Reward and recognition

How to improve how you recognise and reward employees for their efforts.



How this helps your business

When you recognise and reward efforts you can:

  • create a sense of responsibility, involvement and interest in work
  • foster a culture where people value putting in effort
  • increase creativity and innovation
  • reinforce positive workplace culture and behaviour
  • promote job satisfaction
  • increase employee engagement

Key stats and facts

Workplaces with reward and recognition initiatives showed ongoing healthy behaviour changes.

Bellew, B, (2008). Primary prevention of chronic disease in Australia through interventions in the workplace setting: a rapid review. Sax Institute for the Chronic Disease Prevention Unit, Department of Human Services: Victoria.

Step 1

Assess your workplace

The Institute for Safety, Compensation and Recovery Research has some examples of ways managers can recognise and reward employee efforts. See how your workplace rates compared to these guidelines:

Rewarding employee efforts

Managers and team leaders should:

  • ensure employees are paid fairly for the work they do
  • reward employees for working overtime, either with time off in lieu or pay
  • praise employees and give positive feedback for good work
  • acknowledge and reward employees’ efforts and achievements shortly after they've been accomplished
  • celebrate shared organisational accomplishments
  • encourage and reward employees who acknowledge, support and encourage others
  • evaluate and reward team performance as well as individual performance
  • make sure that employees are accountable for their performance in a team
  • offer opportunities for learning, problem-solving and personal development
  • offer opportunities for career advancement
  • as far as possible, make sure that employees’ jobs are secure

The Institute for Safety, Compensation and Recovery Research, 2013

Step 2

Learn more on this topic

The dot points below have some handy tips to think about before rolling out any rewards or incentives for individuals and teams.

Tips for reward and recognition initiatives

  • Get commitment from any other managers to push the initiatives.
  • Decide whether it’s an informal reward (saying thank you) or formal (a bonus, certificate).
  • Work out whether you are willing to reward via financial bonuses or not (research suggests employees are motivated by inner fulfilment and a sense of accomplishment as well as money).
  • Consider aligning the incentives to your workplace values.
  • Coaching, support, feedback and encouragement should be provided regularly to staff. If you have regular performance reviews, you can do this as part of this process.

Step 3

Make a change

Reward and recognition doesn’t need to cost you a lot of money – people are motivated to perform by a lot of different things. We’ve put together a list of initiatives, some simple and some more advanced, that you can use to reward and recognise employees.

As you read through, tick the ones that you think might work in your workplace. Discuss the list with your employees to learn what they would like.

Choose 1 or 2 initiatives and start rolling out in your workplace.

TIP: choose a strategy that you implement in the next 3 months. This will show employees you appreciate their efforts and are committed to rewarding them.

Reward and recognition initiatives

Feedback in performance reviews

  • Make your feedback regular and specific so good behaviours are repeated.
  • Give praise when the work is of high quality or you see someone going beyond the norm.
  • Give both positive and constructive feedback (what they can do better).
  • Discuss growth and development opportunities often.

Celebrate efforts

  • Hold team lunches or morning teas. Get everyone to bring a plate of food.
  • Congratulate in team meetings.
  • Send an email or a letter.

Growth and development opportunities

  • Provide opportunities for coaching and mentoring or buddying with others across the workplace
  • Allow employees time for training/workshops, either internal or external.
  • Give employees opportunities to try different things in their roles.

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Disclaimer: The WorkWell Toolkit provides general information only. Please consider your specific circumstances, needs and seek appropriate professional advice.