Employee Rewards

8 Can’t-Miss Reward Opportunities To Recognize Employees

June 29, 2022
min read

Conveying appreciation to your team plays a huge role in cultivating a dynamic and successful workplace. This recognition should not happen only at the end of a successful project or profitable quarter and should instead be a consistent part of the company culture. To truly engage and motivate your workforce, you need to celebrate each person’s notable milestones - it truly pays to make the most of every reward opportunity available.

It’s no secret that rewarding employees for their hard work can increase their motivation and help them strive for higher performance. The workplace in general will also benefit from greater employee satisfaction and overall retention! According to HBR, these are all ‘inertia factors, which provide employees different reasons to stay in their current position. 

This then begs the question of, “when is the right time to make a show of appreciation?” 

In this article, we will discuss the 8 top reward opportunities for employees. These include special occasions like birthdays, work anniversaries, and year-end events but also extend to rewards for project completions or critical professional milestones. 

In general, a reward opportunity can arise whenever people show initiative and personal or career growth!

Reward Opportunities To Show Recognition To Your Employees

1. Birthdays

Birthdays provide an excellent opportunity to celebrate your employees and make them feel valued. Give each person a moment in the spotlight to acknowledge them as an individual and let them know they’re part of the ‘work family.’

The upside of this date is that everyone has a birthday, so you can be sure that each person receives a dose of appreciation at least once a year. 

It’s also productive for building morale and encouraging a team environment as all coworkers get to join the celebrations and commemorate each other!

Related: 7 Employee Rewards Ideas Your Team Will Love

2. At The End Of A Big Project

This is definitely a consistent reward opportunity for whenever an employee completes a large project or closes a major deal. The reward can be highly appreciated, especially if the event has been high-pressure and challenging for the employee to complete. 

An attractive post-project or deal-brokering bonus acts as a motivator, encouraging your employees to continue hitting their performance targets and strive for their best levels of work ethic. 

3. Work Anniversaries

Work anniversaries are always a great time to reward employees for their continued loyalty and valuable contributions to the company. 

Rewarding employees on their anniversary reminds them that their work plays an important role in moving the company forward each year. 

It will give them purpose, make them feel seen, and elevate their status on the team as time goes by!

Related: 17 Thoughtful Work Anniversary Gifts For All Employee Milestones

4. After Reaching A Major Goal Or Milestone

When an employee reaches an important goal or milestone at work - from hitting certain targets or receiving a promotion - they should be recognized. This reward opportunity will pay off in more ways than one!

A reward will make your employee feel that they are a valuable part of the company and boost the loyalty they feel for the organization. It will also encourage them to continue contributing to the organization’s success by setting and achieving new goals regularly. 

Not only does this benefit the company’s overall progress, but when employees continually set goals to work towards, they create a space for continuous growth where they’re motivated to upskill and fill in the talent gaps that may be creating obstacles for the company in different ways. 

Holiday treats

5. At Year-End

The end of the year is a perfect reward opportunity as many people reflect on their time at the company and also think ahead to the new year and future goals. 

As the holidays begin, many employees will appreciate some extra seasonal cheer. Rewarding them can instill a sense of belonging and pride, while also motivating the team to put their best foot forward in the year ahead. 

Related: 17 Unique And Rewarding Christmas Gifts For Employees

6. Performance Appraisals

Depending on your organization’s structure, you may hold performance appraisals every quarter, bi-annually, or annually. Whatever the case, these milestones present ideal reward and recognition opportunities especially when you get to speak to individuals face to face.

If your employees know that their performance will be reviewed and new goal-setting opportunities are arriving, they will be motivated to consistently perform well . How you reward them (monetary, words of appreciation, time off, etc.) on these milestones typically depends on a number of factors. 

Whatever your policies, make a point of showing recognition to the person in the one-on-one environment where it’ll have the most impact. 

7. When Individuals Display Initiative and Excellence

Team players who have the right tools and support to complete their work are often able to show initiative and push the company’s progress forward. It’s up to you as the employer to recognize and reward this effort to fuel employee engagement and motivation from within. Providing a show of appreciation can incentivize the recipient and the team to strive for higher standards of performance. 

8. To Promote Personal and Career Growth

It’s always beneficial to incentivize employees and invest in their professional and personal growth. This will create intrinsic motivators that play a significant role in a fulfilled and satisfying work life. 

If you can position your organization to have a key role in employee development, you will likely earn your team’s loyalty in return. This translates to an increase in human capital value and overall better company culture. 

Best Practices For Giving Rewards

There’s never a wrong time to show employee recognition and it never has to be for a formal occasion. 

Depending on your budget and the size of your business, you may not be in a position to hand out gifts at every reward opportunity that arises. However, showing appreciation doesn’t have to break the bank. It’s often the gesture that counts, and words of acknowledgment can be just as powerful. 

You can keep rewards relatively simple - for example, give a card, a shout-out, or even a cake! You could further host a small party, present a thoughtful gift, or take the team to lunch. All of these are examples of rewards that can positively affect your employees’ sense of belonging.

It’s a good idea to talk to your employees and gather feedback about your organization’s recognition efforts. This will help ensure your efforts cater for the specific needs of your team and have the greatest effect on morale.


Rewarding your employees is crucial in supporting your organization to thrive and grow. Showing recognition helps motivate each person, making them feel valued and in tune with the company.

In turn, this can lead to better and higher levels of performance where everyone is actively working towards the success of the business!

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