12 Best Employee Award Ideas

12 Best Employee Award Ideas

Discovering effective employee rewards can transform your team’s motivation and productivity, so we’ve gathered insights from CEOs and marketing managers to shed light on what truly works. From the simplicity of “Peer-to-Peer Star Recognition” to the career-enhancing “Employee of the Month,” explore the diverse range of twelve rewarding strategies that have proven successful in various workplaces.

  • Peer-to-Peer Star Recognition
  • Peer Bonuses
  • Company-wide Acknowledgment
  • Communal Rewards
  • Event Tickets
  • Tiered Commissions
  • Off-Site Team Events
  • Flexible Work Options
  • Unlimited PTO
  • Professional Development Support
  • Professional Adventure Days
  • Employee of the Month

Peer-to-Peer Star Recognition

The technique of distributing stars to each other for work done well is the strategy that came out first in my group as being most motivational. It allows each team member to issue a star to a team member who has gone above and beyond—contributed to the team positively or demonstrated excellence in what they produced, as long as it fell within one of our operating values. The stars have a monetary value of $20 each and can be accumulated and used to buy something personal for the person the ‘star’ was issued to.

The beauty of this system lies in its peer-to-peer recognition aspect, fostering a supportive work environment where contributions are acknowledged by fellow team members, not just management. Ultimately, this method raises morale and also reinforces the link between our core values and daily actions, inspiring our team members to exhibit these values in their job and interdependencies.

Although we lack concrete quantitative data to fully support this theory, anecdotally our team can tell you that this method not only increased motivation, but we all felt more like a cohesive unit and were appreciative of the efforts each of us was putting in. It’s been absolutely wonderful to see how much more everybody is going above and beyond when they know they are getting recognized for it. Plus, since people get to choose whatever gift they want, there is a personal bonus too.

Summing it all up, this star system, while nothing new or groundbreaking, has been a very simple yet powerful tool to support our core values, motivate employees, and foster a positive and productive culture here at work.

Blake SmithBlake Smith
Marketing Manager, ClockOn

Peer Bonuses

I’m hugely passionate about incentivizing top performance, so at EchoGlobal, we implemented peer bonuses—employees can nominate colleagues for $100 cash rewards based on examples of going above and beyond. It empowers team members to recognize true outliers each quarter.

The peer angle made it meaningful—receiving kudos from your work friends has a tremendous impact! Plus, it fits our startup culture beautifully. Beyond the cash, it’s society acknowledging your contributions. And nothing beats society’s support in motivating people to push boundaries!

Since rolling it out, I’ve observed a marked increase in team camaraderie. People celebrate wins together more. It’s also helped us retain top creative talent—they feel truly valued by their peers. I can’t overstate the power of social recognition. I believe it’s the future of incentives!

Lou ReverchukLou Reverchuk
Co-Founder and CEO, EchoGlobal

Company-wide Acknowledgment

At DasFlow, we’ve had great success with a Peer Recognition Program. Employees nominate their colleagues for exceptional work, which is then celebrated company-wide, often during team meetings or through internal newsletters.

This program not only acknowledges hard work and achievements but also fosters a positive company culture by encouraging team members to appreciate and recognize each other’s efforts. It’s a simple yet powerful way to boost morale and motivation, as it makes employees feel valued not just by management, but by their peers as well. I highly recommend this approach for its positive impact on team spirit and motivation.

Nicolas KraussNicolas Krauss
Founder and CEO, dasFlow Custom Sublimation Apparel

Communal Rewards

One reward that’s been hugely motivating for our team is the promise that everyone benefits when the company succeeds. We operate under the principle that if we do well collectively, the spoils get shared. Now, don’t get me wrong—monetary bonuses are definitely a big piece of that. But it’s also about recognizing people’s hard work and what they specifically contribute. This approach makes sure that everyone feels invested in our shared goals and sees how their efforts tie directly to the company’s performance.

By linking rewards and kudos to how we’re doing overall, we’ve nurtured this culture of collaboration and having each other’s backs. It’s proven super effective at motivating the team and keeping us unified around where we’re headed. When people feel success is communal, they work more efficiently together and with a sense of shared purpose. For us, this communal vision of rewards has been crucial.

Dr Mark Farrell (Fia)Dr Mark Farrell (Fia)
CEO, Associate Professor & Actuary, ProActuary Jobs

Event Tickets

Surprise them with event or festival tickets of their choice. One employee reward that has worked well to motivate employees and my team is the Annual Treat of Event Tickets. Instead of traditional rewards and bonuses, we provide them with event or festival tickets. In my experience, gifting special event tickets to your employees provides them with a memorable experience they are likely to be grateful for, and it gives you the opportunity to personalize the reward.

We pay attention to each employee’s interests and provide them with tickets based on their liking. For example, if an employee is a fan of an out-of-town sports team, we provide them with tickets to see their team play the local sporting team. As a remote company, we cannot build excitement about our upcoming reward in person. Therefore, we use videos to encourage our employees to start the countdown to reward time.

Naima ChNaima Ch
Chief Marketing Officer (CMO), Set Alarm Online

Tiered Commissions

One employee reward that has worked well to motivate my employees and my team is tiered commissions. Commissions are incredibly important for sales companies such as ours, which focus on buying distressed real estate. These are high-ticket sales and thus have strong commissions for our sales reps.

However, having a static, fixed sales commission becomes less and less motivating to one as they work more. To tackle this, we focused on providing a tiered commission, which goes up as a percentage throughout the month the more properties that our team is able to buy.

By doing things in this way, when one has a period of high momentum, that momentum continues to build on top of itself through more deals.

Sebastian JaniaSebastian Jania
CEO, Ontario Property Buyers

Off-Site Team Events

One effective reward that has significantly motivated our team is organizing off-site team events. Taking the team out for activities like picnics, movie days, or sports events, especially during a workday, adds an element of surprise and excitement.

These outings provide a refreshing break from the routine, allowing everyone to unwind and bond. They not only serve as a token of appreciation but also foster a sense of unity and collaboration within the team, which in turn boosts overall morale and productivity.

Marco Genaro PalmaMarco Genaro Palma
Content Marketing Manager, PRLab

Flexible Work Options

Implementing flexible work arrangements as a reward proved to be a transformative strategy, profoundly influencing employee motivation within our team.

By providing the option for remote work, compressed workweeks, or flexible hours, we empowered individuals to tailor their schedules according to their personal needs. This flexibility not only facilitated a more harmonious work-life balance but also underscored our commitment to the well-being of our employees.

The freedom to choose when and where work took place instilled a sense of autonomy, resulting in increased job satisfaction and overall morale. Team members, now able to align their professional responsibilities with personal commitments, experienced a heightened sense of control and recognition. This innovative reward enhanced the individual quality of life for employees and fostered a more collaborative and productive team environment.

Jeffrey PitrakJeffrey Pitrak
Marketing Account Manager, Transient Specialists

Unlimited PTO

One reward our team loves is our unlimited PTO policy. By trusting our people to take time off as needed, we empower them to prioritize both work and personal well-being. Our employees return energized and committed to doing their best work. Our unrestricted vacation policy has been invaluable for attracting and retaining top talent, while also boosting engagement and loyalty.

Gideon RubenGideon Ruben

Professional Development Support

An effective reward system we have implemented at Co-Spec Building & Pest Inspections is the Professional Development Support. We believe in not just rewarding current performance, but also investing in our employees’ future growth.

As such, we provide support for professional development activities, such as industry-related courses or certifications, to employees who showcase exceptional dedication and potential. This support can be in the form of course fee reimbursements, study leaves, or even mentorship from our senior staff.

This initiative does more than just motivate; it empowers our team members, fosters a culture of learning, and helps us retain valuable talent by showing our commitment to their individual career progression.

Robert MudgeRobert Mudge
Managing Director, Co-Spec Building & Pest Inspections

Professional Adventure Days

An employee reward that I have implemented, which is both distinctive and reliable, is the Professional Adventure Day. As an alternative to the customary bonus, staff members are granted a day off to delve into an industry or vocation that piques their interest.

Team members may select a field or vocation unrelated to their current position and spend the day shadowing or assisting professionals in that field. This incentive motivates staff members to try out a day in the life of a scientist, chef, or artist, thereby fostering the acquisition of new knowledge and experiences.

This not only incentivizes personnel through the provision of a stimulating prospect but also cultivates ingenuity and an inclination toward investigation. It results in team members who are more inspired and well-rounded, thereby contributing novel viewpoints to their work.

Keeping employees interested and engaged, this one-of-a-kind incentive has proven to be an invaluable component of our motivational strategy.

John ButterworthJohn Butterworth
Founder and CEO, 10kschools

Employee of the Month

We implement an Employee of the Month program and publicly recognize outstanding employees within the company. It provides employees with a clear and achievable goal—striving to be recognized as the Employee of the Month. This goal-setting aspect encourages them to excel in their roles.

I believe the public recognition aspect of this reward is crucial. When employees see their hard work acknowledged in front of their colleagues, it boosts their self-esteem and sense of achievement. This recognition creates a positive atmosphere in the workplace, fostering a sense of belonging and pride among team members.

Amy TribeAmy Tribe
Director, OGLF (Our Good Living Formula)

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