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While some organizations find it to be a costly endeavour, Employee of the Year award is important in recognizing and appreciating employees in various departments of your company.

You recognize them for their hard work and commitment in their respective roles in the company. Not only is it a source of intrinsic motivation and satisfaction, but it also reduces employee turnover as well as enhancing organizational culture. New Year is the perfect time to appreciate your employees’ efforts for the past year.

This should look beyond the ordinary New Year incentives such as an office party. There are quite a number of reward options that companies can adopt without necessarily being extravagant. Here is an outline of 15 of those ideas.

1. A Work From Home Week

If you want to retain a talented and skilled employee, you have to recognize and appreciate their input in their respective roles in your company. This involves rewarding them with something unique that will create a competitive atmosphere at the workplace as all other employees work hard to have their efforts recognized as well — what better way to do this than to give them a whole work-from-home week.

Commuting to work can sometimes be stressful, so why not give the employee of the year a break from their commute by giving them a chance to work from home. This could be a great new year’s reward as they slowly adapt to the working environment after the festive season.

2. Romantic Dinner Cruise for Two

Due to tight working schedules, employees barely have time to enjoy a romantic dinner with their spouses. This creates a tense mood both at work and at home.

However, you can help ease that tension by rewarding the best employee with dinner for two on a cruise. Spending time with people you care about makes you happy and reduces stress levels. Therefore, giving the employee of the year a fully booked dinner cruise for two is a perfect way to reward their loyalty.

3. Spa Day

Everyone desires some ‘me time’ every once in a while. Smooth music, a good massage and any other form of pampering is a dream come true for every working person. It reduces work pressure and rejuvenates your energy. A fully paid spa day could be an excellent reward for the most hardworking employee. It is not only a great way to refresh for a new year at work, but it also gives the employee time to take care of their body. If your budget allows it, you can treat the employee with two tickets to the spa. Let them choose who they will spend the day at the spa.

This has also been proven to inspire other employees to be diligent enough for a reward at the end of the year. The competitive environment in your company translates to increased productivity.

4. A Free Lunch Treat

If the overall performance of your employees is commendable, then you can decide to buy them lunch for the excellent performance that year. As part of appreciating the employee of the year, you can let them order their favourite meal and let them share with the other employees at the office.

To add a personal touch to your free lunch reward, you can decide to bring in a private chef, who will make different in-house delicacies for your employees. Everyone loves good food, so let them have different and unique dishes to celebrate their contribution to the company.

5. An Adventurous Day Out

Research has, over the years, proving the importance of physical exercises to the high performance at workplaces. There is a relationship between a physically fit employee and efficiency at their workplaces. A physically fit employee tends to be more active and productive than one who is not.

To encourage an exercising culture in your company, you should consider awarding the best employee with a physically engaging adventure. This does not mean some time at the gym; instead, give them some time to enjoy physically active outdoor activities like hiking, zip-lining, or kayaking, something out of their norm.

This outdoor experience will boost their energy levels when they return to work, and they will also have something to share with their colleagues.

6. The Honor to Dine with the Boss

Dining with the boss is a highly regarded endeavour. Employees may have limited access to the boss, depending on their position at the company; that is why sharing a meal with them is considered to be a sign of honour and respect. It is therefore advised to invite the best-performing employees to a new year dinner in the best restaurant. Let them order their favorite meal and strike a conversation with them. Give them a chance to express themselves about how they feel about your company. While dining, avoid awkward moments by striking interesting discussions that will allow the employee to air their views as well.

7. A Holiday Trip

Recent studies show that employees have a positive preference for non-cash incentives over money. One of the most ideal non-cash incentives that you can reward the employee of the year with is a holiday trip. Offering an employee a travel incentive to a cosy destination increases their loyalty to the company in addition to boosting their morale.

Krabi is an affordable and excellent choice for a small company. December happens to be the most popular months to visit Krabi. This means that Krabi will be coming to life for visitors. Here they can explore tourist attractions, shopping for souvenirs, engage in different leisure activities, and interact with diverse cultures.

New Year celebrations come as the closure of the holiday season, and most employees are looking for the best ways to wrap up the year. Also, collective memories play an essential role in the success of an organization. Sending the employees of the year to a holiday trip might be costly, but it enhances engagement among employees, which is fundamental to a company’s progress.

8. Best Employee of the Year Recognition

The Employee of the Year award creates a healthy competition amongst employees. When companies set out such awards as part of their organizational culture, most employees put more effort into meeting the criteria for becoming the best for a particular year. Such efforts include increased productivity, exceptional leadership qualities, crossing some milestones, time-consciousness, excellence in performance, and team accomplishments.

 Recognition of the best employee in a year can be done through the issuance of a certificate, a trophy, or a Wall of Fame. You can top up the recognition with some incentives and you will notice increased productivity in your company as more employees strive to be recognized for their contribution to the company.

A Well Wrapped Gift-Employee of the Year

9. Cash Award

Although money is not a long-term motivator for most employees, it goes a long way in complementing their efforts to an organization. Money becomes a satisfactory factor when received as recognition for one’s contribution over the year. Companies offering cash awards have a fixed amount of money issued to the best employee for a particular year.

Being the beginning of a new year, the cash token becomes a great source of facilitating an individual’s financial resolutions. You should give cash rewards to the best performing employees as a motivation to keep working even harder. You can decide on a pay rise for them, or simply a bonus as a token of appreciation for their contribution to the company.

10. VIP Parking Pass

There are a significant number of parking slots designated for employees in a company. Only a few of these slots are reserved for executives and distinguished guests to the company. As a way of rewarding the best employee for a particular year, organizations can set out a recognition policy that issues a VIP Parking Pass to such an employee.

The VIP Parking Pass should outline the duration within which the best employee of the year should park their car at the executive slots. Most institutions will feature a one-year VIP Parking Pass.

11. Retention Bonus

When companies undergo tough business cycles such as acquisition, mergers, or a recession, they tend to retrench employees to save the company from collapsing. A retention bonus is a reward to particular employees, assuring them of retention during such business cycles. A retention bonus is a great deal for every organization, and workers will have their hands on their jobs to ensure they attain it.

Rewarding the employee of the year with a retention bonus is quite a significant endeavour for them. Most employees will reciprocate this with loyalty, productivity, punctuality, efficiency, and quality performance.

A Woman Spelling out PAY-Employee of the Year

12. Bonus Leave

Work leave is a fundamental component of employees and organizations. This is a period to regenerate, refresh, and spend extensive moments with their family or loved ones. Giving an additional bonus leave to the employee of the year without disrupting their annual leave is an excellent way of rewarding their efforts for that year. Bonus leaves offered during the Christmas and New Year seasons are highly appreciated.

You can decide to give your employee of the year a bonus leave this New Year so they can spend more time with their families during the festive season. Offering some family hotels during the New Year season that the company can get a discount for them. This will earn you loyalty from the employee as they also work hard to obtain the award the following year.

13. Tickets to an Event

It is a festive season, and there are numerous events taking place around this time. Whether it is a social event, cultural, religious, or an entertainment event, every employee wants to have fun with friends and colleagues. You can enquire from the employee of the year to see which event they would love to go to.

Ensure that you issue double or triple tickets to allow the employee to bring along one or two friends. If an employee is a football fan, giving them tickets to an upcoming match would be a great deal for them.

14. A Handwritten Appreciation Note

This is probably the cheapest means that a company can adopt to appreciate the efforts of an employee. A handwritten appreciation note is quite a significant gesture for an employee, especially when done by the boss. This is because most of the notes, emails, or text messages employees receive over the year are formal, official, and work-related. An appreciation note, to an employee, is a sign of care, concern, and recognition of effort.

Most employers or executives dismiss appreciation notes citing their inefficiency in this digital era. But that is where the point lies. Employees in this digital age are spending their time on social media platforms, digital networks, and digital communications.

It can only speak much when an employee receives a handwritten note. It gives your appreciation message a personal touch that will make the employee feel special to you and your company. In the note, recognize the employee’s role towards the growth of the company that year and their tireless hard work and contribution to their respective department. Acknowledge their efforts and simply tell them how you appreciate them.

15. Peer to Peer Recognition

Peer to peer recognition is one of the most effective ways of enhancing productivity, employee engagement, and reducing employee turnover. Contrary to all the aforementioned ideas, peer to peer recognition is the only reward method that is done by fellow colleagues. This kind of recognition is essential to an employee, noting that it is coming from individuals who have worked with them over the years.

Companies can implement this method by developing a peer to peer recognition book for the employee of the year. Other employees can then write personal comments on this book, which will eventually go to the shelves of the employee of the year. Their comments would include an appreciation for the employee’s efforts throughout the year, an outline of their character, and a highlight of what workers love about them.

This type of reward gives the employee of the year a sense of belonging to the company as well as a special feeling working with people who appreciate their effort and hard work. This will create a friendly environment in the workplace for all employees, which will translate to high productivity.

In Conclusion

Your New Year reward to the best employee of the year does not need to be anything extravagant. You just need to come up with something that will show the employee that you recognize their hard work.

Whether you choose to leave them a thank you note for being actively involved in the company’s growth in the past year, or you decide to go the extra mile to fund a holiday for the employee and his family, a New Year reward will go a long way to motivating the employees as well as creating a healthy competitive workplace while keeping employee turnover to a minimum.


Written By
Katherine Perkins is the digital marketer at Noria, Digital Marketing Company based in Thailand and the founder of Social Butterfly Travel Blog. A woman who loves traveling, eating and drinking especially coffee so sometimes she is a cafe hopper.

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