfaction was observed. This is important as these are two main aspects that contribute to higher levels of productivity and job performance.

A great employee rewards program can also help:

  • Develop and maintain positive relationships between you and your employees
  • Keep your employees excited about their job and let them feel supported by the company
  • Maintain long-term retention of high performing employees
  • Create a healthy and balanced work culture

Creative and thoughtful rewards help give your employees something extra to look forward to during their day-to-day work life and are a great way to offer them validation and concrete encouragement. Not only is giving your employees great gifts a fun way to keep the workplace engaged, it also encourages out-of-the-box thinking and inspires people to push themselves to meet the high expectations that you are already rewarding them for. 

It also creates a positive and balanced work environment in which employees feel secure in your perception of them and their contributions. Who doesn’t want to work for a company that recognizes their dedicated team and sees the value in rewarding them?

Choosing The Right Employee Rewards

You have a bright and intelligent group that is filled by unique individuals who arrive with independent personalities, values and experiences. To ensure that your employees feel seen and appreciated by their workplace, you should focus on giving them rewards that resonate with each person and to do that, you need to know what your people truly want. 

There are a few ways to do this, and one of the most productive methods is to spend time one-on-one with your employees and get to know them outside of a group setting. Although this requires you to have extra time to spare, it is a foolproof way to understand the needs and desires of every person on your team and makes the rewards process a true breeze in the long run. 

Alternatively, if you have a large company or limited time on your hands, then email or mass messaging may be a more realistic option. It can be as simple as extending a personality or “getting to know you” questionnaire and gathering direct information about the people that make up your company. 

For the best results, ask open ended questions and allow employees to elaborate on what makes them tick and interests them the most. For example, a direct inquiry to understand your people’s preferences might be: “what do you love most about your job and how do you appreciate being celebrated?” 

After understanding each person’s response, you can schedule time with different departments to have an honest discussion about your ideas for employee rewards and open the room up to suggestions and feedback from the same people you are trying to recognize.  

Remember, by simply catering to your employees' interests and needs, you can enhance their entire work experience to make it that much more joyous and impactful. You will need to be aware of what’s realistic and of how to operate within your specific means, but there is always an opportunity to extend recognition to your team. 

These steps will let you formulate an employee rewards system that can meet your team’s sense of perfection and will be a long-term enjoyment for all of your people as they grow their experience with the company. 

Seven Great Employee Rewards Ideas

1. Finance Their Professional Development

High-performing employees often enjoy enhancing their understanding of the industry, networking and staying on top of the latest trends and changes within their niche. For those people that regularly go above and beyond and are always working to expand their knowledge, it can be worth it for you to invest in their professional development. 

These employees, more often than not, already have their eyes on a course, event, professional training session or seminar that they would love to attend, so your reward to them could be to finance their growth and give them the opportunity to indulge in their work. Free up their calendar and create space for them to step away from the day-to-day and learn about their work in a new environment.

It can be intimidating for an employee to approach you on their own and ask you to finance their professional training, but that means they would appreciate it even more if you took the initiative to offer this type of gift to them. 

It can be a validating experience for them to know that you see how well they’re doing and are allowing them to continue growing professionally, and can also be a major confidence booster as they learn something new and become greater experts in their field. 

Not only will this type of employee appreciate your added support, they will bring whatever new knowledge and skills they learn back into the workplace and apply this deepened understanding towards the company. You can let them know that they’re valued while they gain the motivation to excel at their work in new ways.

It’s up to you to recognize the team members who would truly benefit from this experience. More importantly, if you want to reward your employees through professional development, you have to find the programs they would find useful and decide what type of training would be beneficial to them. 

If you know who your employees look up to in their respective fields, why not try scheduling an in-depth training session with that person? Your team will have the chance to learn from a person they already admire and respect. It would also be a highly memorable and exciting experience for them to meet one of their professional heroes in person!

working remote from a coffee shop on the water

2. Let Your Employees Work From Anywhere

It can be refreshing to swap out the regular routine for a scenic view and new location. Although some employees may prefer the hustle and bustle of a typical office environment, there are others that flourish in silence and independent working areas. 

Although your employees may have differing views on what environment they are the most productive in, most would agree that a day away from the regular office can help to rejuvenate the mind and inspire greater focus and concentration. Sometimes your people just need to step away from their everyday environment in order to come back to it with greater retention. 

For those high-performing employees, a remote work option could be the simplest and most effective way to say thank you for their hard work. This is also the best reward to demonstrate that you understand the importance of freedom and autonomy, and that you trust your team to complete work away from the structured office work space. This will go a long way to promote positive relationship building within the company.  

This reward also allows for flexibility as you can let your team work from a location of their choice, anywhere in the world or even just open the option for a work from home scenario. This is the most personalized work environment an employee can experience -  they are in their most comfortable space and have more time available to concentrate on their work without the need to commute or prepare themselves for the office. They can also leave their house and work in a local shared work space such as cafés or libraries of their choice. 

The modern day has eliminated the need to sit in the same room all together in order to be productive. Show your team how much you appreciate them by allowing them to work wherever they choose!

3. Treat Your Team To Tickets

If you’ve taken our advice and gotten to know the individuals on your team better, then you’ll likely know what sports, music or events they’re passionate about. Taking the time to get to know everyone on your team will give you access to their interests such as what sports, musicians, shows, or festivals they’re passionate about. 

This is invaluable information as it can help personalize your gift and adds the special touch of giving something you know your employees will value without the need to directly ask. 

The next time one of your employees impresses you, be sure to gift them two tickets to their favorite event. Let them have a fun night with a person they love, on you and the company!

But why is this such a great reward? Well, it lets the recipient know that you paid attention to their personality, allowing them to feel seen and heard. It takes active effort and genuine interest in other people to let them open up about their character, especially in a professional setting where it’s not always required, and then also remember the little details about their life and themselves. 

Paying attention to your employees is the simplest way to let them know that you value their unique contribution to the team.

On top of that, this is an experience they will surely want to share with others - you could make your entire team aware of how you show your encouragement, motivating them to perform well and be rewarded similarly to their team members. 

Vacation time off

4. Give Your Team Time Off

What is one of the most precious resources that doesn’t return after using it? Time! Why not offer your team one of life’s simplest pleasures and allow them to spend their time as they wish?

This is highly effective for hard-working employees that complete exemplary work and are regularly offering their time to the company. Even a team that has genuine passion and drive to perform well needs a little free time to step back from their responsibilities and rest. 

This is one of the most appreciated gifts by employees and lets them know that you trust their work ethic and understand their needs without them asking. 

So, how does one implement a reward based on free time? In a variety of ways! 

  • Turn their regular workweek into a four-day schedule once a month or even every week if it’s appropriate. Allow them the freedom to choose if they’d prefer Monday or Friday off and with this information, pick the day that best works for the whole team. 
  • Opt for flexible scheduling and allow them a time range for when to be in the office (e.g. everyone can arrive between 8am-10am based on their individual morning routine and leave between 5pm-7pm depending on their preference), or even consider implementing “sleep-in” days or “early knock-off” days in the schedule. This will give them something to look forward to and will keep them motivated throughout the day. 
  • An extended lunch hour never hurt anybody! If varied arrival and departure times are not feasible for your company culture, your employees will definitely appreciate a longer lunch to themselves in the middle of the day. Let them finish up some chores or errands so they have a free evening after work, or this will simply let them unwind from professional stress in order to come back with a clearer mind and finish their day. 

This is a highly effective reward, but also requires clear communication and an established structure that works for the majority in order to maintain productivity during the job. With successful coordination, this will definitely be one of the most appreciated employee rewards to prove that your company takes everyone’s needs into consideration.

Related: Types Of Employee Rewards: A Quick Guide For HR Professionals

5. Surprise Them With A Virtual Card

You may value your employees and work hard to get to know them personally, but that doesn’t mean they’ll always be easy to shop for. A virtual Visa card is a perfect way to simplify the gifting process and give your team the freedom of choice in their rewards. Compared to other appreciation methods, virtual cards are not only easier to come by but also make for impactful and genuine rewards.

The best part is that virtual Visa cards are thoughtful in a practical way. Your only responsibility is to extend the funds to pre-authorize the card, and once available, your team can use their cards to purchase whatever fits their needs and interests. As long as the merchant accepts the regular Visa card, which today’s technology has allowed it to be almost always available, your employees have entire autonomy over how to spend their reward. 

Along with that, you are in complete control of how much money is placed on the card and the frequency in which rewards are sent. This allows you to use the same method to host team lunches, send anniversary and milestone rewards and just recognize your employees on a whim! If you see an employee regularly exceeding expectations and want to gift them a spontaneous reward, virtual Visa cards allow this to be convenient and accessible. 

Nothing beats the feeling of treating yourself to a latte, new shirt, manicure or even massage, and knowing that the bill is covered by your company. Virtual Visa cards allow you to reward employees in under five minutes and have the greatest impact in their day to day life. They will reap the benefits of their contributions not only in the workplace, but also in their personal lives, making this a memorable experience!

Musician in the studio

6. Let Your Team Pursue Their Passions

Even your most passionate employees have interests outside of the industry and professional role. Their job is only one aspect of their life and they continue to have unique interests that may have nothing to do with the workplace. Show your team that you realize their dedication to the company, and recognize them as people with their own personal passions, by showing interest in these aspects of their life.

Employee rewards do not have to be centered around work and more often than not, employees appreciate a company’s awareness and ability to step outside rewards that may only benefit them professionally. Accomplish this by giving employees opportunities such as a free hour every week to pursue their personal passion projects in the office. 

Not only will you create a positive team environment where everyone is interested in what other members of their team are doing, but it opens the door for creative collaboration and allows your people to learn more about each other and from each other simultaneously. This type of positive, welcoming energy is also contagious and can inspire out of the box thinking! 

This reward means giving them a creative outlet at work and allowing them to create added meaning to their workplace. The office can be stressful with high pressure but this reward can help ease that tension and let them associate the environment in a new, positive light.  

Whether your employees prefer to workout, write poetry, paint, or play sports, this reward will give them the freedom to express themselves to each other and get to know their team members in a new light. This extra hour to focus on themselves will also enable them to return to their desks feeling revitalized and full of new, driven energy.

The most important benefit to this reward is that you validate your team and remind them that you see their individuality. This is crucial for building strong, healthy and long-lasting relationships and opens the door to letting them create new meaning when coming to work. 

7. Treat Them To Lunch

Sometimes the best way to thank your team is through their stomach. Everyone appreciates being treated to a high quality meal, and organizing a team lunch is a great way to be considerate of everyone’s preferences while celebrating their contributions all together. 

Even if you prefer one-on-one time with your employees over the traditional group setting, taking the time to eat good food with the people who matter is effective in not only creating a strong bond with each other, but also for creating long-lasting memories that will create new meaning to their perception of work. 

Not all employee rewards have to be a grand affair and showing your team that you care about them enough to spend time outside of work together and saving them a seat at your lunch table is a huge compliment that will never go wasted. It can also be a great way to destress together, have some laughs, bounce ideas and goals off of each other and just create a new avenue for positive communication. 

This is the best type of reward to make your employees see that you care about what they have to say and let them know that they have a true voice in the company. 

In Summary

The best employee rewards will always be those that can speak to your team on a personal and individual level. You don’t have to spend an inordinate amount of money to show your team your gratitude, and instead, your largest responsibility lies in making it clear that they are seen, heard and appreciated for not only their professional contributions, but also who they are as human beings. 

Find out what your employees really value and make each reward count by giving them what they truly want. This will motivate them to work harder and it will guarantee a happy work environment that fosters creativity and innovation. 

Retaining high-performance should not be complicated once you understand how to make your employees feel regularly appreciated. Implement rewards as a natural aspect of your company and watch the quality of your workforce continue to flourish.

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