Why Your Organization Needs Employee Recognition and Rewards

Why Your Organization Needs Employee Recognition and Rewards

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Want to drive employee engagement? Your first step should be to establish an employee recognition and rewards program.

The good news is that building recognition and employee rewards into your company culture is simple and inexpensive. And with a strategic approach, you can revolutionize retention, engagement, productivity, and employee success. 

What is employee recognition, and how does it work?

Let’s start on the same page. Here’s what we mean when we talk about:

  • Employee recognition: You acknowledge an employee’s results, performance, or attitude. (In this context, this is a celebration of something positive.)
  • Employee rewards: A token of recognition, such as a gift or opportunity.
  • Employee appreciation: Appreciation is recognition of an employee’s inherent value. Both recognition and rewards contribute to employee appreciation.

Employee recognition and rewards play a powerful psychological role in boosting engagement, and the overall employee experience — sometimes in surprising ways.

How does recognition affect employee engagement?

Research shows organizations with highly engaged employees have 5 times higher shareholder returns over 5 years – and they outperform those with low employee engagement by 202%. With actively disengaged team members costing U.S. businesses up to $500 billion annually, companies can’t afford not to invest in engagement.

So, the solution? Recognizing and rewarding employee effort. Here are just a few of the stats that prove it:

  • The #1 reason people leave jobs is limited recognition and praise.
  • 81% of employees work harder when their boss shows appreciation.
  • 41% of companies that use peer-to-peer recognition report seeing increases in customer satisfaction.
  • 50% of employees would stay at their job longer if they felt appreciated.

Ready for a better employee experience that leads to higher retention, performance, productivity, ROI, and more? A well-executed recognition and rewards program delivers, all while aligning your employees’ workplace success with your organization goals.

What employee recognition and rewards look like today

Rewards and recognition have come a long way since the Mad Men era. But if gold watches and corner offices are still your company’s M.O., no worries – we’ll get you up to speed.

Today, recognition is more sophisticated than handing out rewards for work anniversaries. In fact, studies show that when recipients expect a reward for a given behavior, the reward itself becomes easier to take for granted. This diminishes the reward’s value and motivating power.

So old-school rewards programs may mean well, but they aren’t maximizing returns for their companies. So what is working?

What a recognition and rewards program can — and should — do for your organization

Your recognition and rewards program should be tailored to your company’s unique needs. At the core, though, every program should provide these important things:

  • The ability to easily recognize and reward individuals in real-time.
  • The ability to measure the results of your program.
  • The opportunity to reinforce behaviors that reflect your organization mission, vision, and values.
  • Rewards that highlight and reinforce your culture.

Let’s break it down.

First, you want your program to be accessible to everybody in your organization, and easy to use, even for non-techies. This is key to making a program a functional part of your culture. After all, company culture is lived every day.

Second, your recognition and rewards program should be linked directly to your organization’s values. Identify the behaviors that reinforce your organization’s vision and reward them. Employees feel great about working toward organization goals —and everybody wins.

7 features of a next-level recognition and rewards program

So you’ve got the basics down – it’s time to implement. For true company-wide transformation, make sure your rewards and recognition program includes these 7 features:

1. Rewards catalog

Build your employee rewards program around a custom catalog stocked with items that boost your culture and resonate with your employees.

The greatest rewards are meaningful to their recipients. Recognize your employees’ diversity by letting them choose their rewards. Include options like unique experiences, company swag, or donations to good causes.

2. Activity feed

Employee recognition is powerful when delivered in real-time – and the more visible the recognition, the better. A company-wide, social activity fed. Keeps your rewards program top of mind and helps employees shine.

Experts note that peer recognition may be just as motivating, if not more, than praise from a manager. So be sure your recognition and rewards system lets employees to recognize each other via high fives, props, or other kudos, like those available in WorkTango’s Recognition & Rewards platform.

Screenshot of a recognition sent from Mavis to her team using WorkTango's Employee Recognition & Rewards Platform.

3. Nominations & awards

Traditionally, companies recognize employees for anniversaries, safety records, sales numbers, and the likes. Update this classic approach to reflect your company’s values. Then, promote employee buy-in to create a culture of genuine appreciation.

WorkTango’s in-platform nomination capabilities make it easy for employees to celebrate their peers and for your organization to develop awards that reflect your unique culture.

4. Insights and reporting

Ad hoc gifting – like taking employees to lunch or giving them a pat on the back – may go a long way toward making team members feel appreciated.

But it’s impossible to optimize or evaluate what you can’t measure. The best recognition and rewards programs offer insights and analytics that tell you where rewards are translating into results.

5. People directory

Want to unify your office culture? Include a people directory in your platform — especially if your company is fast-growing, has multiple locations, or employs remote team members. This helps employees put names to faces, and facilitates cross-team and inter-office recognition.

6. Group rewards and point pooling

The benefits of collaboration include increased camaraderie and engagement, and more success for your people and your business.

To encourage collaboration, give employees the opportunity to pool their rewards points and go in on big rewards together, like snack delivery or in-office massages. Team culture is sure to strengthen as they strive to succeed together.

7. Behavior-boosting Incentives

Use incentives to go beyond recognizing work well done. To boost the behaviors valued by your organization. Because bonuses go beyond recognizing work well done. They clearly communicate other behaviors that matter to your organization.

Customized Incentives can include participation in wellness programs,, sharing job postings, and giving feedback–to promote the behaviors valued by your organization.