11 Ways to Reward Hardworking Employees (and Encourage More Exemplary Behavior)

When an employee succeeds at work, leaders should make sure that employee feels recognized for their efforts. Rewarding your staff members for a job well done not only motivates them to continue to work hard, but it also inspires others to reach the same goal.

To help you reward hardworking employees for excellent performance, a panel of Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) members answered the following question:

“When an employee displays exemplary behavior and work ethic, or when the quality of their work is high, what’s one thing you as a leader can do to reward them? Why is this effective in encouraging more of this behavior?”

Here’s what YEC community members recommend.

ways to reward hardworking employees

1. Give Them a Raise

“One way to reward an employee who displays exemplary behavior and work ethic is to give them a raise or bonus. This can be effective in encouraging more of this behavior because it shows the employee that their hard work is valued and appreciated by the company, and it provides them with a tangible incentive to continue performing at a high level.” ~ Andrew Saladino, Kitchen Cabinet Kings

2. Set Up Ownership Incentive Programs

“At Webfor, we like to think when an employee takes ownership in everything they do, they deserve ownership. You can set up different ownership incentive programs to reward your most exemplary team members with ownership interest in the company. This helps create long-term alignment and provides your team members with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.” ~ Kevin Getch, Webfor

3. Provide Positive Feedback

“Recognize and celebrate their work with clear, specific and timely positive feedback. If someone is doing a great job, tell them! Say what it is they did, how great it made you feel to see it done that way and how impactful it is to the business for them to do so. Enthusiastically celebrating the positive behaviors of your teammates goes a long way toward creating a culture of those actions.” ~ Andrew Powell, Learn to Win

4. Highlight the Impact of Their Work

“Public and private recognition goes a long way, and telling the employee the impact that their work had on the organization helps them feel a sense of pride and ownership. It also serves as an example to others of the impact they can have on the trajectory of the company.” ~ Joel Mathew, Fortress Consulting

5. Publicly Praise Employees

“I always praise exemplary behavior in public and also mention it during our annual retreat. This really sets the culture in the company. I also give a financial reward at the end of the year if the behavior resulted in a monetary benefit for the company. All this appreciation helps everyone to repeat these behaviors.” ~ Piyush Jain, Simpalm

6. Demonstrate How Their Work Supports Company Values

“I like to praise publicly and criticize privately. So when somebody does well, I recognize it in our daily huddles, team meetings and quarterly social meetups. I go a step further and tie their good work to one of our company values. So if an employee finds a way to automate a procedure, I recognize their good work and how it ties back to our value of efficiency. The employee then feels seen.” ~ Givelle Lamano, Lamano Law Office

7. Give Them a Promotion

“Promoting employees from within as they display exemplary work is encouraging for that specific employee and boosts the company culture overall. By demonstrating the fact that high-level work will not go unnoticed, you encourage all team members to push themselves to greater lengths.” ~ Jordan Edelson, Appetizer Mobile LLC

8. Provide Tangible Rewards

“One way to reward exemplary behavior and work ethic is to provide recognition and praise. This could include public recognition, such as highlighting the employee’s achievements during team meetings or sending out an email to the entire office. Additionally, providing tangible rewards, such as extra time off, a gift card or an increase in salary or bonus, can be effective in showing appreciation.” ~ Sujay Pawar, CartFlows

9. Offer a Bigger Challenge

“The first thing that comes to mind is financial reward, but I don’t believe there’s a universal gesture of appreciation that would work for everybody. In my experience, most top performers aren’t motivated by money. They are motivated by recognition, bigger challenges and more opportunities for growth. Money is great, but there has to be something else.” ~ Samuel Thimothy, OneIMS

10. Encourage Employees to Celebrate One Another

“Aside from rewarding hardworking employees with bonuses and raises, we encourage employees to recognize each other for their hard work. We have a channel on Slack called Cheers for Peers where employees can tag co-workers and thank them for going above and beyond. Not only is this an excellent way to build a strong company culture, but it also allows everyone to show their appreciation.” ~ Chris Christoff, MonsterInsights

11. Give a Personalized Reward

“Have a one-on-one meeting with the employee and ask them what they want. Then, reward them accordingly. This would be a bit more tricky than regular praise, but getting a reward of choice will boost employee morale unlike anything else. Of course, you’ll have to set some ground rules considering the budget constraints, but this method can increase employee satisfaction by multiple folds.” ~ Stephanie Wells, Formidable Forms

Image: Envato Elements

The Young Entrepreneur Council The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.