March 8, 2024
March 1, 2024

9 Proven Strategies for Employee Rewards and Recognition in 2023

Employee Recognition for a Modern Workforce
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2023 is going to be the culmination of some alarming trends, such as record levels of employee dissatisfaction, disengagement, and turnover. These trends have the potential to have big negative impacts on any business. But it’s not all bad: adapting to shifting employee expectations will build you up for success, despite current challenges.

Employee rewards and recognition is a big part of what employees want and expect at their workplace. Over 90% of people want recognition at work, and yet 62% of employees say they’re hardly ever shown appreciation. And companies are learning that if employees don’t get what they want, they’ll leave.

Here are 9 strategies for implementing and improving rewards and recognition this year:

  1. Offer various recognition programs
  2. Make recognition more frequent
  3. Recognize and celebrate milestones
  4. Promote and recognition wellness
  5. Mix digital and physical recognition
  6. Personalize rewards for more meaningfulness
  7. Create rewarding incentives
  8. Gift more career advancement
  9. Give more team building opportunities

For 2023, employee rewards and recognition need to be a priority. Not only does recognition raise engagement, productivity, and performance by 14%, but it also makes employees happier and more excited to be a part of your business and culture. Below, we broke down some strategies for both employee recognition and employee rewards so that you can make this year as effective as possible.

5 Employee Recognition Ideas for 2023

Employee recognition is the act of noticing employees’ efforts and recognizing them for what they bring to the table. Recognition can be as simple as a handwritten note or as involved as a promotion or raise. Recognition should be foundational for your business in 2023— Here are some easy ways to either start or improve your recognition efforts.

1. Offer Various Recognition Programs and Avenues

The key for this year is recognizing that all of your employees are different—not only does this mean that DEI initiatives are important, it also means employees all have different preferences when it comes to being recognized. According to Deloitte, most employees want recognition that is delivered privately, not shared with others. However, others appreciate social shoutouts and more public praise.

Another consideration is cash. Cash isn’t always the best way to recognize. Many employees want things like more growth opportunities, more responsibility, or more trust.

Try to introduce different ways to show recognition to employees. Here are just some of the program ideas you can implement:

  • Peer-to-peer programs
  • Manager-to-peer programs
  • Social shoutout programs
  • Employee development programs
  • Employee-of-the-month or wall-of-fame programs
  • Care package programs (especially for remote workers)

Reach your employees in the way that means the most to them with varied recognition.

2. Make Recognition Much More Frequent

People spend 40 hours a week doing tasks at work, and they want to know they’re helping the team and the company succeed. In fact, nowadays, employees want constant feedback to know what they’re doing matters.

Constant feedback may sound intimidating, but recognition doesn’t have to be a big resource pit—it only has to be genuine, based on things like attitude or performance, to really mean something to your employees.

The key to remember here is that recognition should be given for both the small stuff and the big stuff. Birthdays, holidays, end-of-quarter accomplishments, etc., should all be recognized—but so should a good idea during brainstorming, a positive attitude, and a willingness to help. Use your varied recognition programs to make gratitude and appreciation more frequent for all.

3. Recognize and Celebrate Milestones

When you think milestones at work, your first thought is probably employee service awards for work anniversaries. And you’re right, celebrating each year with your employees is a big deal! However, one of the main priorities for many employees is greater work-life balance, so why not contribute to that by recognizing milestones in your employees’ personal lives?

Birthdays are the logical next step; don’t ignore them! Make sure employees get something for their birthdays, whether it’s points on the recognition platform, a favorite snack, or a day of PTO. On top of that, celebrate things like getting married, buying a home, or having a baby. These life events are a big deal to your employees, and if you celebrate with the employees, they’ll appreciate you even more.

4. Promote and Recognize Employee Wellness

Employee levels of stress and burnout are higher than ever before. A great way to combat that trend is through employee wellness programs, including:

  • Career wellness (stability, development, upward trajectory)
  • Physical wellness (gym membership reimbursement, exercise breaks)
  • Mental wellness (mental health resources, stress management programs)
  • Financial wellness (financial education classes, investment opportunities)

These types of programs are great at helping employees improve their all-around wellness, which helps them stay focused and happy at work and in life. When you recognize employees who participate in these wellness programs, you encourage these healthy behaviors, as well.

Developed, effective wellness programs aren’t a simple luxury—they improve retention and engagement, and they make your workplace more attractive to potential talent, too.

5. Mix Digital and Physical Recognition

Digital tools are phenomenal ways to reach all of your employees, especially if you have remote, hybrid, or dispersed people. And employee recognition platforms make it easier than ever to manage, automate, and budget digitally.

However, don’t forget about physical expressions of gratitude. A genuine in-person compliment, a handwritten note in the mailbox, or even just a snack can be the most meaningful recognition of all. For example, Awardco uses AwardCodes, physical recognition cards that allow leaders to print and hand out personalized messages and reward points.

4 Employee Reward Ideas for 2023

Rewards are an integral part of employee recognition—not that every recognition needs a reward, but when you recognize behavior and give rewards, employees are much more likely to repeat that behavior. (Plus, they’re happier. Who doesn’t like earning a reward?)

Here are some reward strategies to remember going into 2023.

1. Personalize Rewards to Maximize Meaningfulness

Everyone has different tastes, personalities, motivations, and goals, right? So why would you give everyone the exact same reward or gift? While you may assume that a one-size-fits-all approach saves time, cookie-cutter gifts and rewards can actually have the opposite of the desired effect: employees will feel unimportant or uncared for.

Make the rewards you offer mean something for your employees. Give gifts that your people actually want. Only then will the rewards you invest in provide the desired outcome: feelings of gratitude and loyalty in your employees. Talk to your employees to figure out what means the most to them, and customize your rewards to match that.

Recognition platforms like Awardco make it easy to offer varied gifts and rewards, and they even let you automate the processes so you can save time. The key here is, make sure the rewards you offer are things your employees want.

2. Create Rewarding Incentives

Incentives are great ways to drive behavior, and when you combine incentives with employee recognition and rewards, you can incentivize many different behaviors and reward those who excel. Some examples of incentives you can consider include:

  • Wellness incentives. As mentioned above, improving employee wellness should be a priority. Create a way to reward those who participate in your wellness programs, and watch your organization’s overall well-being rise.
  • Performance incentives. Incentivize awesome work by rewarding those who do it. Create rewards that reach everyone to foster collaboration, not competition. Customize your incentives for each team or department, such as sales, engineering, or customer service. Make sure to include frontline, warehouse, or production floor employees, too.
  • Participation incentives. Need employees to participate in surveys, training, or security compliance? Incentivize people to participate by offering some sweet rewards! They don’t have to be big—a couple points or a small snack would be perfect.

Rewards for incentives can range from physical rewards, gift cards, away-from-work activities (such as hobby classes or event tickets), or even PTO. Find rewards that really motivate people, and make sure that you recognize anyone who makes an effort.

3. Gift More Career Advancement

Professional development is a huge part of why employees stay at a company. One in two employees want to develop their skills, but they often don’t know where to begin. So instead of rewarding a job well done with physical rewards, instead give out opportunities to learn and develop.

Employees will love the fact that their employers are invested in their success, and they’ll know that their position is a long-term solution for their needs. This can cut back on turnover and cut down on the skill gaps at your organization.

4. Give the Gift of Team Building

With remote and hybrid work taking over, teamwork, friendships, and communication need to be a focus in 2023. What better way to build bonds and improve relationships than fun, team building opportunities as rewards?

Team building can be as simple as taking a team out to lunch, or it can be a full night of festivities by hosting a company party or planning team activities, such as an escape room or team cooking class.

The key is, rewards don’t have to only be for one person—offer rewards for teams and then base those rewards around creating fun experiences and helping them get to know each other better.

How Awardco Can Help

Awardco is built around the idea of recognizing employees for their value and rewarding them with things they’ll actually like. Our platform prioritizes flexibility, customization, and automation so that you can create your own customized recognition programs, offer the rewards that you want to offer, and save yourself some time and effort.

Awardco makes it easy to make work more rewarding for everyone.

Build a Foundation of Employee Rewards and Recognition

Your employees are the lifeblood of your company—when they feel valued, supported, and important, they’re more productive, engaged, and happy. That means better ROI for you and a better culture for everyone. Rewards and recognition play a huge part in building that culture and in showing your employees how much you appreciate them.

Use these strategies to adapt to the workplace trends and future-proof your rewards and recognition.