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8 Tips for Creating a Successful Employee Reward and Recognition Strategy

November 21, 2022

Supporting employees

It is a common misconception that corporations are prosperous because of the products and services they offer. But in reality, a business is only successful if its employees are happy and engaged. If your workers are not inspired by what they do, they will not do it well — at least not for long.

Research shows that companies with engaged employees are more profitable than their competitors. A Gallup meta-analysis on employee engagement shows that businesses with highly engaged employees achieve 21% higher profitability. They also enjoy 17% higher productivity than their disengaged counterparts.

So what is the secret to keeping your team motivated and engaged? One simple way to do this is by recognising people for their good work and accomplishments. Creating an employee reward and recognition strategy that works for your company and culture does not have to be complicated, but it does take commitment.

Below we outline tips for how to increase recognition in the workplace.


Employee Reward and Recognition in the Workplace: Why Is It Important?

Rewards and recognition are integral to employee engagement programs. Together, they create a positive corporate culture. Effective reward and recognition strategies can:

  • Improve employee performance.
  • Boost productivity, innovation, creativity, commitment, happiness, and loyalty.
  • Increase employee retention by improving morale.
  • Reduce turnover due to disengagement from the workplace. 
  • Bolster job satisfaction.
  • Support mental health and overall wellness.


How to Create a Meaningful Reward and Recognition Strategy

Now that we have covered the importance of an employee reward and recognition in the workplace, let's dive into eight steps you can take to build a successful reward and recognition strategy.


1. Build a Foundation

Creating a foundation is the first step to building a robust reward and recognition strategy. You can think of this foundation as the platform on which you will build your strategy. Building the right foundation for your employee reward and recognition program requires you to:


  • Identify your key business objectives.
  • Define what success looks like.
  • Determine how you will recognise people in alignment with your company goals.
  • Establish where rewards can play an important role in driving results forward.


This is where an online social recognition program can be useful. Turning recognition digital means employees and leaders can give and receive recognition from anywhere at any time. Recognition platforms, like Terryberry's, are able to streamline the recognition process so you never miss a recognisable moment.


2. Recognise People for Their Hard Work Often

Remember that recognition should be a regular and consistent part of your strategy. The goal is to recognise people for their contributions and accomplishments as often as possible so that they feel valued and appreciated.

A Gallup poll found that employees should be recognised at least once per week, yet another survey found employees reported an average of 50 days since they last felt recognised in any way at work. This discrepancy shows a disconnect between what employees value and what employers are offering.

Furthermore, if the recognition is going to be effective at building a positive environment where employees want to work, it shouldn't just be nice - it needs to be meaningful too.

A good way to make sure your company culture supports recognition is by involving people in it. It's true, manager-led recognition is important, but it's not the only type of recognition that matters. Encouraging peer-to-peer recognition is critical for company-wide buy-in. Employees need to feel that they have a say in company culture to really be engaged with it.


RELATED: Peer Recognition: What Is It and What Are the Benefits?


3. Get Creative

Rewarding employees doesn't have to cost a lot of money. So as you're creating your reward and recognition program, don't overlook the power of non-cash rewards. Here are some fantastic employee reward examples to get your creative juices flowing:


  • If someone did something exceptional for customers, invite him/her out for lunch.
  • If someone went above and beyond during a difficult time at work (i.e. during layoffs), send flowers or host an afternoon tea party in his/her honor.
  • An employee who has been working hard on a project could be rewarded with extra time off.
  • If you have a social recognition platform, award your employee with extra points for them to spend as they please.


RELATED: 10 Employee Recognition Ideas

4. Celebrate Accomplishments

Celebrating successes (no matter how big or small) is an essential part of any company's culture. A simple surprise donuts and coffee one morning just to say thank you, can be surprisingly impactful.

This isn't to say treats and parties should take the place of other forms of recognition, like raises, bonuses, or public recognition. But instead, know that these small gestures can be a nice additional way to say thank you and show your team that you notice their work.

5. Improve Processes

As a leader, you know that continually improving processes is necessary for making your team more efficient. But it can be difficult to know where to start or how far you should go. Once you break it down into three actionable steps, it becomes less daunting:


    • Identify a Process for Improvement
      Start by identifying a process that could use improvement. Which processes are causing friction among your employees? What is causing unnecessary work for your workers and their teammates? These processes are prime candidates for improvement.


    • Find a Viable Solution for the Process
      Once you have identified a process that needs attention, it is time to identify a solution for it. Start by talking with people who have worked on the process before (if they are still part of your team). They may have insights into how it could run more smoothly in the future. Furthermore, they will appreciate the chance to contribute their opinions.


  • Take Action
    After gathering employee feedback about possible improvements, put together an action plan. This plan should outline specific steps toward implementation and set goals for meeting those benchmarks over time (i.e., every quarter). This will help keep everyone accountable for progress on improving processes at work—and make sure no one gets left behind along the way.


6. Set Specific, Measurable, Attainable, and Timely Goals

When setting goals, make sure they're SMART - specific, measurable, attainable, and timely. If your goal is to increase employee engagement, you'll need to define what that specifically looks like to you. Does it mean less turnover? Higher productivity? Less absenteeism? Maybe it's all of these and more.

Then determine how you'll measure this progress. It may be measurable with hard data, or it may be more subjective, like improved morale. This may require pulse surveys to track, or some other form of tracking metric.

Ensure your goals are attainable, as well. You may want zero turnover, but that's likely not realistic. Instead, maybe your goal looks like reducing turnover from 20% to 18%.

And lastly, make sure you're establishing a timeframe for these goals to occur. It may be quarterly, semi annually, annually, etc. This will give you a clear snapshot of change to look back and reference for years to come.


7. Incorporate Non-Monetary Rewards

You may think that monetary rewards are the most important part of a recognition strategy. While money is nice to have, it is not the only thing that matters. Non-monetary rewards are just as valuable, especially when tied to your company's culture.

For example, you could give employees time off with pay or paid leave, but you can also recognize them with more personal experiences like tickets to a sporting event or a luxurious spa treatment. Recognition should tie back to the employee's interests and passions for it to make an impact.

8. Stick with It

Incorporating a recognition strategy will take some time to be fully engrained into your company's culture, so be sure to stick with it. An effective recognition program takes commitment, dedication, and company-wide participation - it makes sense that this won't happen over night.

But once you've built a culture of recognition, it will be worth the wait.


RELATED: Employee Recognition Statistics: What HR Professionals Need to Know in 2022

Recognise Your Team's Contributions with an Effective Employee Reward and Recognition Strategy

Reward and recognition is a powerful way to motivate employees, but it is also a commitment. Building a successful program takes planning and tweaking over time. When you are starting, keep it simple. It never hurts to get your team involved if you are unsure where to start. Ask employees what they would like to receive as rewards, or how they would like to be recognised for their accomplishments. When employees know that they will receive the rewards and recognition they expect, their work efforts are likely to increase.

Whether you are creating a new program or revamping the one you have, we hope these tips help you create an employee reward strategy that brings out the best in your employees.

Is your business seeking in-depth guidance on implementing an easy-to-use recognition program? Terryberry can help. We have helped more than 40,000 businesses use recognition to create engaged, purpose-led organisations.

Learn more about our 360 Recognition Platform, or schedule a demo with us today. Terryberry can assist in designing a stellar incentives program to ignite your team's potential and fuel their drive to achieve targeted goals.