Key Learnings

  • Being creative with your employee rewards programme can help to engage and motivate your employees, fostering team spirit and greater productivity
  • Money is satisfying but not the best long-term motivator so should be used in combination with other reward types
  • Including a range of reward types gives you a better chance of engaging all your employees, who will differ in character and personal values
Craig Bulow Founder of Corporate Away Days

Employee wellbeing is not just mindfulness and health, it is also reward and recognition. Rewarding your staff is a sure way to improve employee motivation, create an appreciative working culture and an atmosphere which improves overall company productivity and employee wellbeing.

Already, there is the beginnings of a cultural shift in organisations where leaders are understanding the need to implement wellbeing initiatives.

Let me share a few proven strategies for rewarding your staff, boosting overall wellbeing and developing an appreciative culture:

Time off

A few extra days off at either Christmas or New Year to enable them to extend their holidays. Or give them their birthday off or a duvet-day – these are effective ways to reward your best employees. The gift of time, which can be spent with family, or enjoying a mini-break without encroaching on annual leave is a welcome gesture to most people. As the employer is most likely taking a bit of time off, it’s nice to let some employees have the same luxury.

Appreciate personal wins

Don’t just appreciate employees for what they do for you – appreciate them beyond their work as well. If they’ve achieved a milestone in their lives outside the office, celebrate with them in the office. Decorate their cubicle with balloons and cards when they achieve a personal win, like completing a marathon, winning a tournament, losing weight (if they’ve been public with their diet), having a baby, buying a new home or graduating from a class.

The trophy

Fun, laughter and recognition. Get a big trophy and give it to the employee you are recognising for the month. At the end of the month, they must return the trophy - but they need to add one thing to it. (You would be shocked how many things can stick to a trophy.) Then next month give it to the next winner. At the end of the year, you'll have a trophy with 52 things stuck to it. It looks hysterical and has lots of memories. Retire the trophy and put it in your reception area. Start a new trophy and do it every year.

Flexible hours and flexible working

Let your team work when and where they want. The flexibility can be worth a lot more than cash. Maybe they won’t need daycare services for their child, for example, if they can make their own schedule. Perhaps reducing the commute into the office can pay for better productivity i.e. time not spent travelling and less stress on the employee.

Corporate away days

A corporate away day for individuals across the workplace, from different departments, instils trust, improves connections and communication, and brings individuals together. Mixing different departments is great, or you can reward a specific team if you prefer.

If the away day is exciting, engaging, inspiring and fun the collective experience and memories created will create a new buzz in the office which will spread.

Other employees will want to meet their work targets to be included in the next one. Videos and pictures from the day, shown in the office, create great discussions other than ‘work in progress’.

Office party

When celebrating the end of one year and the beginning of another, an office party can be an effective reward option. Office parties are great because they give people the opportunity to feel valued and let their hair down; two good consequences of the gesture. It might cost a little bit more money than the handwritten note, but your employees will thank you for it.


Money is the number one satisfier, but appreciation is the number one motivator.

A financial bonus might be given to reward hard work, or for completing a project on time, within budget, and to a high standard, or it may be for a sustained period of great work, or going the extra mile outside of their responsibilities.

It is an instant reward which can give the employee a sense of achievement and appreciation for their good work. Giving bonuses is one of the simplest rewards to manage as it can be easily monitored and given to multiple employees in privacy.

However, there is a downside; the reward is usually short-lived. Once negotiated and is expected/received, in the mind of the employee it becomes already spent and loses the reward value.

Founder’s wall

Instead of a wall of fame for employee photos, create a wall that not only recognises employees with a photo, but with a short description and timeline of how they have contributed to where the company is today. Make sure you can add to their accomplishments as they keep succeeding.

In summary

Be creative with the rewards you give your team members for their work. You’ll find you have a team with a greater overall sense of wellbeing which will be positive for your business.

Craig Bulow is the founder of Corporate Away Days, a corporate wellbeing events company delivering engaging, inspiring and exciting events focused on mindfulness/wellbeing and reward/recognition activities. Corporate Away Days also creates, designs and builds corporate wellbeing policies and provides leading experts for interactive workshops, seminars and talks on improving mental health and overall wellbeing. Every Corporate Away Days event and activity is chosen with wellbeing as its focus, helping to encourage employee engagement, foster connections and build relationships within the business.


Contributed by Craig Bulow
Neina Sheldon
Article by Neina Sheldon
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