5 Ways to Use Rewards & Recognition to Drive Employee Engagement

John Ruskin once said –

“A little thought and a little kindness are often worth more than a great deal of money.”

Even though this quote is more than a hundred years old, it still holds true, especially if we look at it from an employee rewards and recognition POV. The much followed hierarchy-of-needs model by Maslow also emphasizes that wages are definitely important and usually one of the most common motivators for labour. After all, money does satisfy the immediate necessities of employees, mostly by helping them buy the things they want. But what is really essential are the needs found on the higher levels, which are not associated with money, but with emotions like self-esteem, and a feeling of belonging.

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Employee engagement cannot be achieved in a day. Monetary rewards in terms of salary hikes and bonuses are definitely motivating for employees to work harder and stick to a company, but research has shown if you want your best employees to stick and actually ensure positive levels of employee engagement, you will have to plan your strategy in a way that focuses on a number of non-monetary rewards as well. Money is clearly not everything that motivates a great team to meet their goals and expectations.

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When putting together a strategy for employee rewards and recognition, it should be one that not just motivates them, but also gives them good reasons to stay in the company for many years. Companies should aspire to provide rewards that allow the creation of a strong emotional bond between the employees and the organization.

Four key areas where companies provide rewards are monetary compensation, personal development, organizational attributes, and benefits.

Below are a few tips that can be helpful in ensuring that your best employees are happy and consistent with delivering great results:

1. Create learning and growth opportunities

Companies where employees get to learn and better their skills along with their experience always value their association. One of the best ways to give plenty of room for your employees to grow is by organizing training programs for them. Training programs are always a good break for employees as they get to do something apart from their routine tasks.However, most training effors fail as they end up taking a lot of time in classroom sessions or moving around a lot! This does not work any more in today’s day and age as employees are more hard pressed for time than ever!

Training should be fun, backed by the objective of empowering, rather than just teaching.

For example, access to a brilliant library of content for employees to explore, interactive surveys and assessments, gamified challenges, certifications after completion of courses, bite size video lessons by seniors and subject matter experts available whenever required, regular real time notifications about product updates and a lot more!

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Training can be made fun with interesting content and highly engaging methods which employees not only learn from but also enjoy participating in. They can share their stories and highlight important information for you to note down. Ideally, training should be in line with the career path that employees want to take. Without this they usually become fruitless. Smart and ambitious people need mental stimulation to keep performing better. They like to be challenged and get exposed to new ideas. You should allow such people to get their hands on training materials that will help them learn and contribute to their teams. Sessions with experienced leaders and mentors could also be organized from time to time.

2. Provide flexible options

No employee likes to be ruled by policies and procedures that do not let him breathe or relax every now and then. It is important that employees follow what their bosses say, but it should not restrict their individuality. Your best employees have a lot of ideas which need to be heard. For this, they need to feel like being a part of a space where they can express their opinions freely, without any kind of fear or discomfort. If you want positive employee engagement levels, you should give them the liberty to try out their ideas in different areas and feel respected for their opinions.

The best performers are always those whose opinion is not only heard but also respected and looked up to. Flexibility can also be around work hours as most of the workforce today is mobile and prefers to have the liberty to work from anywhere. Employees also give a lot of importance to personal responsibilities and the smart workforce of today knows how to juggle between work and personal life. They should be given the option of being able to work at their own pace, provided they have a record of brilliant and consistent performance.

3. Recognize their efforts

This might be one of the most impactful and indirect ways of motivating your employees. You should always give due recognition to high performers in front of a large number of people, as they feel valued. Hard work should never go unnoticed. There is no one form of recognition. It can be a simple email or it might be a good idea to go to the employee’s desk who has been consistently performing well in the past few months and congratulate him or her in front of the entire office. You could also hold sessions where you give some sort of a badge or a certificate to those who truly have made your company proud.

4. Empower them with ownership

The employees who have greater autonomy and who take critical decisions for their teams and organization are the ones who consider themselves empowered. Being disempowered and dependent on superiors for anything and everything will lead to dissatisfaction and such employees will always be on the look-out for better opportunities. You can motivate your employees by making them feel that their decisions and initiatives play a key role in defining the overall success of your organization. Employees should be given the autonomy to head projects as well as get their team together in achieving goals and targets beneficial to the business.

5. Have fun at regular intervals

Employees work hard and like to and want to have fun. A boring company with no fun activities will not motivate employees to give their best and stay committed to their work. There is nothing which is less motivating than the prospect of 9 hours of drudgery. You need to make the office a place employees love to go to work. You cannot expect positive levels of employee engagement without giving them what they want. Whenever there is any success, you could hold fun activity sessions to celebrate it.

You can also find ways to encourage them to enjoy each other’s company while working on engaging tasks together. Meal vouchers at the café with attractive options is also something most employees prefer. Free lunches, bagels, donuts, anything are always winner! You can also organize weekly fun sessions that employees look forward to. There can be courses or programs which help employees de stress.

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About the Author

Bhaswati B

Bhaswati is a Product Specialist at Capabiliti, a mobile-first training and engagement solution for enterprises. Passionate about economics, Bhaswati also loves storytelling. She has a keen interest in start-ups, food and travel. In her 'me time' she picks up fiction novels, tries different cuisines or explores routes to less-traveled places on the world map. Follow her @Bhaswatibh