Employee Rewards Are Not One-Size Fits All

Employee rewards not one size fits all

Showing team members that they are valued doesn't have to be complicated or expensive, but praise and thank yous can have an enormously positive impact on your employees' engagement. It's important, however, to figure out what motivates your employees before doling out the kudos. Even though it's an easy go-to, not everyone on your team is motivated by receiving company-branded schwag. If you really want to personalize your rewards program, consider encouraging employees to create a "Favorite Things" spreadsheet or shared Google doc where they can add items they like so recognition can be customized. To understand the best ways to reward employees, ask questions such as:

  • What's your favorite place to shop?
  • What's your favorite sports team?
  • Coffee or tea?
  • Salty or sweet?
  • What are your top three favorite movies?

The key to successful employee rewards is being creative, thoughtful and attuned to their preferences and personalities. Here, we've taken a look at some common (and not so common) methods of reward and categorized them by personality type.

incentivizing employees

Incentivizing Extroverts

  • Boss for the day. Reward an employee by letting them act as Boss for the Day. They can make some new rules for the team, such as Jeans Week or Taco Tuesdays for the month (where management buys the food).
  • Recognition in front of peers. Feature your employees' achievements by recognizing them in a company-wide meeting.
  • Team Ambassador. Reward your extrovert with an opportunity to represent the team in a senior leadership meeting they typically would not attend. Ask them to report back on the meeting to the team.
  • Surprise slow clap. This one sounds super-cheesy, but your extroverts will bask in the glow of extra attention. Gather the entire team in a conference room without the employee knowing. When they walk in, start a slow clap that turns into a standing ovation.

Incentives for the Introverts

  • A hand-written note. A personal thank-you written with sincerity and details about a job well done can sometimes mean the most to an introverted employee.
  • Company-wide email. Hand written notes are great, but a message that is seen by the whole workplace can be a great reward for your introverts. It's not as intimidating as an in-person "thank you" at a large company meeting.
  • Their favorite liquor (or treat). This reward depends on the person, of course, but if you know they have a favorite brand of vodka or varietal of wine, leaving a bottle on their desk with a thank-you card is an effective reward. (Of course, chocolate can work just as well.)

work-success-bonus

Bonuses for Both Workplace Personality Types

  • A team shopping spree. If you hit a sales goal or other numbers-based milestone (number of clients, unique website visits, etc.), use it as the basis for celebration. Say your goal is 250,000 website visitors. Give each employee $250 and tell them they have an hour to spend the money on themselves. Set a meeting point in the middle of the mall for a show-and-tell about what they bought. This one can get pricey, so it's best used with smaller teams.
  • Spontaneous time off. Send a quick email that says, "Outstanding presentation today! It's a beautiful afternoon. Go enjoy it."
  • Peer-to-peer recognition. Create a peer recognition program to enable employees to reward each other. Every month, the employee who received the most awards is awarded a gift card. Or, you can enter everyone who received an award into a drawing.
  • Create a rewards website. Plenty of companies are out there that can set up a points system with a gift catalog for your company. Some offer peer-to-peer recognition as well as manager recognition.
  • Brand-name thanks. Give employees a treat to express your appreciation: Life Savers, Kudos or Hundred Grand bars, etc. with a punny card can be a fun way to say, "Thanks!"
  • Cash bonuses. Because everyone likes a few extra bucks!

Both of the personality types at your company need to feel that their work is meaningful to create a culture of motivation and engagement. They want to see that what they do is part of the big picture. Providing rewards and incentive for positive behavior that's tied to the business' mission helps employees understand the impact their work has toward the goals of the company.

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