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The Complete Guide to Implementing an Employee Reward Program

There is a clear link between rewards or recognition and productivity. This is one key reason why a company will initiate an employee reward program or recognition program in the first place.

When done right, it’s generally good for morale as well.

The Complete Guide to Implementing an Employee Reward Program

Unfortunately, many an employee rewards and recognition program falls far short of the goal.

Instead of fostering a culture of recognition, it’s an impersonal moment that leaves employees cold. That leaves owners and managers with an obvious question:

“How do we implement an employee reward program that will get results?”

If your program doesn’t get results or you want one that does, keep reading for some key tips on building an effective program.

Get Clear on the Purpose

Before you start handing out gift cards or putting up plaques, you must establish your goals for the program.

For example, are you looking for a specific outcome like more sales? Do you want a more general outcome like improved morale?

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Deciding on your goals helps you settle on types of employee rewards.

Put Someone in Charge of It

In a small company, the owner or general manager will often take responsibility for employee rewards. That won’t work in mid-sized and large companies. That means someone must be in charge of the program and likely will need a staff.

Making someone responsible for the program does two things. It makes executing the program a priority for someone. That, in turn, improves the odds of the program getting off the ground.

Set Guidelines

All employee rewards programs need clear guidelines for several areas.

For example, you must set guidelines for employee reward ideas. Will you offer fun employee rewards, monetary employee rewards, or a mix.

You need guidelines for what qualifies for a reward. Whatever qualifications you set on rewards, they should realistically achievable by any employee and not just high-flyers.

You need guidelines for timing. However, the rule of thumb is that rewards lose value the longer the time between the behavior and the reward.


Make sure that there is buy-in from the higher-ups. Ideally, senior managers or owners will participate in bestowing rewards on a regular basis. This signals that the program isn’t just middle management trying to placate employees.

Measure and Review

No company should simply pour resources into a program with no oversight. You should set some kind of measurement procedure in place and review the data from time to time.

If the data bears it out, continue the program as is.

Employee Reward Program and Your Business

An employee reward program can benefit your business when executed well. That means you must take the time to set the program up properly.

Set clear goals for the program. Make someone responsible for it. Put guidelines in place.

Get upper management or the owner involved in the program. Then, review it for effectiveness.

Looking for more tips on managing your startup or boosting employee engagement? Check some of the other posts in our blog section.


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