3 Ways Experiential Rewards Can Elevate Your Recognition Program

Written by
Morgan Chaney
Morgan Chaney

It seems like everyone has their own opinion on how to make culture great.

A quick search on Google yields over 1.5 million topic results, and the Twitterverse is overflowing with articles, infographics, and personal asides.

Bad workplace culture can result in negative effects like high turnover and declining productivity, and it’s a problem many organizations (79 percent) share.

Frequent recognition can positively impact your company culture, not to mention business output. A study by Bersin and Associates found that employee engagement, productivity, and customer service levels are 14 percent better in companies where recognition occurs, and companies that actively recognize their employees have 31 percent lower voluntary turnover rates than their peers.

Recognition is more powerful in conjunction with rewards, and experiences make excellent rewards. But how can experiences directly impact culture?

Experiences are memorable


You probably don’t remember how you spent that last bit of cash in your wallet (groceries, diapers, gas for the car?) but you do remember that first time you got up on waterskis, or that gorgeous sunset from your last beach vacation, or the time you sang your favorite song at karaoke and actually killed it.

Experiences form memories that promote happiness, which is is critical to promoting a positive work culture because we spend over half of our waking time at work, where emotions and attitudes can easily rub off on our teammates.

Experiences are unique and personal


Whether you’re an office of two or 2,000, we’re all unique. You’ll be surprised that Office Manager Linda loves to paint, or Programmer Extraordinaire Jeff loves to salsa dance.

Recognition should be personal — to really show employees that you care about them as people, and value the work that they individually contributed to. Experiential rewards that resonate with their interests, hobbies, or that help them check something off their bucket list are a great way of expressing that.

Experiences can be shared


In Gallup’s "12 Traits of Highly Productive Workgroups," having a close friend at work ranked as Item #10. Gallup shared that employees with work besties are 27 percent more likely to feel that their job is important, and 43 percent more likely to have received recent praise or recognition for their work.

We find that monetary bonuses like cash or stock options are often kept quiet, but experiential rewards like kayaking trips, foodie tours, or rocking out at your favorite concert are much easier to celebrate openly with your coworker peers, and make for more interesting social media currency.

Increased socialization of your recognition program builds trust and motivation in other teammates - they see first-hand what behaviors deserve recognition, and feel more energized to earn a reward for themselves.

So where to go from here?

Build positive experiences into your team’s workday everywhere you can.

Consider offering individual experiences, or team building events and offsites for the whole group. Check out tools like Blueboard that can help you out with both.

Need more tips on building a better workplace culture?

Originally published on March 21, 2016 → Last updated July 11, 2019

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Morgan Chaney

Morgan Chaney is Head of Marketing at Blueboard, an experiential employee rewards platform for the modern workplace.

Living Blueboard’s mantra of adventure and exploration, when not at work leading marketing and content strategy, you’ll find Morgan photographing wildlife, practicando su español, or earning her RYT200 certification.


Bonusly is a fun, personal employee recognition and rewards program that helps people feel engaged and successful at work. ✨