The Complete Guide to Reward Systems

We’ve already taken a good look at the difference between employee incentives and employee rewards. Now we’re exploring the wonderful world of employee reward programs in detail. So what, exactly, are employee reward schemes? They’re a reliable and inspiring way to reward your employees for a job well done, a goal achieved, a positive change made, or anything else you’ve tasked people with that deserves a sincere ‘thank you’.

At Ovation Incentives we have all the experience and expertise in employee rewards and recognition program systems you could possibly need, driven by the latest innovative digital tech: customer service apps and reward codes, rewards API, reward management, social rewarding and recognition, and more. The result is a seamless route to rewarding your people in the most effective ways, at the most appropriate times.

How do you reward your employees? Read on to discover how it’s done, find out why it’s such a good idea to thank your people, and delve into the many ways your business will benefit from a great reward system for employees.

Why You Need an Employee Reward Scheme

Why should you reward your employees? An employee reward scheme provides a structured, logical means to say ‘thank you’. A simple thank you works wonders to make people feel valued, appreciated and noticed, and can motivate them to achieve great things. When you formalise the process it’s easier to handle, you don’t miss anyone out, and the reward process is clearly valuable and fair.

What is the impact of a reward system on employee performance? Here are just some of the key benefits company rewards for employees deliver to staff and employers.   

For employers:

  • Employee rewards increase motivation. Everyone enjoys being given rewards for their work. It encourages a positive type of competition everyone can get behind and be enthusiastic about, and it isn’t a one-off. Because it’s a continual process you benefit from ongoing employee excellence
  • Staff rewards show your appreciation. It can be dispiriting and de-motivating to work long and hard but never have your dedication recognised. A quality staff reward scheme ensures people’s work is formally recognised and acknowledged, and it means a lot
  • Rewarding employees boosts productivity. You’ve probably felt it yourself. Someone at work thanks you for what you’ve achieved and you walk taller, feel inspired to do more, and make even greater efforts because you know for sure you’re being valued
  • Employee reward systems drive staff retention. People who feel valued and cared for tend to stick with an employer for longer than those who feel neglected, under-appreciated, even ignored or taken advantage of. Staff churn can cost a fortune, especially when it’s a constant issue. A reward system will help you reduce churn down to an unavoidable minimum
  • Staff rewards help attract top talent. Faced with choosing between an employer that doesn’t provide a reward system and one that does, which would you choose? It’s clear schemes like ours make it easier to find and hire the best people from the offset  

For employees:

  • Employees genuinely appreciate recognition for their work, especially when they’ve gone  above and beyond the call of duty – and happy, satisfied, respected people work smarter, harder and better
  • Personal and career development matters a great deal to employees. A rewards scheme will ensure you mark people’s progress towards their career goals in a way they’ll genuinely appreciate
  • Rewards help staff feel fully engaged with their employer, which means they enjoy their working life more. They’re less likely to just pass time at work, more likely to innovate, be inspired, and get creative within and outside their roles
  • Rewarding people also supports great team working, where everyone is incentivised to perform to their very best ability, supported by their team-mates in a common aim – to do brilliantly, and to be thanked properly for it
  • Rewards help people feel they’re at home at work, which means they’re less likely to feel restless and unhappy and will stay with you for longer

How to Create an Employee Reward Scheme for Your Business

Having said all that, there are significant challenges involved in creating bespoke employee reward schemes for your business or organisation. There’s a huge variety of reward systems to tap into, and it’s unwise to assume that a single reward mechanism will suit everyone. That’s why we often recommend using multiple reward strategies.

You might want to carefully research your most successful competitors to determine what their rewards programs offer and the way they work. And it’s important to involve your people from the start, since they’re the ones who will be on the receiving end of the employee rewards and recognition program or programs you introduce.

It’s vital to define the reward criteria in the first place, and pin down how they need to link with company values, goals, objectives and more. And having defined your criteria, you’ll need to consider the eligibility requirements and the nomination procedures to follow.

Personalised rewards tend to be the most powerful and influential of all, no surprise really when everyone is different. Make the rewards specific to the winners, tailoring them to people’ tastes, preferences, hobbies and interests, and you create something powerfully effective. You’re showing you know them, and know what makes them tick, something else that people appreciate.

There’s a long list of achievements you can reward your employees for, including:

  • Long service
  • Going above and beyond
  • Promotion
  • Ideas and innovations
  • Employee of the month
  • Customer service
  • Sales
  • Helping one another
  • Hitting a milestone
  • Team rewards
  • Peer to peer recognition

Employee Reward Scheme Ideas

There are many ways to reward and recognise your people, and reward categories for employees can be broadly split like this:   

  • Gift Cards – where you reward someone or a team with a gift card that directly taps into something they enjoy while also having the freedom of choice to choose how to reward themselves from luxury brands to experiences.
  • Experiences – where you give people the chance to experience something amazing, maybe a hot air balloon flight, a wine tasting event, cocktail-making or go-karting. Gift cards are very popular because they let the employee choose their own reward  
  • Professional development is a great way to provide business-inspired rewards that promote even better performance – a course on dealing with difficult customers, a series of online tutorials or classes, even giving the employee themselves the chance to choose their own reward  

Even something as simple as a thank you note written by hand by a member of your senior management team is often highly valued and appreciated by staff.

Gift Cards 

Some types of gift are particularly popular in staff rewards programs. Here are some employee rewards ideas for gifts:

  • Gift cards are valuable because they leave the choice of treat up to the staff member, which means they can buy the things they want most and will enjoy most. This makes gifts particularly memorable

Digital gift cards make great staff rewards because, again, they let the individual choose the reward that delights them the most

  • Weekend breaks are very popular, and no wonder. What’s not to like about a paid-for treat for an employee and their partner?



Experiences Ideas

Experiences of various types are also very popular, letting your people enjoy events and adventures that they might otherwise never get to know. Here are some employee reward program ideas.

  • A wine tasting, cocktail making or brewery visit is something most of us find exciting, particularly those who are keen to explore new flavours and combinations
  • Go-karting and paint-balling please your thrill-seekers, adrenaline fuelled, fun, and something to talk about when they get back to work
  • A meal in a local restaurant is a lovely idea, always appreciated, especially if you make it generous enough for two or more people to experience together

Professional Development Ideas

Professional development rewards are good for employees and employers, great for inspiring ongoing brilliance in your people and also helping them to develop into even more skilled, experienced professionals.

  • Classes and courses of relevance to the award winners
  • Seminars and special events
  • Professional memberships to industry bodies
  • Conferences
  • Exhibitions
  • Books and self-teaching resources
  • Software and hardware

Examples of Excellent Employee Reward Schemes

Now you know how to reward employees for good performance. It’s always useful to have examples. Here are three of the best employee reward schemes.

Dow Chemical Company 

Dow Chemical Company has set up a global program cleverly tailored to local employees, replacing a cash-based system that just wasn’t working. The new system, called ‘Accelerate Great’, comes with more purpose-driven incentives for employees, with every incentive carefully personalised by region. As a result employee engagement in the program shot up by 11%, a measurable improvement.

Fairmont Hotels and Resorts 

Fairmont Hotels and Resorts’ employee recognition program is based around the company’s values. Created with the goal of making the employee experience just as amazing as the experience customers enjoyed, the scheme involves co-workers sharing their stories, giving employee-of-the-month awards to their colleagues. Incredible results were the outcome, with scores of 98% in the company’s regular employee engagement surveys.

Roto Rooter 

Roto Rooter decided to refresh their existing recognition program, designed to reward people’s hard work and years of service. The refresh allowed them to make every single recognition award as personal as possible. Afterwards they saw an impressive 75% of Roto Rooter employees saying they love their awards, with over 66% planning to keep and display them.

Powerful employee rewards programs

As you can see there are so many benefits of employee rewards and recognition. When you choose the right employee rewards and recognition program, implement it well, and you make sure it suits the wants and desires of your employees, you’re on the road to success.

Great rewards schemes deliver better staff attitudes, harder work, more loyalty, more creativity and more innovation. And they benefit employees and employers alike –everyone wins. Would you like to test-drive our popular rewards programmes? Feel free to book a demo or get in touch to discuss things with our experts.