How to use Reward and Recognition as an Employee Engagement tool


When a business has high levels of employee engagement, they will see a range of great benefits, from increased productivity to higher levels of customer satisfaction. A happy employee is more committed to their employer and willing to put in extra effort to get results.

A recent article published by Forbes revealed that highly engaged teams show 21% greater profitability, which underlines just how much impact engagement has upon the financial success of a business. Therefore, businesses that are not investing time or money into driving employee engagement stand to lose out on the large return on that investment.

Even businesses that don’t have the luxury of large budgets for rewarding employees can look at ways to increase engagement levels at little or no cost. Here are some of the most effective Reward and Recognition ideas for boosting employee engagement without a big budget:

Employee of the Month

Having an award for the employee of the month is a great way to recognise an employee’s contribution. You don’t have to spend much; a small value voucher, or even a bottle of wine or box of chocolates and a certificate will still make people feel valued. For this type of recognition to work well, you must share news of the award and give good rationale for the selection of the winner, which will also help other employees to understand how they can improve their performance. Peer voted awards are highly effective, so you can organise a voting system so that employees can nominate their colleagues.

Feedback and Thank You’s

Providing regular feedback and ensuring that good work is recognised is really important. Even if it is just saying ‘I think you handled that customer really well’ or a thank you for staying a bit longer than their shift to get something done, just showing your appreciation can help boost an employee’s morale. Feedback should be as personal as possible, drawing on specific reasons that you think their work was good, rather than a generic thank you that doesn’t really mean anything.

Team meals or drinks

Teams that socialise together generally demonstrate more productive collaboration and good teamwork. Being able to spend time out of the work environment and talking about topics other than work will help to develop stronger bonds and if you can pay for the meal and/or drinks out of the budget then the team will feel rewarded. You can have a regular award for best team and have it linked to a specific metric that aligns to business performance and the reward is a meal out for the team.

Fun days

Another easy and non-expensive way to boost employee engagement is to have a fun day that is themed, having relaxed dress (if there is usually a formal dress policy) or even dressing up for the theme. For example, having a decade or superhero themed day with games and activities and fun awards based on the chosen theme.

Struggling for inspiration? Why not check our favourite Games To Motivate Your Customer Service and Sales Teams

Personal development opportunities

Employees that feel supported to develop and progress have higher levels of engagement, so rewarding employees by providing development opportunities is another great idea to try. As well as showing that you value the employee’s efforts and have a big interest in their future, you may also see improved quality of work. For example, paying for the employee to attend a course, or even just giving them an hour to use free training resources will be beneficial.

There are loads of free learning tools and courses online that could be used to develop skills, improve performance and increase career opportunities. Your employer may even have a Skills & Development team as part of the HR function. Employees that feel like a business has invested in their development are less likely to leave, therefore reducing the cost of staff turnover.

Wellbeing benefits

A person’s wellbeing has a big influence on their happiness and this is true both inside and outside of the working environment. Introducing wellbeing perks can help to boost an employee’s mood, from giving free fruit to your teams, to having an onsite gym. There are lots of ways that you can offer wellbeing perks, including Cycle to Work schemes and other ways of encouraging employees to be more active (most steps in a month competition, walk to work challenges etc.).


Your company might be able to negotiate discounts with local businesses such as restaurants, shops or bars. Local businesses benefit from more people visiting them and your employees can benefit from reduced prices – it is a win-win situation.

Reserved Parking

Often in call centres, finding a car parking space in a morning can be a nightmare. It’s usually a rush and ‘first come first served’ basis. Offering a reserved parking space for a week as an employee engagement reward gives benefits you might not have even considered! Think of the time saving in the morning knowing you can still grab your coffee at the drive thru and know your space is just waiting for you!

Reward and Recognition initiatives do not have to cost a huge amount of money to be effective, they just have to add value to the employee and be genuine, for them to have real impact.

All of these R&R initiatives have proven to be highly successful when implemented correctly, so these are a good place to start with your Reward and Recognition strategy as part of a wider employee engagement programme.

By Tom Palmer
Tom is EvaluAgent’s Head of Digital and takes the lead on developing and implementing our digital and content management strategies which results in creating a compelling, digital-first customer marketing experience.

Related Articles