Reward programs like you’ve never seen

Reward programs like you’ve never seen

Reward programs like you’ve never seen

In an ideal world every employee would get the rewards they deserve when they achieve or surpass targets, but in the current tight-belt climate it’s hard to put the money behind rewards.

As HRM showed last week, rewards that come across as lame or uninspired can do more harm than good, so how are the best companies rewarding their staff, and what can you learn from them?

See also: Lame rewards do more harm than good

Even in this economic climate, incentives play an important role in maintaining employee morale and shouldn't be abandoned, according to Karen Renk, executive director of the Incentive Marketing Association in Naperville, Ill.

"In good times or bad, organizations are well served by creating a culture of recognition for their employees as well as their customers," she told the Washington Post.


Google’s perks are famous – from haircuts to video games – but a less talked about program is their on-the-spot-rewards system, where employees can award each other up to $175 in spot bonuses for exceptional work.

Empower your staff to reward each other. It doesn’t have to be monetary – consider offering extended lunch breaks, or an early finish one day. If employees each have three two-hour coupons to give out, entitling the receiver to that much time paid off work, you can calculate the overall cost of the program easily and give workers the power to recognize each other’s achievements.


Zappos has “zollars” it gives out for everything from clocking in on time to being noticed following their famous 10 core values. Any staff member can give them out, from store room labourer to the CEO. These zollars are redeemable at the company store.

You can give rewarded-employees control over what they choose to do. Everyone wants different things so with a point-based system you can have a range of options, worth different amounts, that employees can work towards. Where one person might pick the $10 Tim Hortons card when they have the minimum points, their neighbour would rather save their points until they can pick up the dinner for two at a fancy restaurant and a third might choose a half-day off work.


SAS’ CEO Award of Excellence recognizes 25 peer-nominated employees worldwide every year. Those selected are flown to the company's headquarters where they are wined, dined, and even treated to a personal tour of CEO Jim Goodnight's famous rock collection.

Sometimes recognition and a thank you is really all employees need to know they’re doing a great job and are appreciated. While we might not all be able to wine and dine them, giving your top performers a public thank you and a special event – lunch with the CEO or vouchers for a local event or show – will show them you care, and could inspire others to try harder.


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  • P Gallerno 2012-07-04 3:57:41 AM
    Great article! Recognition and rewards should go hand-in-hand. The key is making recognition easy so that it becomes part of your business culture. The value of employee recognition is huge. In a study conducted over a 10-year period by the Jackson Organization, 79% of employees who quit their job cited “lack of appreciation” as the reason: . Not only do appreciated employees stay with the organization longer, they are also more productive and deliver better service to customers.
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