Blocks spelling out the word reward

6 Employee Reward Programs That Work

by Christian Gray on April 22, 2021
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It’s official. We are now in the year 2021 which means millennials account for over half of the American workforce. That number will steadily increase to 75% of the global workforce by 2025 (INC).

There’s an (undeserved) stigma to millennials in the workforce. Many think they aren’t loyal. They don’t stay with a company for more than a couple of years. This leads to frustration with other generations. Some Baby Boomers think millennials lack commitment, leading to workplace discontent and bad feelings which can bite deep into productivity and employee engagement.

How are companies supposed to grow if they are constantly worried about turnover rates and finding replacements for lost talent?

The answer might not be as complicated as you think: Make them feel valued by implementing an employee reward program.

Why your current employee reward program isn’t working

In the past, loyalty was perceived as a responsibility or trait an employee shows their employer, but those days are long gone. Increased labor mobility and improved job search tools give employees more freedom and choice. In turn, employers have just as much responsibility, and in some cases more so, as employees when it comes to showing appreciation.

Employees put a lot of time, effort and passion into their work and they want to be appreciated for it. Employee reward programs are an important and low-cost way you can both help motivate them and incentivize company goals. Sounds great, and yet many companies struggle to make it work.

HRTechNews boils down the reasons your employee reward program is not working:

  • The programs don’t allow for continuous or immediate recognition;
  • They are too generic;
  • They rely heavily on manual processes.

Organizations prioritize the wants and needs of their consumers, but forget to address the wants and needs of their workforce.

Begin to consider the following questions before implementing a new program:

  • What’s most important to the employees?
  • How do they want to be rewarded: Socially, monetarily or even with increased responsibility?
  • How often do they want to be rewarded?
  • How can you gamify it?
  • How can employees reward other employees?
  • How can you optimize and automate the process?

An important aspect of a new program is making it available, easy to use and automated. Once the above questions are answered, you can begin to consider the rewards.

Ways to make your employees feel valued

Let’s take a look at some successful ways of recognizing employees and getting your own program up and running.

1. “The quickest way to someone’s heart is through their stomach”

I would be surprised if you knew of anyone that didn’t want to be given food. Although the pandemic is forcing companies to adjust their stance on the traditional workplace, employees still enjoy an old-fashioned pizza party. It may look different in today’s environment, but putting a twist on this classic recognition is still successful. Treat employees to their favorite meal by having it delivered via Postmates, DoorDash or Uber Eats. Don’t be afraid to add a dessert to go along with a nice note to further drive home your appreciation for their work.

2. Gift card or membership/subscription

The opportunities for gift cards or memberships/subscriptions are endless. Not to mention, they are entirely driven by the employee. For example, they might use their gift card for a subscription to a stress app to unwind at the end of a long day. Giving them the power to choose where they want to spend allotted money creates a personal interaction and a glimpse into what might be important to them.

3. Products they want

Create a positive connection between the company and an item. Specifically, an item the employee wouldn’t want to purchase themselves. They might be eyeing a new television to watch their favorite team, or a Coach purse that perfectly complements an outfit. Every time the employee uses that item, they’ll think back to how generous their employer was to give it to them. There is also potential “word of mouth” marketing through other people asking, “Where did you get that purse?” Here’s an opportunity for that employee to showcase their appreciation and connect the brand with another person. If you’re lucky, that other person is a potential consumer or future employee.

4. Happy hour

Maybe more so than food, a social gathering partnered with a cold beverage can be a simple yet effective way of getting your employees together and engaging about non-work related topics. This creates comradery and relationships across the organization. Sit back, sip your drink, and watch the conversations flow.

5. Highlight accomplishments on your social media/website

Take the recognition a step further and put it out there for the entire company/world to see. Parts of the company may not have the exposure to certain departments or people that have an impact on their own success. Peer recognition can be a small yet powerful gesture within an organization to promote employee happiness.

6. Family benefits and time off

All of your employees have their own definition of family and work hard to provide for the people they care about. Show them you care about them as well. Give them time off to spend with their family or take it a step further and pay for a family-friendly outing. Employees won’t forget the gesture and will either return the favor in their work and loyalty moving forward.

Automating Your Employee Rewards

An ecommerce system is a great way to automate and improve your employee reward program. Employees feel like they have more control over their rewards when they can browse for the rewards they want. They feel empowered, allowing them to link their training to tangible results and track their progress toward goals.

The organization can centralize the program — tracking engagement to see what works and easily rolling out new rewards to keep the program fresh and exciting. You aren't manually tracking points and rewards, the system is doing that work. Instead, you're focused on constant improvement and rolling out new ideas.

The Bottom Line on Employee Rewards

There are various ways to show your employees they are appreciated, but investing and executing is key, just as you invest in your consumers. GO2 Partners invests in their employees from day 1 of employment with the ESOP (employee stock ownership program), distributing profits to employees. Plain and simple, empowered and valued employees impact your organization’s bottom line.

If you have questions about employee reward programs, or would like to look at options for improving your own program, then contact GO2 today. We’ve been trailblazers in helping companies better reward their employees for years, and that experience will make a difference for you.