How Employee Rewards and Recognition Drive Workplace Excellence

July 5, 2023
8 mins
People work for money but go the extra mile for recognition praise, and rewards.
~ Dale Carnegie.

Employee Rewards and Recognition is aimed at motivating employees, boosting morale, and keeping them aligned with organizational objectives by acknowledging, appreciating, and rewarding their efforts.

Rewards and recognition are fundamental human needs, and there is no second thought about them. Humans are more committed to doing their jobs when there is a sense of recognition and appreciation. It is an evolutionary need of all, even your pet dogs expect a treat and do their back flip perfectly when they know they will be rewarded later for it. The logical explanation for this is that recognition builds a sense of trust and respect. It validates your efforts and creates a sense of belonging and motivation to complete a task.

This is one of the reasons why rewards and recognition are so important in a workplace and why more and more HR professionals are trying to bring rewards and recognition programs to recognize and reward their employees.

But there is more than one way of doing it to make it impactful and authentic for your culture. A recognition program that is seen as just another HR task or done out of tokenism can do more harm than good.

So how to run a successful Rewards and Recognition program that offers you better ROI and improves your employees’ engagement, retention productivity, and organizational culture? Keep reading we will answer this question with other aspects of employee rewards and recognition.

The Difference Between Rewards and Recognition

Even though both Rewards and Recognition may appear to you to be the same, there is a slight difference between the two. Recognition is more relational and can be both tangible and non-tangible. Whereas Rewards are transactional tangible gifts that are given to employees for showcasing certain behaviors or good work. To grasp the difference between the two, let’s define them as Monetary recognition and Social Recognition.

Monetary Recognition

Monetary recognitions could be any tangible benefits given to you apart from your salary. It could even be a bonus, gift cards, additional travel expenses or reimbursements for your holidays, and so on. It is tangible in nature. Employees are rewarded with those when they complete a definitive goal successfully.

It has a great impact on your employees' happiness and validates their efforts to a greater extent. But when you have a diverse workforce, it is better to personalize these rewards in accordance with their taste and need. Therefore, keeping it flexible for your employees is a great way to reward your employees. One way to do this is by rewarding your employees with loyalty points or rewards which they can further redeem themselves to get the gift they want for themselves.

Social Recognition

Social recognition is an important aspect of motivating employees and teams. It involves two types of recognition: internal and external. The internal recognition includes giving personalized messages of appreciation to peers for their good work. The external recognition involves acknowledging teams publicly by reinforcing good employee behavior. This recognition can be tangible or intangible. To implement social recognition, an inclusive employee recognition platform is required to empower the workforce to recognize and appreciate their peers socially, and celebrate great work and team champions.

Both types of recognition, incentivized and non-incentivized, have a great psychological impact on employee behavior. Therefore, it is crucial to ensure that both aspects are included in any employee recognition program.

Why Employee Rewards and Recognition Matters: Statistics

It is notable how employee recognition is correlated with employee engagement, productivity, and retention. Here are some statistics to give you a clearer picture.

1. Employee recognition can strengthen organizational values, according to 83% of HR leaders.
Source: Globoforce

2. 52% of employees feel that their recognition program does not align with their organization's goals.
Source: Deloitte

3. According to 50% of employees, appreciation from managers helped improve their relationship with their superiors.
Source: Cicero Group

4. An effective recognition program drives business results, according to 90% of HR respondents. In 91% of cases, retention is positively affected by it.
Source: Reward Gateway

5. An increase in rewards would increase millennials' loyalty to their employers, according to 79% of survey respondents.
Source: SHRM

The Positive Impact of Rewards and Recognition

In a workplace culture, employee rewards and recognition have immense benefits. Employee recognition and rewards must be implemented to improve organizational values, encourage friendly competition, increase employee satisfaction, motivate employees to go the extra mile, and improve employee happiness. Let's deep into the major roles it plays in transforming a workplace.

1. Company Culture

Company culture is the personality of an organization and how its employees interact with each other has a lot to do with its positive transformation over time. Recognizing employees' achievements and rewarding them can make them feel valued both by management and their peers.

Implementing a rewards and recognition program helps employees to look up to the company values and builds a synergy between the management and workforce. Employees build a sense of belonging and trust by appreciating and recognizing their peers, which contributes to a positive work environment.

According to a Gallup study, by recognizing twice as many employees each week, companies can improve:

  • Quality of work improved by 24%
  • Absenteeism reduction of 27%
  • The reduction of staff shrinkage by 10%

This shows how imperative it have an authentic employee recognition program for any organization for its growth and overall employee satisfaction.

2. Empowers the workforce

Managers set the tone for employee relationships in the workplace. The lack of attention, communication, and recognition can leave them unmotivated.

By recognizing peers, managers can better understand how their teams are working together and can build stronger and high-performing teams. It is on the managers and leaders to encourage peer-to-peer recognition and value each other's work from time to time to make everyone feel valued and appreciated.

A high level of peer-to-peer recognition allows managers to celebrate their teams' victories and continue building a positive team environment. Moreover, when you have a strong recognition culture that is implemented authentically, you build a healthy competitive atmosphere among your employees, which only reinforces productivity and high performance.

3. Improves Employee Retention

Employee rewards and recognition programs play a significant role in retaining top talent, in addition to salary, financial perks, and benefits. The happiness of an employee is crucial for them to stick to a company. If they feel undervalued or their efforts are not appreciated enough, it is very common for them to lose morale and look for opportunities that give them a better company culture.

4. Team Performance

Productivity is linked to the happiness employees feel or satisfaction that they have in doing their job. When they are not satisfied with the organizational culture they need to put a lot more effort into tasks which eventually degrades their energy levels. Employees feed energy from their peers and managers, and when they have good working relationships with them, and they are valued and appreciated for their work enough, the happier they feel in doing their job that yields in better team performance.

And this sums up why an organizational culture needs to have authentic employee rewards and recognition programs in place to drive that team's performance.

5. Employee Motivation

Rewards and recognition programs are very effective in improving employee motivation by recognizing them for their efforts. It helps employees to keep on track and more importantly analyze work from a qualitative perspective. This results in better collaboration and encouragement to do better. Also, when you are appreciated and recognized for your good efforts, you tend to do it again and again.

How to Run a Successful Rewards and Recognition Program

As we have discussed earlier, HR leaders must start rewards and recognition from their unique company cultural standpoint. It the program for the sake of tokenism or to tick off an HR checklist, it can do more harm than good. While introducing any new rewards and recognition initiatives in the organization, HR should try to make it more authentic and personalized. They must try to collect data company-wide and run survey questions to its workforce to better understand the need for its recognition aspects.

For example, if your internal data reveals that more employees expect better peer-to-peer recognition or more monetary-based recognition then focus on that area effectively and how you can develop the program to tackle this issue. The whole idea is to make the recognition process authentic, based on company core values, and to provide a memorable experience for all.

1. Recognition must be specific

Recognition must be specific and what behaviors or actions are recognized or rewards must be well expressed.

2. Recognition must be frequent and timely

If you want to run an impactful recognition program, you must be frequent and timely. Recognition delayed is recognition denied. The best way to do it running your recognition program through centralized digital platforms since they cut down the geographical barrier among the dispersed workforce and make it a more accessible, frequent, and timely process for all.

3. Awards must be meaningful for both the giver and the receiver

Recognition awards must hold a sense of meaning attached to them. You cannot appreciate your workforce redundantly to fulfill any criteria. It can otherwise make the whole recognition process vague and a waste of time and resources. And it will leave your workforce feeling more undervalued. Do it meaningfully.

4. The monetary recognition should be consistent and equitable

While incentivizing a team or individual for good work or giving monetary rewards, make sure it's consistent and equitable. If your recognition is not fair and consistent for all, it will impact negatively impact your employees’ morale and productivity.

5. Reinforcing company values within the recognition program

Reinforcing your company values while appreciating and recognizing your employees is a great way to showcase your company culture and what values it supports and rewards.

6. Make it sincere and honest

While appreciating your employees, make sure it comes from your genuine interest and must not look forced and insincere.

Over to you

We hope this article gives you some perspectives to look at before running a successful employee recognition program. If you are an HR professional or any business leaders willing to implement a recognition program for your company make sure to keep it more personalized and authentic for an impactful recognition program.

Braja Deepon Roy

This article is written by Braja Deepon Roy, who is a part of the marketing team at Bigfish Benefits. He actively spends time studying new ideas and trends that can have an impact on workplace cultures as well as binge-listening to psychology and neuroplasticity podcasts. If you have any questions, reach out to

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