You Need to Relook at Your Rewards & Recognition Program. Here’s Why!

You Need to Relook at Your Rewards & Recognition Program. Here’s Why!

The modern workforce comprising young Millennials and Gen Zers is self-motivated. They strive to work above and beyond their capabilities, whilst learning more in the process. And this passion and drive encourage them to crave more recognition at work.

However, more often than not, this workforce gets easily jaded by the lack of material and non-material recognition for their contribution. 

In fact, the lack of substantial recognition and rewards is the most common reason for disenchantment with work cited by employees during exit interviews. As more organisations realise the need for retaining top talent, they are on a constant look-out for ways to raise employee motivation and morale through new-age rewards.

The Importance of Rewards and Recognition 

The simple act of recognising an employee in a meaningful and memorable way is the missing link to higher employee engagement, lower employee turnover, and creating a sense of loyalty towards the company.

A culture that is built around appreciation cultivates trust and respect among the members of the workforce. Click To Tweet

It ensures that all the hard work of an employee doesn’t go unnoticed, encouraging him/her to always bring his best to work.

An effective reward and recognition program is also essential to build a positive relationship between the manager and the employee, making feedback effective. Moreover, it empowers employees to take pride in their job and continue contributing to the success of the company. Another benefit of recognition in the workplace is employee satisfaction.

According to statistics, employees who are constantly recognised by their managers for good work are 5X more likely to stay at the company. Click To Tweet

In addition, recognition helps maintain a strong brand identity of the company as employees become its active advocates.

The Evolution of Rewards and Recognition

Starting from the beginning…

The concept of rewards is not something new. It is the basic necessity to maintain motivation and appreciate someone that exceeds expectations. Giving gifts and tokens was typically the norm to motivate and it made the rewards and recognition programs more methodical.

Frederick W Taylor’s extensive scientific management studies paved the way for the concept of tangible rewards to recognise the good work of employees. Back then, the best kind of workplace rewards were monetary in nature.

However, today things have changed. Now, the employee rewards and recognition programs have evolved to pay attention to what the employees need. The traditional reward and recognition program was by and large based on a ‘spray and pray approach’ and rarely expanded beyond the fundamental methods of appreciation.

The Death of Traditional Rewards and Recognition

The traditional approach followed a silo methodology where managers were only asked to recognise team members based on their output alone. This process got stuck in a loop and employers were unable to gain a holistic view. Here are some reasons why the traditional approach is slowly becoming obsolete:

  • A one-off event that does not serve as a holistic experience
  • Rewards are primarily monetary in nature and have not withstood the test of time
  • Lack of creativity
  • Zero personalisation
  • Manual processes of assessing performance
  • Focus only on results and not on the contribution or efforts of the employee
  • No scope for rewarding or recognising innovation
  • Creates gaps in expectations among employees

The digital revolution has made it possible for remarkable changes in the workplace including employee recognition practices. In today’s talent-driven market, rewards should no longer work in silos, but in close congruence with the employee’s contribution and performance.

There is a growing need for smarter reward and recognition practices to make employee experience enriching and well-rounded. Smarter rewards are an essential tool kit for organisations that offer value to employees in a positive and impactful way.

Rewards and Recognition 2.0 – What Should it Comprise?

Perfectly suitable for the technology-driven workforce of today, Rewards and Recognition 2.0 has evolved into a viable method of rewarding meritorious employees. The emphasis is on promoting social appreciation and providing freedom of choice to employees.

Here’s what rewards and recognition 2.0 comprise of:


1. Peer to Peer Recognition

Humans are social beings and in situations where peer interactions are greater or teamwork is critical, peer recognition is the need of the hour. Employers feel more engaged when recognition is meaningful and comes from someone in their peer group.

This will help to bolster interpersonal relationships and keep conflicts at bay. Also, when appreciation stems from managers alone, employees feel it is forced or not as authentic as peer recognition.

How to Do it – 

Set up shout-outs or ePraise programs so that teams can write down moments and ‘way to go’s’ that they would like to recognise in their team members. The whole company can publicly view all the comments of praise or gratitude left by employees for each other.

For instance, Google has a notable peer to peer bonus system where peers reward an activity that would otherwise have gone unnoticed by managers and nominate individuals for bonuses. The manager can then review and approve.

2. Leverage Social Media

If it ain’t on social media, it’s not for real!

Social media channels are powerful platforms to publicly recognise or reward employees for their contributions. Click To Tweet

Social media recognition gives your employees the feeling of being in the limelight and flaunting their hard-earned appreciation.

How to Do It – 

Publishing a simple recognition ritual such as ‘Employee of the Week’ on the company’s social media handle is the way to go. Several companies have their own mini cloud social media that act as their own rewards and recognition platform. The staff can recognise each other, exchange good wishes on birthdays or work anniversaries and more.

3. Power of Personalisation

Rewarding employees should not be a one-size-fits-all solution. Rather it should follow a personalised approach that offers a great value proposition to its employees. What’s the point of impersonal rewards that the employees don’t really relate to?

It’s important to understand what employees really want and then bestow appropriate rewards to them. This can enable employees to decide what they want as a reward and how and when they want to use it.

How to Do It – 

For personalisation to work, first, try to assess the preferences of employees by engaging them in a quick survey to learn about their needs. Then provide them with reward options that they can choose from. This way you can let your employees choose the reward they want rather than thrusting something upon them that they don’t value.

For instance, Infosys has an Infy Gold+ rewards platform where employees are being rewarded points for excellence in their projects and they can redeem these points across 2000+ brands, specially curated for them, ranging from retail, hotel, travel, electronics and other sectors.

4. The Era of Instant Gratification


The wait and watch approach no longer works with today’s reward systems. Employees prefer instant gratification for the work they put in. Sincerity and timeliness of appreciation or feedback may sound trivial but make a huge difference.

‘Delayed recognition is as good as denied recognition’ and rightly so! Recognising the small feats of employees in real-time or trying to schedule a formal appreciation meeting as close as possible to the actions you are rewarding is a great way to reinforce the behaviour you want to encourage in your team. As a result, the employee is likely to take up more challenges with confidence.

How to Do It –

Use technology to notice anything recognition-worthy and do it right away. A small gesture such as a “well done” or a congratulatory message at the moment and sending appreciation emails is more effective than something relatively bigger that is done later.

5. Gamification on the Move

What makes games engaging is the simple act of healthy competition and team spirit. Why not bring the same elements to your rewards and recognition system? This will spur interest and lead to effective performance.

How to Do it –

Create leaderboards, badges, certificates or points-based systems to acknowledge recognition earned by the employees. Accumulate a point-based reward system that makes it easier for you to quantify and stimulate competition among the teams to do their best. Assign challenges based on group, role, geography and more.

Amp up the competition with public leaderboards that rank participants on your choice of metrics. Incorporate game mechanics into your experience including notifications, points, badges, levels, and redemption against physical or virtual goods.

For instance, Salesforce has a gamification platform named Nitro that provides sales representatives points, badges, levels, leader boards, and real-time feedback mechanisms. Also, Amazon has started installing screens next to workers’ stations that feature simple games that translate their physical actions like assembling orders or moving items to virtual in-game moves. The games are intended to make work less tedious, but also encourage higher productivity by pitting workers against one another in the virtual game world.

6. Total Rewards

Here's Why We Are 100% Sure You Need to Relook at Your Rewards & Recognition Program [longform] 3

While monetary bonuses and perks are a popular choice of rewards, it’s not just money that motivates employees. The total rewards system is a blend of monetary and non-monetary rewards that not just focus on benefits or compensation but also considers the individual’s personal and professional objectives.

How to Do It – 

You can combine compensation or perks along with recognition, development opportunities, work/life balance initiatives, flexible work schedules and other benefits such as medical coverage, vacation time, etc. The focus is on concentrating on all aspects of incentives that can help to keep talented individuals on board.

For instance, Tata Consultancy Services follows a total rewards philosophy by letting their employees have a say in defining their benefits and have integrated their performance management system with total rewards.

Rewards and Gifting Ideas

Here are some quick reward and gifting ideas that can benefit employees:

  • Point-based Reward System – Ongoing recognition can be accumulated for each instance of excellence and motivate employees
  • Gift Cards – Thoughtful spending made better from shopping to dining options of rewards for all
  • Surprise Gift Hampers – Design a hamper by combining essentials that employees will prefer such as movie tickets, gift vouchers, office essentials, phone covers, water bottles, etc. You can then ask your employees to choose a Surprise grab bag randomly.
  • Personalised Reward – Add a personal touch to ascertain a connection between the receiver and giver
  • Online Classes – Offer sponsored enrolment to online classes on courses of the employee’s choice
  • Charitable Donation – For people who want to give back to society, offer donations on behalf of the employee
  • Free Event Tickets – Concert or sport event tickets are another custom-tailored reward option for your esteemed employees
  • Portable Gadgets – You can give smartwatches, fitness trackers, headphones and more with the company’s brand name as souvenirs
  • Vacation Benefits – Allow your star employees to take time off

Recognition Ideas

Tangible rewards are not the only means of appreciating employees, intangible benefits make a dramatic impact as well. Here are some worthwhile recognition ideas for the new-age workforce:

  • Gift of Gratitude – A token of appreciation with a simple handwritten note is unparalleled to any other form of recognition
  • Celebration – Celebrate and cherish important moments of birthdays, promotions and work anniversaries of employees
  • On-spot Recognition – Don’t wait to express your appreciation, do it on the spot by sending appreciation emails or texting
  • Wall of Fame – Having a public or virtual wall of fame where achievement and accomplishments can be posted for all to see is a perfect recognition medium
  • Performance-based Mentions – The Classic Employee-of-the month or Employee-of-the-year award strategy still works very well as a tool for enhancing employee recognition and can be posted on the social media pages or website of the company for a special mention
  • Acknowledge Non-workplace Achievements – Acknowledge an employees’ outside achievements as well to ensure everyone in the workplace is aware of each other’s capabilities
  • Participation in Leadership Conclaves or Seminars – Provide development and networking opportunities for star employees to broaden their horizon of personal and professional development
  • CSR and Volunteering Activities – Empowering employees to engage in meaningful activities that enable them to make a social impact is another great way of motivating employees

The Future is Now

The rewards and recognition program are no longer determined by the employers and it should be based on your employees’ recommendations. At the end of the day, rewards are perceived differently by different people and so it’s important to explore what works.

Unless your reward programs match up to your employee’s expectations, you cannot get your rewards and recognition strategy right. Go beyond the conventional rewards to experiment with new technologies and tools to drive appreciation at the workplace.


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