Tailoring Your Award Options

3 Minutes Read


I’m like a lot of people in that I find it a bit hard and stressful to shop for others. Do I assume they want or would like this? Or should I just ask them? Am I giving the right amount? Or can I just enjoy the act of giving and feel good about my intentions? 

Take that info and now assume you are the head of HR of a 5000 employee global enterprise and the CEO asks your team to craft an award catalog to increase engagement. Shopping for that many people doesn’t feel like the CEO is setting us up for success. I know I tend not to raise my hand and look down at my phone when leaders ask for volunteers.

After helping organizations for 13 years craft reward catalogs I want to share what we’ve learned.

If you want to stop reading here; just know that it’s rarely about the reward. It’s the message that goes along with the reward. Yes, train your managers on how to communicate employee impact and you will be in good shape.

The whole concept of making others smile with some type of gift is something I’ve always enjoyed and doing it at scale with well over a million rewards is fulfilling. 

 Some approaches to consider.


It’s important to have a variety of options, start with 3 questions:


  • What do I want to offer?
  • How do I make it unique? 
  • What can I offer my employees?


What do I want to offer–I’m starting this all with the presumption you’ve already seen the great value in employee recognition programs as a cornerstone of your employee retention efforts. So we then ask what do you want to offer your employees? It’s a difficult question since employee recognition is also a reflection of your organization’s values and core philosophy.


It’s a much harder question than you may think.  When I am speaking with human resources leaders for the companies KangoGift works with I keep asking, “what do you want your employees to think about your reward offerings? Do you want them to think something like this is so cool or this is the best place ever! Are you putting any real thought into what your employees think about the reward and are only doing it out of some sense of obligation? 


Here’s a thought that I often share and that catches people off guard.  Make sure your rewards are diverse and that you have a wide and deep pool of choices for your managers to choose from.  Maybe that gift card is what they want the most.  Maybe you can offer that unique thing like a local experience. What you need to do is to build a platform that is broad and deep in order to properly engage your employees.


How do I make it unique–Let’s build off what we were just talking about. Like in most things diversity is the key. Those of us here at KangoGift believe in helping our customers build programs that are as unique as their needs. The reason why this matters is that the needs of different organizations aren’t just unique, they are drastically different.


We have had a manufacturing company in Korea and a software company in the USA who both share the goal of having an awards program that recognizes exceptional performance. They may agree on some key elements of it such as how to structure such a program.  The programs often vary on what they need based on their own unique structures. The needs and desires of an employee in Korea diverge greatly from those of an employee in the USA. But yet they don’t.  This seeming contradiction is what requires you to make your own rewards program unique. 


Decide how you wish to recognize your employees and what you want to reward them with. Make sure you have a broad and deep understanding of what would make your employees feel uniquely recognized and then go about building it up. Your options are limitless.


What can I offer my employees–This is a question I am asked frequently. Of course one way to address this question is to realize that with employee engagement firms like KangoGift your options are deep and varied.  Gift cards, currency cards among other things give you a varied and deep number of options.


The other question to ask is how these offerings reflect my culture.  I am telling you that you can’t choose a bad option when it comes to employee recognition rewards.  You are recognizing your employees for a job well done.  You can be innovative and offer awards that reflect your philosophy.


KangoGift has worked with customers to create employee rewards that are as much cultural as financial.  Imagine giving your employees more time off or a chance to visit a local cultural event!  This type of reward represents you as an innovative organization which is another area you can show to your employees or potential employees as someone that is great to work for. 


What I always say is that what you offers is a reflection of what type of organization you are and what you are trying to build, 


So here are three thoughts I would like to leave you with. 


  • Offer a rewards program that is both broad and deep. That will engage employees and give managers a diverse set of choices to reward exceptional performance.


  • Decide how you wish to recognize your employees and then build, or have built, a customized program that meets your own unique needs.  Buying off the shelf will leave, in some part, a program that doesn’t meet your needs.


  • Create a customized program that meets your needs. Be sure to build something that reflect your culture and the culture you wish employees, present and future, will see. 


Your rewards program is a reflection of you. Your options are as limited as your creativity and desire to stand out. Be sure to do that. Stand out and think how can I truly engage and reward my employees?


Todd Horton