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How To Build The Reward Program of Your Employees’ Dreams

At the end of the day, after all your employees clock out and have gone home to their families, there’s one thing you can guarantee is on their minds: 

Reward programs. 

Well, that’s probably not true. But it’s also not as untrue as it may first sound. 

See, the truth is that employee rewards programs are a lot more than just a fun business trend (editor’s note: is there such a thing as a “fun” business trend?). They’re not only a tool for you to increase both performance levels and engagement among your employees, they’re actually a way for employees to realize their true potential. 

Sounds a little too poetic for your tastes? Staples conducted a survey of employees who participated in a reward program, by the numbers

85% of employees felt “more valued.”

Nearly three quarters were “happier and more motivated.” 

And 6 out of 10 employees felt “more productive and able to get better results.”

Those aren’t numbers to brush off. Simply by instituting an employee reward program, you’re helping your team to work more efficiently, deliver better performances, and feel a deeper sense of their own value within your organization. 

Whether they’re dreaming about a specific rewards program is debatable… and unlikely. But you can be sure that your employees are dreaming about that kind of satisfaction at their jobs. 

Here’s how you can deliver a great employee reward program. 

Outline Everyone’s Goals

We spend a lot of time on this blog talking about how setting goals is like rocket fuel for employee engagement levels. Not only does it help them to orient themselves to their role, but it also grounds their work in real, long-term results. 

So why wouldn’t you be setting goals for yourself and your projects? 

For an employee rewards program to be its most successful, you have to have both your employees’ goals and your own goals in mind from the outset. 

What are you hoping for from this program? Are you simply trying to boost employee engagement? Are you trying to get everyone in your sales division to hit a certain monthly goal? Are you hoping to decrease turnover? 

As Inc’s Jeff Haden points out, there are three great questions to ask yourself at the outset of building a rewards program: 

“Where are your team’s skill gaps?” … “What are important programs, products, or initiatives for your business over the next 30 or 90 days?” … “What behaviors do you want to change or impact with your team?”

By setting goals for your reward program, you’re contextualizing it—rather than simply creating one just because some excellently-written blog post told you to. At the end of the day, this is about improving aspects of your business by raising employee performance to the next level.

Plus, if you don’t have a goal in mind, then your employees won’t have concrete direction in their goals either. Bad practices tend to flow from the top down, so start things off on a good note for everyone.

Set Benchmarks: Determine How Employees Can Earn Points & Rewards

Once you’ve determined the goals of the program, then you have to figure out ways in which employees can earn rewards or points

Remember, this doesn’t have to be a one-size-fits-all solution: different departments are going to earn points in different ways—just make sure that they’re scaled evenly: at the end of the day, it’s about each individual employee performing to the highest standard of their role. You don’t need your HR team to carry out the same functions are your sales people. 

Moreover, a point system may not be the best idea of your employees. Maybe that just leaves some teams feeling discouraged at how little they’re earning, or resenting other teams for “racking up points,” which ends up taking the focus off of everyone’s individual development. 

What’s most important is that you find a system that works for you: maybe it’s as simple as setting a weekly benchmark related to your employees’ KPIs. If they hit that mark, they get the reward. 

Make Some Really Great Rewards: 3 Easy Ideas

And now that we’re on the topic of rewards, you might be scratching your head at exactly what that could look like. But don’t worry, we’ll be the first to tell you: you don’t have to spend your annual budget on insane reward trips (though, nobody’s arguing that we could all use a week in Hawaii). 

Right off the top, here are a few simple and cost-effective rewardsthat your employees will actually want to work for: 

Give Them A Day Off: Any team or employee who hits a certain benchmark can choose to not come in on a certain Friday of that month. If we’re all being honest, sometimes we are working for the weekend—so why not work extra hard for a three-dayer to spend some extra time with family and friends? 

Make Lunch Not Suck: For the majority of us, lunch is either throwing a few bucks at the nearest fast-casual spot, or eating some boring meal-prepped Tupperware at your desk. It’ll be worth ten times the cost of you taking those high achievers to a nice lunch with the boss just for the output you’ll get.

Dole Out The Perks: Whether it’s taking over the corner office for a week, getting first-floor access in the parking garage, or even getting priority access to the conference room. Passing out temporary perks are more valuable than most employees will care to admit.

Remember The 3 R’s: Reward, Recognize, Repeat

At the end of the day, what makes these employee reward programs so great is consistency. Show your employees that you’re listening to their needs, recognizing them for the hard work they’re putting in, and then putting your proverbial money where your mouth is—follow through. 

The reward program of your employees’ dreams is the one that gets them to feel like they’re working at their dream job. And with the right thought, and a few simple tools, you can make that dream come true.