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Appreciation vs Reward - The Key to Employee Engagement and Retention

Employees like to be noticed for their efforts and achievements. It’s a simple way of increasing employee engagement and retention.

Employers have filled this need for recognition for decades through things like gift cards, prizes, time off, and other transactional rewards. Recent trends in the workplace, however, are showing that employees might value different forms of appreciation and recognition.

A Glassdoor survey recently showed that more than 50% of respondents would stay longer at a company that showed them more recognition, and over 80% said they would be motivated to work harder when their bosses show appreciation of the work they’ve done. 

Studies like this have galvanized a trend of valuing appreciation and recognition over rewards, and below we’ll get into what exactly the difference is and how you can best use both to improve workplace culture. 

The difference between appreciation and reward

In order to create an informed and effective employee rewards and appreciation program, it’s important to understand what both recognition and rewards mean to employees so you can best employ each incentive to improve workplace wellbeing. 

  • Appreciation is typically merit based recognition that can be given to anyone by anyone at any given time. It does not depend on an employee achieving a fixed thing, like a sales cap, and is more loosely used in everyday work life. Rewards are also typically given for specific achievements, while appreciation can be given for improvements made in general work performance. 
  • Rewards, on the other hand, usually come in the form of physical or tangible gifts. Rewards typically function in a transactional or relational context–so, if an employee meets a specific benchmark or standard, they will receive some type of tangible reward for it (gift card, time off, vouchers, etc.). 

Both incentives are important for a healthy workplace, and you can utilize and balance both of these to improve employee morale, productivity, engagement, and employee satisfaction.

Employee Reward Program Examples/Ideas

Rewards are, though transactional, are still great motivators for employees and should be used for short and long-term achievements. Below are some fun individual and team-oriented rewards that you can implement into your rewards and recognition program.

  • Monetary bonus – Money will never lose its efficacy in being a motivator for hard work and high performance. You can use monthly bonuses or monetary promotions for both short and long-term successes.
  • Office perks – While this might be tricky with the popularity of hybrid work environments, employees will still appreciate office perks when they can get them. Whether you bring in something practical, like a brand new printing station, or something more fun, like a cappuccino machine or free food, the presence of these perks will be a great reminder of the hard work employees are doing.
  • Team lunches and dinners – When your employees are collectively doing well, meeting deadlines, and breaking through KPIs, you can treat them to a fun social lunch or dinner. This is a great way to bring the office together in an informal way and show your appreciation of their effectiveness in the workplace. 
  • Gift cards and vouchers – Like money, gift cards and vouchers are always appreciated, especially when you know what your employees interests are. Part of creating a robust benefits/rewards program is understanding what your employees are interested in, and you can gain that insight with surveys and employee questionnaires. 
  • Outdoors events/sports events – Outdoors events are fun, space-conscious ways to get your team together and active. You can hold a company barbecue, picnic, sports game, or botanical garden walk. 
  • More time off – Time off is a great incentive for both individuals and teams. When your team is doing well after a busy and tiring season, a 3 or 4-day weekend will definitely mean a lot and will be appreciated by your employees. 

Some of these are very transactional and rewards-oriented, like money or gift cards, but adding new perks to the office or providing some time off to your entire team could be used to simply show your appreciation for a really strong work cycle coming to a close. 

Appreciation and Recognition Programs to implement at your company

There are a few best practices and tips that you can utilize to improve the way you show your appreciation and recognition to your employees. Appreciation and recognition is about creating a culture where effort, hard work, and accomplishments can be celebrated in the office at any time. 

A few things you can establish with your managers and team leaders may include:

  • Deciding on what to recognize for certain employees. For example, new hires or employees going through training regimens could use more recognition to get them into the swing of things
  • Show appreciation frequently, in a timely manner, and with lots of enthusiasm
  • Always be genuine and personal
  • Collaborate and get creative with your gestures of appreciation
  • Keep criticism and recognition separate; you don’t want to have an end-of-the-month report where some employees are rewarded while others need to be put on notice
  • Don’t give recognition or appreciation for the sake of it. Timely recognition is valued, but empty recognition will defeat the purpose

How Crosschq can help

Incentives are important to motivate employees, but you won’t be able to give appreciation or rewards all that often if you don’t find the right talent. 

Crosschq can ensure the need for a robust reward and recognition program by ensuring you make quality hires that are the right fit for your business. 360 digital reference checks, employee performance data, and new hire analytics will help you make informed hiring decisions. 

Take the guesswork out of hiring, and try the Crosschq demo today.

Noelle Davis

by Noelle Davis

Staff Writer

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