Employee Recognition and Rewards Should Not be Treated Equally

There is no doubt that recognition and reward programs make employees feel appreciated, spur innovation and give workers the incentive to put in the extra effort needed at work from time to time.

However, each employee is different in how they wish to be recognized. Maritz determined there are six recognition awards categories most employees fit into. Below are the categories and examples of things you can offer your valuable workers.

Six Employee Recognition Categories

Award Seekers

Award Seekers: respond to valuable gifts, such as recognition events and travel incentives.

  • Give gifts
    Gift cards to a local coffee shop, grocery store, movie tickets, or flowers.
  • VIP parking spot
    Give an exemplary employee a dedicated parking space for a week or month.
  • Send them and their significant other on an all-expense paid trip.


Nesters: respond best to rewards that allow them to spend more time at home, such as flexible, remote, or hybrid schedules.

  • Offer time off
    If employees are putting in extra hours or weekend time to finish a project, consider offering an extra day off — or letting them take off a few hours early on a Friday.
  • Work-from-home day
  • Understand if they need flexible scheduling due to family demands (new child, family caregiver) that may include taking a full-time employee to part-time or job sharing
Bottom Liners

Bottom Liners: only concerned with the monetary value of rewards and place minimal emphasis on receiving verbal or written praise. They respond best to cash bonuses.

  • Cover commuting costs; this includes mileage, tokens, and parking
  • Hold an auction
    At an employee appreciation dinner, give everyone play money to use at an auction. Have items that will give meaning to the employees, such as gift cards, lottery tickets, parking spots, sports tickets, rounds of golf, gym memberships, and time off.
  • Charitable donation
    Find their favorite charity and donate to it in their honor
Freedom Yearners

Freedom Yearners: Most interested in rewards that give them flexibility, such as the freedom to choose how to achieve their goals, the ability to choose interesting and challenging projects, and opportunities to attend conferences.

  • Team service project
    Organize a community volunteer activity that they pick out
  • Special projects
    Allow your employees to work on special projects beyond their regular responsibilities. Doing this will allow them to grow and demonstrate your confidence in their abilities to do a good job.
  • Educational investment
    Sending an employee to a seminar or educational activity of interest to them gives the message that the company cares about investing in their personal development.
Praise Cravers

Praise Cravers: They have a greater desire to have their work acknowledged and prefer verbal, written, or formal praise from managers or informal recognition by peers.

  • Express appreciation with public thanks
    Do this at an all-company meeting or an email blast.
  • Feature top employees on your company blog or newsletter
  • Wall of fame
    Post customer compliments, charts and graphs depicting positive progress, copies of certificates, and peer-to-peer notes of thanks


Several studies have concluded that appreciated employees are productive employees. Here is the data:

  • According to Harvard Business Review, the most engaged, loyal, and cheerful employees felt their employer met their emotional, mental, and physical needs.
  • Research from Florida International University cited the following benefits of showing recognition and rewarding employees:

  • More pride in their work
  • Feeling appreciated
  • Willing to go the extra mile
  • Heightened commitment to the organization
  • More open to constructive feedback
  • Support and promote a positive work environment

    75% of employees stated they would work harder if their contributions were recognized, according to a study by Globoforce.
    According to FlexJobs:
  • 82% of professionals say they would be more loyal to an employer if they had more flexible working options while
  • 74% said flexible working options would allow them to maintain a healthy work-life balance.

    Companies with engaged workers have 6% higher net profits per Towers Watson.

Final Thoughts

Whether you use one or several of these ideas to reward your employees comes down to making them feel appreciated and valued.

“People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Maya Angelou

“Make it a habit to tell people thank you. To express your appreciation, sincerely and without the expectation of anything in return. Truly appreciate those around you, and you’ll soon find many others around you. Truly appreciate life, and you’ll find that you have more of it.”

Ralph Marston

“Many times it is the little and simple verbal appreciations that can make a huge difference! When you take the time and when employees least expect, it can really have an impact!”

Tim Dimoff

The Entire SACS Consulting & Investigative Services Team is Thankful for Your Business

As we approach the holidays, we wish to thank every one of our clients, partners, and vendors for making us successful.