Elevating Recognition with Meaningful Rewards


May 26, 2023

Taryn Hart

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X min

6 min

Pairing rewards with recognition can have a transformative impact when building a thriving company culture.

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In today’s dynamic business landscape, companies are continuously seeking ways to attract, engage, and retain top talent. While meaningful recognition remains an essential factor, organizations are recognizing the significant role that employee rewards play when paired with recognition.  

"When you recognize and reward people, you ignite their inner spark, and they become unstoppable." - Tony Robbins

Employee recognition needs are continuously evolving. For recognition to be impactful for today’s workforce, it must be personalized, and the same logic applies to employee rewards.

Together, recognition and rewards can have a transformative impact on culture. Employee rewards can create an environment that fosters motivation, loyalty, productivity, and ultimately, business success.  

What are employee reward programs?

Employee reward programs are initiatives that recognize and reward employees for their hard work and dedication. These can range from financial incentives such as bonuses and stock options to non-financial rewards such as time off work, complimentary lunches, and summer work hours.  

Organizations need to offer curated and customizable reward options to meet the demands of what all their employees truly value. The days of only offering a small catalog of products and company swag as employee incentives are not enough – organizations need to shift their focus to robust reward options that are meaningful to everyone.  

Why do employee rewards matter?

Employee rewards can be a motivational tool; they can inspire individuals to grow, learn, and improve. Rewards can be tied to goals and milestones, encouraging employees to stretch their capabilities and reach new heights.

Motivation that fuels success

Employee rewards act as powerful motivators, igniting a sense of purpose and commitment within individuals. Whether it's a performance-based bonus, a public accolade, or a personalized gift, the act of rewarding employees for their achievements reinforces a culture of excellence and motivates others to strive for greatness.

Drives employee engagement

Employee engagement is the key to unlocking untapped potential and driving exceptional results. Rewards and recognition initiatives provide a clear link between an employee's efforts and the organization's success. As engagement increases, so does productivity, creativity, and overall job satisfaction.  

Retains top talent

Employee rewards and recognition programs play a pivotal role in creating a workplace culture that attracts and retains exceptional employees. Recognizing and appreciating their hard work and achievements not only boosts morale but also enhances loyalty – employees are more likely to stay at an organization that fosters a culture of recognition.  

"Recognition is not a luxury; it's a necessity. It's what keeps us motivated, inspired, and striving for greatness." - Brendon Burchard

A SHRM article that discusses how to measure organizational health mentions the ROI of employee rewards and if implemented well, how investing in rewards can drastically reduce turnover.

Prioritizes wellbeing

Companies that prioritize employee wellbeing and engagement are more likely to succeed and thrive. Implementing employee reward programs is a simple yet effective way to build a positive workplace culture that benefits both employees and the company as a whole.  

How can companies implement effective employee rewards?

The key to an effective employee rewards program is providing flexible reward options that satisfy everyone’s preferences. Personalized rewards that align with employees' needs and values are more meaningful and contribute to overall happiness and loyalty.  

  1. Recognition comes first. It’s important to remember that recognition should always be the foundation of a robust rewards system.  
  1. Focus on your employees. Companies should assess their employees' needs and preferences to design a rewards program that aligns with their values and aspirations.  
  1. Offer personalization. Select a program that offers curated rewards that satisfies everyone. A rewards catalog should offer just as many experiential-based rewards as it does merchandise.  
  1. Be reasonable with the ratio. An employee shouldn’t have to be at a company for many years to earn enough points to redeem a reward. Rewards should be accessible to everyone and earned at a reasonable ratio, so employees can enjoy their well-earned rewards frequently throughout the year.  
  1. Evaluate and adjust. Finally, companies should regularly evaluate and adjust their rewards programs to ensure they remain relevant and effective.

Ignoring employee reward programs is a missed opportunity. Employee reward and recognition programs are powerful tools that can transform a company's culture. By investing in these initiatives, organizations demonstrate their commitment to their employees' wellbeing and success, paving the way for a highly productive and fulfilled workforce.  

Examples of meaningful rewards for everyone

Meaningful rewards look different for everyone. Everyone’s needs are unique and there should be reward options that will be beneficial and meaningful to all employees.  Kudos Rewards offers a world-class suite of options with merchandise, events, travel, charities, gift cards and custom rewards.  

Experiential rewards

Maybe it’s tickets to a favorite sports event, an outdoor adventure, or some much needed family time spent at the zoo; rewards that offer experiences and travel can serve a wide range of different interests and create lasting memories for everyone. Here are some examples of experience-based rewards offered in Kudos:  

  • Banff Gondola and Glacier Two Night Adventure
  • Three Night All-Star Disney Vacation
  • American Music Award Show Orchestra Level Experience
  • Four Night Montreal and Quebec Foodie Fest
  • Grand Canyon South Rim Family Adventure

Employee wellbeing

Whether it’s a retreat, a stay-cation, or even a home gym – everyone needs time to relax, decompress and treasure moments of tranquility. Here are examples of wellbeing related rewards in Kudos:  

  • Scottsdale Princess Golf and Spa Two Night Experience
  • Orthopedic Pillow Set
  • Bowflex Blaze Home Gym
  • La Siesta Domingo Sea Salt Kingsize Hammock Chair
  • At Home Wine-tasting Experience

Treat yourself or someone else

Perhaps you’ve been eyeing something special for yourself, or you need a gift idea for someone else, the Kudos Rewards catalog is a great place to start:  

  • Apple Watch  
  • Belgium Waffle Maker  
  • Airpods  
  • Dream Zero Espresso Machine
  • Blink Indoor Camera System  

While recognition has long been the bedrock of appreciation, organizations are awakening to the realization that employee rewards hold tremendous sway when combined with recognition.  

Recognition paired with rewards is instrumental in attracting and retaining top talent, enhancing employee engagement and motivation, fostering a positive company culture, and promoting employee wellbeing.  

By acknowledging employees' efforts and successes, organizations create a culture that embraces innovation and professional development. The result is a workforce that is constantly evolving, staying ahead of the curve, and driving the company towards sustainable growth.

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About Kudos

Kudos is an employee engagement, culture, and analytics platform, that harnesses the power of peer-to-peer recognition, values reinforcement, and open communication to help organizations boost employee engagement, reduce turnover, improve culture, and drive productivity and performance. Kudos uses unique proprietary methodologies to deliver essential people analytics on culture, performance, equity, and inclusion, providing organizations with deep insights and a clear understanding of their workforce.

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