Recently, a published survey found that 75 percent of employees in the United States did not plan on staying at a job for five years. It is what some are calling the millennial effect. Not only are Millennials looking for positions that keep them interested, but the new Gen Z workforce is also demanding more from their employers. Your employees value recognition and being appreciated in the form of corporate award programs.  If your company fails to provide optimal working conditions, both generations will have no problem leaving when a new opportunity presents itself.

Today, business leaders are fighting back by looking for new ways of combating the trend. One of the proven techniques that you can implement into your company culture are incentive programs and corporate awards. For years, employee retention has been a top challenge for organizations, and studies continually show that appreciating your employees increases retention. 

Unfortunately, the opposite is pushing employees away. An apparent lack of employee recognition is one of the most common reasons given at exit interviews by Millennial workers—a group that will make up 50% of the workforce by 2020.

Not only are they leaving companies in search of better recognition, but they are also disengaged beforehand. In the U.S. alone, estimates show businesses are hit with $450-$550 billion in lost productivity every year.

But why does recognition work? When companies recognize their employees’ efforts, they create a connection with their workforce and bolster the commitment their employees have to their jobs.

If you want to see your company’s efforts pay off, you can start by spending time with your team and thanking them for their work. It may sound too easy, but the result will be bigger and last longer than you might expect.

Along with being grateful for your employees, you should find unique ways of expressing appreciation by developing an incentive program that matches the needs of your business. Here’s how to get started.


Step 1. Decide Which Incentive Program to Use

You need an incentive program that recognizes the efforts of your employees and is engaging, fun, accessible, and rewarding. There are a few questions you should ask yourself before determining the type of recognition system you want to implement. These questions include:

  1. What skills is your team missing? What do you need them to get better at right away?
  2. What are do you need to achieve in the next 30 to 90 days (i.e., goals, programs, products, or initiatives)?
  3. What behaviors can your team develop that would positively impact your business’s ROI? 

After answering these questions, you can begin developing a competition or program that quantifies these solutions. Maybe you want to focus on training that improves the quality of work performance. Perhaps you need to work on sales and create a competition that rewards those who close the most deals. 

Whatever you think is the most important, getting creative and your new incentive program will improve employee retention and increase your company’s success.  

Step 2: Outline Rules and Regulations

Along with deciding the type of incentive program you want to run, you will need to figure out the exact rules, dates, and particulars of it, as well. This step is entirely up to you. You can work with other leaders in your business to help gain information that would help you navigate the complexities of the program.

In most cases, month-to-month programs will give you the most bang for your buck. Having a monthly plan will also allow you to update the incentives using current data and information. It also gives your workforce more opportunities to succeed, which can greatly improve their engagement. However, weekly and quarterly programs can also work.

Step 3: Pick the Rewards

The last step is probably the most crucial. You want to offer awards that your employees are interested in, or there is no use in even starting the incentive program in the first place. What prizes and awards can you offer to ignite interest and keep your team engaged and excited every month?

A few options that continually prove their worth include:


Corporate Awards

Personalized awards are a distinguished award that employers frequently praise. But you must select a corporate award that encapsulates the meaning of your incentive program and accurately expresses your appreciation. Nothing would be a bigger letdown than presenting the winners with an unattractive prize that didn’t match the level of work your employees put into receiving the award.

As you explore awards, find one that will work well with your program or what the award stands for, whether it is a tangible gift, plaque, trophy, or custom award. Evaluate the awards you are choosing between and choose one that would excite your employees the most.

For example, McGee’s Stamp and Trophy in Utah is known for customizing corporate awards and employee awards for businesses all over the country. You can choose from their selection of acrylic awards, custom logo awards, or customize your prize from the ground-up.


Cash Bonuses

Receiving monetary awards is always a big hit with employees. It is hard to beat receiving a couple of hundred hard-earned dollars for a job well done. While it lacks creativity, your employees will appreciate any opportunity to earn some extra money. However, if you decide to make cash bonuses part of your incentive program, you must stay consistent. Determine ahead of time the dollar amount for each area of the program and communicate those to your team.



You can get creative in coming up with experiences as the rewards to your company’s incentive program. Some ideas may include trips, working from home, extra paid vacation time, excursions, spa days, free lunch, group adventures, and more. These incentives work well because you can change them every month to include new experiences that would never bore your workforce.


With so many options, recognizing your employees will become one of your favorite business items to tackle every year. No matter what you decide to do, make 2020 the year that you take your business one step further by recognizing the efforts of your entire team.