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6 Ways to Reward Productive Employees

Employee Benefits • May 7, 2015 at 3:00 PM • Written by: PeopleKeep Team

We salute the backbone and job creators in our economy during National Small Business Week. In our continued mission to reinvent employee benefits for small businesses, we want to help ensure they remain strong and competitive by offering affordable benefits. Our featured blog outlines how employers can maximize employee productivity to strengthen their small business.

Productivity and your small business’s success go hand in hand -- this isn’t anything new, though. But do your productive employees get what they deserve from you? No, we aren’t talking about a cruise to the Bahamas or a trip to Disneyland (although this does happen). We’re talking about the day-to-day rewards that your most productive employees receive from you -- the little things that really count.

In this article, we’ll go over six ways you can reward your most productive employees and why these rewards will only make your small business that much better.

Rewards and Productivity - A Good Match?

You might be wondering if rewards are a good thing to hand out when your employees are being productive. And while making a trophy with an engraved “Best Employee” plaque seems like the best reward to give, there are certainly other more meaningful rewards you can give your employees every day to show them your appreciation. These rewards usually aren’t a physical object to hand off, rather, it’s the stuff that matters to hard-working employees and what makes them happy. So, let’s get into each reward and why they matter.

Reward #1: A Clear Career Path

Employees value a clear path to follow towards a bright future. Sure, you might not say, “If you stay on this path, you’ll indefinitely become the next CEO,” but, you can offer insight to help your employee become exactly what they want to be -- even if that is a CEO someday. Your insight and direction is invaluable and a great reward for being productive.

Why it matters: As human beings it matters because if you do not offer a path for growth, employees will leave for a company that does. And having a path helps your employees stay productive, focused, and keep their eye on the target. Plus, your employees look  to you for the advice they need.

Reward #2: Public Praise

This reward is extremely important, but you must be careful with it, too. Why? Too much public praise can lead to other employees becoming demotivated. So, praise your most productive employees individually or as a team to show them and others that they’re helping the company move forward.

Why it matters: It’s no secret that we all love some praise here and there. As you praise your productive employees, they’ll naturally be driven to work harder because they’re being recognized for their hard work.

Reward #3: Responsibility

As your employees become more productive, you’ll be able to point out the ones who consistently give everything they have -- these productive employees should be rewarded with more responsibility. It’s a way to show that you trust your employees.

Why it matters: For the employees who want to be able to advance in your company, delegating responsibility to your most productive employees takes work off of you to help you focus on running the business. At the same time, your employees see that you trust them and they’ll want to be consistently productive.

Reward #4: Opportunities for Input

As a small business owner, you come up with a lot of strategies, tactics, and ideas to keep your company going strong. Whether you know it or not, some of the best advice can come from your own employees. Reward your productive employees by going to them for advice when coming up with ways to better your business. They’ll feel that their opinion and expertise matter.

Why it matters: Believe it or not, employees love to give feedback. Your employees who are producing quality work will have some of the best input because they see everything going on. They find little ways to make the business run better and more efficiently.

Reward #5: Eat and Chat

It almost sounds too easy, doesn’t it? Take an employee out to lunch and having a genuine one-on-one conversation is a great way to reward a highly productive employee. It’s a chance for you to get to know your employee and for them to know you. This can also be done in small groups, too.

Why it matters: It’s not difficult to take an employee or small group of productive employees to lunch once in a while. Your employees will value their time with you and see that you care about more than just their contribution to the company. Try to talk about fun subjects and leave work behind for an hour as you enjoy a nice meal.

Reward #6: Constructive Criticism

There’s a reason this reward was left for last -- it’s by far one of the most difficult rewards to give. Why? Because criticism is a tough bull to ride. It can go positively or sour quickly. So, to avoid things going south, make it a goal to reward your hard-working and productive employees with the “good” kind of criticism. For many employers, this means simply helping your employee come to the conclusion on their own about small tweaks they can make to their formula for success.

Why it matters: The truth is, no employee is perfect. In order for your employees to keep growing and learning they need a good mentor. Plus, it’s a great time for them to coach you, too. Ask for feedback and make adjustments for your own formula of success as well.


Day-to-day rewards are a simple way to keep your most productive employees performing their absolute best. As you begin incorporating rewards into your small business for your most productive employees, remember why you’re rewarding. Remember that your employees are the difference between a business that flourishes, and one that remains mediocre.


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