Employee Training Rewards That Actually Improve Learning

Employee Training Rewards That Actually Improve Learning

Last updated on 01st Oct 2020, Artciles, Blog

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Naveen (Sr Workday Lead )

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Getting buy-in from your employees means finding the right rewards to motivate and excite them.

Here are examples of great employee rewards you can use in your business.

1. Office Perks

Who doesn’t want to shove their achievements in the face of their co-workers? Today’s more competitive workforce definitely does. Which is why workplace perks are fantastic rewards. Not only do they cost you as a company very little, but they show recognition in the workplace to all your employees and create the kind of friendly camaraderie that grows successful companies.

2. Camp Out in the Corner Office

Why it works so well: In most workplaces, the ‘corner office’ or a manager’s office is a sign of respect and accomplishment. Lending out your space for a day or a week to an employee that has earned it through a training program transfers that level of respect to them and not only shows that you recognize their achievement, but that you have the humility to give up your company hierarchy.

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3. Dinner with the Boss

Why it works so well: Depending on the size of your company, access to the person at the top can be extremely limited and a sign of respect. Setting up a dinner with the CEO or president for your winner can increase loyalty, give them a chance to pitch their ideas and thoughts to a top decision maker, and make them feel noticed and recognized. As an added bonus, it also helps your boss connect with workers they might not normally be able to, fostering a better sense of community and culture at the company.

4. The Best Parking Spot

Why it works so well: Like your office, a parking spot that’s close to the office or in the shade shows a high-level of value and accomplishment. Give it up to your winner for a week as a daily reminder of how you value them. As an added bonus, you could even get a small sign with their name printed on it to show that the space is really ‘theirs’ for the week.

5. Assistant for the Week

Why it works so well: Your winner won the competition because they’re competitive, and because they work hard, and giving them a little help by hiring a personal assistant for the week is a great way to recognize the time and effort they put in every single day. It also can become an aspirational experience, showing them how much time gets eaten up by administrative or menial tasks and how much they can actually get done when they have the opportunity to focus solely on the big picture.

6. Office Update Budget

Why it works so well: While most of these perks are temporary changes, you can also reward winners with an office perk that lasts past a single day or week. Giving them a budget to upgrade or redecorate their office is a great way to create a lasting reminder that you recognize their hard work, as well as give them a space they feel good about coming into day after day.

7. Free Lunch for the Team (Your Choice, Of Course)

Why it works so well: Everybody loves food. But we all have personal tastes. Giving your winner the chance to order their favorite dishes and then sharing it with the team empowers them while also providing a great perk for the entire office. If you’re bored of basic catering or a pizza party, try something like an office bbq or even bringing in a private chef to cook for you on site.


A recent study by Harris Group found that 72 percent of millennials prefer to spend more money on experiences than on material items. So while perks and special swag are still great rewards, offering up exclusive experiences can do even more to show that you align with your workforce’s values.

Even better, by offering up experiences, you’re creating a reward that your workforce brings back into the office through re-telling what happened and instils some serious FOMO when they post pictures of where they’ve been.

8. Festival or Sporting Event Tickets

Why it works so well: It’s pretty much impossible to find someone who doesn’t love either a certain kind of music or a specific sports team. Not only that, but these events are prime spots for social media posts, giving your winner a chance to show off. Find out before what sort of events are happening near you and grab a pair of great tickets as a reward.

9. Holiday in the Sun, on the Company

Why it works so well: Despite so many modern workplaces offering ‘unlimited vacations’, a new study from jobs site Glassdoor says that U.S. workers on average have taken just 54% of their allotted vacation time. Forcing your winner to take time off not only gives them a well-needed rest, but signals to the rest of your team that it’s OK to take the time they’ve earned and can help create a happier, more productive culture.

10. Wine Tasting or Brewery Tour

Why it works so well: If your winner likes to wind down with a bottle of beer or a glass of wine, why not send them somewhere local to up their taste level? Let them bring a friend or significant other along for the ride. Just make sure you book the tour for a Friday or Saturday to make them feel like they can really relax and enjoy themselves.

11. VIP Access to Their Favorite Band

Why it works so well: Music festivals are great for their overall vibe, but for real music lovers, a dedicated concert is such a better experience. Check online to see who’s coming to town and book VIP tickets well in advance. Not only does this create a truly exclusive experience, but it shows your team that you’ve been thinking about rewarding them in advance.

12. Extreme Adventure Day

Why it works so well: The benefits of exercise on our performance in the workplace are well documented, but the last thing you want to reward your winner with is a trip to the treadmill. Instead, look for an extreme adventure experience like ziplining, rock climbing, or even kayaking. Not only will this give them an experience they can talk about and share, but exercising creates a sense of euphoria and can even lead to extended periods of increased happiness.

13. Cruise for Two

Why it works so well: If your work is demanding, it’s not only hard to find time to spend with loved ones, but that time often consists of eating or decompressing over some Netflix. However, researchers from the University of Michigan have found that more access to time with people we care about makes us happier and less likely to become depressed at home and at work. Try giving your winner some stress-free downtime by booking a romantic dinner cruise or other date night for them to take their partner out on.

14. Spa Day

Why it works so well: Smooth jazz. Endless attention. Cucumber water. Need we say more? Show appreciation to your winner with some dedicated ‘me time’ by giving them a spa day or other special treatment.

The Special Treatment

Not all of your rewards have to be based on items or experiences. And in fact, it’s sometimes easier to single out and recognize an employee than you think. Even without spending a dime.

While special treatment in the workplace can go wrong if it shows favoritism, using it as a reward shows that it’s clearly merit based and can be inspiring for everyone.  

15. Take the Afternoon Off

Why it works so well: More than just a bit of down-time while the rest of the world is working, giving your winner a Friday afternoon off can let them get a jump start on the weekend or plan a trip out of town with friends. Sure, the rest of the team will be jealous when they start packing up at noon, but that’s the point. They earned it.

16. Attend a Conference of Their Choice

Why it works so well: As we pointed out before, millennial workers are desperate for a leg-up in the workplace. And giving them access to the smartest people in their career path is a great way to give them that. Find conferences in your city or state that line up with what your team is interested in (and what you want them to learn) and pay for the winner to go. Even better, buy two tickets and let them bring a co-worker of their choice.

17. Work From Home

Why it works so well: Your commute is a way to mentally prepare for your day at work. Yet, for most workers their bus ride or drive in is far from inspiring. In fact, a study by psychologist Daniel Kahneman and economist Alan Krueger revealed that, even among our least favorite activities like household chores, commuting ranked dead last. Try giving your winner a break from their commute and a chance to work from home.

18. Casual Friday Whenever They Want

Why it works so well: If you want your winner to feel recognized and you have a workplace dress code in effect, what better way than to let them come to work in whatever they want? Not only will this make them more comfortable at work, but it’s a day-long reminder of their achievement and a way for them to stand out from the rest of the team.  

19. Lazy Monday Morning

Why it works so well: Just like leaving late on a Friday, giving your winner a late start at the beginning of the week lets them make more plans for the weekend. It also recognizes them for their achievement when they come into work, and can even make them happier all day long if it means an easier commute in not during rush hour.  


When it comes to gifts, they say it’s better to give than to receive. But when it comes to a merit-based reward, the social stigmas go away and we’re free to enjoy our gift guilt-free. So whether it’s a luxury item or something simple, swag of all sorts is a great way to reward your winner for their hard work.   

20. Tech Accessories Like Headphones, Speakers, or a Smart Watch

Why it works so well: Just like the laptop or iPad, tech accessories are one of the hottest gift items out there and can instil some serious competitive rivalry in your team. Pick something current and that can be used daily as a reminder to your winner that you recognize the hard work they put in.

21. Uber or Lyft Ride Credit

Why it works so well: If you live in a city with ride-sharing, your employees most likely use it. They might even use it to get into work on a daily basis. Give them a credit with the service they use the most that will cover a month of trips.  

Team-building activities

More than just a reward for your sole winner, offering a special event for the entire team creates a stronger culture and makes your winner feel like a champion of the people. However, make sure that each of these rewards has a focus on the winner so they still feel recognized and empowered in how the activity takes place.

22. Movie Day in the Office

Why it works so well: When we experience an emotion as a group, like laughter during a comedy or fear during a thriller, we create a strong psychological bond. What better way to create a stronger team than to take a slow afternoon off to watch a movie in the office? As an added bonus, let your winner pick the film.

23. Team Off-Site

Why it works so well: Getting everyone out of the office for some activities and games is another great way to build a strong culture and get your team to know each other better. Pick activities that are accessible to your entire team and get your winner to act as a ‘team leader’ to make them feel empowered.

The Intangibles

Not all rewards need to carry a monetary value, and sometimes it’s the intangible rewards that carry a weight and value that inspires your workers. Think about small gestures you can do that will give your winner a sense of pride and let them know that they are respected by the entire team.

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24. A Well-Designed and Honest Thank You Note

Why it works so well: It might seem like a cop out or a throwaway reward, but a well-designed and thoughtful thank you note can motivate and propel workers to keep putting in their all. The key here is to put in the effort to show how much you appreciate the worker. As Margaret Shepherd explains in The Art of the Handwritten Note, a proper thank you note has 5 characteristics: It’s generous, specific, prompt, succinct and personal.

25. High-Five from the CEO or an Important Client

Why it works so well: Is there anything as great as a good ol’ high five? Only when it comes from someone unexpected. Take the basketball team the Washington Wizards, for example, who had star player John Wall come down and give their sales rep a high-five during a sales meeting as a reward. It cost them nothing, but was an unforgettable experience for their winner and their entire team.  

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