Go Beyond Gift Cards: 5 Unique Employee Rewards That Actually Work

Employee Engagement Hand holding happy smiling face for give rating.

Do traditional employee rewards like gift cards and generic bonuses truly motivate employees, or are they just the easy way out? In a world where employee engagement and retention are more critical than ever, companies need to think outside the proverbial gift box to find rewards that not only delight but also effectively drive performance.

With over 30 years experiece in the incentive game, we’ve helped thousands of companies achieve their goals over the years by creating unique and targeted ways to recognise employees. Here are a few creative, out-of-the-box rewards that have not only made headlines but have also made a real difference in employee morale and productivity. Plus, what the employees themselves have to say about these unique perks!

1. Wellness Retreats

Employee reward engagement wellness Yoga practice
Photo by Emilie Faraut @ Dupe Photos

Forget the standard health benefits. Some companies now offer wellness retreats – a weekend at a spa or a mindfulness retreat. This not only encourages relaxation but also promotes the idea of taking care of your mental health. We particularly love The Gallivant – a beautiful boutique 4* hotel that offers daily yoga classes, hollistic experiences and a luxury spa.

Testimonial: Mark, an HR manager, noted, “The weekend retreat was incredible. It made me feel appreciated and rejuvenated. I came back feeling incredibly energized and more loyal than ever.”

2. Professional Development Opportunities

Instead of another coffee mug or fancy pen, why not invest in your employees’ growth? Offer vouchers for courses, seminars, or workshops. This not only benefits your team members but also enhances your company’s overall skill set. Investing in your team has long-term impact.

Testimonial: Jennifer, a digital marketer, shared, “Receiving an advanced course in digital analytics didn’t just upskill me; it showed that my company believes in my potential. It was truly motivating.”

3. Customised Experiences

Tailored experiences such as concert tickets, family theme park passes, or even a gourmet dinner at a fancy restaurant can create lasting memories to look back on. This personalised approach shows that you pay attention to what your employees value. We create bespoke ‘selection packs’ for employee rewards, where you can offer a range of experiences for them to choose from up to a pre-determined value. It’s a really fun way to reward employees, and can include adrelaline fueled experiences like sky diving, relaxing spa days or even weekends away.

Testimonial: Emily, a software developer, remarked, “Receiving tickets to see my favorite band was great. It was such a thoughtful reward that really connected to my personal interests.”

4. Extra Time Off

Sometimes the best reward is time. Offering surprise days off, early finishes, or longer vacation periods can be incredibly valuable to employees. Everyone strives for a better work/life balance, and by offering these types of rewards it shows you care.

Testimonial: Carlos, a customer service rep, expressed, “Getting an extra day off on my birthday was a simple yet perfect gift. It really made me feel special and acknowledged.”

5. Charity Matches

For employees driven by altruism, matching donations to their charity of choice can be a deeply impactful reward. This not only supports the causes important to your employees but also fosters a spirit of giving back.

Testimonial: Sarah, an account executive, said, “Knowing that my company would match my donation to the RSPCA gave me immense pride and joy. It’s great to work somewhere that supports what I care about.”

How-To Implement These Rewards

For Small Businesses: Start small with personalised experiences or professional development opportunities which do not require large budgets, but show a high level of care and thoughtfullness.

For Medium-Sized Enterprises: You can mix tangible rewards with experiences. Charter a committee to manage and tailor employee rewards based on direct feedback, ensuring a personal touch.

For Large Corporations: Implement tiered rewards systems that include everything from extra days off to sponsored retreats, allowing scalability and variation to suit a diverse workforce.

The Challenge to HR Professionals

It’s time to rethink employee reward systems. As HR professionals, are you willing to innovate and truly engage your employees with rewards that resonate and reflect your company’s values? Moving beyond traditional methods can not only enhance employee morale but also foster a culture of appreciation and innovation.

Challenge yourself to go beyond the norm, and you might just see not only happier employees but also a healthier bottomline.

By partnering with us, you can ensure your employee rewards not only resonate, but also leave a long-lasting impression that ensures high engagement and retention.