Employee recognition guide

8 Types of employee recognition and rewards you need to know about

8 types of employee recognition and rewards

Have you been convinced of how important compliments, recognition and rewards are — but have no idea how to suddenly start giving it? We get it. 

Recognition shouldn't feel forced, so it's good to know what options are out there to pick something that fits you and your employees. In this part of the guide, we’ll look into all the different ways you can give and organise recognition in the workplace, without making it awkward. 

When you start building a culture that involves recognition and reward, you may feel you're putting a huge burden on your managers. However, we'd suggest a culture of recognition should be built by everyone, not just from the top down. 

Here’s what you can all implement together with your employees so that everyone is involved in this great culture of recognition!

1. Peer-to-peer recognition

Receiving recognition from coworkers and team members will help create a sense of belonging within the team.

It's the people you work closest with who often make the biggest impact on you. Telling them they’re doing a good job is simple yet effective. It can be a great motivator to keep up the good work. 

When you start encouraging people to compliment their peers, it’ll work wonders for team spirit. It’s the gift that keeps on giving.

Now, it can be slightly weird to roll your chair to the person next to you and compliment them. Of course, it can be done in meetings, or on the spot when they present a great idea. But another way is by using Perkbox.

Perkbox includes a real-time recognition feed, which records each message of recognition an employee receives. Plus it has all the benefits of recognition, and over 8,500 rewards.

Not to mention most of these rewards are with international brands and consequently can be redeemed by employees all over the world.

man and woman hi-fiving

2. Leader-to-team-member recognition

Managers and team leaders need to give their team or individual team members the praise they deserve — this is an integral part of any employee recognition program. Often, a project is a great success, and we tend to just thank the people who are so obviously at the forefront of it. 

When your marketing team has run a great campaign, who do you thank? The strategic minds? The copywriter? The designer? The ones who managed the campaigns across all channels?

The answer is easy, all of the above. Giving an entire team kudos for a successful project or for how they've handled a challenge will make them chase that feeling of success in their next project, and it builds team spirit. Plus, you make sure that nobody feels left out when praise is handed out, something that can be challenging in large-scale projects.

3. Employer-to-employees recognition

Don't underestimate the power of recognition from employer to employees. Whether it's in a big or small organisation, if you want recognition to be part of your culture, you'll need to get everyone on board. 

Don't just rely on your employees to compliment each other — let higher management be part of the fun as well. Receiving genuine recognition or rewards from your bosses will boost morale and team spirit.

Man congratulating colleague

Employee recognition ideas

When it comes to common examples of employee recognition and rewards, not all roads lead to Rome. You’ll want to choose something suitable for the occasion. 

With an overly standardised system of rewards, they can lose their value. If you simply give out bottles of wine when a sale has been closed, but never give any compliments in words, what is the meaning of it all?

You’ll want to set up a recognition system that offers different types of rewards, which are suited to your employees.

In addition, by making regular recognition a part of your company’s way of work, you will create a supportive atmosphere that encourages people to do their best. 

It all starts by understanding what perks your employees want and would appreciate. Let’s look at some forms of recognition that you can start giving — some even as soon as you finish reading this!

4. Verbal praise

How often do you hear yourself saying something particularly kind to thank one of your co-workers or employees? You can make a big difference with something as small as verbal praise. Never underestimate how powerful a phrase like well done is.

Words matter. By thanking someone verbally in a one-on-one or publicly, you show a genuine form of appreciation. The best way of giving verbal praise is by not just saying thank you but also by explicitly mentioning what you’re thankful for — and maybe even what this means in the bigger picture. 

two happy and smiling people at work

5. Written praise

Some things deserve to be preserved in writing. With Perkbox, you can send your employees a message of appreciation without losing it in messy Slack channels or snowed under by email chains. You could even put the words on a card, so your employee will have something tangible that's a nice reminder of their work and successes. 

Another way of showing appreciation through written praise is by giving your employees a certificate, or by endorsing them on LinkedIn. You can even dedicate a post to the employees, team or entire organisation if you want to publicly put them in the spotlight. Just don’t use this as a trick to get likes — authenticity is key. 

6. Employee awards

Why not mix employee recognition with some friendly, healthy competition? You don't want to give rewards for simply showing up — your employees will want to know that they’ve done something to deserve it. 

What would be more fun than giving an employee or team of the month award? You can make this a team effort by asking everyone to vote on whom they think deserves it this month, and you can also ask why. The Perkbox poll feature is perfect for that. 

It takes very little time, but you probably won't be able to wipe the smiles off the winners’ faces. And by also rewarding teams, you give team spirit and motivation a little boost. 

7. Monetary value rewards

Of course, there are also tangible awards. You might consider something like cold, hard cash — but there’s also a lot more you can do.

It can be a gift card for a spa day when you know an employee has been working hard, or a voucher for a romantic restaurant when they had to work a lot of overtime and their partner was at home. Monetary value doesn’t necessarily mean outright money — you can put some thought and personalisation into it.

8. More ownership of their work

Giving your employees the responsibility they were working towards — and clearly stating that you are, is also a form of recognition. Don't confuse this with expanding their list of responsibilities without a pay increase. What we mean is that after a learning period, you let people know you think they’re ready to stand on their own two feet and let them do so. 

Find out exactly which perks and benefits are best for your business in our guide on The Great Perk Search.

two men looking at sticky notes

When to give employees recognition and rewards

We’ve covered the who and the what of employee recognition, so let's talk about the when. Is there ever a perfect moment for giving someone praise or a reward? You shouldn't force it of course, but it's good to have a system in place that sends you reminders. Plus, you'll want recognition to come naturally. 

On top of that, it's important to note that there’s no one-size-fits-all for companies to give recognition. It hugely depends on your values and what you like to give praise for to reinforce those. 

Keep in mind that recognition shouldn't be a short-term campaign to boost morale. That won't work, and maybe even do more harm than good. You should be consistent in when and how you give out rewards, so your employees know when to expect it and will work towards it.

Let's look at some scenarios. 

Work and life milestones

Should you celebrate personal milestones at work? Our answer would be yes. Whoever comes to work is more than just an employee, and you can't just shake off the excitement of having a big personal success. So, celebrate those birthdays, and send flowers if someone just got engaged. 

Meanwhile, work milestones can be things like work anniversaries. By celebrating these, you get the chance to show your appreciation for people continuously showing up —  something that should be valued. People don’t always stick around for decades, especially nowadays, so you should cherish each year.

Positive behaviour 

It's not all about how many deals someone has closed in the last quarter. If you want to foster a great company culture, start celebrating positive behaviour.

If you see that an employee has been working extra hard, has a can-do attitude and is being highly supportive of their teammates, it's time for a little thank you. 

Positive behaviour can be anything that’s in line with your company's values. Rewarding those specifically will help your employees understand what you want the business to be all about. 

Simply hearing the words and description of a vision can be a bit abstract. If you actively say yes, your employees will organically learn to work in the way that fits your business. 

How do you make this easier for everyone involved? We’ve got just the thing for that. With Perkbox you can add company values to the recognition platform and assign values to any recognitions or rewards you send. 

5 people celebrating and laughing in meeting room

Incredible work 

Last but not least, celebrating big wins and reaching targets should be done. The attitude of but that’s simply part of their job has a negative undertone. Of course, you should celebrate incredible work, regardless of whether it's expected or not. 

Your employees are dedicating a lot of hours of their lives to your business’s objectives. That alone deserves a little praise, but when someone hits targets harder than anyone else, let them know you’ve noticed this.

Now, there are some jobs in which it’s harder to find specific targets such as sales made. That doesn't mean you can't give these hard workers some recognition too. Have you noticed they’ve been extremely helpful to your customers? Tell them. See how they’ve taught a new starter something without being explicitly asked? Show your appreciation. Not everything that’s considered incredible work is directly related to your profit. To make things easier, you can use an employee recognition tool to keep your recognition framework on track.

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