• Culture

A leaders gifting guide to recognition and team performance

July 6, 2022
3 min read

Reward and recognition is the key to performance

Way back when, employee recognition meant a carriage clock and a handshake on your retirement day. Thankfully, the concepts of workplace culture, employee appreciation and rewarding have come a long way since then.

There are proven links between recognition and improved team performance within a wide variety of industries.

But what really works? And how can you implement an effective reward and recognition strategy? Let’s unpack the whole gift basket…


What is employee recognition?

Employee recognition isn’t just about regular performance reviews and rewards after delivering a tricky project or meeting a challenging KPI. It’s about communicating clearly and regularly that you respect and value your employees, and that you appreciate their inherent worth as people.

By showing the right kind of recognition, every company can expect to see an increase in performance from its staff. When used correctly, employee recognition can help keep teams motivated, engaged, productive and happy in their current organisation (instead of browsing LinkedIn every lunchbreak).

Go further than gifting

This might sound a little counterintuitive considering our business, but creating a meaningful employee recognition culture takes more than free drinks on Fridays and the odd birthday cake. Gifting can play a big part in a healthy recognition program – especially if the gifts are well-timed, carry significant meaning and, as we’ve discovered here at Huggg, the recipient has some element of autonomy and can personalise their gift to their taste. 

But most employees are motivated by more than just financial compensation and physical gifts. It stands to reason that a diverse workforce will have diverse rewarding and appreciation preferences. You might find it helpful to run a workplace-wide survey to understand your colleagues’ primary language of appreciation. Employees value all manner of recognition, including:

🎁 Physical gifts

🏝 More time off

🤝 Peer-to-peer recognition

🥇 Greater investment in employee development

🏆 A regular company award ceremony

Once you have a clearer idea of what motivates your team, you can recognise them accordingly.

Make recognition meaningful

In our personal lives, surprise gifts can be delightful. But in a professional setting, recognition is more meaningful when it’s associated with a specific accomplishment, business objective or personal milestones - such as a work anniversary or promotion.

Explaining the reasoning behind recognition helps your workforce understand that it’s all generated by their behaviour and performance, they have complete agency. Recognition should also be executed in a timely fashion. Putting on team drinks six weeks after hitting a big milestone isn’t likely to inspire workforce engagement and continued great performance.

Bring on the benefits

Recognising your teams’ efforts will do a lot more than bring a positive vibe to the office. Studies prove that workers who feel appreciated are 12% more productive than those who feel their work isn’t noticed. Happy, productive staff are also likely to offer up new ideas and improvements for your business. Building up team confidence will also improve their resilience, helping them to work together more efficiently if times get tough. 
Employees who receive regular recognition are also much less likely to look for new roles – a huge benefit to HR and talent teams in these times of great resignation. But the most rewarding benefit? Regular employee recognition will help build a culture of kindness and appreciation that can be felt company-wide. This can do much to attract new talent to your business, too!

Build an all-inclusive strategy

Recognition is usually a top-down process, with managers showing appreciation to the team members underneath them. But this can lead to senior staff becoming demotivated, and may inhibit more junior workers from expressing their appreciation. Encouraging a culture of 360 recognition, with plenty of opportunity for peer-to-peer feedback, can help create a more cohesive strategy.

An inclusive strategy should also focus on behaviour as well as achievement. Often the work which truly deserves recognition isn’t the sales targets that have been smashed, but the day-to-day efforts, the positive attitudes and the support for fellow team members.

Take time to reward teams

Team gifts are a great way to recognise behaviour as well as specific professional achievements. Nurturing happy, productive teams means putting the time in: researching what they value and enjoy, and also rewarding teams with quality time together – not spent working! Take some inspiration from these team gifting suggestions:

  • Gifts to enhance the workspace (either remote or office) like plants and candles
  • Group outings based on shared interests. Think museums, galleries, outdoor activities
  • Team meals, takeaway vouchers for remote workers, delivered snack boxes
  • Gifts to promote wellbeing like gym / spa passes, online exercise classes for remote workers