Why Your Company Needs Employee Recognition and Rewards

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Want to drive employee engagement? Your first step should be to establish an employee recognition and rewards program.

The good news is, building recognition and employee rewards into your company culture is simple and inexpensive. And with a strategic approach, you can revolutionize retention, employee engagement, and productivity. 

What is employee recognition, and how does it work?

Let’s start on the same page. Here’s what we’re talking about when we talk about:

  • Employee recognition: Your acknowledgment of an employee’s results, performance, or attitude. (In this context, this is a celebration of something positive.)
  • Employee rewards: A token of recognition, such as a gift or opportunity.
  • Employee appreciation: Appreciation is recognition of an employee’s inherent value. Both recognition and rewards contribute to employee appreciation.

Employee recognition and rewards play a powerful psychological role in boosting engagement, productivity, and retention — sometimes in surprising ways.

Want to dig into the science? Check out our article, The Science of Employee Recognition and Rewards.

How does recognition affect employee engagement?

Research shows companies with highly engaged employees have 5 times higher shareholder returns over 5 years – and they outperform those with low employee engagement by 202%. With actively disengaged workers costing U.S. businesses up to $500 billion annually, companies can’t afford not to invest in engagement.

So, the solution? Recognizing and rewarding employee effort. Here are just a few of the stats that prove it:

  • The #1 reason people leave jobs is limited recognition and praise.
  • 81% of employees work harder when their boss shows appreciation.
  • 41% of companies that use peer-to-peer recognition report seeing increases in customer satisfaction.
  • 50% of employees would stay at their job longer if they felt appreciated.

Read the full guide: The Science of Recognition and Rewards

Ready for higher retention, performance, productivity, ROI, and more? A well-executed recognition and rewards program delivers, all while aligning your employees’ workplace happiness with your company’s goals.

What employee recognition and rewards look like today

Rewards and recognition have come a long way since the Mad Men era. But if gold watches and corner offices are still your company’s M.O., no worries – we’ll get you up to speed.

Today, recognition is more sophisticated than handing out rewards for work anniversaries. In fact, studies show that when recipients expect a reward for a given behavior, the reward itself becomes easier to take for granted. This diminishes the reward’s value and motivating power.

So old-school rewards programs may mean well, but they aren’t maximizing returns for their companies. So what is working?

What a recognition and rewards program can — and should — do for your company

Your recognition and rewards program should be tailored to your company’s unique needs. At the core, though, every program should provide these important things for its company: 

  • The ability to easily recognize and reward workers in real-time.
  • The ability to measure the results of your program.
  • The opportunity to reinforce behaviors that reflect your company’s mission, vision, and values.
  • Rewards that highlight and reinforce your culture.

Let’s break it down.

First, you want your program to be accessible to everybody in your company, and easy to use, even for non-techies. This is key to making a program a functional part of your culture. After all, company culture is lived every day.

Second, your recognition and rewards program should be linked directly to your company values. Identify the behaviors that reinforce your organization’s vision and reward them. Then your employees feel great about working toward the company’s goals —and everybody wins.

7 features of a next-level recognition and rewards program

So you’ve got the basics down – it’s time to implement. For true company-wide transformation, make sure your rewards and recognition program includes these 7 features:

1. Rewards catalog

Build your employee rewards program around a custom catalog stocked with prizes that boost your culture and resonate with your employees.

The greatest rewards are meaningful to their recipients, so recognize your employees’ diversity by letting them choose their rewards! Reward options like gift cards, unique experiences, company swag, or donations to good causes will all motivate different employees, so make sure you offer a wide variety to choose from.

2. Activity feed

Employee recognition is most powerful when delivered in real-time – and the more visible the recognition, the better. Keep your rewards program top of mind and help employees shine in a company-wide, social activity feed

Experts note that peer recognition may be just as motivating, if not more, than praise from a supervisor. So be sure your feed enables employees to recognize each other via high fives, props, or other kudos. 

Bonus: See real examples of how we use the feed at Kazoo in our blog post, How to Give Great Recognition.

Points-based recognition example: A team receives 50 points each

Learn how to give real-time recognition with Kazoo →

3. Nominations & awards

Traditionally, companies award employees for anniversaries, safety records, sales numbers, and more. Update this classic so that it reflects your company’s values. Then, bring it to the cultural level with employee buy-in.

So make it easy for employees to recognize their peers with in-platform nominations. And think outside the box to develop awards that celebrate your unique company culture. 

4. Insights and reporting

A view of the insights dashboard in Kazoo's Recognition and Rewards programAd hoc gifting – like taking employees to lunch or giving them a pat on the back – may go a long way toward making your workers feel appreciated.

But it’s impossible to optimize or evaluate what you can’t measure. So from an organizational standpoint, the best recognition and rewards programs will offer insights and analytics that tell you where rewards are translating into results.

Learn more about Kazoo’s people data and analytics →

5. People directory

Want to unify your office culture? Include a people directory in your platform — especially if your company is fast-growing, has multiple locations, or employs remote workers. This helps employees put names to faces, and facilitates cross-team and inter-office recognition.

6. Group rewards and point pooling

An example of a custom reward in Kazoo's recognition and rewards programThe benefits of collaboration include increased camaraderie and engagement, more productive meetings, healthier employees, and more. 

To encourage collaboration, grant employees the opportunity to pool their rewards points and go in on big rewards together, like snack delivery or in-office massages. Then, watch the team culture strengthen as they strive to succeed together.

Learn how to offer group rewards with Kazoo →

7. Behavior-boosting Incentives

Expand your rewards program to boost your culture with incentives. Because bonuses go beyond recognizing work well done. They clearly communicate other behaviors that matter to your organization.

These can include participation in wellness programs, sharing job postings, and using public transportation instead of driving to work. 

And now, you can manage it all in one place. Read:
What is an Employee Experience Platform?what is an employee experience Platform 1

Transform employee recognition and rewards with technology

Ready to transform your company’s retention, employee engagement, and ROI with the power of recognition and rewards? That’s where we come in.

Because at Kazoo, we’re passionate about bringing together all the tools you need to make work work better for everyone. That’s why the Kazoo Employee Experience Platform brings performance management and recognition and rewards — including Goals, Feedback, Conversations, Recognition, Incentives, and more — into one simple, easy-to-use platform.

If you’re ready to align, connect, and engage your workplace, check out our Kazoo overview. Or, schedule a personalized demo today.

Learn more