Reward & Recognition Programs that will Make Your Employees Happy

Does it matter if our employees are happy? Happiness is a relative term but in general, happy employees are engaged employees. Happy employees take better care of customers. Happy employees contribute to a positive company culture. Companies with a positive culture have lower turnover, higher productivity and are more profitable, so yes, it matters if our employees are happy!

Reward and recognition programs for employees are one way in which we can ensure that employees feel acknowledged and recognized for their accomplishments. We’ve heard over and over again that people don’t leave companies, they leave bosses. It’s critically important for managers to understand the importance of reward programs and how to effectively administer them.

In the 2015 Gallup workplace survey, employees were asked to recall their most meaningful and memorable recognition. Employees reported that the most memorable recognition came from:

Their immediate Manager   28%

CEO or other high-level leader    24%

“Other”   17%

One level up (the Manager’s Manager)  12%

A customer  10%

Peers   9%

The culture of companies that best attract, retain and engage employees are recognition-rich environments that include individualized recognition from all of these sources. We’re not talking about an “everybody gets a trophy” climate or reward programs based on “showing up”. The most effective reward and recognition programs for employees are defined, intentionally structured, performance based and objective.

7 Steps to an Effective Reward & Recognition Program for Employees

Employee recognition and incentive programs are one of a very few strategies that deliver measurable benefits including employee retention, increased productivity, increased engagement, increased goal achievement and higher revenue. Here are 7 factors that contribute to an effective program:

  1. Support from the Top (It’s imperative that company leaders support & participate in the program, and that it’s obvious to employees)
  2. Don’t “recognize” in a vacuum (Make sure that your program is aligned with the whole organization; don’t run separate and potentially redundant programs)
  3. Make it simple! (consolidate programs to simplify and align them with overall business objectives)
  4. Communication (clearly communicate the rules and guidelines, what is expected of the employee, what will be measured and what the employees need to do to earn the rewards)
  5. Administer & Measure (Dedicate resources to run and administer the program. Measure results & adjust where necessary for the future.)
  6. Appropriate to your audience (adapt elements so that the program appeals to all age groups and demographics in your participant audience)
  7. Hire a Professional! (if you do not have an experienced internal contact to design the program, partner with an experienced firm to ensure success and avoid unintended consequences)

Reward Programs: It’s Not About the Money

In corporate America, Cash is not King. Studies continue to show that employees perform at higher levels for non-cash rewards. A recent survey of salespeople revealed the money came in 22nd on a list of 23 possible motivators. Because cash rewards are often confused with compensation, employers are realizing that tangible rewards are not only more cost effective but are also clearly perceived as an additional reward.

Likewise, tangible merchandise rewards or experiences are more memorable. An employee is more likely to tell friends and relatives about a merchandise reward or share details of a trip or other experience than they are to share the amount of a cash reward. Telling others about their reward experience is reinforcing for the employee and also offers residual value for the sponsoring company.

Reward programs improve performance by focusing all employees on company initiatives and goals. It makes sense that an employee is happier when they know what’s expected of them and that they’ll be rewarded for it.

Reward and recognition programs for employees are often implemented by professional companies. To learn more about how Online Rewards has helped companies develop happier employees and positive company cultures, visit: