What’s the best award?


The question is easy but the answer is a bit complicated. Having been associated with the recognition and incentives industry for over 25 years, I have seen paradigm shifts, economic downturns/upturns and human behavior studies which have impacted the type of awards companies have chosen to reward their employees over the years.

Currently the Incentives industry is estimated to be approximately $76.9 billion. The industry continues to grow as more CEO’s and senior leaders view employee engagement as a key business metric.
Resource providers such as All Star Incentive Marketing, primarily focus on providing recognition solutions consisting of 4 key elements; Communications, Training, Measurement and Awards. The types of awards offered by companies typically include, but are not limited to:

  • Certificates and/or plaques
  • Cash (not pay-for-performance or compensation)
  • Gift cards
  • Company logo merchandise
  • Food (breakfast, lunch, pizza party, etc.)
  • Timepieces (e.g., watches, clocks, etc.)
  • Jewelry (e.g., necklaces, lapel pins, bracelets, etc.)
  • Household items (e.g., crystal, vases, china, etc.)
  • Office accessories (e.g., desk sets, portfolios, pen/pencil sets, etc.)
  • Electronics (e.g., cameras, TVs, stereos, etc.)
  • Recreational items/sporting goods
  • Personal services (e.g., spa treatments, maid service, etc.)
  • Travel
  • Redeemable points

Each award has its purpose and before making a recommendation I usually ask 5 important questions:

  • What is the purpose of the award?
  • Who is eligible to receive it?
  • How often can someone receive an award?
  • What are the demographics of the receiving population?
  • What is the lasting message you want to reinforce?

The last question is probably the most important. While cash awards are popular amongst some companies, they aren’t very memorable. Cash awards are often lumped in with employee’s weekly budgets and soon forgotten. Often times recipients of cash awards forget how much they received or what they did with it. If the purpose of an award is to reinforce the positive impact an employee has made, why not reward them with something that has lasting value? Tangible awards pay lasting dividends as recipients often associate strong positive memories long after receiving their awards.


Jim Drakakis


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