You work with some pretty great people. You want to let them know how great they are. A pat on the back or a nice bit of praise can work wonders if someone’s feeling a bit under- appreciated, but it sometimes doesn’t quite feel enough.

Making your appreciation more official is a better way of doing things. An employee reward scheme is the way to go if you want to get the most out of your staff and really build a culture you can be proud of. It’s nothing complicated - just a way of systematising the recognition you give to workers so they feel useful.

Here’s how it all works.

What is an employee reward scheme?

It’s basically a formal process for rewarding employees for their service - whether that’s hitting targets, overachieving on their KPIs, or just turning up every day and doing a really good job.

It means that when an employee achieves something, you give them something specific in return, like a day’s holiday, a physical gift or bonus, or a sign of your recognition and appreciation. (The rewards can be cash-based, but that does have implications for tax and National Insurance contributions so make sure you check before offering anything monetary.)

How do company reward schemes work?

There’s no standardised way of running one: it all depends on your company culture, organisational hierarchy, the size of your team, and the general vibe of your office. But there are a few points to be aware of.

Firstly, you’ll have to decide what you’re actually rewarding. In a scheme that’s going to benefit everyone in the company there’ll have to be a goal system that everyone can hit. In sales and other commission-based roles, there’ll usually be a reward scheme already in place to incentivise higher performance when it comes to closing deals.

For other parts of the business, you’ll have to make sure the scheme recognises the efforts of the team in a fair way.

You might choose to recognise achievements in innovation (coming up with creative solutions), length of service, helping colleagues, or hitting personal development goals. Other positive activities like volunteering deserve a shout too, and are good for encouraging others to take part as well.

There are some companies that offer outsourced systems for reward schemes like Perkbox, but you can’t really skip the human interaction that’s key to making them a social experience.

Why you should use an employee reward scheme in your business

There’s quite a few reasons you should implement a reward scheme, from the cultural to the practical. Here’s what they can do for your company:

  • Helps you thank your employees - sure, a regular paycheque is the best thanks of them all, but it doesn’t make anyone feel special.
  • Boost morale - recognition from employers and peers can make for a happier day and an incentive to push harder to hit those goals.
  • Better employee engagement and belonging - with a massive 85% of global employees ‘not engaged’ or ‘actively disengaged’ at work, there’s a big opportunity to rekindle some passion and motivation with smart reward schemes.
  • Sustain a company culture you can be proud of - in a work environment in which good work gets duly rewarded, rather than ignored, reward programmes contribute to a culture of creativity and proactivity, where people want to do better intrinsically.
  • Incentivise teamwork and collaboration - recognition schemes in particular can do great things in this area. If you only reward individual efforts, it can create a bit of an imbalance or the perception of favouritism. But if you celebrate groups and teams throughout the company and share successes around the company, many more people will feel involved.
  • Attract and retain talented people - having a culture that rewards success, teamwork and creativity is super important for building employee loyalty over the long term. Not only will you build a reciprocal relationship where you look out for each other, but your well-rewarded workers will be more likely to represent you well and recommend you as an employer.

Employee reward schemes aren’t a replacement for good governance. Keeping employees happy and healthy should firstly be done through having a healthy relationship with time off, making wellbeing a focus, and maintaining employee-first flexibility throughout your organisation’s culture. But they can make a fine addition to your HR toolkit and aren’t too difficult to implement - so why not give them a try?