It’s difficult to overestimate the importance of rewarding employees, regardless of the size, field, or geographical location of your company. It’s often been said that work is its own reward, and many would argue that payment ought to be sufficient. However, this view is a bit shortsighted, and may result in loss of talent, a situation that hurts both organizations and employees.

Deciding how to award an employee for exemplary performance can be a time challenging task, as there are virtually infinite options. Countless industry journals and business-focused news outlets discuss the benefits of corporate awards and the positive influence on both the company and the employee. A bonus is always appreciated, but a more personal touch can sometimes mean even more. We’ve collected some ideas below, and though there are other options, these are a great place to start.

A Physical Award

While it may be a simple solution, giving a high-quality award that distinguishes the exemplary characteristics and rewards performance can be an effective way to encourage other team members to further their goals. If you’re shopping online for your organization, there are many corporate awards designs, ranging from acrylic plates with plaques that say a few nice words to customized wine cases, and everything in between. A workspace filled with the achievements of its employees serves several functions, from boosting morale in the workspace to demonstrating company achievements to visitors and clients.

A Personalized Gift

While this option is great for tightly-knit organizations or smaller companies, larger corporations can also get into the spirit of personalized employee recognition. Business Insider reports that gift-giving shows that you are aware of your team members’ interests, whether related to their job or otherwise. It can have a powerful effect and demonstrates that you know your employees have rich, productive personal lives outside the office. Consider giving a nice pen to a creative writer, or a replica jersey of their favorite team for a sports fan. Receiving a gift for your hard work recognizes you have a life outside the company and is a sign of respect and awareness that can make great strides toward employee satisfaction. It’s never wise to get something too personal, but a very basic understanding of your employee’s interests can have profound results.

Dinner or Lunch

When appropriate, taking an employee out for a company sponsored lunch can be a wonderful way to show not only that you appreciate their accomplishments, but that you care what they have to say as well. It shouldn’t all be shop talk of course, but this option has the added advantage of encouraging personal interaction with supervisors and is a great opportunity to have frank and open discussions with the employee in an environment where they might be more comfortable being honest and direct. Many great discussions happen over a good lunch, and the worker might have some great ideas that wouldn’t come up otherwise.

High-Level Administrative Recognition

This type of recognition works well for larger companies where high-level executives work in a separate office or rarely have face-to-face time with newer employees. A personal letter signed by the CEO demonstrating knowledge of the achievements and appreciation for their hard work not only makes the employee feel appreciated but part of a cohesive team. According to, a company-wide email might sound like a small gesture, but singling out an employee for exemplary performance has the effect of showing that anyone can get the attention of management. This can be a powerful motivator while also increasing camaraderie and job satisfaction.

Free Training

This one may seem counterintuitive, as training can sound like more work. By offering to pay for an employee’s training in their relevant field or skill set in which they’re interested, you are not only providing monetary support but also showing the employee that you believe they can do even more. Providing the skills to help them achieve that is a great way to encourage growth. Offering training gives employees the option to advance their own careers while simultaneously improving your organization’s talent pool. This is a win-win for everyone involved and can be a powerful way to recognize hard work and effort.

There are so many ways to reward diligent and exemplary employees and any of these solutions will make sure your team feels that their hard work is appreciated and rewarded. Happy employees are the foundation for a happy and productive company and contribute to positive retention and continued growth for every team member.

About the Author

Jeffrey Brauer is a corporate employee support consultant with several years working with businesses of all shapes and sizes. He uses his unique skillset and experience to make sure companies show their employees how important they are while focusing on quality retention. After all, a company is only as good as its happiest employee!