The 10 Best Reasons to Reward Employees

When you reward desired behaviours, you see them repeated. So which are the best behaviours to reward employees for? Your ideal reward and recognition program will be designed to stay tightly in line with your company values, and improve employee behaviour by acknowledging achievements that support your strategies, further your message and improve customer experience.

5 young people at around a table having a meeting

Some companies use an arbitrary approach to reward, empowering managers to give recognition at their discretion -- and that's great! Ad hoc rewards gifts keep it fresh and ensure employees receive timely rewards that reflect their contribution. But if you're setting out on your reward journey or want to offer a bit of guidance to reward managers, these 10 reasons to reward employees are a great start whether you choose to reward with certificates, points, vouchers or gifts.


Teamwork is great for productivity and a wonderful value to celebrate - research published in the Journal of Applied Behavioural Science found that teamwork increases positive emotions, buffers against stress and helps people to bring out the best in each other, creating a virtuous environment in which the organisational effectiveness is increased. In other words, teamwork makes people feel good, which reflects in their collective productivity. Say thanks for teamwork with a reward that appeals to an entire team - think hampers, away days and activities - or thank each individual for their contribution with a personal gift.

Individual Performance

It's important to celebrate small wins. Research published in the Harvard Business Review reveals that creative and productive performance is in large part driven by the quality of a person's inner work life - the mix of emotions, motivations and interests - are they happy? Are they motivated? Are they connected to management, to the team, to the work? The combination can have a powerful influence, so recognise achievements based on individual role and responsibilities; celebrate great service by customer facing staff, overall labour effectiveness on a factory floor, and exceeded targets by salespeople.

Using Initiative

Using initiative at work shows employees are engaged in their role, and thinking of ways to make processes more efficient, cost effective or less time consuming is something most managers want to see more of. No CEO wants their employees to operate like robots, and using initiative also allows people to get creative, let their personalities shine through and draw on personal experience to put their own stamp on the workplace and its processes. Empowering and recognising staff ideas shows true appreciation for their contribution. If everyone used their initiative, processes would become an amalgamation of everyone’s best ideas – and something teams can be proud of.

Increased Productivity

As a seriously measurable indicator of success, increased productivity is something for which you can reward teams, managers and employees at all levels and this one's really straight forward -- when people are setting new records or beating their personal best in any area, it's great practice to celebrate by saying thanks and offering a meaningful reward, and it sets an example for others, too.

Receiving Great Feedback

Customer facing staff who work on the shop floor, on the phone or even on a live webchat are the most likely to receive feedback from customers via email, survey or in person. When the feedback's good, are you rewarding the staff member in question? Making it a policy to reward great comments is the best way to see similar behaviours repeated, and is a great boost for the individual giving great service.

Improved Safety Record

Much like increased productivity, an improved safety record is easily measurable, which helps managers stick to a schedule to highlight regular monthly or quarterly opportunities for reward -- consistency being an important element in effective reward. You can reach out to employees who are performing well, and also align future rewards with specific targets and KPIs set for individuals and teams.

Reaching Sales Targets

Monetary rewards for sales targets don't work and are considered unethical by many modern organisations - but we know that a reward gift holds more power than cash compensation, which changes the nature of incentivised sales targets drastically for the better. Reaching a sales target, cross selling, signing up customers or winning new business are all great reasons to celebrate employees with a reward, acknowledging team or individual successes and saying thanks in a memorable way, not with cash that disappears instantly into the household budget.

Long Service

Celebrate dedication and hard work by rewarding long service. Although changing work patterns mean long service is now more likely to mean 5 years than 25, when people stick around, continuing to move through the ranks, trying their hand in different departments and sharing their wisdom along the way, they make themselves invaluable as a source of varied knowledge. Recognise that value to hang onto it.

Learning at Work

Does education play a big part in progression at your company? When you help people reach earn qualifications and reach professional goals, you’re showing an appreciation for their personal goals, investing in their value and empowering them to progress. Celebrate success in learning at work by rewarding milestones – whether that’s completing required training, taking time at work to complete professional qualifications, or even external accomplishments – highlighting the importance of developing the specific skills and knowledge that help people succeed, and inspiring them to keep doing so.


Both a reason to recognise staff and a way to deliver recognition, improving wellness is a powerful way to send the message that you care about your employees, and want them to have a work-life balance and healthy lifestyle that works for them. In a recent SHRM study, 72% of organisations said their wellness initiatives were effective , so this is a great opportunity to reward. Promote wellness by providing cycle to work schemes, gym memberships and walking buses, and reward their uptake with discounted schemes, points or prizes to encourage and recognise those taking part.

Ready to start your reward journey? Learn more on our Reward and Recognition page, discover infographics or get in touch to chat with one of our experts.

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