What Is a Tangible Reward? 14 New Ways to Motivate Your Employees in 2024 (And Beyond)

Nov 14, 2023 | Employee Benefits

Josh Rust

As Abenity's Marketing Manager, Josh has a keen insight into the latest HR and recruiting trends.

If you’re a great employer, you always think of new ways to keep your team engaged and in top condition.

We all want our employees to wake up eager to come to work, do their tasks with enthusiasm, and contribute to the success of the company. 

But achieving this can be more complex than it seems. You might have tried various approaches, such as team-building activities, recognition programs, and motivational talks. 

Yet, you’ve probably found yourself questioning their effectiveness—are they truly making a difference, or is the impact only temporary?

If you’ve had doubts like these, you’re not alone. 

Motivating employees is like solving a puzzle. And one thing that you can do to spice up your workplace is through giving them tangible rewards.

But what are they? And what are their roles in employee motivation?

In this blog, we’ll explore what tangible rewards are, why employees appreciate them, and how to integrate them into your business seamlessly. 

What Is a Tangible Reward? 

Tangible rewards are the kind of rewards that your employees can see, touch, and experience, making them more real and concrete than abstract forms of recognition. 

Tangible rewards can include things like gift cards, bonuses, merchandise, or even extra paid time off. 

While intangible rewards like verbal praise and recognition have their place, tangible rewards show you’re willing to “put your money where your mouth is.”

But what makes tangible incentives so effective in motivating your team? Stay tuned and let’s explore why in the later sections!

Before that, let’s discuss the two types of tangible rewards.

What Are the Types of Tangible Rewards? 

When it comes to tangible rewards, they can be broadly categorized into two types: direct and indirect. 

Here’s the difference between the two:

Direct Rewards

Direct rewards are pretty straightforward. These are things like:

  • Bonuses: Extra cash as a reward for a job well done or achieving specific goals.
  • Gift Cards: Vouchers for various stores or services, giving employees the freedom to choose what they want.
  • Cash: Sometimes, it’s just money in hand.

Direct rewards are appealing because they offer employees an instant benefit. It’s like a little extra in your paycheck or the flexibility to spend as you please. 

Indirect Rewards

Indirect rewards work a bit differently. They don’t mean extra money in the bank, but they enhance overall well-being. These include:

  • Health Benefits: Comprehensive healthcare coverage, ensuring your employees are taken care of.
  • Retirement Plans: A way for them to secure their future and save for the long term.
  • Paid Time Off: Everyone needs a break—think paid vacations and personal days.
  • Wellness Programs: Encouraging a healthy lifestyle through fitness memberships, counseling, or mindfulness programs.
  • Perks: Even the little things matter, like free snacks or discounts on everyday expenses.

Indirect rewards might not be money in hand, but they significantly impact employee satisfaction and well-being. 

They demonstrate that your company cares about long-term security, health, and happiness.

A great company doesn’t pick sides between direct and indirect rewards—it offers both. 

This balance ensures that employees have financial security and enjoy a supportive, caring workplace that values their well-being.

How Do Tangible Rewards Function in the Workplace?

1. Clear Recognition and Appreciation

Tangible rewards offer a real-world, unmistakable form of recognition and appreciation. 

When you present an employee with a bonus, a gift card, or a similar reward, it gives them the instant message that their hard work and dedication are noticed and valued

This not only boosts their morale but also reinforces the significance of their contributions to the organization. 

Employee recognition also helps retain top talent, increase employee engagement, and encourage high performance.

2. Incentive for Top Performance

Tangible rewards serve as powerful incentives for top-notch performance. 

According to Nectar HR, 77.9% Of employees would be more productive if they were recognized more frequently.

By linking rewards to exceptional achievements, employees are given a clear and motivating target to strive for. 

Knowing that there’s a bonus or a special reward at stake acts as a powerful incentive—motivating employees to go that extra mile, meet ambitious targets, and consistently deliver outstanding results.

3. Sense of Achievement

Receiving a tangible reward also symbolizes a profound sense of achievement. 

It signifies that the employee has not just completed tasks but excelled in doing so. 

Such rewards represent tangible evidence of a job well done and the successful attainment of specific objectives. 

This sense of accomplishment instills pride and satisfaction in employees, motivating them to maintain the high standards they’ve set for themselves. 

As a result, they are driven to consistently contribute their best to the organization.

4. Boost in Job Satisfaction

While employee job satisfaction has lots of factors, feeling valued and appreciated is undoubtedly one of the most significant contributors. 

Tangible rewards, whether they include extra cash, gift cards, or other tangible benefits, significantly enhance job satisfaction. 

When employees perceive that you acknowledge their dedication with these rewards, their job satisfaction soars. 

Happy and satisfied employees are more likely to stay with your company and more committed to excelling in their roles.

According to Workleap, if employees are satisfied, it results in:

  • A lower turnover rate
  • Higher productivity
  • Positive company culture
  • Loyal employees

5. Stronger Team Morale

Tangible rewards often come hand in hand with public acknowledgment. 

According to a 2016 study by American Behavioral Scientist, public recognition has a positive impact on team performance.

Whether it’s a celebratory office gathering or a simple email to the team, the public recognition of an employee’s accomplishments fosters a sense of collective pride and unity. 

When you celebrate a team member, it creates a ripple effect of positivity within the team. Team morale is significantly boosted as employees witness their peers being rewarded and appreciated. 

This heightened morale is vital for fostering a collaborative and motivated work environment—where employees support and encourage one another to achieve common goals.

6. Goal-Driven Performance

According to an article by Forbes, providing a common set of outcome-based goals for employees to align with is a powerful way to drive purpose. 

Tangible rewards are frequently linked to specific goals or targets. 

When they know that a reward awaits them for achieving these goals, they are inspired to give their best, and ideally, surpass these objectives. This results-oriented mindset is important to maintaining a focused and productive workforce. 

Moreover, goal-driven performance ensures that employees consistently contribute to the organization’s success by aligning their efforts to the bigger mission.

14 Incredible Examples of Tangible Rewards for Your Employees 

Now that you’ve learned how tangible rewards work in the workplace, let’s explore 14 amazing examples of tangible rewards you can add to your HR Strategy.

Example #1: Cash Bonuses

Cash bonuses are the classic tangible incentives. 

They offer a direct financial incentive for a job well done. Whether it’s hitting a sales target, acquiring more qualified leads, completing a project ahead of schedule, or exceeding goals, cash bonuses are a tangible recognition of outstanding performance. 

Cash bonuses are straightforward and highly effective. They offer employees financial flexibility—whether it’s paying bills, indulging in a personal treat, or saving for the future.

Example #2: Gift Cards

Gift cards let your employees choose their own rewards—from a fancy dinner to their favorite store.

Gift cards are versatile and allow employees to select rewards that they want, making them feel truly appreciated.

Example #3: Extra Paid Time Off

Time is gold, and extra paid time off is a cherished reward. 

It’s a chance for employees to take a breather, spend quality time with loved ones, or pursue personal interests without worrying about work.

Extra paid time off promotes work-life balance and rejuvenation, resulting in a happier and more refreshed team.

Example #4: Office Upgrades

An upgraded workspace can work wonders for productivity and comfort. 

New chairs, standing desks, ergonomic accessories, or even a touch of greenery can make a significant difference in an employee’s day-to-day work life.

Office upgrades enhance physical comfort, reduce discomfort, and create a more pleasant work environment.

Example #5: Fitness Memberships

Healthy employees are happy employees. 

Providing gym or fitness class memberships encourages physical well-being and promotes an active lifestyle.

Example #6: Company Swag

Branded company merchandise, like t-shirts, water bottles, or coffee mugs, not only displays team spirit but also acts as a tangible reminder of belonging to the company.

Company swag promotes a sense of pride and unity among employees.

Example #7: Lunch on the House

Treat your employees to a free lunch at a restaurant of their choice.

Free lunches show appreciation and provide a chance to relax, unwind, and enjoy a delicious meal.

Example #8: Professional Development Courses

Invest in your employees’ growth by sponsoring courses or certifications.

Professional development courses enhance expertise, career prospects, and job satisfaction. You can also benefit from this by having a more skilled employee.

Example #9: Tickets to Events

Concerts, sports events, or theater tickets provide a memorable experience that creates lasting memories.

Event tickets offer a unique reward that encourages relaxation, recreation, and bonding with colleagues.

Example #10: Spa Day

Give them the gift of relaxation with a spa day to unwind.

Spa days promote physical and mental well-being, reduce stress, and increase overall job satisfaction.

Example #11: Virtual Pet Day

Allow employees to bring their furry friends to work (virtually) for a day.

Virtual pet days foster a sense of community and provide a delightful break from the routine.

Example #12: Book Club Subscription

Encourage learning and camaraderie with a book club subscription for your team.

Book club subscriptions promote continuous learning, team interaction, and intellectual stimulation.

Example #13: Coffee Delivery

Keep the caffeine flowing with a coffee delivery service for your employees.

Coffee delivery services offer convenience and ensure employees have their favorite brews at their fingertips. It’s also extra energy for work—that’s a bonus.

Example #14: Customized Artwork

Commission custom artwork that celebrates your employees’ achievements and brightens up the office.

Customized artwork enhances the office environment, instills a sense of pride, and fosters creativity and positivity.

Choose from these tangible reward examples to create a motivated and engaged workforce that’s ready to conquer new challenges!

Why Do Employees Love Tangible Rewards?

Employees love tangible rewards for several reasons. Let’s take a closer look:

1. Tangible Rewards Make Achievements Visible

Employees appreciate tangible rewards because they turn their achievements into something they can see and touch. 

It’s like getting a gold star on a school project but in the workplace. 

When employees receive a tangible reward, it becomes a physical symbol of their hard work. This visible recognition boosts their self-esteem and serves as a constant reminder of their success.

For example, picture an employee who receives a “Top Sales Performer” plaque. 

Every time they glance at it on their desk, it reaffirms their outstanding performance and motivates them to continue excelling.

2. Tangible Rewards Are Personal and Flexible

Tangible rewards have the upper hand when it comes to personalization. 

Each employee has unique tastes and preferences, and you can tailor the tangible rewards to suit these individual differences. For instance, a gift card offers flexibility, allowing employees to choose their own rewards, be it a fancy dinner, a new gadget, or a weekend getaway. 

This personal touch shows employees that you value their contributions on an individual level.

It fosters a stronger emotional connection between the employee and the company.

3. Tangible Rewards Create Lasting Memories

Tangible rewards often involve experiences or items that leave a lasting impact. 

For instance, rewarding employees with tickets to a concert doesn’t just offer a night of entertainment. It creates a cherished memory that employees will carry with them for years(or maybe forever). 

These memories remind them of the recognition and appreciation they received from their employer.

Tangible rewards, like spa days, vacations, or educational subscriptions, offer employees opportunities to relax, have fun, or learn something new. 

These experiences stay with them long after receiving the reward and enhance their job satisfaction and overall happiness.

In a nutshell, tangible rewards provide a clear, personal, and memorable way to express appreciation for employees’ efforts. It’s a great but simple investment for your team.

These rewards create a powerful connection between employees and their workplace, motivating them to continue delivering their best.

Boost Your Workplace with Tangible Rewards!

So there you have it—a deep dive into how tangible rewards can supercharge your employee motivation strategies

Tangible rewards are an exceptional tool for recognizing and motivating your employees. 

They excel because they make achievements tangible, turning abstract accomplishments into physical reminders that boost self-esteem and motivation. 

Moreover, tangible rewards are highly personal and flexible, allowing you to cater to each employee’s unique preferences. This personal touch fosters stronger emotional bonds and a sense of individual value.

Tangible rewards create lasting memories, often involving experiences or items that leave a significant impact. 

Now, it’s your turn. Don’t hesitate to add them to your compensation planning

Take the insights from this blog and put them into action. Implement tangible rewards in your workplace to create a motivated, engaged, and appreciated workforce.

But wait, there’s more! 

If you want to supercharge your employee perks, check out our Employee Perks Report!

It’s a side-by-side comparison of the savings provided by the industry’s top discount providers. 

By offering these perks, you can amplify the value of your compensation package and ensure your employees feel truly appreciated.

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