Reward Employees with Company Gifts

Do you have some employees that work hard and could use a pat on the back? Are there others in the office that could perhaps use a little motivation? Whether you’re looking to increase productivity and meet a new goal, or just show your staff that you appreciate them, your company can use a variety of gifts to reward employee performance, motivate, and even boost morale.


Planning a Rewards System

  1. Set a budget. Employee rewards can range in prices. First determine an annual budget for employee rewards, then assign a portion of this budget to each reward or program implemented.
    • When setting a budget, make sure you consider the motivation behind the program. Do you want to reward excellent customer service, good behavior, or increases in productivity? Make sure you know what your goal is before you start giving rewards or gifts.[1]
  2. Do your homework on how to monitor the program. It’s crucial to follow up with regard to how employees feel about the remuneration or gifts, how much your company is spending, and even with whether or not the program is consistently and fairly distributing the perks.
    • One way to keep tabs on the program is to distribute a survey to employees to get their feedback. The feedback can include how they feel about the types of rewards, the frequency with which they receive the reward, and the difficulty (or ease) of getting a reward.
    • Make sure you review the financial side of the reward system, which you can do in two ways. On one hand you’ll want to make sure you aren’t going over budget or burning through the budget too quickly. On the other hand, keep track of productivity and employee performance (if you aren’t already doing this). This way you can see if there is a correlation between specific rewards and positive or negative fluctuations in work. You might find, for example, that productivity rises by a few extra percentage points when specific types of gifts are given.
  3. Establish a set of rules. Having a well-structured reward program can work quite effectively. Likewise, a poorly planned and executed program could have a negative impact on your business.
    • You need to be consistent and fair, so establish a universal set of eligibility requirements. Rewards need to be based on a set of criteria, such as having the highest sales. This is a great way to ensure complete transparency, eliminating possible favoritism.
    • There should also be a specific time limit for distributing rewards, as well as a particular time and place for each reward to be used. For example, it may not be the most optimal to have an employee to utilize a spa day certificate when the VP of Sales is conducting and audit.
    • Try to get the word out to your staff by promoting the reward program. Use emails, flyers and meetings to inform the employees of the new program. Ensure they know the qualifying criteria and how they can earn the reward.
    • Decide what to give. There are almost too many reward options to list, so plan ahead and review all of your options in advance.

Knowing What Your Employees Want

  1. Directly ask your employees what they want. Collecting information about employee preferences can save you a good deal of time and energy choosing reward options.
    • Put out a box or send a company-wide email asking for suggestions. This also serves as a way to promote the program.
    • It would be wise to actually choose a few of the staff’s suggestions and include them in the program. For example, Linda from Purchasing might be over the moon that her idea to allow Twitter time was chosen. In the event someone suggests allowing 20 minutes of quality Facebook or Twitter time during the workday, you can kick it up a notch and give them 2 or 3 periods of 15 to 20 minutes each as an extra reward for having met a serious deadline.
  2. Keep your ear to the ground. By paying attention in general to employee behavior, you can use what employees say and do to predict what they’ll like.
    • You can deduce what makes the bees buzz by listening and observing behavior as you make your way to the restroom, or to get a cup of coffee. In fact, is there even coffee to get? The best reward may be the most obvious one.
  3. Ask another company. It’s a good idea to talk to a colleague or friend at another company to ask them how they reward their employees. Even if the business is not entirely similar to yours, you can adapt elements of their program to your company. Ask specific questions about what their employees appreciate, what amount they customarily offer, how frequently they give rewards, and also how they keep track of their reward system.

Giving Company-Specific Gifts

  1. Give employees swag that represents your company. Picks items that your staff is likely to enjoy, and then make sure the items are made well.[2]
    • Cheaply made coffee mugs won’t impress, but putting on a 100% cotton shirt with a customized design on it may turn some heads. You can also give high quality metal travel mugs instead of the flimsy plastic ones. Make sure you shop around for quality swag as some websites, like Uncommon Goods or Personal Creations, allow you to custom order by gender and occasion.
    • You can also order items from sites that specialize in making printed goods, like photo mugs and t-shirts from Shutterfly or larger retailers like, both of which have options available in a number of price ranges. What’s more, these sites are easy to use, and after a few clicks, your personalized gift is on the way.
  2. Buy a round of golf. Many employees enjoy getting out on the course. You can set a great example by buying a round of golf for two at a local club. It’s a good idea to get a round of golf for two people, and to include the golf cart. If that proves too detailed, it may be simpler to pick an amount that fits your budget and buy a certificate, allowing your employee to decide how to spend the money.
    • If you’re looking for something for top employees, consider giving a decent set of golf clubs. You can get a decent set of clubs for about $199 to $299, plus customization, and each time your staff member uses the clubs, they will be reminded of their hard work and your recognition of that.
    • You might also consider expanding this gift to include the entire sales team, or to sponsor an event, like a shotgun scramble.[3] Alleviate the cost by rewarding an elite number of employees with tickets to the event, and sell tickets to the rest of the staff in order to cover the greens fees, food and beverages.
  3. Let them choose the gift. You can put a company logo on almost any gift, so why not have a few options available for the employee to choose? Some people prefer hiking to golf, so you may think to include a quality daypack for the office weekend warrior.[4]

Offering Health and Travel Rewards

  1. Provide a car rental. Whether for a few days or the entire week, renting a luxury car or something unique, like a Porsche, may have employees looking forward to coming to work, not just heading home after work.
  2. Customize a digital water bottle. Many high quality bottles have a digital display that tracks water consumption. Research shows that not staying hydrated at work can seriously affect productivity, so show you are invested in the well-being of your staff in addition to your bottom-line by promoting the consumption of the most important substance we consume.[5]
  3. Impress them with a Fitbit. We live in a health-conscious world, and many companies agree that their employees should stay healthy. With a Fitbit, they can track their health and show off the swag they have won for being a great employee.
  4. Buy a membership. Health clubs are more common now than ever, and competition has made them more affordable. Offer a one-year membership to a local gym or health club and really show your support for the health of your employees.

Offering Professional Development Opportunities

  1. Buy employees a book. Many jobs require professional development. Help the process by purchasing a book that helps your employee grow. Examples include technical manuals, reference materials, and other educational resources, like computer software or hardware.
  2. Send them to school. A company that supports employee education is only going to grow stronger. Offer to cover continuing education courses, language classes, or other industry-specific seminars that will help your staff develop professionally.
    • Companies also provide reimbursement for education costs if their employees sign a contract stating they will remain for a minimum about of time. Even better are companies that provide unlimited tuition to their employees.[6]
  3. Pay for a conference. Each field or industry has numerous conferences that people can attend or even present at. Cover conference related costs like travel, lodging, and meals. You can also offer two types of reward coverage. For example, the company would reimburse up to $500 for attending a conference, and $750 for presenting at the conference. By offering more to those who present, you’re fostering an environment of creativity and progress.
  4. Pay for a professional membership to an organization. In addition to taking classes and conferencing, it’s not uncommon for certain fields to require membership to a professional organization. For example, many humanities professors belong to the Modern Language Association, which requires a yearly fee that is based on your income.

Offering Miscellaneous Rewards

  1. Give a gift card. A gift card is an excellent way to let someone think about what they want to do with what they’ve earned. Great possibilities could be Target, Overstock, or Amazon. Places like this have a great selection of items, convenient online ordering, and flexible return policies.
    • Massage certificates and going to the spa are great options to help people relax outside of work. Take it to the next level by also giving them a day off to use the reward. For those staffers who are not into massages, give tickets to a ballgame or a certificate to a popular local restaurant.
    • Cash is king. A cash reward is more than an old-fashioned way to say “thank you’. In tough economic times, cold, hard cash goes a long way to motivate your employees.
  2. Allow employees to take a day off. It may seem counterproductive to reward hard work by allowing someone not to come to work, but there is more to this than meets the eye. A day off of work is an excellent way to show employees that you value their well-being and want them to relax. If missing a day is too much for the company to offer, or if it does more harm than good, perhaps offer a “work-from-home” day.
  3. Take them to a concert. Treat a staff member to a concert of their choice. The great part about music is that many smaller venues retail tickets for $20 or $30 each. However, since an Elton John ticket costs a touch more than an indie rock group, you might want to provide a few examples of concerts in your price range to show how much you are willing to spend, or you could just set a flat dollar amount.
  4. Treat them to a meal. Even though a gift card to Applebee’s or Outback is a nice treat, find a popular local restaurant that is sure to impress. Maybe consider choosing a nice restaurant or a well-liked Gastropub. Also, make sure the certificate covers dinner for two! Whether it’s a spouse or coworker, people tend to dine with others.
  5. Reward the team with beer. Some companies are taking rewards to another level by giving their employees the gift of beer.[7] This can be done in very distinct, useful ways.
    • Go ahead and organize a play date. Many places now exist for people to brew their own beer. It’s simple: they show up, pick a recipe, and a professional brewer walks them through making the beer. So organize time for the employees to make their own brew. Take it to the next level and have them form teams to turn it into a competition.
    • Bring the fun into the office. Some places keep a keg of ale around the office to motivate and reward. If your team has met an ambitious quota or has just made it through a difficult time in the office, throw in a special microbrew IPA instead of the usual domestic draft and watch those frowns turn upside down. As a side note, set rules and guidelines to let people know there is a limit.


  • Examples of reasons to reward employees with gifts are to recognize performance, productivity, tenure, helpfulness, referrals and attendance.
  • Don’t discriminate. Give rewards to the employees who have earned it based on previously determined criteria. Giving rewards for any other reason, be it nepotism, based on gender or personal preferences, not only opens your company up to a host of legal issues, it is also a way to lower morale and create tension in the workplace, which is the opposite of what we’re working for here.
  • Be sure to check to see if your company has a policy about giving gifts. There may be limitations on the type or amount of gift you can give, or in the case of cash gifts, there might be a policy regarding how it is dispersed.


  • Remember that employees are already paid for their regular work. Any additional reward is a bonus that should not be given too frequently as not to have a negative effect on productivity.
  • Make sure you have several different types of gift cards or certificates on hand in case there is a special need, allergy, or condition that needs to be acknowledged.
  • When choosing to bring alcohol into the workplace, be aware of company policy and of any employees that may have a problem with addiction.

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