Articles 8 Game-Changing Tips to Reward Your Star Employees

8 Game-Changing Tips to Reward Your Star Employees

Vlad Kovalskiy
10 min
Updated: January 17, 2024
Vlad Kovalskiy
Updated: January 17, 2024
8 Game-Changing Tips to Reward Your Star Employees

Nothing revitalizes a tired soul, stressed mind, and overworked body better than when a company takes the time to reward employees. What else is better than a pat on the back and being told you’ve done well? In this day and age of virtual reality, it’s exhilarating to be recognized and praised for a job well done. It’s the only way to refuel you and fire you up to do even better and top your previous performance. 

As a manager, leader, or business owner, there’s no way your business will lose if you know how to make your employees feel good about themselves and motivate them to keep up the great work. Like the carrot to the donkey, positive reinforcement goes a long way in showing everyone in the company the kind of effort and result you value most of all. 

Reward strategies to incentivize employee performance

The trick to getting your teams clamoring to outperform each other to get their hands on the prize is to make the actual prize interesting. There’s a little give-and-take that needs to happen if you’re looking to reward employees. If you expect exceptional employee performance, you must be prepared to reward them with exceptional awards. 

Often, these performance-based rewards do not even have to cost a thing. If you ask, your employees won’t even ask for money. What they look for most of all is mentorship, time, and a peek into what they can become if they continue to shine in the workplace. While incentives for top performers with a monetary value may be good for a while, they can find more worth in time spent on out-of-the-ordinary accolades like some of what we have below. 

The good thing is that there are a lot of ways in which you can inspire better performance and increase employee motivation by giving away perks. It doesn’t even matter if you don’t have enough wiggle room in the company or team budget. All you need is a little creative thinking and thoughtful planning. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

1. Lunch with the boss

What could be more exciting than the chance to pick apart the brains of the top man over some delicious food? And all for doing a great job? Yes! A lot can be learned in an hour of meaningful conversation, especially if you have a top performer who also hopes to be in business in the coming years. Lunch with the boss is a great way to encourage them to pursue their dreams while showing them employee appreciation. 

To make it even more special, you can ask your boss to plan the lunch. Most rank-and-file do not have access to the eateries and cuisines they might have already been exposed to, so the lunch venue can be more upmarket and more exciting. Once the plan is set, send out teasers to create a sense of FOMO among the teams. 

2. CEO for the day

An excellent way to reward top-performing employees is by granting them the opportunity to assume the role of CEO for a day as an incentive.

As temporary CEOs, they can introduce special activities such as a casual dress day or bring-your-dog-to-work day, address the company as the top executive, or even engage in focus-group discussions with other employees. Utilize a comprehensive performance and employee management tool to measure and recognize outstanding contributions and plan the CEO-for-a-day experience accordingly.

To generate excitement, publicize the CEO-for-a-day incentive among your teams. Encourage the chosen employee to dress the part, issue a statement to the entire workforce, and address teams in person before the workday begins, mirroring the actions of an actual CEO. Providing your top performers with the opportunity to step into a leadership role in this manner can ignite their ambition and inspire them to become future company figureheads.

3. Work from home privileges

Who wouldn’t want a day when they can work from home? The thought of not having to commute to work, even for one workday, is enough to drive an employee to shoot for the prize. There’s a different sense of comfort when you’re home, even while you’re working. Away from the hustle and bustle of the city, any worker can appreciate being able to escape the city's noise. They can work in their sweats or pajamas while working, if they want to, and take a nap on the couch from the safety of their homes at lunch. 

Get remote team management software for your peace of mind in ensuring that the work that needs to be done will get done. You can schedule the day on a Friday in the middle of the month so you’re not as busy, and your best team member can relax and unwind as soon as the workday is done. 

4. CEO Buddy Program

There’s no better way to learn everything there is to learn about running a successful business than from the top bosses themselves. Schedule a workday with your CEO when they can accommodate a team member as a way to reward employees. The winner can be their shadow for the day, following them around as they go about their day to have a first-hand view of the world from the CEO’s perspective. Times like these will be invaluable in instilling a sense of responsibility, honor, and prestige in being a leader in the corporate world. Your CEO can take them under their wings and train them even for a day to prepare them for a bigger company role. 

Having the CEO Buddy program opens the door for future leadership opportunities, especially if your achiever is consistent in their efforts. This initiative leaves a great impression on the company investors and stakeholders, customers, and employees while humanizing the leadership team. It’s also a chance for your CEO to be open to feedback, recommendations, and even concerns about the company, and it allows the CEO to make changes that can improve the work environment immediately. 

Come up with a clever name for the scheme and release a teaser for everyone in the company to see. Let them know that anyone can be eligible so long as they meet the qualifications, and make sure you have a foolproof way of gauging their accomplishments. The elite status of the venture needs to be analogous to the paramount output. 

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5. Team building day out

Another way to reward employees is to raise the stakes by launching a team-focused incentive that will allow them to bond as a group away from the frenetic energy of the workplace. You can make it a department-wide competition of sorts, and the winner will get to enjoy a day of fun and camaraderie with teammates. It doesn’t even have to be big. It just has to be fun and not related to work. Here are a few ideas that you can run with: 

  • Paid team lunch

  • Team movie outing with free food

  • Adventure day out like rock climbing or trying an escape room

  • Themed meals or dress code days 

  • Leadership team exposure program

The last recommendation in the list is a great program for competitive team members who hope to rise in the ranks in a few years. Just being able to see what they can become if they apply themselves to consistent extraordinary performance will go a long way as employee morale boosters. 

6. Community outreach

Getting involved with the community outside of your office walls is a great way of showing your top performers and employees in general that they are part of a bigger world and are responsible for the well-being of a substantial society. Since they are your company’s future leaders, it’s essential to create in them a sense of responsibility in making sure that the business also takes care of the district it belongs to. 

Partner up with a local community, health, or education center and reward employees with time off to spend with everyday folks. You can run food drives, tutoring or mentoring programs for children in school, and health-related outreach initiatives to people who may not be able to afford it otherwise. It might be a heavy topic, but allowing employee engagement with the general public will make the work that you do in the bullpen have a deeper impact. Your teams will also develop a deeper appreciation for their job by encouraging them to look beyond the workplace for a sense of accomplishment. 

7. Further education initiatives

If you want to reward employees with something that they can take with them anywhere and everywhere, at any time, look into education courses that your company can pay for such as financial adviser, leadership and mentoring, business and commerce courses, and the like. They do not even have to be full 2- or 4-year courses. Community colleges offer short-term certificate programs that will equip your workforce with the basic knowledge to serve as springboards for their future in the business. 

You will also find a wealth of training programs if you ask your local college or training facility. Maybe some of your employees want to learn about personal training, health and nutrition, emergency medical technicians, or even hairstyling. You can survey before coming up with a list of course options that your top performers can choose from. 

It’s common for some companies to have tie-ups with local schools to provide continuing education to their staff as long as the employees in turn use what they’ve learned in the workplace. This is entirely up to you. The aim is to show employee appreciation while also improving employee retention efforts. 

8. Cover a major expense

In this day and age of financial uncertainties, we’re all really one paycheck away from losing everything. It’s a harrowing thought – something that you’ll be surprised to find your employees spend a lot of their time worrying about. You can take the edge off for a month, at least, by creating a performance-based rewards program that will cover one of their major expenses like their monthly rent, a medical checkup, or car payment. Giving them a reprieve from one burden, even for just a month, will make them feel cared for by their company and allow them to readjust their priorities for the next pay period. 

It's important to not make your employees feel embarrassed or ashamed. You don’t even have to ask about their bills. You can do it furtively by conducting a survey and asking them a rhetorical question like: “If you can forego paying for one bill this month, what would it be?” Ask the question as creatively and cleverly as you can. There will be plenty of time to finalize the details once you have your star employee picked out. 

Don’t forget the old ways

When it comes to employee appreciation, motivation, and retention rewards, sometimes the old ways are the best, particularly when working with a more limited budget. Below are some of the reward strategies that you can use instead: 

  • Food truck – Find out the most popular food choice and let the favorite roll up and get situated in the parking lot for everyone to feast

  • Leadership serving day – A day when managers, team leaders, and even the CEO mans the lunch line at work, serving food to the rest of the staff

  • R&R event – Massage, manicure, and pedicure days with certified professionals

  • Gift cards and vouchers 

  • Company swag

For employee engagement and morale boosters, you can instead do the following: 

  • Appreciation badges – Honor badges that appear in the employee profile showing their achievements

  • Wall of fame – Top performers gain a spot with their picture on the wall. You can have a recognition ceremony at the end of the year to acknowledge all the honorees

  • Certificates and trophies – Give them something they can show off to family and friends

  • Personal thanks – Get a list together of your star employees for the month and get your boss to announce their names and accomplishments in person to the whole company at the end of the month

  • VIP day – Premium parking spot, their own office, or dress-down clearance for the month 

Tipping the hat to the working man

Thinking of ways to reward employees can be tricky and intimidating. The more personal the incentives for top performers, the better; this takes a lot of getting to know your employees. If you know their needs, ambitions, and worries, you’ll be better able to customize the reward for their efforts. The key is to think of the employee and put yourself in their shoes, so to speak. 

Coming up with incentives for top performers can do wonders for employee retention. Taking the time to find out your employee’s wants and needs and making the reward fit them shows your team that you care for them more deeply. Use reliable reporting tools to furnish you with numbers and results you can count on. For this, you need robust business software that lets you do almost anything. Bitrix24 ticks all the boxes in your list. Sign up today and enjoy the benefits! 


Why is it important to recognize and reward top-performing employees?

Recognizing and rewarding top-performing employees is crucial because it acknowledges their hard work and dedication and motivates them to maintain and even exceed their performance levels. This practice fosters a positive work environment, boosts employee morale, and ultimately contributes to higher productivity and organizational success. 

How can innovative rewards boost employee morale and motivation?

Boost morale and motivation with innovative rewards that show employees that bosses care enough to go out of their way to find out which prizes they will appreciate the most and be inspired by. There’s an elevated sense of pride and distinction to be given a well-selected award. 

What are some of the cost-effective ways to appreciate top-performing employees?

Some of the cost-effective ways to appreciate top-performing employees are: 

  • VIP parking for a limited time
  • Casual-dress pass
  • Work-from-home day
  • Certificate of achievement
  • Honor badge

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Table of Content
Reward strategies to incentivize employee performance 1. Lunch with the boss 2. CEO for the day 3. Work from home privileges 4. CEO Buddy Program 5. Team building day out 6. Community outreach 7. Further education initiatives 8. Cover a major expense Don’t forget the old ways Tipping the hat to the working man FAQs Why is it important to recognize and reward top-performing employees? How can innovative rewards boost employee morale and motivation? What are some of the cost-effective ways to appreciate top-performing employees?
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