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Beyond the bonus: Innovative ways to reward and recognize employees

13 min read

The marketing team at Callyton Inc. failed to meet its monthly target for the third time.  

The top decision-makers were frustrated and constantly thinking of ways to break this curse.  

Finally, Michael, the CEO, came up with a unique strategy. He started sending a personalized “Good Job” message for every small achievement of the employees. 

 This showed surprising results as employee productivity increased by 30%. As a result, the marketing team achieved its annual targets within the next three months. 

This is a simple example of how employee recognition can positively impact an organization. Could there be anything more motivating than financial incentives? A Mckinsey study rated praise and acknowledgment from the top management as the ultimate performance motivators, surpassing even financial incentives. 

An employee rewards and recognition program is usually defined as a structured approach to acknowledging and rewarding employees’ hard work, achievements and contributions. As HR managers, we all understand the importance of rewarding our employees for their dedication and efforts towards achieving the organization’s goals. But we might not know the massive impact it can have on an employee’s work life.  

Why are employee rewards and recognition programs important?

As much as 40% of the workforce would commit extra energy and effort if recognized more often, says a Harvard Business Review report. How do rewards and recognition programs boost employee performance? Let’s explore. A great and effective program can: 

  • Boost Employee Morale

Recognizing and rewarding employees’ hard work and achievements boosts their morale and levels of job satisfaction. This can improve job satisfaction, leading to better performance and increased productivity. 

  • Enhance Employee Engagement

These programs assist in improving employee engagement by promoting a positive work culture, creating a sense of purpose and fostering a sense of belongingness. 

  • Improve Retention Rates 

Employees who feel valued and appreciated remain loyal to the company, reducing employee turnover rates. It also increases employees’ loyalty and commitment to the organization. 

  • Encourage Positive Behaviors 

Rewards and Recognition Programs can encourage positive behavior and outcomes, like meeting performance targets, improving customer satisfaction or collaborating effectively with teammates. 

  • Align with Organizational Goals 

Align them with your organizational goals and values to communicate them and easily track their progression and expectations. 

Implementing an employee rewards and recognition program is crucial for HR managers to maintain a motivated, engaged and productive workforce. Are you confused about the difference between rewards and recognition? 
Importance of Reward and Recognize Programs

Are rewards and recognition the same?

Rewards and recognition are often used interchangeably by everyone without being aware that they are two different terms.  

Rewards: Tangible benefits that are given to recognize the performance and achievement of employees. They are used to encourage people to continue their high-performance streak. For instance, a gift card or a bonus. 

Recognition: Acknowledging someone’s efforts or accomplishments meaningfully. It is used to build morale and reinforce positive behaviors. For instance, an employee who is always willing to help his colleagues is recognized for their helpfulness and positive attitude. 

The main differences are enlisted below: 

Rewards & Recognition

10 creative ideas to celebrate your employee success

Celebrating an employee’s success, big or small, is a great way to value and appreciate their efforts, hard work and contributions.  

If you are wondering about the best ways to make your employees happy, here are a few creative ideas to help you: 

  • Surprise Birthday and Work Anniversary Parties

With tight everyday schedules, employees might sometimes forget their special days. Surprising them with a small celebration is a great way to boost their spirits. Decorate their workstation with balloons, banners or flowers. Send a cake, pastries or cookies to their residence. You can also throw a surprise party or go out for a team dinner. 

  • Digital Wall of Fame

Create an organization’s virtual hall of fame, where anyone can praise their colleagues by publishing posts, stories or feeds. Including additional interactive features with the post, ‘like’, ‘share’ and ‘comment’ options. 

  • Social Media Shoutouts

Everyone loves it when they can flaunt their hard work. When their achievements are recognized in the public forum, there is an increase in productivity. Do it more easily by praising your employees on social media. 

  • Employee Performance Badges

Adopt an exciting approach where all departments have a scoreboard with every teammate’s scores. The best performers find their place at the top of the board. You can award the best performers with a badge they can don with pride for a week. This helps nurture healthy competition in the teams. 

  • Gifting Subscription Services

Gifting your employees a personalized subscription to either a music streaming platform or OTT service on their birthdays or to celebrate their work success can be a great way. It makes the employees happier and inspires their creativity. 

  • Personalized Gifts

This is a thoughtful way to celebrate an employee’s success. You can create customized mugs, water bottles or t-shirts with the employee’s name and achievements imprinted. This is an excellent way as it also reminds them of their success. 

  • Testimonials Featuring your Star Employees

Create employee testimonials on your star performers. For this, highlight their achievements and show their journey in the organization. People love to see themselves on the screens, so promote it on your company’s portal and also on your company’s social pages. This can be an effective strategy to attract the best talent to your organization. 

  • Mental and Physical Wellness Programs

A report by Deloitte states that there has been a staggering decline in absenteeism and healthcare spending in organizations focusing on the overall development of their employees. Employers can promote it by giving free gym memberships, weekly yoga sessions and monthly counseling sessions after working hours.  

  • Name an Office Corner in the Honour of the Employees

Create a special section in every department named after the quarter’s best performer. You can include their work achievements and special handwritten notes by colleagues. Post this on the company’s portal to make it visible across the organization. 

  • Coffee with the CEO or Other Top Executives

One of the best ways to show the best performers’ impact on the organization can be by letting them interact with the top-level executives. Schedule special meetings for the ones who have earned it. The performers are to be judged based on their performance, attitude, tenure, creativity, etc. If a physical meeting is not possible, scheduling a virtual appointment will do the trick. This allows them to ask questions and prepare themselves for the future leadership roles heading their way. 

Hence, lauding employee success is one of the best ways to promote a positive and productive work environment.
The Potpourri of Employee Success

20 creative award names for your next annual event

Employee awards are a great way to recognize your team’s achievements. Having creative names makes the awards more meaningful and memorable. 

Let’s dive into a few creative award names for your next event: 

1. Spark Performer 

Commemorate the one who consistently brings a fresh wave of energy and enthusiasm to the workplace and is always there to inspire and motivate teammates. 

2. Catalyst Star 

Awarding it to the one driving positive organizational changes, growth and development. 

3. Trendsetter Award 

This appreciates the one with exceptional creativity and original ideas to enrich processes or products. 

4. Bohemian Hero 

This is for the team’s risk taker and the driver of the organization’s innovation and progress. 

5. Collaborator of the Year 

Recognize the most efficient collaborator of the organization: the one who worked effectively across multiple departments. 

6. Game Changer 

The employee who has paved the way for new ideas, approaches and initiatives that drive positive organizational change. 

7. Big-hearted Superstar 

Celebrate your team’s most kind, empathetic and compassionate employee, who makes a lasting positive impression on their team members. 

8. Utopian Executer 

This is for the one with an exceptional vision and foresight, constantly identifying future-oriented opportunities for growth and development within the organization.  

9. Evergreen Learner 

Award it to the one who consistently shows a willingness to learn and grow, they are crucial to foster a culture of continuous improvement within the organization. 

10. Hometown Hero 

It is for the one who has demonstrated commendable commitment towards community service and bringing positive change in society. 

Now, let’s have some fun and here are a few creative award ideas with a touch of humor: 

11. Most Likely to Take Over the World 

For the employee with the most ambitious plans. 

12. Human Jukebox Award 

For the one who has a song for every situation. And is always ready to be the office DJ for every event. 

13. Excitant Bunny 

For the one who seems to never run out of energy or excitement. 

14. Early Bird Award 

 For the one who is the first one to arrive at the office. 

15. Night Owl Award 

 For the one who is always the last one to leave the office. 

16. Zen Master Award 

For the one who is always calm and collected under high-pressure situations. 

17. Palate Prodigy Award 

For the one who is always ready with the best restaurants and food spot suggestions. 

18. Time Traveler Award 

For the one who always seems to complete everything way ahead of schedule. 

19. Grammar Nazi Award 

 For the one who is always fixing everyone’s grammar and spelling. 

20. Snack King/Queen Award 

For the one with the best snack alternatives in the office. 

These are a few ideas for fun employee awards to boost productivity and morale. To design the best awards for your organization, try to be creative and customize them to suit your organization’s culture, qualities and achievement types. 
Fun Employee Awards
Today, rewards and recognition are among the crucial components of HR strategy. They help increase employee engagement, improve retention rates and positively impact the company culture. Technological integration is the only way to make this a continuous process in your organization. 

Keka’s PMS module makes it easier for HR leaders to manage rewards and recognition programs without extensive technical knowledge or support. So, book your free trial today.  

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    Meet the author

    Anwesha Panja

    Content Writer

    Anwesha Panja is a Content Writer at Keka Technologies. She has a passion for crafting captivating pieces around the latest HR trends. With a love for mysterious and spine-tingling things, she spends her free time exploring haunted locations. She is also a bookworm and an avid Sherlock fan.


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