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        Rewards & Recognition: Investing in Employees

        Rewards & Recognition: Investing in Employees

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          Investing in employees through a workplace rewards and recognition scheme may be one of the most important things you’ve ever done as an employer.

          Companies with good values, who recognise the vital role of their workforce, are more likely to increase engagement and boost productivity across the board.

          Building a culture of recognition isn’t about giving someone a pat on the back every now and again: it’s about creating a sense of belonging at work for everyone.

          Employee receiving recognition for their work

          Why invest in employee development?

          A study by Workhuman in 2023 revealed almost half of all employees felt only “somewhat valued” by their employer, while 10% “never felt valued at all”. The figure was even higher among employees who didn’t spend as much time in the office, such as sales reps who were on the road. Almost one-third in this demographic said their achievements were “never recognised”.

          These figures are quite staggering, considering the direct link between employee satisfaction and productivity. Recently, we revealed how a happy workforce fuels productivity. No-one can afford to ignore the fact that 90% of employees feel it’s important to be happy at work. A big part of this is creating an environment where collaboration is encouraged, and people are inspired to do their best work in the knowledge their input is appreciated.

          Companies that invest in employees are more highly regarded in general by their workforce than those who fail to recognise achievements. In fact, businesses which scored low in polls about valuing their employees were even described as “demonstrating a lack of care” for workers.

          How can an employer achieve this?

          Research shows a rewards and recognition scheme makes employees feel valued. However, there’s no magic formula for suddenly increasing employee engagement. If your company has never tried anything like this before, it’s something you’ll need to develop over time. Your goal is to recognise employee achievements and celebrate when they attain their goals.

          Every employee initiative will be different – there’s no “one-size-fits-all” formula. Focus on meaningful employee appreciation and find out what works best for your company. You don’t need to spend a fortune on a rewards programme, as money can be tight for everyone during these challenging economic times.

          There are multiple relatively low-cost ways of rewarding your workforce that can achieve a positive impact.

          Public thank you

          One of the most effective ways of recognising an individual’s achievements is by simply saying a public thank you for a job well done. Saying thanks to someone who has attained their goals, completed a challenging project, or gone above and beyond what’s expected of them can have a positive impact.

          The best way to do it is to name them during a company meeting, or in an email to all staff, focusing on the excellent job they’re doing and recognising their contribution to the company’s success. Otherwise, if they’ve worked hard to reach a challenging goal, or accomplish a project with a tight deadline, they may not feel like making the extra effort in future if nobody recognises all the extra hard work they’ve done.

          Hand-written note

          In the same vein, a hand-written note from a manager thanking a staff member personally for their achievements can have a greater impact than an email. Written on a card, perhaps accompanied by a small gift, such as flowers or a voucher, can have a massive effect on morale, as the employee will see you’ve taken the trouble to go the extra mile.

          Offering time off

          The average UK employee works 18 full days’ unofficial, unpaid overtime annually because they need to keep on top of their workload.

          A popular way of recognising their hard work is to offer them time off if they’ve been putting in extra hours, such as working late or over the weekend. Give them an unexpected day off or permit them to leave early on a Friday for a long weekend.

          Give a small gift

          Giving employees even a small gift can have the same effect as a grand gesture.

          Think of relatively inexpensive but useful gifts that will make them feel appreciated, such as a coffee shop voucher, or a pair of tickets for the cinema, for example.

          Cover their costs

          If employees pay their own parking costs, or for public transport, consider a monthly reward whereby the company covers transport expenses for top-performing employees. Offer them a free bus or train pass, free parking or a voucher to spend on petrol for one month.

          Company blog

          Most companies have a blog or newsletter to communicate information to the workforce.

          Featuring the top performers each week or month on your blog will increase their sense of belonging. It will give them recognition and will let everyone know that your business has an ethos of caring for its workforce.

          It can also be a great way of recruiting new talent, as anyone who reads the features can see that your company appreciates hard work. 

          Company activity

          On a larger scale, you can recognise great work by hosting a special activity outside of the office.

          If your company has had an exceptionally good year, or if a project has turned out even better than expected, why not fund a group BBQ, a meal in a restaurant or something different like an indoor skiing experience? This boosts morale and is also a great bonding experience for everyone.

          Pay rise

          If your budget can accommodate it, a pay rise is always welcome for employees who continually go above and beyond the call of duty, exceed targets, achieve goals and ensure the smooth running of their department.

          A one-off financial bonus will also be welcome, as anything extra in their monthly salary will make your employees happy.

          Don’t have a “favourite”

          However, on a note of caution, be mindful of praising the same people in the office every time. The last thing you want is for other employees to see someone as your “favourite”, as this could create negativity and discourage others from trying as hard.

          Rewards are meant to encourage, not make people feel inadequate because the same employees are recognised every time.

          Companies with good recognition programmes

          Many major brands have put in place spectacular employee reward and recognition systems. For example, Walt Disney Studios in Burbank, California, recognises achievements in its Legends Plaza.

          Individuals who’ve had a significant impact on Disney theme parks and films over the years are invited to have a plaque or handprint on the plaza, in the same way as celebrities on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

          Unilever hosts its own Unilever Heroes Awards for employees who have made exceptional contributions to the company. Winners are invited to a special global conference each year, where they are honoured before 400 senior managers from the consumer goods company. 

          Serviced offices London

          Employee satisfaction is directly linked to wellbeing in the workplace, so it’s important to ensure everyone feels included and valued with a positive company culture.

          A bespoke workplace with an office-centric ethos, such as BE Offices’ serviced offices in London, will create a climate that brings people together.

          A flexible environment and employee-driven approach helps everyone feel valued, as the office space is designed to reduce stress, improve moods and inspire a positive atmosphere.


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