Deploy a Rewards Program for Employee Performance to Level Up Your Organization

Many businesses have seen a decline in employee engagement, and the issue is too severe to ignore. Declining engagement can wreak havoc on your company’s productivity and cause high turnover. Worse, being short staffed can result in dissatisfied customers and shareholders.

Plus, employees who voluntarily quit aren't easy to replace. When surveyed, 48% of company owners reported they had job openings they couldn’t fill. Let’s look at ways you can enhance the employee experience and avoid burnout at your company by implementing a rewards program for employee performance that engages and motivates.

What Is a Reward Program for Employee Performance?

Programs specially designed to reward and motivate employees are different from the loyalty or referral incentives you may already use to attract customers. They can look like extra paid time off, tuition reimbursement, flex time, bonuses, gift cards, or anything your employees will value. Take the time to understand what incentives are important to your staff and choose ones that support your company culture. Here’s a look at how popular rewards stack up against each other.

Research shows that a responsive reward program for employee performance effectively improves engagement because it links a goal with an activity. According to a 2018 Cornell University study, businesses that use incentive programs with an immediate reward saw a 79% success rate in goal achievement. If you recognize employees only once per year, you should consider how sending a valuable reward more often could help you with productivity.

What Are Some Examples of Rewards Programs?

Dozens of studies point to the benefits of rewarding employees with a timely and valuable incentive. Here are some tested examples:


Employees want to know they matter. With every reward sent, make an immediate announcement celebrating their achievement. Here at Tango Card, we have a Slack channel dedicated to recognition. You can also include a mention in your company newsletter or give the employee a shout out at the next department meeting. You can also fuel motivation by letting your employees choose their own rewards.

Employees can fuel their passions, explore a hobby, or treat themselves in other ways when they can access a catalog of rewards. This freedom of choice provides an entirely personalized experience where the recognized employee gets something they value—like electronics, travel products, or clothing. Another benefit to recognizing someone in this way is that they’ll remember how they got it every time they use the item, reinforcing the behaviors.

While everyone likes a reward they can spend, they also respond to social recognition. So getting a public thank-you also carries significant meaning. Pair that with a program that lets employees spend a reward on something they choose, and you have a powerful recognition system encouraging highly productive habits. In 2016, the Harvard Business Review published a study that found that profits increased by 14% to 29% when employees were regularly recognized.


When your employees have a positive work environment, they like to talk about it, which often leads to referrals for new talent. Create a benefit that rewards employees for referring someone they know for an open position. Remind them of the referral rewards quarterly to keep your hiring pool healthy.

If your employees know they’ll be rewarded for referrals, they’ll keep an eye out for qualified people in their networks. You can even create a tiered system to award referrals at various stages in the hiring process. It’s more motivating to know you’re getting a gift card for referring someone to be interviewed without waiting to see if they get hired.


Healthy employees are as vital as happy ones, so use wellness incentives to protect against burnout that affects mental and physical well-being. This can take the form of buying healthy lunches for team members, arranging for health screenings or fairs at the workplace, or providing standing desks. You can also reward employees for taking on healthy initiatives like riding bikes to the office.

Professional Development

Many businesses struggle with engagement when employees aren’t feeling developed for other opportunities in the company. Creating programs such as continuing education courses, mentorships, and tuition-reimbursement plans makes your company attractive to recruits and current employees. In addition, when employees hit milestones or earn certifications or degrees, congratulate them publicly and send a reward as a digital celebration of their accomplishments.

Celebrating Work Anniversaries

Be sure to celebrate work anniversaries with a gift or reward that thanks employees for another year of service. Taking the effort to acknowledge your employee’s loyalty and dedication to your organization reminds them you value their work contributions and performance.

While recognizing work anniversaries is a manual process for many employee experience and HR managers, it can be automated for their convenience. Organizations have access to tools that make it easier than ever to reward and acknowledge their employees.

Easy, Effective Rewards Programs

Providing a customizable rewards program for employee performance is an effective way to increase engagement and productivity. The key is to allow recipients to personalize the reward, making it as meaningful as possible. Management must also communicate the parameters for receiving a reward. It’s also ideal to publicly announce who is getting a reward and why to foster a feeling of community.

Curious how our customers incentivize and reward employees? Many use Reward Link, our most popular reward solution, to send digital gift cards instantly via email. When an employee opens the email, they click the redemption URL and are directed to a catalog with 100+ global brands to choose from.

Contact to learn how Reward Link can improve your rewards program. A representative will be in contact to show you how to use Reward Link to increase employee performance and level up your productivity.

Want more thought leadership from Tango Card? Sign up here to be alerted when we post new content, host webinars, and speak at events.

Is Tango right for you? Let's talk.

Now you know why Tango is trusted by companies around the world. It’s time to discover how Tango can work for you.