20 Thoughtful and Imaginative Employee Rewards They Will Love

Employee rewards are a fantastic way to boost morale, motivate staff and increase productivity.

July 21, 2022
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Companies that include employee rewards and recognition programs in their employee value proposition attract and retain top talent. Employee rewards are a fantastic way to boost morale, motivate staff and increase productivity.

Often confused with employee recognition, employee rewards are incentives that acknowledge the performance of employees. While employee rewards are performance-based, employee recognition involves appreciating employees and improving morale.

A survey by the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) shows that companies with employee recognition and reward programs have a 63% increase in productivity, and 90% of employees say their program positively impacts their engagement and motivation levels.

But with so many rewards out there, it's hard to decide which ones are the best. 

This article will highlight the benefits of employee rewards and 20 creative ways to incentivize your employees.

What can you reward employees for?

To motivate employees, some actions to reward them include:

  • Individual Performance
  • Group/Team Performance
  • Overall performance of the organization.

Why are rewards good for employees?

The positive reinforcements employees get from rewards benefits both the individuals and the company, allowing the workers to feel valued. 

Four reasons why rewards are good for employees include:

  • Increased motivation
  • Improved engagement
  • Employee retention
  • Improved work culture

Read: 5 Ways to Make Employee Recognition Fun and Straightforward 

Increased motivation

Rewards for employee performance will increase motivation and incentivize individuals to put in their best work. Studies have shown that recipients of any type of reward feel more appreciated by their employers, which translates into the intention to work harder for their organization. Rewards are symbols of appreciation that will enable your employees to feel valued, included, invested in, and appreciated.

Improved engagement

Rewarding employees for their performance improves engagement. According to a survey of companies conducted by SHRM and Globoforce, 85% of companies with rewards programs noticed a positive impact on engagement. Rewards motivate employees to attain specific goals and become more effective in time management.

Employee retention

The quality of work people do improves when they feel appreciated and valued, which contributes to the company's long-term success. Incentive programs to reward employees for their efforts and contributions can motivate 66% of employees to stay in their job and positively affect retention and recruitment efforts. People are more willing to stay with companies that acknowledge the significance of their actions and make them feel valued.

Improve work culture

Rewards promote friendly competition among workers, allowing them to perform better and strengthening team culture. A boost in employee engagement, productivity, and collaboration creates a positive work environment that attracts top talents.

Assembly simplifies employee recognition by allowing you to set up a culture of rewards. Book a demo to get started. 

20 creative rewards for employees

Companies can incentivize employee performance using monetary or non-monetary rewards. A financial reward system includes cash rewards, performance bonuses, or commissions. On the other hand, a non-monetary rewards system utilizes incentives such as paid time off, sponsored trips or activities, an employee of the month certificate or top sales rep certificate, flexible hours, etc.

Ready to start implementing workplace rewards? Let’s jump right in!

  1. Share Profits

This is one of the most popular types of employee rewards because it has the potential to be more lucrative than any other. With this approach, you share a portion of your company’s profits with your employees, who then receive a portion in their paychecks each month or year. This can be done on an individual basis (for example, all employees who contribute to a sales goal get X percent profit sharing) or as a group (for example, all employees who reach their sales goal get X percent profit sharing).

  1. Employee stock options

An employee stock ownership plan (ESOP) allows employees to own part of the company in stocks. Rewarding employees with stock options is a thoughtful strategy to align the interest of the employees with shareholders. It encourages employees to do their best, not just as staff but as shareholders too. 

  1. Peer-to-peer recognition

Peer-to-peer recognition improves teamwork and encourages collaboration. Encouraging employees to give each other accolades and recognize their peers publicly promotes a trusting and inclusive culture, allowing employees to feel seen.  A survey by SHRM and Globoforce showed that peer-to-peer recognition made 90% of workers more satisfied with their work.

Assembly enables its users to reward employees more efficiently and improve overall productivity. Try Assembly for free.

  1. Paid time off

Reward employees and prevent burn-out with paid time off (PTO). Giving employees time off to relax and refresh is a reward that benefits both the company and the worker. The employee returns well rested and ready to work, and the company gets a motivated, productive employee in return.

A thoughtful type of PTO is the birthday PTO. If your company can afford it, it’s a great way to reward employees, allowing them to take a day off to treat themselves.

  1. Professional development 

Signing an employee for a conference or professional course is a fantastic reward. In fact, 94% of employees would stay with a company longer if it invested in their career development with productivity and performance.

It fuels the ambition to learn, allowing recipients to feel valued and creating avenues for networking opportunities. Relevant professional memberships or books will enable them to upskill and improve retention rates. 

  1. Gift cards

Reward your employees with gift cards—they'll love it! They'll be able to choose how they spend their rewards and indulge. Gift cards or shopping vouchers to grocery or eCommerce stores are a great option. Coupons to favorite restaurants and discounts on food delivery apps are also great.

  1. Care Packages

Send care packages to employees to appreciate their performance. Sending personalized snack boxes or care packages as a reward for hard work is a great way to show your employees that they’re more than workers.

  1. Gym membership

A gym membership is a popular choice for employee rewards because it's something that everyone can use. It allows employees to work out when they have time off from work or on their lunch break, which helps them stay healthy while also giving them some free time during the week.

  1. Creating an experience

Often, employees need an excuse to have fun because there’s always more work. Rewarding employees with movie tickets, tickets to a local show, a football game, or a concert will give them experiences they typically may not do themselves.

  1. Charity donations

You can set up a charity rewards system for employees by donating to a charity of their choice when they do great at work. You can also motivate them by offering to match a donation. Employees can accumulate redeemable points, which you can convert to money and donate.

  1. Subscription to music streaming platforms

Paying for months' worth of subscriptions to music streaming services such as Apple Music, Spotify, and YouTube Music is a thoughtful reward. It reinforces feelings of appreciation and value while increasing motivation and productivity.

  1. Spa Voucher

Rewarding employees for their hard work with relaxation is always a fantastic idea.  Indulging employees to unwind and be pampered on a spa day is a gesture they’ll love.

  1. Subsidize commute

Commuting can be a huge stressor. So, rewarding employees by subsidizing the cost of commuting to and fro work is a thoughtful idea. The company can reduce transportation expenses by offering credits for trains, busses, ride-hailing services, or other preferred means of transportation.

  1. Meal delivery or catering

Ordering lunch for the ‘winning’ team or employee is a fantastic way to say “you’ve done a great job”. For remote teams, food delivery services can handle that. A food truck is also an option for teams working out of the office. 

  1. Cleaning services

As a pat on the back, companies can hire a house cleaning service for an employee. This reward allows them to rest and take a breather without worrying about some chores and a clean house.

  1. Sponsored vacation

While this may be expensive, companies that can afford to can offer a sponsored vacation to an exceptional employee. It encourages the recipients to use their PTO and relax without worrying about some vacation expenses. It also promotes a relaxed work culture that boosts employee retention and encourages a healthy competition to win a vacation.

  1. Sponsored physical activity

Learn more about employees' hobbies and sponsor activities that interest them. Paying part or in full for activities such as rock climbing, hiking, marathons, etc., rewards employees with an experience that allows them to feel valued. 

  1. Wellness Programs

Provide employees with wellness programs to promote a healthy lifestyle. You can offer access to mental and physical rejuvenation services, counseling, yoga, etc. 

  1. Video streaming services

Paying for recipients' streaming service subscriptions such as YouTube, Netflix, or Amazon prime reinforces the need to relax after hard work. It also shows a workplace culture that’s real, not pretending that employees don’t have a life outside work.

  1. Company-branded gears

Provide employees with company-branded merch to promote inclusivity and gain free publicity. Items could include branded water bottles, sweatshirts, mugs, etc. Rewarding employees with the perfect swag - useful products customized to their interests and hobbies creates a positive employee experience.

Bottom line: Keep it simple

In the end, employers don't have to go overboard with their employee rewards. These little gestures actually cost nothing, or very little anyways, and they can have a big impact on the loyalty and morale of an entire company. The main point is to make your employees feel appreciated.

Work smarter and request a demo today to improve your employee recognition strategies.

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