10 ways to increase the impact of your reward and recognition activity

A member of staff has successfully completed an assignment ahead of schedule, won a new piece of business or got married. You send them a bunch of flowers or add a small bonus to their next pay slip. Simple!

But is it simple? Yes, you are recognising their hard work or commemorating that important life event, but are you sending the right message? Will your actions motivate not just the employee in question, but their team members as well? Taking a simplistic approach to reward and recognition programme by offering token gifts is quick and easy, but all too often fails to do what reward and recognition programs should be doing: encouraging specific values and behaviours and supporting your company culture.

Here are 10 ways to increase the impact of your reward and recognition activities:

1. Say thank you

Too often overlooked as a way of recognising your staff, simply saying thank you when they have gone above and beyond for the company can have an enormous impact on staff morale and motivation.

2. Engender a firm-wide culture of reward and recognition

Lead by example and encourage team members to recognise and applaud each other’s achievements, however small. Spontaneous, ongoing appreciation from any part of the company can be as effective as bigger, more formal awards.

3. Personalise reward schemes

Take the time to consider what each individual might most appreciate, and tailor rewards accordingly. What does that person enjoy? What are their hobbies? Personalised rewards – however small – can make an employee feel seen and recognised more effectively than generic financial tokens.

4. Offer time off as a reward

We work increasingly long hours, and for many staff the gift of time is far more valuable than a financial reward. There is also evidence that the prospect of time off can significantly increase productivity and incentivise people to work harder and faster, whilst our own research found that 43% of those surveyed identified annual leave as the work-related benefit that would make them feel most loved at work.

5. Think outside of the (gift) box

Be creative when designing your reward and recognition programme. Unusual and surprising rewards can have more impact and are more likely to be noticed by staff. Perhaps offer a coveted parking space, or a month’s free travel as an incentive, rather than a cash bonus.

6. Offer learning and development opportunities

Showing staff that you are willing to invest in their professional development can encourage engagement in the company, reduce the risk of roles becoming stale, and re-energise and re-motivate people. And it doesn’t always need to directly link to their role. Personal development opportunities – such as a creative writing or foreign language course – can be equally productive.

7. Link reward to company values

There is compelling evidence about the link between organisational values and staff engagement – particularly when it comes to millennials. It is, however, important that you are clear about what your values are, and that they are effectively demonstrated and communicated throughout the company.

8. Consider team rewards

Whilst it is often the case that one individual appears to have achieved something significant, it is rarely just down to them alone. Consider everybody who played a part in the success, at every level, and reward them equally – perhaps with team drinks, or simply by naming everyone involved in a thank you email from the CEO. If only the high-profile, usually more senior, team members are rewarded it can have a de-motivating impact on everyone else who supported them.

9. Offer flexible working

It is inevitable that many of your employees are juggling their jobs with a variety of other responsibilities and commitments. Perhaps they are carers for an elderly parent, or have complex childcare arrangements. And we all have personal lives that can face difficulties such as the breakdown of a relationship, or periods of stress. Offering short- or long-term opportunities for flexible working can help staff feel supported and recognised, and enable them to continue in their roles.

10. Don’t base rewards on performance alone

Obvious achievements such as a new business win are of course valuable to the company. But consider other attributes that you appreciate in staff and reward these too. Integrity, loyalty, kindness…these are all important to your company culture and staff morale. Notice people who excel at the ‘softer’ stuff, and ensure they are recognised and rewarded as well as the high achievers.

Employee recognition can be one of the best ways to motivate your team. Download our free e-book to find out more about how to build an effective recognition strategy.