If you’re responsible for employee rewards and employee motivation, you might sometimes be stuck for rewards and incentives that are really going to work. But the next time you’re wondering what employee reward would be a treat –  all you really need to do is look at you children, or even remember your own treats as you grew up.

Rewards are a key part of any training – whether that’s for a loved pet or for a child who you are teaching morals, values and discipline to. You’ll probably even have a reward system at home to encourage your other half to help with the chores!

There are a surprising amount of parallels between the rewards we give children for great behaviour and the rewards that can really motivate employees. Whilst it’s not to say that rewards are indeed child’s play – it’s definitely beneficial to sometimes take a look at the simple suggestions.

Children’s Reward: Sweets – Employee Reward: A Meal out 

It’s a classic idea to bribe a child with a few pieces of chocolate or a sugary snack. In order to not make whoever is in charge of your health and well being policies baulk, the employee reward alternative has to be a meal out. You might want to get a gift card for a meal out with family, or arrange a meal with senior members of the business – or let them choose!

Children’s Reward: Stickers – Employee Reward: Certificates and Trophies

Stickers are used to help guide children on making the right choices, and they reward for good behavior with a visual marker. The employee alternative has to be the certificate or trophy that sits on the desk and shows off great behaviour.

If you need evidence – consider the 12,000 NHS staff story. When the Central Manchester University Hospital opened the rewards manager at the hospital wanted to inspire more than 12,000 NHS staff by providing each of them with a special commemorative badge to mark the occasion.

“Our staff were delighted with the badges, many of them wearing them into work the next day and it clearly boosted morale,” said Sue Allison, director of corporate services, Central Manchester University Hospital.

Children’s Reward: Sticker Charts – Employee Reward: Leaderboards

Hoopla software pictured

A sticker chart shows the collection of prizes towards a set goal, and the leaderboard does the same in the workplace.
With a sticker chart, each activity acquires a sticker, and with a  leaderboard you can apply the same logic, allowing certain goals to be weighted heavier than others. The important element for many people is the visibility – a leaderboard or a stickerboard can motivate and engage because it provides a visual communication of progress.

Children’s Reward: Free Time – Employee Reward: Time Off

Time is a huge privilege to children- perhaps a later bed time or more time watching TV. The employee reward that works is time off! This could be additional holiday days, a buy back scheme, earlier leave or flexibility – perhaps an early Friday finish. When children are rewarded, they can earn more minutes – and there can be ‘prestige’ – perhaps by being the sibling that is allowed to stay up when everyone else goes to bed. The equivalent in employees would be an early finish for a whole team or a particular employee.

Children’s Reward: Internet/ Gaming Time – Employee Reward: Research Time

For older children, rewarding with internet time or for gaming is pretty standard For colleagues and employees you might want to reward with research time. Just like Google allow time for passion projects, extra time to look into an idea can be really rewarding

Children’s Reward: Special Trips- Employee Reward: Travel Incentives

Source: alldubai.ae

For children, a great reward can be as simple as going to a burger bar or out to a play centre. For employees, this translates into a travel incentive or an away day. Often being allowed to do something special is its own reward – and just as children can get giddy at the idea of a happy meal, there’s a certain spark in the air when you have an away day or treat for a team that have really performed well.

Children’s Reward: The Party- Employee Reward: The Office Party

Whether it’s a festival or a house party for a teenager or a birthday party with lots of friends for a younger child, a party is a great goal that can keep a child in check! The office party is another great employee reward and if you spend time making it a worth looking forward to, it can certainly act as a reward.

Children’s Reward: Extra Responsibilities- Employee Reward: Extra Responsibilities

Do you ever remember clamouring to be the one to look after the school gerbil? Children often thrive on extra responsibility. A classic parenting move is to make your child be in charge of an activity  because children get a real kick out of telling the adults what to do!  Surveys show that people are disengaged with work when they are bored, so most working adults are looking to be offered new responsibilities or to be allowed the chance to be in charge- even if they aren’t a manager. Why not try it out? If it’s a long term responsibility, make sure the compensation matches the task and that they are supported and able – and if they are allowed to call the shots – make sure you’re prepared to listen – and you’ll see that extra responsibility can be a great reward.

Children’s Reward: The Toy- Employee Reward: The Tech Gadget

Every child surely sat and circled the Argos catalogue for the best new toys. We all like a treat, and even if we grow up and don’t want a Cabbage Patch Doll or a Stretch Armstrong anymore, we all love a gadget. A computer upgrade, access to a music streaming service, a gift card for some apps or games, a tablet or a better mobile – there are plenty of work friendly gadgets that can also double as a real treat!


What other parallels have you seen between rewards at a young age and at a working age?

Whatever you choose – rewards work! When employees make a fundamental difference to the performance of the business on a daily basis, any reward that recognises success and rewards talent will go down a storm. Well-run reward programmes focus performance and accelerate good behaviours and performance and for many managers, the best solution ends up being one where choice is delivered to the employee – whether that is choice of reward, choice of timing, choice of brands – the colleague is king!