11½ Excellent Employee Reward Ideas

11½ Excellent Employee Reward Ideas

Nichole Gunn

Example of employee reward ideas - a tablet with a points program reward program featured onscreen, pink and orange gradient background

The Power of Meaningful Rewards 

Meaningful rewards go beyond the superficial. They have the potential to combat the daunting costs of employee turnover, a challenge faced by many businesses. Retaining top talent becomes even more critical in industries such as leisure and hospitality, health services, and business services currently grappling with labor shortages. In this blog, we’ll look at some of the top employee reward ideas to show your employees you care.

Navigating the New Norm: Remote Work 

In a world where remote work has become the norm, maintaining a positive and unified corporate culture is paramount. The right holiday rewards can play a pivotal role in fostering a sense of connection among your team members, despite the physical distance. 

Up Your Motivation Game with These Employee Reward Ideas 

Don’t be the company that goes viral for giving a laughably thoughtless employee rewards. Novelty items and branded office supplies may seem like easy choices, but they hardly bring joy to hardworking teams. Break free from the cycle of uninspired gifts and explore options that truly resonate. 

The good news is, you’re not short on options. Be the company known for thoughtful and impactful rewards. From experiences that create lasting memories to practical items that enhance remote work, there are possibilities aplenty. 

1. Health and Wellness Perks

According to a peer-reviewed Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA) report, workplace wellness programs can result in “significantly greater rates of some positive self-reported health behaviors.” Rewards like discounted or free gym memberships, yoga classes, wellness retreats, massages, etc. encourage healthy activities and self-care while showing that you’re invested in your employees’ wellbeing.

2. Flex Hours

They’re not the most obvious of employee reward ideas, but flexible hours are a great way to show your employees appreciation. Flexible working arrangements have been shown to reduce the risk of occupational stress, particularly for those with high job autonomy.

For commuter employees, flex hours can help them avoid the high stress and risk of rush hour traffic. Who wouldn’t want to get 1-2 hours of their day back just by changing when they leave for work?

Lastly, The International Labor Organization says that,

“Giving workers more flexibility in how, where and when they work can be positive both for them and for business, for example by improving productivity. Conversely, restricting flexibility brings substantial costs, including increased staff turnover.”

3. Gift Cards

Gift cards typically come to mind first when you think of employee reward ideas. They work especially well as employee rewards because they remove the guilt that sometimes comes with spending cash or debit card bonuses on unnecessary things.

With Extu’s GoTu Rewards option, sending gift card rewards is easier than ever. You just sign up, purchase the rewards you want to send, and distribute as needed. It’s perfect for companies who want to offer the occasional employee reward without the commitment and hassle of full-blown incentive programs.

4. Reward Points Programs

Reward point programs have proven to be a massive success in terms of motivating and rewarding employees, channel partners, and customers alike. Extu reward programs, for example, have achieved results such as 40% increase in sales, 20% margin growth, and 2X more product registrations

The freedom to reward audiences for any reason is great for companies who want to promote specific behaviors that fit with their corporate goals. Meanwhile, recipients love the ability to rack up points and spend them on the items of their choosing in online catalogs.

4 1/2. Experiences and Events in Reward Point Programs

When employees can redeem reward points for experiences and events, it’s major enough to warrant its own bonus ½ slot on this list. While the merchandise and utilities in reward catalogs are excellent employee reward ideas, experiences are special because of the big emotional impact and long-term memories they create. 

5. Time Off

People greatly appreciate time off. It can help employees de-stress and allow them to spend more time with friends and family, especially for holiday seasons. Those who go on long “holiday tours” to see all their loved ones, have new family members or in-laws to bond with, or host big get-togethers with extended families will feel massive appreciation for the company that granted them invaluable time off. 

6. Charitable Donation

Want to show your corporate values and give back with your employee reward ideas? You can donate to a charity in employees’ names, offer a charitable donation option in your reward points program, or give employees time off to volunteer for a cause they support.  To make it more personal and meaningful, invite employees to nominate charities and causes important to them.  

7. Remote Working Rewards

Don’t forget your remote workers! There are a few things that no home office is complete without, improving your work-from-home employees’ happiness and productivity. Desks and equipment are must-haves, of course. Ergonomic chairs, noise-cancelling headphones, standing desks, and exercise equipment such as mini ellipticals and bikes can boost focus and productivity, while treats like yoga mats espresso makers can make work breaks better than ever. 

8. Group Travel Incentives

Group travel incentives allow teams, departments or companies to come together to achieve a common goal or celebrate wins. It’s one of the most effective ways to build lasting bonds with top performers and associate your brand with positive, long-term memories.

In the 2023 Incentive Travel Index, 53% of senior managers said that incentive travel was a “need to have” for their company, and cited benefits of incentive travel included building company culture with a dispersed workforce, retaining talent, achieving desired business results, and competitive advantage in the hiring process. 

9. Corporate Events

Holding a corporate event outside the office is a great way to reward employees while accomplishing a goal at the same time. Whether it’s a multi-day seminar, a team-building outing, or group training, getting employees out of their home or building offices shakes things up and provides a stimulating new environment that can increase engagement and motivation.

A Frontiers in Psychology study showed that exploring new environments can enhance learning capabilities. This is most likely because new environments stimulate dopamine in the brain, which promotes the encoding of new information.

10. Plants

Plants are small but mighty rewards. Not only do they beautify space, but they can have a surprisingly powerful impact on mental and emotional wellbeing. A study published in American Society for Horticultural Science found that taking three-minute nature walks, time dedicated to choosing and caring for a plant, and even just looking at a plant placed on their desk reduced perceived stress.

11. Development Opportunities

Sometimes, the reason behind lacking employee motivation is the absence of challenging, engaging work. Offering training or learning opportunities for your employees—whether it’s a certification, a course, one-time training, or even resources to earn a new degree—is a great way to motivate them. When companies invest in their employees’ education and success, it motivates them to reach their potential. 

Break free from uninspired corporate gifts and embrace the power of meaningful rewards. In the face of labor shortages, thoughtful incentives not only combat employee turnover costs but also foster unity in remote work settings. The best part is, you don’t have to blow your budget to make a difference, especially with options like GoTu Rewards. As you plan for 2023, let your rewards be a testament to appreciation, making your employee reward ideas truly memorable for your hardworking team.