How To Give Your Team Rewards That Really Resonate

How To Give Your Team Rewards That Really Resonate


Here’s a critical secret I learned for how to inspire your employees to give their all.

The key here is understanding the simple, yet hidden, language of praise and rewards.

When Well-Meaning Gifts Become Token Gestures

I’ll quickly give some context before I dive in. Many teams feel underappreciated and demotivated because their leaders fail to give the right type of rewards.

When managers give rewards in the wrong way, even the most well-intended gifts end up feeling like empty, token gestures. Eventually, they can become downright annoying. Over time, resources get wasted and morale steadily declines.

One of my past clients, a leader in a well-known multinational organisation, told me that all the managers in their business gave out coffee cards to their staff to reward them for good work.

Initially, the teams loved receiving these little gestures of appreciation. But after receiving 4 or 5 coffee cards, they lost their meaning. Eventually the coffee cards became a joke among the staff – a classic example of an empty token gesture.

One particularly switched on manager noticed what was happening and decided to change her approach. She started giving out cute badges to employees who did a great job. This was a step up from the boring old coffee cards – but not everyone liked the badges either.

Some thought they were childish, cheesy, or cheap. Others preferred receiving verbal recognition. Some preferred the chance to sit down for some one on one time with their managers (maybe over a good cup of java), and some literally just wanted a pat on the back..

The fact is, no one type of reward could possibly appeal to every single member of the team. This is because each of us has a different way of expressing and receiving appreciation. So how can the leaders of teams give encouragement and rewards that make a real impact without getting lost in the details of each team member’s individual preferences?

Well, it turns out there are just five core ways that people like to receive gratitude and appreciation. When you know what these five “laungauges” are,, you can show each of your team members that they are uniquely seen and cared for.

Introducing The Five Love Languages

In his bestselling book The Five Love Languages, Gary Chapman demonstrated that each person has one or more primary “love languages”. These are:

  1. Words of affirmation
  2. Quality time
  3. Receiving gifts
  4. Acts of service
  5. Physical touch

Chapman explored these love languages in the context of romantic relationships, but these same principles apply to any kind of human interaction. Including work relationships.

It might seem like a lot of work to tailor your rewards to each member of your team, but it’s easier than it might first appear. And the results are definitely worth it. In an increasingly transactional world, gestures of personalised care show your team members that you appreciate them as human beings – not just cogs in the machine.

To provide feedback that truly resonates, ask your team members about their love languages (they may have more than one – although most people have a primary preference). This can be done casually or formally, such as having a conversation over lunch or coffee, sending an online survey or quiz, or even providing them with a copy of the book.

Another way is to observe how they express gratitude and appreciation to you and others in the team.

Once you know their love language, you can “speak” it to them whenever you want to express appreciation.

Here are some examples:

    • Words of affirmation: praise them verbally or in writing for their specific achievements and qualities.
    • Quality time: carve out some one-on-one time with them, showing genuine interest in their work and life.
    • Receiving gifts: give them something meaningful or thoughtful that reflects their personality or interests (which may or may not be a coffee card!).
    • Acts of service: offer to give them a hand with a task or project they struggle with.
    • Physical touch: if appropriate, express appreciation through a handshake, or pat on the shoulder (with consent and appropriate boundaries of course).

By giving feedback in the right language, you will motivate, engage, and foster loyalty among your staff. It will also improve your relationship with them – and ultimately start to transform the culture in your workplace.

Empowering Your Team

When team members feel seen and cared for, they view the workplace as a community that supports them. This increases the likelihood of them going above and beyond, repaying these kindnesses with extra discretionary effort. You will not only see an increase in morale but also a lift in performance.

If you want to work with me to master the art of supporting your team members, or to cultivate a culture of personalised care in your workplace, feel free to reach out by clicking one of the links below.

Wishing you the best of luck inspiring your team.

Warm regards,

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