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Creating a Successful Employee Reward Program: 6 Key Strategies to Consider

Today’s workforce is more diversified than ever. And companies looking to leverage this rich and vast resource of multi-generational, multi-cultural and multi-lingual employees for competitive edge are finding employee reward programs very effective for upping employee satisfaction, spurring motivation and increasing productivity. Small businesses have the advantage of creating the employee rewards program they’d like to see implemented throughout the growth of the company.

The main challenge for companies in implementing a successful employee reward program is making sure the program is aligned with key business goals and objectives. To that end, here are six key strategies to consider for creating an employee reward program that works.

Begin with the end in mind: Corporate success comes from meeting specific goals, and those goals need to be made clear before implementing an employee reward program. After all, the achievement of corporate goals is dependent upon employee performance. And since employee performance is the product of actions and behaviors, both good and bad, it’s critical to reward employees in ways that reinforce only those actions and behaviors that align with corporate objectives and increase performance.

  • Make all employees eligible: In order to be successful, an employee rewards program must make all employees eligible for recognition. And that must be made abundantly clear to the entire workforce at the outset. Otherwise, at the first sign of favoritism, real or imagined, the program and those who implement it will suffer a damaging loss of credibility as employee morale takes a nose-dive. Without establishing and maintaining a level playing field for all employees even the best reward program will fail.
  • Make the program multigenerational and multicultural: No employee recognition program can be successful unless the rewards being offered are relevant and meaningful for all employees, regardless of age or culture. While taking generational and cultural differences among the workforce into account is no small feat for HR, the benefits are well worth the effort. A simple and direct way to gain a better understanding of what types of rewards might be preferred by employees of different generations and cultures is to ask them in an anonymous survey what culture they most closely relate to and what types of rewards motivate them most.
  • Give personalized rewards: While giving a reward that best matches the employee’s age and cultural background is critical, making that reward personal to them by including a note of thanks from upper management will go a long way in making the employee feel truly valued and appreciated. Long after the money is spent or the luster of the gift is gone, the power of a personal note or letter of recognition will continue to reinforce and reproduce positive employee behaviors.
  • Leverage technology: In order to be successful, employee reward programs must be effectively and efficiently communicated and promoted in order to maximize employee participation. In today’s tech connected world there are all kinds of ways to promote programs and educate employees using the communications platforms that they are most familiar with. Web based platforms, email, and social media are just a few tools that can be used to give extra depth and relevance to reward programs. And many companies are discovering the power of recognizing employees through social media platforms and delivering their rewards digitally.
  • Monitor effectiveness: Employee reward programs can go a long way in creating a positive corporate culture. That being said, it is still incumbent upon HR to show that the program is achieving the strategic objectives of the company, such as increased performance, productivity and ROI. Today’s sophisticated HR platforms allow businesses to accurately monitor and measure ROI as well as other key indicators of employee performance. Armed with this information, management has a better picture of how well the reward program is working as well as areas that can be improved upon to increase employee motivation and performance.

 The above six strategies will go far in helping an organization implement a successful employee reward program. To make any program more effective, it’s critical that employees understand that the reward is performance-based. It’s also important for management to present the reward sooner than later, as delaying a reward can dramatically reduce its effectiveness.

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