Are there times in your life when you reward yourself for doing something right? It can be as simple as a cheat meal after a week of healthy eating. This process of rewarding ourselves for good behavior is how positive reinforcement works. You may even recall your childhood days when your parents allowed you to have some extra screen time for completing your homework. Positive reinforcement works in various ways and continues to strengthen when individuals repeat those activities or behaviors.

In simple words, positive reinforcement means rewarding someone with something when they perform the desired action. The reward reinforces the behavior and encourages the individual to repeat it in the future. Such reinforcements have long-term benefits as they’re instrumental in personality development. Even in the professional world, positive reinforcement plays a crucial role. Employee rewards and recognition have become quite commonplace and are one of the core tenets of any team or department. Want to learn more about the rewards and recognition system in organizations? Read on! 


  1. What Are Employee Rewards And Recognition?

  2. Types Of Rewards And Recognition For Employees

  3. The Need For Employee Rewards And Recognition

  4. Rewards And Recognition Ideas For Successful Results

  5. Rewards And Recognition In The New Normal


What Are Employee Rewards And Recognition?


Before we dive into the rewards and recognition system that motivate employees, it’s important to understand the context in which it thrives. Every organization needs to build a strong and healthy workplace culture. Whether it’s team-building, leadership or employee engagement, fostering a positive workplace culture improves employee retention rates. By positive reinforcement, you can motivate employees and improve job satisfaction.

Employee rewards and recognition is a method that helps maintain a positive work environment and culture. It helps you acknowledge your coworkers or team members’ efforts and performance. Various types of rewards and recognition for employees help reinforce particular behaviors, activities, attitudes and practices—all of which are necessary for positive business results and performance. Not only do employers benefit from this system, but employees also gain confidence, which further shapes their personalities and outlooks.

While rewards and recognition are often clubbed together, they have separate meanings and shouldn’t be used interchangeably. Rewards refer to programs set up by organizations to compensate employees for their performance on an individual or group level. They are often monetary in nature and aren’t included in the salary. Recognition, on the other hand, is intended as a psychological benefit and is not monetary in nature. Let’s see why various types of rewards and recognition for employees are important.


Types Of Rewards And Recognition For Employees


Some rewards and recognition are helpful in boosting short-term engagement and performance while others are helpful in the long run. Here are various types of rewards and recognition for employees you can consider:


  • Structured Programs

They are more conventional and are often offered by senior leaders or managers who want to appreciate their employees for their contribution. These programs are fixed at particular periods and are formal. Here are some examples of structured rewards and recognition in the workplace:


  1. Employee of the month program, where the leader or management selects one employee every month based on the work they have done to deserve the top position.
  2. Yearly and/or quarterly reviews, where review meetings are held at certain points in the year. Managers tend to offer personalized recognition to employees through constructive feedback.
  3. Years of service awards, where the organization expresses gratitude to those who have stayed around for a long time.


  • Unstructured Programs

Such programs are spontaneous and focus on individual achievements. Here are some examples of unstructured rewards and recognition in the workplace:


  1. Peer-to-peer recognition, where coworkers offer each other gratitude. Whether it’s referring someone or appreciating a colleague on LinkedIn, individuals appreciate one another.
  2. Gamified recognition, where digital tools are used to recognize employee efforts and performance. For example, digital trophies or virtual badges are gamified versions of recognition.
  3. Celebrating milestones, where managers celebrate important events in an employee’s life such as birthdays, weddings, children’s birthdays, among others. This helps establish a more personal connection.
  4. Internal employee newsletter, where individual achievements are communicated through an organization-wide newsletter. This improves an individual’s credibility across the organization.


Rewards and recognition programs have gained popularity over the years and have become a core tenet in several spaces. Let’s see why organizations look upon this as a priority.


The Need For Employee Rewards And Recognition


Taking time to reward and recognize employees for their efforts, contribution and performance has many benefits. As this system focuses on the positives, it helps organizations or managers in letting individuals know that the difference they make matters. Here’s why every leader and management need to prioritize various types of rewards and recognition for employees:


1. More Productivity

When someone does something well, you automatically want them to keep repeating it. When you reward or acknowledge this effort, the individual gets incentivized to repeat the behavior. For example, if you give a shoutout to an employee who has met their project deadline, they are likely to register the feeling and continue to meet other deadlines on time.

2. Greater Retention

Engaged employees are likely to stay around because they feel valued and respected. Studies show that recognition and rewards positively impact employee retention, reducing turnover rates. By showing appreciation, employees not only believe in themselves but also the organization’s mission and vision.


3. Attracts Talent

A positive workplace is highly valued for job seekers. As recognition programs reflect a positive outlook for an organization, it attracts potential applicants. In other words, a positive brand image and organizational value are highly regarded. Moreover, when your employees have confidence in the organization, they may encourage others to apply through word-of-mouth.

4. A Happy Workplace

Positive reinforcement leads to increased job satisfaction and employee happiness. For example, rewarding an employee with a prestigious award not only makes them proud of themselves but also makes them pursue the organization’s goals with greater vigor. Even a simple pat on the back can make someone’s day.


5. Finding Purpose

Employee rewards and recognition improve engagement and morale as respectful treatment leads to greater job satisfaction. This further encourages a sense of purpose. Individuals begin to align their personal goals with organizational objectives and tie personal values with the organization’s values. On a group level, finding a shared purpose can help everyone work toward common objectives.


Therefore, a well-planned and implemented rewards and recognition program can positively impact your teams and organization in many ways.


Rewards And Recognition Ideas For Successful Results


Managers and team leaders wear several hats. Not only do they lead their lead to success but also ensure that they’re productive and engaged. If you’re a manager, then you know that simply providing constructive feedback doesn’t seal the deal. If you want your team to go above and beyond, you need to make room to celebrate their creativity, passion and productivity. Here are a few simple yet effective rewards and recognition ideas that can motivate your employees greatly:


1. Get Out Of The Office

While patting your employees’ backs in the presence of coworkers is highly encouraging, you can do more by taking them out for a celebratory meal. A good meal can bring joy to anyone. This will also help you know your employees better, which in turn is useful for gauging their strengths and weaknesses.


2. It’s Time To Celebrate Creativity

People often get so distracted by the end results that they forget what started it all—brainstorming sessions and creative ideas. If you really want to impress your team, celebrate their creative inputs in discussions as well as after the project ends. It shows that you celebrate individualism and you pay attention to detail.


3. Pay Attention To Employee Well-Being

Not all rewards and recognition are monetary and need not be. Psychological boosts are equally important. Small businesses especially provide psychological rewards as they’re instrumental in uplifting team morale. To encourage holistic development among your team members, you can find ways to promote their emotional well-being. Encouraging healthy breaks or reemphasizing the importance of work-life balance can make people feel good about themselves as well as the organization.


Rewards And Recognition In The New Normal


As the world of work continues to find ways to manage the COVID-19 crisis, it hasn’t been easy for organizations to foster workplace culture with as much vigor. This has put additional stress on management as they’re required to rethink their employee rewards and recognition policies. Thanks to technology, it hasn’t been difficult to find new and innovative ways to recognize employee efforts and performance.

If you’re managing a team virtually, and if it’s small, you can send personalized messages to everyone. You can choose to include specifications such as their KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) and an assessment of their weekly, monthly and/or quarterly performance. You can encourage healthy competition through a digital leaderboard and the best-performing employee can get a shout-out. Even gift cards are a great idea to motivate employees. Most importantly, provide opportunities for growth and career advancement through mentorship programs or online courses.

No matter how you choose to motivate your team, at the core of employee engagement lies trustworthiness and credibility. You may be well-intentioned but it may not be well-received unless your team has faith in you. If you want to build and maintain trust-rich relationships, try Harappa’s Establishing Trust course. You’ll learn to focus on credibility and openness, honor commitments, be empathetic, and prioritize the needs of your team. Frameworks such as the Trust Toolkit and the Trust Equation will help you map and develop trustworthiness. Trust Harappa to build a thriving workplace today!

Explore Harappa Diaries to learn more about topics such as Employee Engagement, Employee Feedback, Employee Value Proposition and Advantages Of Networking to build strong professional networks.