Employee rewards are an essential component of an effective engagement strategy, but many leaders still struggle to implement rewards successfully. A big mistake many companies make is failing to put enough thought and creativity into the program. Aligning the rewards you provide with the things your team truly values will make a big difference in how they're received.
Employee rewards don't have to be large or costly; in many cases, small rewards are more effective because they can be given more frequently, and frequency is a crucial element of a successful rewards program.
I decided to put together a list of creative employee rewards, separated by category to help oil the gears. Think of it as a jumping-off point to developing your own outstanding, impactful catalog of employee rewards.
What are some rewards that only you can give to your employees? These are some of the most unique employee rewards you can provide. If you're not considering them as an option, you're missing the boat. Here are a couple ideas to get started:
Lots of companies have the standard cheap screen printed pens and such, but you can be more creative than that, right? Make sure these things are cool or useful so people actually want them.
For example: we have a limited-edition early employee t-shirt that everyone covets for its unrivaled softness and awesome design.
Lunch with the President/CEO/etc.
You might be surprised how many employees would love a chance to sit down and break bread with the leader of the organization. If your employees want to get to know you better, why not give them a chance in an informal, relaxed setting?
Do you have a senior employee willing to share some of their highly valuable skills or insights? Try incentivizing them to give a master class -- you could fund it through the rewards program.
Most employees want to get better at what they do. Mastery is one of three key motivators Dan Pink mentions in his book Drive. Professional development is good for both employees and the company. For that reason, many companies offer a subsidy for these types of rewards. Here are a couple examples:
As an employer, you can help provide the materials an employee needs to improve their mastery over a subject. See what kinds of books and other educational resources might be valuable to your team.
There are countless courses that employees can enroll in to improve their skills and gain certifications. Consider curating a list of online courses you can provide subsidized or free access to.
Seminars are a great way to absorb a large amount of information, meet people, and expand skill sets.
There are some rewards that you can provide to your team that are only available in your location. These are great rewards to offer because they are unique, and often favorites of people in the area.
Every city has a list of favorite local establishments, and many of them sell gift certificates. Think of a few cherished local spots you can add to your list of rewards.
Local events are another great, custom-tailored reward you can offer your team. Are there any events coming to town that you know your team would be excited to attend?
Time is a person's most valuable resource. Why not offer some of it back to your team? Even if you absolutely love your job, a little extra time to yourself is always welcome.
An extra long, relaxed lunch can set a zen-like tone for the rest of the day, even when the extra time spent is relatively small.
Think back to your school days, and remember the utter joy of 'early release day.' This is especially appealing during the spring and summer months, when the weather is great, and an extra hour can feel like a half-day off. Just one extra hour can make enough time for activities you'd otherwise miss out on.
Extra PTO Hours
You can also simply give employees the autonomy to save up extra hours of PTO for a half, or even a full day.
There's a special feeling you get when you buy a pair of new shoes, or a cup of coffee on the weekend and know your company just treated you to it. There is a huge variety of gift cards from your team's favorite retailers that you can provide.
There are a number of rewards you can offer that can help inspire stronger bonds between coworkers, which is an incredibly valuable asset for both them and the company.
Happy hours are a great way to get everyone together outside of the office in a more neutral and relaxed setting.
If you have more than one office, offering employees opportunities to spend time working in a different office is a great way to break the monotony of the daily routine, while still getting great work done. It's also a nice way for employees who may never have met face-to-face to forge valuable friendships.
Many of your employees are likely making charitable donations already. You can help them to amplify the impact they're making by giving them an option to make charitable donations as a reward for great work on the job.
Healthy employees are often more productive, according to research shared by the CDC. Offering rewards that can help improve employee health can benefit everyone. Here are a couple examples:
At Bonusly, our Brooklyn office has a yearlong CitiBike membership available as a reward. Think of other similar services that might be in your area.
A gym membership is a great way to help employees maintain their physical health, especially in the winter months.
Yoga can help improve fitness of both the body and mind. Offering a yoga class to employees can be a great reward, and an excellent tool for unwinding after a hard day's work.
This list is only the beginning. There are some other great resources available that you might find helpful too. The key is to use these guides to start thinking about your own unique and creative ways to reward your employees with things they will genuinely value.
If you're ready to take the next step in your journey to building a more engaged team, feel free to take a free copy of our latest guide: