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 weave employee rewards ideas and recognition programs into their company culture attract and retain top talent (especially remote employees). Employee rewards are not just a way to boost morale and a way to treat employees well but a strategic approach to motivate staff and increase productivity.

Often confused with employee recognition, employee rewards are incentives that acknowledge the performance of employees. And while employee reward ideas are performance-based, employee recognition involves appreciating and rewarding employees to enhance employee morale.

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

But with many employees and numerous rewards out there, figuring out the most effective employee rewards can be challenging.

This article delves deep into the benefits of employee rewards and 20 creative ways to reward your hardworking team.

What can you reward employees for?

Employee incentive is pivotal. Some actions to reward 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. Recipients of a meaningful gift or tangible reward feel more appreciated, translating to the intention to put in more effort. Employee engagement also gets a boost, with 85% of companies with rewards programs noticing a positive impact.

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.

Employee retention is enhanced when they feel appreciated, making them more likely to stay with companies that acknowledge their actions. A boost in employee engagement, productivity, and collaboration culminates in a positive work culture, appealing to the best employees.

Assembly simplifies the process by allowing companies to establish a culture of employee reward.

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 (tangible rewards). 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 let employees choose their share of the company's profits., 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

Another great employee reward idea is employee stock. 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

Employee reward ideas are often centered around recognition. Peer-to-peer recognition improves teamwork and encourages collaboration. Encouraging employees to give each other accolades and enhance their teamwork through peer to peer recognition promotes a trusting and inclusive culture, allowing for the growth of employee satisfaction.  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  and a great employee reward is the birthday PTO. If your company can afford it, it's a great way to reward employees, and promote better work life balance while allowing them to take a day off to treat themselves. Remember, employee rewards ideas don't have to be incredibly elaborate to be meaningful and will still make every team member feel cared for.

  1. Professional development 

Signing an employee for a conference or professional development course is a great 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—a great reward employees will love! 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 thoughtful gift that is great way to show your employees that they're more than workers, boost employee morale and encourage employees to be a part of the entire team.

  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

Another one of the employee rewards ideas is quite simple but very fun for remote workers. Sometimes, a truly memorable gift is 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 (this is great company culture core value). 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

Reward your employees for their hard work with relaxation (always a fantastic idea and promotes work life balance).  Indulging employees to unwind and be pampered on a spa day is a gesture they'll love.

  1. Subsidize commute

Reward employees by making their life easier. 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” and a quick way to reward employees. For remote teams, food delivery services can handle that. Everyone loves food, and bringing in a food truck or getting a local restaurant experience can be a hit.

  1. Cleaning services

As a pat on the back and an employee reward idea, 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. Maybe a dance lesson from a local music school?

  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. It could be company swag with the company logo that enhances unity and can also support local businesses. Items could include branded water bottles, sweatshirts, mugs, etc. Rewarding employees with the perfect company swag - useful products customized to their interests and hobbies creates a positive employee experience.

Bottom line: Keep it simple

In the end, when it comes to employee rewards program, it's the thought that counts. From a simple handwritten note to a dedicated parking space or a health club membership, it's all about making your employees feel cherished and boosting employee satisfaction. You don't need to break the bank to provide an employee incentive – sometimes, supporting local businesses with a gift card or even acknowledging them in a company newsletter can mean the world to all employees involved.

Work smarter with Assembly and make every employee reward idea count. Request a demo today to improve your employee recognition strategies, promote personal development and find ways to reward hardworking employees with meaningful rewards.

Browse our Free Employee Recognition Guide

Get the foundational knowledge on creating an employee recognition program that boosts employee engagement and helps them feel valued.

Explore Guide

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Assembly SOC 2 compliant?

Yes, at Assembly, security is a top priority. Each quarter, we have ongoing security work that is everyone’s responsibility. While we maintain a strong security posture, it was important for us to prove to our customers that we do everything we claim to do. This led us to pursue a SOC 2 Type II report that would provide evidence of our compliance with industry gold-standard security practice.

What's the ROI for employee recognition?

There is study after study showing that employee recognition leads to increased engagement. This in return creates an environment where employees are happier and more motivated which increase productivity and reduces voluntary turnover significantly. In order to filled critical roles, companies tend to spend nearly twice the value of an annual salary. Assembly is an investment in your employees that supports your bottom line.

Does Assembly offer longer-term contracts?

Yes, we will offer contracts for companies with longer-term agreements to help larger customers have more certainty around future costs.

The minimum agreement term is a 12-month subscription.

Does Assembly offer onboarding support?

We do and for FREE! Any new customer needing further support to get started with Assembly to ensure you're set up for success can request custom onboarding support. Improving your employee experience is about much more than just using our amazing software; it’s about transforming your business to create a workplace that people love. That’s much easier to do with the personal support and advice from our passionate people experts.

Is there a free version of Assembly?

Yes. We offer a completely free plan for up to 50 team members. This plan is intended for teams or organizations that are looking to get started with an employee engagement tool. Keep in mind, this plan is limited in features.

All customers can open an Assembly account for free and get started without a credit card. Then you can change plans as necessary.

How much do rewards cost?

At the time of redemption (when your employees exchange their points for a paid reward) you'll pay face value. If a reward is a $10 Amazon gift card, your cost will be $10. All paid rewards are billed for on a monthly basis.

The good news is that you don't have to pay for rewards upfront because we only charge you when points are redeemed, not when they're earned.

Does Assembly offer discounts?

We offer discounts or educational or charitable organizations. In order to secure a discount, you'll first need to book a demo with a customer support specialist.

For all other organizations, we are willing to consider longer-term agreements in exchange for discounts. To set up annual plans or longer, you will need to book a demo with a customer support specialist.

How do I cancel my plan if needed?

If you're on a month to month plan, you can go here and cancel anytime. If you're having concerns or need help setting up your account for success, you can always book a demo with a customer support specialist.

If you're on a longer-term custom plan, you'll need to reach out to your customer support specialist to cancel your account or email us at support@joinassembly.com.

What customizations are available?

Great question! You can customize your core values to match your organization's to boost and track alignment. You can change your currency from the 🏆 emoji (our default) to any emoji of your choice. You can swap our logo for your own. You can also set up company culture rewards such as, "Lunch with the CEO," "Buy a book on us," and so much more!

Who can give or receive recognition?

While we recommend a peer to peer set up where anyone in your organization can give or receive recognition, you can set up Assembly however you want. If you need to limit the people who can give or receive recognition, that's perfectly fine and can be done from your Admin, here.

What integrations are available?

Assembly connects to the tools your employees use every day to offer an easy, seamless experience with minimal change management.  

Assembly has integrations with HCM/HRIS systems like ADP, Google, Office 365, and Slack. We also integrate with communication tools like Slack and Teams so you and your employees can access Assembly wherever they work now.

What's your average adoption rate?

That depends on the company's permissions set up. That said, over 90% of the employees on Assembly's platform are recognized on a monthly basis. That means nearly every employee across all of our customers are receiving regular recognition from their peers, managers, or leadership. We're extremely proud of this.

Must rewards be set up to use Assembly?

They are not required. You can use Assembly without having rewards set up. However, we don't recommend it if you intend to have a high adoption and usage rate. You can always keep the costs down by offering internal culture rewards that are fulfilled by you internally.

Are points required to use Assembly?

No, you can remove allowances from anyone or everyone. It's up to you but we do recommend using points whether they're worth a real dollar value or not. Companies that use points have a much higher engagement rate even if those points don't exchange for real dollars.

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