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Ideas for Personalizing Corporate Recognition Awards

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Corporate recognition awards are a great way to boost company culture and elevate the employee experience. Many organizations are implementing their own recognition programs to reap these benefits. But the question is, how far are they willing to go to personalize employee rewards and tailor the reward experience to each staff member’s needs?

Here, we’ll discuss the importance of personalizing the rewards experience and unique rewards ideas to inspire your recognition efforts.

Why You Should Stay Away From Giving Out Generic Corporate Recognition Awards

If you’re planning to start an employee recognition program, how much thought have you put into it? What types of rewards are you planning to give? If you’re thinking about giving out branded gifts, such as the company mug or pen, then it’s time to reconsider.

That’s because these rewards can feel more like a promotional stunt than an actual reward. Your employees don’t necessarily feel valued when they’re turned into walking billboards for your company – you can do better.

While rewards have the power to motivate employees and boost satisfaction, branded items likely won’t have the same impact when used in this way. There may be some cases where your employees will appreciate branded items, but be cautious. The whole point of giving out rewards is to personally recognize employees for a job well done. 

If you do it wrong, it might seem like a generic, token prize instead of the sincere reward you intended. But if you do it right, you can demonstrate your sincere appreciation while fostering an amazing company culture that encourages employees and improves both morale and motivation.

So, what are some best practices for choosing corporate rewards? The number one thing is to make sure you’re personalizing rewards for your employees. Rewards shouldn’t be one-size-fits-all. They should reflect an employee’s interests and values. Read on to discover ways to do rewards successfully. 

Tips for Personalizing Corporate Rewards

Now that you understand the importance of personalization, you might be wondering how to go about actually doing it. Below are best practices to follow when choosing corporate recognition awards.

Ask Questions

Rewarding your employees with something that matters is crucial if you want to make a significant impact. You can make them feel special and valued by showing them you care about their wants and needs.

One way to learn what types of rewards your employees want is to simply distribute a survey. Include a list of the possible gifts in the survey questions.

Also, make sure you allow space for staff to elaborate if their ideal reward isn’t listed on the survey. Then, based on their responses, you can give out personalized rewards that meet their tastes and preferences.

Alternatively, or in conjunction with the above, you can use online employee recognition software with a built-in rewards catalog to allow your employees to redeem earned points. This is a great option because it gives your staff the freedom to choose what they really want, and it offers a timely way to reward employees.

For example, when an employee receives enough points for a particular behavior they’re being rewarded for, they can cash in to get whatever reward you’ve offered that is meaningful to them. They don’t have to wait for an annual performance review or employee appreciation day. They can visualize their goal and receive their reward almost immediately.

Personalize Rewards to a Specific Achievement

Instead of choosing rewards randomly, consider why you’re giving them. Whether a reward is for recognizing the employee of the month, appreciating outstanding performance, or honoring a retiring employee, choose rewards that best serve each purpose.

So if you’re honoring an employee of the month, consider giving public recognition with an employee of the month wall. You can do something like this in conjunction with an online reward platform so that your employee can receive both tangible and intangible recognition for their accomplishments.

Determine the Channels for the Corporate Reward Program

After determining the types of rewards your employees enjoy, choose the different channels you’ll employ as part of your rewards and recognition initiative.

  • Public announcements: Whether it’s a thank you post on your company’s social media page or a dedicated section in the organization’s newsletter to celebrate achievers, public announcements can go a long way in making your employees feel valued and appreciated. However, because personalization is such an important factor in employee rewards, make sure your employees are actually on board with public recognition. While one employee may enjoy being recognized in public, another employee might feel uncomfortable being in the spotlight.
  • Personal and private recognition: If some employees don’t want public recognition, you might consider sending out a thoughtful note of appreciation from your CEO or sharing a client appreciation email with them to show  how valuable their contribution is to your company. While not a tangible reward they can hold in their hands or put on a shelf, this type of recognition can have an internal effect on employees by giving them a sense of pride and confidence.
  • Promotion: Some employees find value in their work when they advance within their organization. So, consider promotions for employees who perform exceptionally well and exceed expectations.
  • Tangible rewards: Whether you’re giving out gift certificates, a lunch treat, local experience, or experiential rewards, make them meaningful and only give them to employees who want them. Don’t give one type of reward out to each and every employee. Again, the key is to personalize corporate recognition awards in order to give them maximum value for your employees.

Unique Recognition Reward Ideas

So, you want to personalize your corporate recognition awards and give gifts that’ll matter to your employees, but you still have no idea what a personalized reward looks like. To give you some inspiration, here are some reward ideas that employees actually love.

Office Perks

Workplace perks are fantastic rewards and make employees feel a sense of belonging and an important part of company culture. Not only are these rewards cost-effective, but they’re also a great way to show recognition in the workplace to all employees.

Below are some examples of office perks you can offer employees for an excellent performance.

Dinner With the Boss

A recognition lunch at a nice restaurant with the boss can go a long way in making employees feel special. Take this time to get to know more about your employees’ interests and hobbies. This allows you to connect with them on a personal level beyond their work lives.

The Best Parking Spot

A parking spot that’s close to the office or in the shade can make your employees feel a sense of accomplishment. You can give out this reward weekly to different employees for certain achievements and behaviors. To take things a step further, you can even get a small sign with their name printed on it. This can show them the space is really “theirs” for the week,

Company Barbecue

A company barbecue can be a great way to show employees you care and see them as more than just a cog in the wheel.

You can have the event catered to and include your employees’ favorite foods. Or you can spice things up for employees who are devoted, grilling enthusiasts. This can give them a chance to show off their skills by cooking up a company feast or even sharing their homemade barbecue sauce.


Giving employees the chance to experience places and events can also be a great way to personalize rewards. While perks and activities can be highly effective rewards, offering exclusive experiences can show how deeply you appreciate your employees’ hard work.

Spa Day

Another way to personalize rewards for staff is to give them a spa day at the office. You can welcome them in the morning with breakfast, orange juice, champagne flutes, chocolate-covered strawberries, or other treats.

You can also bring in manicurists or massage therapists to treat your employees to a relaxing experience. At lunch, cater a healthy meal for employees to enjoy. Then, at the end of the day, consider giving everyone a gift, like a scented candle or box of chocolates.

You also have the option to give employees a spa experience outside of work. For example, if you use a rewards and recognition program, you can choose to let your employees who’ve earned a certain number of points earn a special day at a local spa.

Music or Sporting Event Tickets

It’s incredibly difficult to find an employee who doesn’t love a specific genre of music or a particular sports team. Employees can attend a concert or sports event at local venues with experiential rewards.

You can also offer tickets to plays, museums, fairs, conventions, and theme parks. Allow your employees to choose from a catalog of events, which gives them a sense of autonomy. Plus, choosing their own event will make them that much more meaningful.


Allow your employees to take a staycation by giving them opportunities to experience activities locally, such as kayaking, amusement park tickets, a themed walking tour, or skip-the-zoo passes. If you want to go the extra mile, you could even add a hotel or vacation rental.

Cooking Classes

Do you have employees who love to cook? If so, reward them with free cooking classes. That way, they can expand their cooking skills. Some cooking classes also allow participants to have wine pairings with their meals from local wineries, distilleries, and brew houses.

Special Treatment

To add some variety to your corporate recognition program, avoid basing your rewards solely on items or experiences. You can single out and recognize an employee without spending a dime.

Just be careful not to show favoritism for a particular employee and give everyone an equal opportunity to earn special treatment. Making special treatment rewards merit-based is the key to giving everyone an equal chance.

Let’s look at some examples.

An Afternoon Off

While everyone else is working, you can give a high-performing employee an afternoon off. Whether they want to get a head start on the weekend or plan a trip out of town with family, giving them that extra time off will give them the freedom to do so.

While this could cause jealousy among team members if the method of earning the reward is not extremely transparent, done correctly it could serve as a way to motivate them to be on top of their game so they can have their turn.

Casual Friday

Another fun and free reward is announcing a casual Friday to reward employees for their excellent work during the week. This allows them to wear their less formal attire, making them more comfortable at work. It also gives them more freedom in the office, making them feel more motivated to get work done. Why? Because it’s an all-day reminder of the great work they did throughout the week.

Lazy Monday Morning

One Monday a month, consider letting all your employees come in later than usual. Not only can this cause them to avoid the morning rush, but they’ll also be happier because they got to sleep in.

Tracking Employee Rewards With Employee Recognition Software

When it comes to personalized employee rewards, the opportunities are endless. From tangible rewards to memorable experiences, you can take notice of your employee’s preferences and offer them gifts that mean something to them.

But what’s the best way to keep track of these rewards? Using an online employee reward platform provides an excellent method for tracking employee rewards and allows them to choose rewards that resonate with them. Using a points system, you can assign employees points and allow them to “purchase” certain rewards.

This said you’ll still want to handpick the options that employees can choose when they go to browse available rewards. You’ll make sure the rewards you’re offering keep your specific team’s preferences in mind and are customized to things they’ll appreciate. 

That survey we discussed above, or even sitting down with employees in person, will allow you to discover the types of rewards each employee wants. That way, you can customize the rewards platform based on their individual preferences, hobbies, and interests.

Choose a Software Platform That Customizes Employee Rewards to Suit Your Specific Corporate Recognition Needs

Need help personalizing and customizing corporate recognition rewards employees actually like? Try an employee recognition platform like Xceleration.

Our proprietary web-based platform RewardStation is highly customizable, allowing you to personalize it to your organization’s unique needs. With full control of the process, you can allow employees to earn points and then redeem those points in an online catalog. They’re sure to feel valued by the variety of handpicked merchandise, gift cards, experiential rewards, and more.

For additional information about how our platform can supercharge your employee rewards and recognition strategy, contact us today.

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