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Employee Recognition and Reward Systems: How Can HR Reps Do It Differently?

Mon, 18 Mar 2024

Employee Recognition and Reward Systems: How Can HR Reps Do It Differently?

Drawing on the timeless wisdom of Dale Carnegie's classic 'How to Win Friends and Influence People,' you probably understand how vital recognition and appreciation are in any human interaction, especially in the workplace.

As an HR representative, it's your responsibility to ensure employees feel seen, appreciated, and motivated.

Traditional recognition systems have served us well, but let's face it: you're not looking for the status quo.

If you're after something more innovative that takes employee recognition to the next level, you're in the right place.

So, how can one transform a conventional, often overlooked aspect of HR into a dynamic, powerful tool that drives performance and engagement?

Let's explore this in this article.

Understanding Traditional Recognition Strategies

In essence, traditional employee reward and recognition strategies have been founded on the principle of acknowledging employees' efforts and accomplishments, often through tangible rewards such as bonuses, promotions, and public commendations.

You've likely seen these methods in action, creating an environment where high performers are visibly recognised and rewarded.

However, while these strategies have merits, they often overlook the value of consistent, everyday contributions.

PwC surveyed that over half (51%) of employees in Malaysia are of the opinion that their organisation will not be able to subsist beyond the next ten years if they persist on their existing trajectory. 

This highlights the urgent need for these organisations to reconsider their current strategies and establish a viable plan for the future.

In a rush to highlight star performers, the hard work of consistent contributors can be overshadowed. This can lead to feelings of underappreciation and, in the long run, affect morale and productivity.

It's also worth noting that these traditional strategies tend to focus on individual achievements, potentially neglecting the importance of team efforts.

Thus, understanding these shortcomings is crucial for you as an HR representative, as it allows you to create a more inclusive, balanced recognition system that values all contributions, big or small.

The Importance of Personalized Rewards In Employee Recognition

Recognising the Uniqueness of Each Employee

Every employee in your organisation is unique, and that's something to celebrate!

They each come with their own set of skills, experiences, and aspirations. These individual differences can significantly contribute to your company's success if harnessed correctly.

Personalised rewards play a critical role in this process. They send a clear message to your employees that you acknowledge and appreciate their uniqueness.

Personalising rewards based on the preferences and aspirations of each employee can significantly boost their motivation and job satisfaction.

When employees feel seen and appreciated for who they are, they will likely perform better and stay engaged. This not only benefits the individual employee but also enhances the overall productivity and morale of your team.

Enhancing Employee Engagement and Loyalty

Personalised rewards can have a profound impact on employee engagement and loyalty.

People are more likely to be committed to a company that recognises their efforts and rewards them in a way that resonates with them. Offering a one-size-fits-all reward can seem impersonal and can often miss the mark.

By tailoring rewards to individual employees, you're showing that you've taken the time to understand what motivates them and what they value.

This level of personal recognition can significantly strengthen their emotional connection to your company, making them feel valued and appreciated.

In turn, this can lead to increased loyalty, greater job satisfaction, and higher retention rates.

Boosting Morale and Productivity

When employees feel recognised and valued, it boosts their morale. High morale often increases productivity, as employees are more motivated to put in their best effort.

A lack of recognition is the primary reason for potentially changing jobs, as stated by 44% of employees

Additionally, 63% of employees surveyed by Apollo would remain in their current positions if they were rewarded. 

This data suggests that employers should invest more effort into building robust recognition systems; thus, personalised rewards can come into play.

They show your employees that you see their hard work and are willing to reward them in a meaningful way.

Personalised rewards not only make employees feel good, but they also encourage repeat performances of the behaviours and achievements being rewarded.

Fostering a Positive Company Culture

Personalised rewards can also help foster a positive company culture.

They show your employees that you value diversity and individuality and are committed to creating a supportive and inclusive environment. This commitment can make your company a more attractive workplace, helping attract and retain top talent.

In addition, a culture that values recognition and rewards can lead to a more cohesive and collaborative team.

When employees see their colleagues being recognised for their unique contributions, it can inspire them to support each other and work together more effectively. This can strengthen your team's dynamics and enhance overall performance.

How Can HR Reps Do Differently?

Here are the key aspects you should pay attention to:

Focus on Intrinsic Motivators

HR reps can make a significant difference by focusing on intrinsic motivators. This means recognising employees' contributions and behaviours that align with company values.

This can be done through public recognition on company-wide platforms or personalised gestures such as handwritten notes or individual meetings.

Further, HR reps should provide learning and development opportunities that align with individual career goals. Ditch one-size-fits-all rewards. Offer choices based on their particular preferences.

This could include stretch assignments, mentorship programs, or tuition reimbursement.

Lastly, employees should be given more control over their work.

HR reps can facilitate this by setting clear goals, providing necessary resources, and trusting employees to deliver while encouraging innovation and experimentation.

Personalize Rewards and Recognition

Personalising rewards and recognition involves offering diverse reward options to cater to different preferences and values. 

These could include gift cards, experiences, additional paid time off, or contributions to charity.

HR reps should also encourage peer-to-peer recognition, which fosters a positive team culture. Recognition should be timely and specific, reinforcing desired behaviours and showing genuine appreciation.

Embrace Technology

HR reps can do things differently by embracing technology. They can implement online platforms that facilitate peer-to-peer recognition, track achievements, and allow employees to redeem rewards.

Data-driven insights are another important aspect. HR reps can use data from these platforms to identify trends and adjust the system to better align with employee needs and preferences.

Gamification can increase engagement and foster friendly competition. HR reps can incorporate elements like points, badges, and leaderboards into their recognition and reward systems.

Align with Company Values

The behaviours rewarded should reflect the company's core values.

HR reps should clearly communicate how recognition contributes to achieving company goals.

Additionally, executives and managers should actively participate in recognising and rewarding employees to lead by example.

Measure and Adapt

HR reps should track key metrics like engagement, retention, and performance to assess the impact of their programs.

They should also gather employee feedback regularly through surveys or focus groups.

This feedback should be used to refine the program to keep it relevant and effective continuously.

Make it Frequent and Ongoing

Recognition should not be limited to significant milestones. HR reps should celebrate small wins and everyday efforts to reinforce positive behaviour and keep motivation high.

Consistently providing feedback and recognising your employees' accomplishments should be a key component of your strategy, fostering a culture of appreciation that can significantly boost morale and productivity.

This continuous interaction breaks down communication barriers and helps employees understand their value in the organisation, making them feel appreciated and respected.

Platforms like Slack, Trello, and Asana can provide a space for team members to give each other shoutouts or recognition for their achievements. These platforms also allow HR reps to keep track of the recognition given and ensure that it is consistent and fair.


Rethinking your employee recognition strategies is crucial. Personalised rewards, peer-to-peer recognition, and technology can help make it more impactful.

Remember, as an HR rep, you have the power to transform your workplace culture.

So, put a little creativity into your recognition and reward systems, and watch your employees thrive in ways you've never imagined.

If you have a hard time getting the talent you need that fits your organisation's requirements, our talent pool at Upscale can help you find the perfect candidates.

Our team of experts specialises in connecting organisations with top talent and can assist you in finding the right fit for your company.

Contact us today at upscale.my to learn more about how we can support your recruitment needs and help you build a robust and motivated workforce.