People celebrating at work

A Quick Guide to Reward and Recognition

Modern ways of working mean it has never been more important to make employees feel valued and keep them connected to each other. Whether it’s a virtual pat on the back or a financial bonus, getting a ‘thank you’ for a job well done has a positive, measurable impact on your employee’s day-to-day working life.

Reward and recognition schemes are growing in popularity and they’re a great way of motivating employees to work harder in order to benefit the business. A study by CIPD shows that when an individual’s work is valued by others, it means their job satisfaction rises, they feel a sense of achievement and productivity increases with more likelihood to perform well in future tasks too.

In this guide we look at:

1, Rewards vs recognition
2. Do you need a reward and recognition strategy?
3. Three things a good reward and recognition scheme needs to succeed
4. What you need to do next

Offering workplace recognition not only benefits your team, it can have a significant, positive effect on the entire culture and output of your organisation.

Rewards vs recognition

Attracting and retaining talent and improving employee productivity can be achieved in a number of ways, ranging from one-off work perks to greater flexibility. While financial rewards (such as bonuses and profit-sharing) are more tangible, they are a costly resource to businesses. Recognition, meanwhile, is usually ‘invisible’ in nature – a gesture or kind word, for instance. But this kind of acknowledgment can be priceless in value and just as effective in increasing engagement and motivation levels.

While almost all workers would agree that they appreciate monetary staff rewards, they are also likely to go the extra mile for recognition and praise – whether that comes from management or their peers. Fair salary and competitive benefits are incredibly important but that’s not all you need to show your appreciation for others. The good news is that recognition is an unlimited resource and you can’t use it up or run out of it.

Do you need a reward and recognition strategy?

Employees should quite rightly expect to be paid and rewarded fairly for doing their job. But smart employers also say ‘thank you’ when they do that consistently or exceptionally. Because non-financial incentives are often as effective (if not more so) than financial recognition, it means it doesn’t need to be costly to implement a successful scheme but it will almost certainly be positive and beneficial for everyone.

Employee Benefits states, “The best schemes make it quick and easy to nominate colleagues, publicly celebrate staff achievements and redeem rewards. In our experience, those schemes tend to be fully automated, online portals. Particularly for large organisations that may have remote workers or employees based across lots of different locations, this is the best way of encouraging staff to use a scheme.”

For business owners and managers, it might seem like a lot of extra effort to implement an employee rewards and recognition programme. However, Zest Benefits’ Recognition Centre makes the process intuitive, instant and effortless while seamlessly connecting with the rest of the Zest platform. With this in place, all your staff can show their appreciation for others while you continue to boost employee engagement.

In addition to automating the recognition process, online portals improve operational efficiencies and allow employers to capture insightful data about how a scheme is operating. The real bonus is that rewards and recognition can be captured and delivered in one place.

Three things a good reward and recognition scheme needs to succeed


Implementing a scheme sends a clear message that your organisation recognises an individual’s or a team’s hard work not just during an appraisal process but throughout the year. When it comes to recognition, timing is absolutely vital. The recognition process needs to happen when the high-quality performance is still at the forefront of everyone’s mind to have the most impact.


Identifying the goals your business wants to support, plus the desired behaviours for rewards, allows everyone to be clear on their objectives. Communicating the rewards programme effectively to employees is the best way to get them on board with it.


Intuitive functionality leads to maximum engagement. Zest’s Recognition Centre has a mobile responsive design, which means it can be accessed anytime, anyplace and has multiple functions to create a richer overall engagement experience. Zest allows you to drive effective reward and recognition in a new working world through its innovative digital platform.


It’s clear that timing and communication alongside functionality is key to any reward and recognition strategy. However, for this strategy to work effectively it is important that employees already have a good understanding of their total reward and benefits available to them, not just their take home pay.

By ensuring that employees feel empowered to pick the right benefits for their unique personal circumstances and have easy access to their total reward statement. Any additional reward and recognition activity will perform far better as a result, whether it is a ‘pat on that back’ or a financial bonus.

Speak to one of our experts to see whether a switch to the Zest’s employee benefits platform and additional reward and recognition module is the right choice for your organisation.

Other Reward and Recognition resources:

Reward and the rising cost of living

The challenges facing reward managers

Ebook – The changing nature of reward

Ebook – Recognising success in a changing world

Written by:
Ready to find out how we can Zestify your business?