How to Reconfigure Your Rewards and Recognition Policies in 2021

How to Reconfigure Your Rewards and Recognition Policies in 2021

Through the pandemic crisis and the shift in work trends and policies, most companies have realised it is quite a challenge to keep the engagement, productivity, and motivation of employees high when they are working remotely. Their concerns are valid – how to inspire and engage employees when they are not physically present at the office campus?

Well, there are many ways and means of doing so!

And one of the best ways to keep employees motivated and boost their morale is by rewarding and recognising them.

Benefits of Employee Recognition in 2021

Rewards and recognition are not new to companies. They have been around for a long time, albeit in different forms. Acknowledgement and awards for a job well done have always been practical tools for effective employee management.

Recognition assures the employees that their hard work and contributions are valued and have not gone unnoticed. Studies show that 82% of employees are happier when they are recognised at work. It encourages them to be more involved with their work. In fact, 78% of employees say that being recognised motivates them in their job.

Apart from the above, recognition and rewards have other benefits too:

  • They keep employees engaged
  • They help in increasing productivity
  • They encourage ownership and pride in work
  • They improve morale
  • They help in employee retention
  • They reduce turnover and hiring costs
  • They help improve the company’s bottom line
  • They promote healthy competition
  • They assist in developing individuals

These benefits have become even more relevant and critical to the smooth functioning and the operational success of a company in the current situation of remote working.

Hence, rewards and recognition are more significant than ever before.

Importance of Rewarding and Recognising in the Time of COVID-19

Remote working has made it easy for employees to disengage from their jobs. This impacts their productivity. Consequently, recognition has become an indispensable tool for keeping things together as workforces become more scattered, disconnected, and stressed.

Recognition has become an indispensable tool for keeping things together as workforces become more scattered, disconnected, and stressed. Click To Tweet

Here are some significant reasons why companies must reward and recognise in times of COVID-19:

1. To communicate a positive culture to employees 

Positive work culture has always been crucial. However, creating and sustaining a desirable culture is no easy feat – even more so during a pandemic – amidst so much fear, negativity, and uncertainty.

This is more a reason why companies need to get an effective rewards programme in place.

Recognising and rewarding employees for a job well done will always contribute to positivity among employees as well as to a healthy work culture. Studies show that 49% of employees thought that recognition had an impact on workplace culture.

Recognition also enables companies to demonstrate the kind of values, behaviours and culture they would like their employees to maintain. In addition, it helps keep the faith and create memorable experiences at a time when unique experiences are few and far between.

Whether a company wishes to highlight its current culture or adapt it to fit the times, rewards and recognition will help augment this effort.

2. To show employees they have not been forgotten 

Recognition is an effective method to keep employees connected to the company and each other. It shows employees they are still part of the team like old times. Also, they will feel the company appreciates them and that the work that they are doing is significant to the organisation.

3. To convey that it is business as usual 

With all the upheaval and change, it is crucial to reassure employees that some things will remain the same.

Rewards and recognition offer a sense of stability to work environments that are changing drastically and rapidly. So, there must be something familiar for employees to look forward to amidst the uncertainty. And this, on a deeper psychological level, is comforting.

Besides, who does not feel good about being recognised for their achievements and hard work? Hence, keeping up consistent and accurate recognition can help in a big way to maintain a sense of continuity and normalcy in daily business.

4. To maintain morale and reputation 

The real intentions and character of a company are revealed in tough times.

Employees will never forget how they were treated when things were not so good, which forms the basis of their loyalty to a company.

If they felt the company did not care, they will remember it. If the company did not support them, they will remember it. If morale was not high, they will remember it. Maintaining a positive ambience and rewarding employees in tough times serves to keep up morale and shows that the company cares.

In fact, rewards and recognition are the most direct and effective ways to cultivate and nurture a reputation of kindness, compassion, and appreciation for your workers. And this is crucial because the kindness of the company will be remembered long after the crisis is over.

How Companies Can Reconfigure Their Rewards and Recognition Policies in 2021


There are few things that companies should keep in mind when it comes to recognition and rewards.

1. The importance of being fair 

Rewards come in all shapes and sizes. But what is more important is managing rewards effectively and fairly. Only then can they contribute to employee happiness. Interestingly, 89% of executive-level leaders believe recognition is doled out fairly at their company—but only 62% of people in intermediate positions agree with them. 

Companies need to ensure everyone is given equal recognition for their work and rewards and merits are inclusive. Everyone should be eligible for rewards. For instance, 54% of employed women consider recognition necessary at the workplace. Excluding specific employees or groups can negatively affect both morale and performance.

2. The need to understand the changing times and the situation 

Reward management is about figuring out what kind of rewards employees will cherish and which could actually benefit them. This can change with the times.

The rewards can be financial or lifestyle-enhancing and big or small. The mere fact that the company is thinking of them and their welfare makes employees feel valued, happy and motivated to work harder.

3. The importance of keeping a catalogue

Rewards are not a “one size fits all” phenomenon. Different people appreciate different things.

It would be useful for companies to maintain a robust catalogue of different rewards they can give to their employees. This also allows for diverse reward experiences.

4. The need for timely appreciation

Recognition and rewards are time-dependent and tend to lose meaning if too much time has lapsed. Diligent work is a reason for a diligent “thank you” or “well done”. This also serves the purpose of reinforcing positive employee behaviour.

So, what can companies do to reconfigure rewards and recognition policies with the current times?

Having a rewards programme is a great start, but like everything else, it needs to evolve.

COVID-19 has brought a greater focus on employee health, well-being, and safety as more and more companies realise that these are necessary to keep productivity high.

Although there should have always been a focus on employee well-being, it has taken the pandemic to bring out the glaring need to support employees’ health (mental & physical) and the role this support will play in the performance of companies well into the future.

So, what does this mean for companies?

It means companies have to relook at their rewards and recognition policies in the light of the situation and adjust them to suit their employees’ needs. In other words, companies need to update their programmes to provide the type of support employees are looking for in the current circumstances.

An effective reward management strategy is about incentivising employees and promoting a healthy work-life balance that allows employees to be at their best that they can be and perform at optimum levels.

An effective reward management strategy is about incentivising employees and promoting a healthy work-life balance that allows employees to be at their best that they can be and perform at optimum levels.

This ensures companies meet the needs of both their workforce and the market.

So, yes, the cliché ‘Employee of the Year’ trophy is passé!

Employee Rewards and Recognition Ideas for this Remote Working Generation

A few ways in which companies can adapt recognition and rewards programmes to the current situation are:

1. Send employees a meal

Just about everyone is tired of their cooking, so what better than a change?

This makes it a great idea to send employees lunch or dinner from a local restaurant because it is a welcome treat, it saves them the trouble of cooking a meal, they feel special, and overall, it is a fun experience.

Moreover, it helps local restaurants by giving them business. A simple gesture like buying an employee a meal is an easy way to reward remote employees.

2. Give employees holistic rewards

Teams work best when all the team members are mentally and physically well. Besides, healthy employees are happy employees.

A fun way to ensure teams are well is to compensate employees with rewards that promote health and wellness.

This could be done with vouchers for online exercise classes, meditation sessions, remote fitness instructors, dietitians, life coaches, etc.

By prioritising health and wellness, companies communicate to their employees that they care for their well-being, overall health, and future.

Companies could also survey their employees to understand their needs and tweak their rewards programme accordingly.

3. Give employees digital vouchers

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced most of the workforce to be indoors and socially distanced.

With so many restrictions in place, experiential perks and rewards are not always practical. Many companies are recognising the value of digital gift cards that are convenient, useful, and functional in a socially distanced society.

Gift cards are, therefore, a great option for rewards recognition. For example, gift cards from Amazon or Zomato are flexible, effective, and valued employee rewards.

In fact, gift cards can be an excellent way to satisfy both experiential and merchandise reward lovers.

4. Give employees home office amenities 

With no signs of the pandemic abating, working from home could be a long-term reality. Adapting a space to work from has become an extremely important phenomenon.

Most homes do not have suitable equipment that facilitates working for long hours. This is where companies can make the lives of their employees better and more convenient.

Giving employees rewards that make them more comfortable can increase their productivity and replicate an office experience at home. For example, a more comfortable chair, a desk lamp, etc., can make working from home a more pleasant experience.

5. Send employees wellness kits

Given the tough times everyone is going through, sending wellness kits to employees is a great way for companies to show that they care about the safety and wellbeing of their workforce.

Fun face masks, easy to carry hand sanitiser, hand-wash, face masks and the likes are useful and handy items that everyone can use this time. Companies can also go one step beyond and include a personalised note in the kit and it is sure to bring a smile to the employee’s face.


During these times of great duress and uncertainty, many companies are banking on motivating their employees to maintain a sense of purpose, direction, teamwork, camaraderie, and purpose. They have realised that the need for connection and community has never been stronger. Hence, kindness, empathy and recognition is the need of the hour.

There are many ways to reconfigure your existing employee rewards and recognition programme. However, the foundation is always company culture. An effective employee recognition program begins with having a positive company culture that advocates appreciation. Hence, it is crucial for every company- no matter what the size.

It is not necessary to break the bank to recognise and reward employees. It could be as small as a cup of coffee at a local coffee shop. But merely acknowledging employees’ hard work and effort can mean a lot to them and work wonders to keep their spirits up. Companies that appreciate and support their employees in this difficult time are bound to see better engagement and loyalty in the long run.

And now, it’s your turn! How effective is your rewards and recognition programme?

If you have any interesting thoughts regarding how to reconfigure your rewards and recognition policies for 2021, leave us a comment or get in touch with us- we would love to hear from you!


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