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Staff Rewards: motivating your top performers

Staff Rewards: motivating your top performers

As every HR professional knows recognition is vital for retaining top performing staff. Christmas, Lunar New Year and new financial years are our busiest times for helping clients to choose motivational staff gifts and rewards. Here are my top tips for staff recognition.

How do rewards work?

The psychology of rewards is extensive, and people respond in different ways. To receive recognition from a well-regarded peer or superior triggers a physical response in the brain that makes us happier and builds confidence. It is just human nature to want to repeat that feeling, so a well-designed reward/recognition by a good manager will encourage staff to perform better in future.

Rewards can also increase an individual’s standing amongst their peers. Some people like to show off, but most of us just like others to know that we are good at what we do. Staff will usually tell their friends and family about their new status, increasing their sense of fulfilment.

Why do it?

Lack of recognition has long been one of the top 3 reason people leave a job.

All companies operate on a limited budget so spending money on staff gifts can feel like an easy budget to cut. But given the cost of replacing staff is estimated to be between 50-60% of their annual salary (research by the Society for Human Resource Management) this is not an area to save money.

How to do it well

Recognition can come in many ways. An award, a well-timed compliment, a bonus, a raise or even a promotion. Another great but inexpensive way to express recognition to staff is by giving a thoughtful gift. A well-chosen gift, especially during the festive season can show staff the company cares and pay dividends the whole year long.

If you want to maximise the motivational and morale-boosting impact of a reward, consider the following simple steps:

  1. Separate financial rewards from non-financial: money has a very different psychological effect on people. It is important, so don’t ignore it, but keep it apart from your non-reward programme.

  2. Design for your people: Make it relevant to them. Are they competing as individuals? Are they working in large or small teams where they work together? What kind of things do they like? Do they work together in a place where they can show off their achievements to their peers?

  3. Have a range of rewards: Trophies for different categories of achievement, an individual gift, a day off, or a meal paid for by the boss. Team gifts can be great for morale, for example, giving the team a bespoke t-shirt with a message that shows it was just for them.

  4. Hold stock so you can react quickly, but keep it personal! Present the gift well, make a bit of a fuss, and show that you mean your recognition. In my first job at an advertising agency, the Account Managers received a personalised bottle of champagne for every new client account. The company had a crate of bottles labelled up and ready to go. When the account was won, the MD would call the team together and present the bottle… usually with a joke or two thrown in. I remember that first bottle: I was recognised in front of my peers for a job well done. It brought the team together, and we popped the cork at the end of the day to share the win with the wider team. Every subsequent win was as good as the first!

  5. Make it memorable. A key reason for investing in staff recognition is to create a lasting impact, so consider that as part of your range of rewards. Smaller rewards should be given frequently so that staff see them and are motivated by them, even if it is one of their peers who is receiving them. Bigger rewards should have a certain cachet, but be equally visible. Team t-shirts that say “I only do AWESOME”, “I’m a winner” mugs, and other tongue-in-cheek gifts are fun and highly visible day after day. Personalised wines, glassware, tech gifts, and classics like engraved gold pens and trophies – these are all high value gifts that the recipient will keep with pride in the office.


Our top 5 high value rewards


Our top 3 high-visibility team-builders


Need something in a hurry?

Got a team meeting that you urgently need to add some motivational magic to? BrandHK have a selection of gifts that can be made the same day (and couriered for next day delivery if you are in Singapore, other delivery destinations subject to courier times).
Click here to see the range!



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