The last part of the year is often difficult. Employees are often busy wrapping up the year and planning for the next one. This often leads to burnout and demotivation. That is why managers must remember to recognize and reward the efforts of their teams in order to keep them motivated.

HR and payroll professionals play a pivotal role in shaping a company's work environment, so their role in employee recognition is key.

That’s why we asked our members to share their expert opinions on what they believe are the best ways to reward and recognize their teams.

1. Saying Thank You and Gratitude Cards

The simplest gesture can often have the most profound impact. Many HR and payroll professionals emphasized the importance of expressing gratitude directly to their team members. A heartfelt "Thank You" was cited as a powerful tool for fostering loyalty and dedication. Additionally, corporate thank you cards were mentioned as a common practice, often accompanied by draws for gift cards or points redeemable for corporate site purchases.

Tell them directly how much you appreciate their contributions, and say thank you! Places where I have worked, utilize corporate thank you cards with draws for gift cards or giving people points to put towards a purchase from a corporate site.

Recognition and gratitude. Sometimes even something as simple as a Thank You can go a long way.


2. Recognition and Praise

Recognition, praise, and positive feedback were highlighted as essential components of effective employee appreciation. These professionals stressed the importance of taking the time to acknowledge outstanding contributions and letting employees know that their hard work is valued and recognized.

Effective ways to reward employees for a positive corporate culture include recognition and praise.

Positive feedback and personal acknowledgement of their contribution (find a way to have an in-person interaction with them) are also wonderful ways to reward staff for being positive influencers.


3. Personalized Rewards

Recognizing that one size does not fit all, some HR and payroll experts advocate for personalized rewards aligned with individual preferences and values. This approach can enhance motivation and commitment, as it demonstrates a genuine understanding of what matters to each team member.

Personally, I prefer the personalized notecard that includes specific details about how a team member has contributed. This type of appreciation is personal, specific and, above all, it's genuine!

Personalized rewards aligned with individual preferences and values can also enhance motivation and commitment.


4. Flexible Work Arrangements

Flexible work arrangements, including options for remote work and flexible hours, were mentioned as highly valued rewards. These offerings contribute to a positive work-life balance, which is crucial for employee satisfaction and well-being.

Employees like to say they want a monetary reward, but not everyone does. We offer flexible hours and work-from-home options, amongst others.

Giving employees the comfort of having a work-life balance without hesitation.


5. Professional Development Opportunities

Investing in employees' professional growth through training and development opportunities was cited as another effective way to reward and recognize their contributions. It not only shows a commitment to their long-term success but also contributes to their personal and career growth.

Collaboratingand giving them the opportunity to take the lead with their ideas and increased autonomy are also wonderful ways to reward staff.

Effective ways to reward employees include recognition, praise, and professional development opportunities.


6. Performance Bonuses

Performance bonuses remain a tried-and-true method of recognizing exceptional contributions. Monetary rewards, when tied to individual or team performance, can motivate employees to consistently excel in their roles.

Employees like to say they want a monetary reward, but not everyone does. We offer perks such as discounts at retailers, service milestones and spot awards.

Bonuses are always welcomed.


7. Wellness Programs and Social Activities

Wellness programs and social activities, such as staff barbecues, ice cream days, and coffee gatherings, were mentioned as ways to promote a positive corporate culture and reward employees for their efforts. These events foster a sense of community and camaraderie within the organization.

We host Staff BBQs twice a year. We have ice cream day. We have coffee/hot chocolate and cookies day. We just recently had a staff appreciation day where all staff's names were entered into a draw, and during the day, random draws were held for items from camping chairs to bocce balls, pots, pans and air fryers.

Group activities are fun. Little things add up. We had a puzzle in our lunchroom for anyone to work on. Occasionally, we had objects hidden in the office. Whoever finds the object(s) gets a small prize.


8. Balanced Workloads

Avoiding the overloading or overwhelming of high-performing employees is an often-overlooked form of recognition. Treating employees equitably and ensuring they do not bear an excessive burden because of their capabilities is vital for maintaining a positive workplace atmosphere.

Not overloading/overwhelming your best-performing employees because 'They can do it.' Making your employees happy by fulfilling their needs would create a positive corporate culture.

Too often, we are too busy in our day-to-day to take the time to properly acknowledge those we work with. Don't take your people for granted, and they will reward you back with loyalty and dedication.


While monetary incentives and bonuses have their place, the most commonly cited form of recognition among these experts is a simple "Thank You." In the end, expressing gratitude and acknowledging the efforts of team members boosts morale and cultivates loyalty and dedication.

How would you like your managers to recognize you?


Did you find this article useful?