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25 Ways to Reward Employees in 2024

May 6, 2024

Celebrate your employees with these 25 best employee reward ideas.

Employee recognition plays an important role in fostering a thriving workplace. When employees feel appreciated and valued, they are more likely to feel satisfied by their job, engaged with their work, and stay committed to an organization.

From traditional monetary incentives to more creative non-monetary perks, there are countless ways to show appreciation for your team's hard work and dedication.

Why Rewarding Employees is Important

Rewarding employees is essential for maintaining a motivated and engaged workforce. According to a study by Glassdoor, 80% of employees are motivated to work harder and stay longer when they feel appreciated.

Yet, with disengagement and burnout on the rise, it’s clear that more recognition is needed in the workplace. Since the pandemic, U.S. organizations have experienced a drastic change in employee engagement levels. As of February 2024, disengagement is at an 11-year low in the United States, as reported by Gallup. And that's not the only thing that has changed. Employee stress is also at an all-time high, with over half (52%) of U.S. employees experiencing high stress frequently.

Fortunately, there is an overlooked strategy organizations can use to combat these negative trends: recognizing and celebrating your employees' achievements and major milestones. What many organizations often fail to realize is that rewarding your employees for their hard work and contributions can have a direct impact on its business results. For instance, organizations that invest in recognizing their employees often experience:

  • Higher employee satisfaction and lower turnover
  • An elevated employee experience that motivates and satisfies employees
  • Increased engagement and productivity
  • A stronger and more positive workplace culture

By acknowledging employees’ contributions, achievements, and good behaviors, companies can increase productivity, reduce turnover, and foster a more motivated and engaged workforce.  

Types of Rewards

There are two main categories of employee rewards: monetary and non-monetary rewards. Monetary rewards typically involve giving employees financial incentives and tangible tokens of appreciation, whereas non-monetary rewards focus on acknowledgment, appreciation, and experiences that enhance employee satisfaction and engagement.

Monetary Rewards

As mentioned, monetary rewards involve rewarding employees for their achievements and contributions with tangible incentives. These rewards are a great way to incentivize and motivate outstanding performance, value-aligned behaviors, and employee loyalty.

Monetary rewards come in various forms, including:

  • Points-Based Recognition: Employees can earn redeemable points for their achievements in a digital recognition platform like Inspirus Connects
  • Financial Compensation: Bonuses, commissions, or profit-sharing can be given to individuals or teams based on their performance.
  • Gifts: Tangible gifts such as gift cards, company swag, and generic merchandise are great for company-wide celebrations and special occasions.

Non-Monetary Rewards

Non-monetary rewards, on the other hand, are a cost-effective way to recognize and celebrate employees’ contributions, achievements, and hard work. This type of employee reward does not involve tangible financial incentives; instead, it uses verbal and written recognition to reward employees.

Non-monetary rewards examples include:

  • Social Recognition Program: Foster a culture of appreciation and encourage peer-to-peer recognition through a digital recognition platform or internal communications channel
  • Employee Awards: Recognize outstanding performance or contributions with certificates, trophies, or public acknowledgment.

25 Employee Reward Ideas

There are numerous ways you can reward employees. From simple employee awards to extravagant catered lunches, taking the time to recognize and reward employees can go a long way in boosting morale and engagement.

Here are 25 creative ways to reward employees in 2024:

1. Floating Holiday

Give employees an extra day off for personal use. Encourage employees to use their floating holiday by emphasizing the importance of work-life balance. Send your staff reminders throughout the year to work with their manager to schedule their day off. 

Additionally, consider implementing a policy where floating holidays can be carried over to the following year.

2. Gift of Choice

Traditional rewards such as pizza parties aren't hitting the mark anymore for employees. To address this recent shift in employees' preferences, organizations can let employees select a gift of choice from a catalog or dynamic shopping portal, ensuring they get a reward they will truly find valuable.

A digital rewards and recognition platform like Inspirus Connects is a great way to provide employees a flexible reward choice while streaming reward distribution. Plus, this type of reward doesn't just benefit employees; it benefits program administrators, too. By allowing employees to select their own gift, reward program administrators don’t have to worry about selecting the 'perfect' gift for all employees.

3. Company Swag

Do you want to reward employees while strengthening their connection to the organization? Provide your employees with branded swag! Swag is a great reward choice that is both meaningful and useful.

Consider sending a company swag package to reward employees at the end of the year for their dedication, on the company’s ‘birthday’ or for Employee Appreciation Day. If you want to make it extra meaningful, you can even host a design competition for your staff, allowing them to vote on their favorite design -- making the reward more engaging and memorable.

Need some inspiration? A few employee favorites include:

  • A nice t-shirt
  • Fun crew socks
  • A comfy sweatshirt
  • A nice journal and pen
  • High-quality water cup or mug

4. Sweet Treat

If your employees work primarily from the office, consider surprising them with a sweet treat. You can bring in desserts or snacks from a local restaurant to show your staff you recognize their hard work and dedication. This could include cupcakes, donuts, cookies, ice cream, or even candy.

Tip: Schedule surprise treat deliveries strategically during busy or stressful periods to boost morale, show appreciation, and motivate your team.

5. Cater Lunch

Celebrating a big achievement or special occasion? Bring in lunch for a team or the entire staff. You can use this as an opportunity for team building and camaraderie by encouraging employees to dine together.

Remember to keep in mind any allergies or preferences your employees may have to ensure they are inclusive and considerate of the staff’s needs.

6. Half Day

Give your team the gift of time! If your team has been working extra hard or if it's a holiday weekend, let them head out of work a few hours early so that they can spend half a day with their friends and family. Here are a few days you could provide half days on:

  • Employee Appreciation Day (first Friday in March)
  • The Wednesday before Thanksgiving
  • The day before the Fourth of July

But, make sure to communicate the availability of half-day options for special occasions or milestones well in advance to allow employees to plan accordingly.

7. Company Superlatives

Looking for a fun way to recognize your team or staff? Company superlatives are a great way to recognize employees’ unique talents and quirks and to strengthen team camaraderie.

Create a fun and lighthearted nomination process to encourage participation and engagement from all employees. Showcase the winners of the superlatives in a prominent location or on a townhall to celebrate their achievements and inspire others.

8. Employee of the Month or Employee of the Year Award

A traditional yet effective reward is an Employee of the Month and/or Employee of the Year award. These awards are a great way to recognize employees that have outstanding performance – and it’s a budget friendly reward method!

One of the most important components of an Employee of the Month or Year award is ensuring it’s inclusive and reasonable. Before you award an employee, clearly communicate the criteria for selecting employees of the month/year to the staff to ensure fairness and objectivity.

If you want to make these awards standout, consider publicly recognizing award recipients during company meetings or events to maximize the impact of the acknowledgment.

9. Employee Wall of Fame

If your team is in-office or if your organization is smaller, an employee wall of fame is an effective way to reward and recognize top performers. Display photos or achievements of your employees in a high-traffic area in the office as a way to motivate and inspire employees.

10. Reserved Parking Spot

Show your top performing employees they are seen and valued by awarding them with a prime-time reserved parking spot. Rotate the reserved parking spot periodically to give more employees the opportunity to enjoy this perk. If you create a consistent cadence, it will provide employees with something to look forward to.

Additionally, you can use the reserved parking spot as an incentive for achieving specific goals or milestones to drive motivation and performance. This type of reward is a great way to create some friendly competition in the office.

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11. Handwritten Notes

Sometimes, there is nothing better than a few words of praise and recognition. A personal thank you note may be just the thing an employee needs to boost their engagement, morale, and job satisfaction.

When writing personalized thank you notes or encouraging managers to write them, keep these best practices in mind:

  • Be sincere
  • Keep it timely
  • Be concise

Encourage managers and colleagues to personalize notes with anecdotes or memories to make them more meaningful. You can send them occasional messages to remind them to recognize their teams and provide information on why frequent recognition is necessary to employee success and workplace culture.

Check out our blog post to discover 50 examples of employee appreciation messages that are sure to boost engagement and morale.

12. Care Packages

Sending curated packages of goodies or necessities is a surefire way to boost your staff’s morale, especially if your team is remote.

Include a variety of items in care packages, such as healthy snacks, self-care products, or motivational books, to cater to different interests. Consider seasonal themes or occasions when curating care packages to add a personal touch and enhance the recipient's experience.

13. Commuter Benefits

With the recent surges in return-to-office mandates, subsidizing public transportation or parking expenses is a great way to reward employees during the transition period. You can offer flexible options for commuter benefits, such as transit passes, parking stipends, or bike-sharing memberships, to accommodate diverse commuting needs.

For this reward to be most effective, it’s important to provide clear instructions on how employees can access and utilize commuter benefits, including information on eligible expenses and reimbursement procedures. 

14. Wellness Fund

Studies have shown burnout and employee stress has been on the rise since the pandemic. Employee wellness is a hot topic right now and large concern for many organizations. In fact, 91% of employers expect to invest more in employee mental health than they did in 2023.

One effective way to combat these challenges -- and to support your staff's wellbeing -- is to provide funds for gym memberships, fitness classes, or wellness activities. Consider partnering with local gyms, fitness studios, or wellness providers to offer discounted rates or special promotions for employees using the wellness fund.

Pro Tip: If you want to support your employees' health and wellbeing, you can implement fun monthly wellness challenges that promote healthy life habits. This could include monthly drinking water or daily walking challenges. To boost participation, consider selecting one employee at random to reward or rewarding each employee who participates.

15. Spotlight on Company Intranet or Social Media

Showcasing employee achievements publicly on social media or internally on a company intranet is a cost-effective way to highlight top performers. Keep in mind, though, that some employees may not want to be publicly recognized. Before highlighting an employee, make sure to check with them to ensure they are okay with it and to run the content past them.

16. Gift Card

Research shows gift cards are on the most sought-after rewards by employees. The Incentive Research Foundation found that gift cards are widely accepted and preferred across the different generations.

Offer a variety of gift card options to cater to different interests and preferences, including retailers, restaurants, entertainment venues, and online stores. Even better, allow employees to choose their preferred gift cards from a curated selection through a recognition platform like Inspirus Connects.

17. President’s Club

A President’s Club is a reward designed to honor top-performing employees who consistently demonstrate excellence and go above and beyond in their roles. Celebrating your valuable employees with a President’s Club is a great way to show your employees how valued and appreciated they are. 

18. Employee Appreciation Day

Employee Appreciation Day is an annual celebration that takes place on the first Friday of every March. It provides a perfect opportunity to celebrate the hard-working employees that make up your organization. 

Collaborate with the leadership team and managers to organize special events or activities tailored to their preferences and interests. Additionally, provide opportunities for employees to express appreciation for their colleagues through handwritten notes, team-building exercises, or recognition ceremonies.

Here’s how you can celebrate Employee Appreciation Day:

  • Send a budget-aligned gift of choice through a rewards and recognition platform
  • Coordinate with the CEO and/or leadership team to send a message to the entire staff
  • Surprise employees with a sweet treat or cater lunch to show employees you value them

19. Service Anniversaries

Say 'thank you' to your team for their years of service with a service anniversary award. On each employee's work anniversary, consider sending them a digital or printed award accompanied with a thoughtful gift. 

Around these momentous occasions, you can even spotlight employees' work anniversaries on team calls or townhalls. Make sure to let their managers know far enough in advance so they can prepare a few kind words to say about each employee.

Pro Tip: Don’t forget to recognize the years in between the major milestones (i.e. 1 year, 5 years, etc.). Consider simple gestures you can provide employees on each of their anniversaries. 

20. Points-Based Recognition Program

A culture of recognition is critical in today’s modern workforce. To encourage and incentivize peer-to-peer recognition, implement a points-based recognition program. Using one of these digital platforms, you can easily reward employees for their service anniversary, achievements, and special occasions with monetary points.

21. Extra Paid Time Off

Research shows that work-life balance is important for employees, especially the younger generations. Reward your top performers by providing them with additional paid time off opportunities and work flexibility options.

By rewarding with and embracing time off, you can foster a supportive culture where employees feel empowered to take time off when needed to recharge, rejuvenate, and maintain a healthy work-life balance.

22. Office Stipend

Does your team work primarily remotely? Consider rewarding top performers with a monthly or yearly office stipend. This can help them create a cozy work environment at home where they feel most productive. 

23. Yoga Lessons

The past few years have been stressful for employees, marked by a pandemic, mass layoffs, and an economic downturn. Help reduce your staff’s stress and encourage a healthy lifestyle by rewarding employees with nearby yoga classes or a subscription to online yoga classes.

24. Employee Concierge Assistance

As we all know, most employees' days are filled with long to-do lists and full calendars. During these hectic periods, you can help offset their stress and support their wellbeing by offering a employee concierge services like Sodexo Circles. This type of reward can also be especially beneficial to employees who are caretakers of family members and employees with families.

25. Bonus or Raise

Last but not least, a raise or bonus is a great motivator and a good way to show appreciation. Show your top performers you truly appreciate their unwavering commitment and excellent performance by providing an increase in pay or a bonus.

Deliver Meaningful Rewards with Inspirus

Want to build a culture of appreciation and recognition that drives business success? We can help!

Inspirus, the leading employee recognition and engagement provider, specializes in creating tailored reward programs that align with an organization's unique needs and challenges. With over 130 years of experience, our team of specialists partners with companies to design comprehensive rewards and recognition strategies that foster employee engagement, retention, and satisfaction.

Talk with an Inspirus specialist today to see how we can help transform your organization!

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