Top 15 Trends in Employee Rewards Programs

13 Min Read | The most valuable asset for any organization is its people. Organizations are of different kinds and every organization has a different approach towards its people. One may come across certain…

Trends in Rewards Engagement
13 Min Read |

The most valuable asset for any organization is its people. Organizations are of different kinds and every organization has a different approach towards its people. One may come across certain organizations that keep a military discipline over its employees such as track that employees are formally well dressed, take proper break timings and even ban the use of mobile phones in the office. While there are other establishments with Employee Rewards Programs, which value their employees and believe in giving their employees total freedom to work from home and in a schedule which is more result-oriented than maintaining a military discipline in order to get the best out of the employee which would help the enterprises to attain profits in their businesses.

Those days are gone when an employee would be ready to work in a ruthless office just for the craze of receiving a high salary. Today even highly paid employees agree that money does not matter after a certain point of time in one’s career, what matters most is the workplace atmosphere, satisfaction attained in the job, being treated fairly and being valued and appreciated for the efforts put in, that makes the actual difference.

To create the best workplace atmosphere for employees retention; enterprises need more than just mere financial rewards. To appreciate the people employers conduct and design various on-going reward and recognition program for employees. These reward programs are a gesture to thank the employees for their incredible contribution to the progress of the organization. According to the survey conducted by SHRM and the recognition consulting firm Globoforce, showed that 80% of the organization reported of having an employee recognition program which ranges anywhere from an employee of the month to gift cards or bonuses.

Amongst the most common programs were those that recognize:

  • Length of service, generally in five-year increments, through company-wide newsletter notices or personal letters from the head of the organization, sometimes also with a pin or a certificate.
  • Noteworthy performance over a period of time, often for employees who add quality to the work process or product or who provide superior customer or client service. One way to acknowledge such performance is to encourage employees to offer tips to new employees as part of the on-the-job training program. This technique can also help accelerate new employees’ growth in productivity.

What is Employee Reward Program?

Employee engagement program is an open recognition and way to express appreciation for an employee’s incredible contribution towards their organization and its goals as well. This program has the power to have an in-depth impact on everything be it motivation, productivity, employee engagement or retention. Employee rewards can be given by anyone be it Managers, Peers, Team Leaders or Customers.

employee reward program

Employee reward programs are a positive step towards dealing with people. The program if communicated in a right way proves to be an effective tool in encouraging employees of an enterprise to boost their spirits at the workplace as well as bring in more business. For instance: Think about how you felt when someone last appreciated you for an excellent job that you were doing? Think about it and revive that moment of glory. This is why it is important for employers and establishments to make time to appreciate its people for a job that has been well accomplished. Being rewarded gives employees a kind of motivation, makes them feel appreciated for their performance and they go beyond the way to achieve their targets as well as they attach a strong bonding with the organization.

Those ideas such as employee appreciation day or balloon bouquets for occasions like birthday anniversaries etc. have become out-dated. Today organizations need to come up with employee rewards that actually work.

No enterprise would like to lose a top performer. There is no doubt that the best talent brings in more business and takes the organization a step ahead to achieve its targeted goals. For this reason, employers try to attract and retain such best talents within their organizations.

The success of any establishment is not possible without the contribution made from its valuable assets – the employees. Organizations goals cannot be achieved alone by the efforts of top management. It’s the employees who execute their plan which leads to the attainments of the business goals. A boost in employees’ morale and recognition of their efforts helps them to go an extra mile to achieve their targets thereby bringing about an increase in productivity and decrease in the rate of employee attrition.

Hence we can say that “Appreciation” is the key to keep an employee motivated and to keep up with his good performance in his work. It serves as a positive reinforcement as well as set an example for the entire staff member in your organization letting them know the kind of work you value the most.

Why is an employee reward program necessary?

Staff recognition is one of the most effective ways to enhance employee engagement. A well-organized and strategic driven program has the potency to influence various aspects of business ranging from morale to productivity and from engagement too retention.

Why is employee reward program necessary

A poorly crafted employee reward program can have adverse effects such as decreased motivation.

  • Turnover and Retention:
    Employee turnover is a costly business expense. A number of cost variables are associated with employee turnover and the amount is more than expected. Employees who are recognized rewarded and appreciated for their outstanding performance are likely to remain loyal and stick around with the organization.
  • Productivity:
    Increase in employee reward programs enhances productivity. Simple funda: An employee does outstanding work, he/she is recognized and rewarded for that outstanding work and the recognized employee is encouraged and motivated to do a better job. Rewards work as a source of information to employees as it provides constructive feedback that employees should be aware of which of their effort has been appreciated.
  • Morale:
    Low employee morale leads to low productivity while high employee morale enhances productivity, creativity and overall satisfaction. The best way to boost an employee’s morale is to appreciate him/her for his valuable contribution towards the organization.

Employee Reward Program does not need to be an extravagant event. Employee rewards could be company specific, professional development, local favorites, time off, cash equivalent, travel, team building and health and wellness.

Here are Top 15 Employee rewards programs that you can think about inculcating in your organization.

  1. Years of Service award:
    This award is given at specific intervals or milestones to appreciate and recognize an employee’s continued contribution towards an organization over a number of years.
    For example: You can start a milestone such as such as two years or five years of service and offer cash reward or a certificate or maybe a gift.
  2. Peer–to–Peer recognition:
    While annual performance reviews are conducted by the managers’ peer-to-peer reward is something new. In peer-to-peer recognition co-workers along with the managers are all empowered to recognize and reward the contribution of their colleagues.
    For example: At Vodafone, to recognize and reward an outstanding performance there are ‘peer-to-peer’ or ‘manager-to-employees’ programmes. This includes rewards like Vodafone Stars such as SSTars — where through an instant SST that is Speed, Simplicity and Trust e-card any employee can recognize co-workers across functions. Then there is Super-STars, awarded for constantly showing Speed, Simplicity and Trust behavior. Any functional, cross-functional co-worker or team leader or manager can choose an employee any number of times during the month. MegaSSTars are awarded for symbolizing the Vodafone spirit and being role models for others.
  3. Training or Mentoring:
    An employer can provide the employee with training programs that could help the employee to gain mastery over his/her subject. There are courses that employees can enroll in to enhance their skills and gain certification A subsidized or free access could be provided by the employer to his employees.
    For example: If employees are facing issues in speaking English the employer could have training sessions held for the employees to enhance their skills in the English language.
    TATA – Harvard Manage Mentor self-paced e-learning program is a unique self-paced program conducted by Harvard manage mentor in association with Harvard Business school Publishing. It provides 44 different programs for Tata employees. This program includes: Live e-class room, live video broadcast self-paced e-learning.
  4. Seminar or Workshops:
    Seminars/workshops are a great way to engross a considerable amount of information, meet people, and expand skill sets. This is an employee reward that offers major benefits to the organization as well, as employees gain valuable skills that can be applied on the job.
    For example: At RMSI workshops on parenting, child psychology, relationships counseling etc. are conducted so as to build a bond with families employees.
  5. Handwritten ‘Thank You’ notes:
    “Feeling appreciated is one of the most important needs that people have. When you share with someone your appreciation and gratitude, they will not forget you. Appreciation will return to you many times.” – Steve Brunkhorst.
    The simple act of writing personalized handwritten thank you notes by top management or CEO of the organization can make employees more loyal towards the company. The time and effort taken to write personalized notes despite the hectic schedule give employees the assurance that their contribution is valued and their hard work is appreciated.
    For example: At PepsiCo Steve Reinemund the ex CEO of PepsiCo would send handwritten thank you notes to the employees for a job well done. Indra Nooyi CEO of PepsiCo sends a letter thanking the parents of some of the executives who work at PepsiCo. She has even sent similar letters to the spouses of the employees as well. She also mentioned that the impact of these letters brought about some meaningful experiences at PepsiCo.
  6. Gift Cards:
    Behind the success of any company is the hard work and dedication of its employees. Rewarding them with incentives does not only increase loyalty but also gives a boost to their performance and ensure a productive and positive work environment. Gift cards are used as a source to motivate actions and reward behaviors of employees.
    For example, Enterprises could make use of Amazon Gift cards to reward and recognize its employees for their valuable contribution. This kind of reward lets employees choose a reward for themselves from a wide range of options.
  7. Offer More Flexibility:
    Providing flexible working hours, weekly off or the option of work from home can boost the morale of an employee and even raise his/her level of productivity. Options like these let employees maintain a work-life balance especially in today’s world where the competition is tough and employees need to put in more efforts to achieve their targets and business goals.
    For example, Companies like TCS, Wipro, Cognizant, Cisco Oracle etc. provide flexible working hours for their employees.
    SAP offers its employees work from home policy where employees are permitted to work from home once in a week.
  8. Work from Anywhere:
    Treat your employees with rewards such as work from anywhere. It could be working at client’s location, home or anywhere outside the office. Such initiatives act as an add-on to improve the productivity of the employees.
    For example, KPMG India has a supply working policy, which allows people to “work from anywhere” — be it a patron location or home, provided that the role can be executed virtually and that productivity, performance, and timelines are not hampered, said Shalini Pillay, head of people, performance and culture.
  9. Employee Stock Option Plan:
    This has been very often used by organizations as a reward strategy. Companies make use of this reward as a means to attract, retain and reward talent and top performers in the companies. Employees who are a part of such reward have the potential to earn wealth more than their current compensation and for an employer, this serves as an opportunity of keeping the employee loyal to the organization as they are eager to attain the wealth that ESOP promises.
    For example, Ujjivan Financial Services is a back that offers an Employee Stock Option Plan for all employees, irrespective of their grade in the organisation—whether a driver or the MD. The eligibility for this reward is purely based on performance and tenure. The company has launched an ESOP portal for easy access to its employees as well as regular sessions are conducted so employees understand the concept.
  10. Travel Incentives:
    Incentive travel is an attractive reward that enterprises can trust upon to encourage partners or employees to drive business targets and boost the sales. When integrated into a targeted rewards programme, this reward offers an influential spur to achieving all kinds of results like motivating and inspiring the staff to enhance productivity. This program gives benefits such as achieving a business goal, gives a sense of universal appeal, increases loyalty and makes the experience a memorable one.
    For example, Mahindra Intertrade Limited: Via the Overseas Incentive Scheme’, successful teams travel for four days on a leisure trip. Eli Lilly & Company (India) Pvt Ltd: The top sales performers go on a week-long Lilly International Incentive’ trip along with spouse/family member/friend.
  11. Spot Award:
    Most of the companies choose to reward employees on the spot for accomplishments that are worth specific notice. The award is usually given to employees who show excellent productivity. The award is usually given by direct managers or indirect managers.
    For example, Wipro’s Feather-in-My-Cap is an on-the-spot recognition of an effort awarded to a project or project team.
  12. Team Lunch:
    This reward gives every member of the team time to enjoy each other’s company in a different environment and different context. This reward is a great way to encourage productivity. It gives managers a chance to better get to know their team members but one should make sure there is no work-related discussion during such team gathering events.
    For example, The team can be taken to a restaurant for lunch or you could even have a potluck plan at your office premises. Such activities help in improving the bonding among team members of a team.
  13. Yoga Classes / Gym / Meditation room:
    Yoga, gym, meditation helps one to remain healthy and fit. Offering such benefits to employees can be a great reward. Such benefits keep employees fit and they can stay focused which helps them to enhance their productivity.
    For example, Google has a fully equipped gym for its employees while Hindustan Unilever provides its employee’s yoga classes and meditation room.
  14. Idea Award:
    This reward is an appreciation shown by the management towards an employee who has thought of a unique solution or idea that would be beneficial for the company.
    For example: At Wipro employees who bring out a creative and unique solution or idea receive awards such as The Mastermind Award.
  15. The act of kindness or charitable giving:
    Many of the employees make a charitable donation or do an act of kindness. Rewarding them with a small token of appreciation would boost their morale as well as let them have a liking towards such acts of kindness.
    For example, Manveeyata Puraskar it’s a reward program by NTPC for its employees who exhibit a random act of humanity and kindness at their unit or surrounding area. Employees are given an appreciation letter and a gift of up to rs.1000/-. All employees up to E7 are eligible for this award.

Benefits of Employee Reward Program

Apart from enhancing productivity, keeping employees loyal to the organization and employee retention; employee rewards have other benefits too. Let’s spit them into two: i) From employees perspective and ii) From an enterprise and business perspective

Employees’ perspective:

  • Gives a feeling of job satisfaction:
    Rewarding employees for the efforts that he/she is demonstrating indicates that the job that is being done by them is adding value to the business. It gives a message that the job that they are doing is worth an appreciation and it must be important. By doing this employee will get the feeling that their presence and the job done by them is making a difference in the organization.
  • Indicates employees are happy:
    A positive feeling towards the company makes an employee perform better as he feels happy and satisfied working for such an organization. Respect and gratitude are the two things that employees expect from their employers and if this is achieved then every employee would feel respected and would want to go out of the way to do a good job in return. Such positivity can be experienced in a business when a happy working environment is created to which employees would want to be a part of.
  • It builds teamwork and employee cohesiveness:
    Rewards such as peer-to-peer recognition prove to be great for uplifting and giving a boost to team spirit. When people working in groups are given the opportunity to recognize and reward employees, the bond of teamwork strengthens and this, in turn, increases productivity. Such reward encourages its employees to see positive qualities in one another. It also proves to be empowering as it lets employees nominate its colleague, this itself demonstrates that they respect each other’s view.

Business/enterprise perspective:

  • It carries a better impression and image of your organization:
    Your employees are the face of your organization. Meaning to say that there are opportunities that your employees might share their feeling and experience about how they feel about working in your organization with people whom they come in contact with. This includes their family, friends and it might as well include your business partner and clients. An employee who is contented and well appreciated and recognized will carry along with him a positive impression about your organization which could further aid into better external business relationships.
  • It helps in recruitment and provides a platform to potential employees for something to be excited about:
    During the recruitment, process candidates tend to sell their skills to the organization. In turn, the recruiter too needs to be selling your organization to them. Reward programs can be promoted and shown as benefits of being employed in the organization as this in return this would project to the candidates that the organization values its employees and considers them as an important asset.
  • It encourages extra effort among your employees:
    Imagine a situation wherein an employee is about to leave and an important call rings which cannot be avoided as it is from the client’s end. The employee attends the call and takes care of the client’s needs. Now think about how many times such efforts are appreciated? Minute things like these make a difference and most of the time they go unnoticed. An incorporation of such methods to recognize these extra efforts and reward employees for going an extra mile can work wonders in motivating and boosting the spirits of your employees.
  • It’s a kind of means to track employees’ contribution towards the company: Employee reward programs offer a chance for managers to recognize their team members, team members to recognize one another and vice versa. This serves as a great source of information for companies to know their employees’ individual contribution towards their organization.

6 steps to creating an employee reward program:

steps to creating an employee reward program

  1. Introspect:
    Ensure yourself that you do introspection as to why you want to start this program. Do you want to motivate your employees? Do you want to increase your sales? etc. If you opt the second question as your answer then you may probably have to rethink your aim.
  2. Have a chat on this with your employees:
    All employees are not the same. Some are extroverts while some are introverts. An extrovert may find such a program inspiring when their efforts are recognized and appreciated publicly while the introverts may opt for something like a private pat on the back. If you run short of time to talk about this with your employees you could do a survey with open-ended questions.
  3. Develop a separate team:
    Appoint a few people and develop a separate team wherein these people would be in-charge of managing the recognition program. Once the team is developed hand over the survey responses to them and put them on the job of creating techniques of recognition and reward. For instance, an employee would like to receive a reward from his immediate colleague then, in this case, you could offer a peer-to-peer awards or another employee would like to be rewarded by learning a new skill that could consider the professional development seminars/workshops. This team can also take care of employees’ promotions and anniversaries.
  4. Develop Criteria:
    The reward program must have meaningful criteria to recognize and reward the employees. The criteria should be distinctive and achievable and should focus on the entire staff and not just the sales staff of an organization.
  5. Engage Managers in the program:
    The reward task should not be left to be done by HR professionals of the organization rather it should be done by engaging managers. Employees work every day with and do their reporting to their managers hence they would like to be rewarded and recognized by their managers or immediate supervisors.
  6. Announce the program and get it started:
    Create an exciting atmosphere in your organization by making an announcement of the employee reward program in your organization through an email. There is a possibility that you may end up with errors if it’s the first time you are rolling out the program in your organization but not to worry each time you do so you will learn from your mistake and will improve in this task gradually after all practice can make one perfect.

Conclusion:
Rewards and recognition programs that aid both the employer and the employee to get what they need from work creates an opportunity for a win-win situation. Hope the above 15 employee rewards programs will help you to take on the reward program effectively within your organization and make you see the positive outcomes!

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