Do employee reward programs really affect employee motivation & workplace morale?

One of the most significant concerns employers experience is how to keep employees motivated and engaged at work. It may seem like a problem that would simply require the right combination of pay and rewards to produce the right results, but employees aren’t as easily motivated as one would think, though that isn’t necessarily a surprise to use in the Human Resources field. We have long known that recognition and relationships go much further than empty rewards, but how do rewards programs fit into the grand scheme of workplace engagement?

Rewards programs can’t stand alone

Numerous studies have shown that the vast majority of employees prefer recognition for their contributions at work far more than they do rewards and gifts. However, rewards and gifts certainly can have their place when basic necessities are fulfilled. In the same way that added perks such as concierge dry cleaning isn’t even a drop in the bucket when compensation isn’t competitive and fair, rewards programs launched without the willingness of management to recognize and praise employees are a waste of time and funds. Therefore, the first step to utilizing rewards to improve morale and engagement is to foster a culture of motivation, recognition and opportunity. Once that foundational piece is in place, rewards programs can be a good investment.

Not all rewards are the same

In a study conducted by Forbes, it was reported that nearly 87 percent of workplace reward programs are centered on tenure rather than achievement. Time invested in a company is something worth celebrating but if your program doesn’t extend past that, the results of your time and effort will likely be disappointing. In short, not all rewards are the same and therefore not all the effects felt from the awards will be the same. Rather than only celebrating five years with your organization, celebrate milestones along the way, such as meeting sales goals, being recognized for an outstanding performance or providing excellent service. Employees will appreciate the tangible rewards that go along with the recognition but most of all it will provide another source of frequent and regular recognition and serve as a reminder for managers to take the opportunity to celebrate the employee as well.

The difference it makes

Overall, your company’s rewards program likely does play into employees’ satisfaction, but not because they’re crazy about the clock that will sit on their desk when they reach 10 years of service. What does excite them is the recognition they receive for a job well done, and the tangible reward that comes along with that. Rewards are not the source of satisfaction for employees but are a reminder of what it felt like to achieve a goal or do an excellent job and be recognized by supervisors or peers because of it. You’re your rewards program is carefully crafted to fit within an overall recognition program, it’s not only a contributing factor of motivation and engagement but propels an environment of recognition throughout the company.


What rewards have you seen work best and what achievements were they tied to? Let us know in the comments section below.

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