August 31, 2019 0 Comment

Employee Rewards and Recognition for Multi-cultural Workforce

Many organizations face challenges while implementing employee rewards and recognition for a multi-cultural workforce. This is primarily because these organizations fail to take into consideration the cultural sensitivities of the employees while designing such programs.

While most organizations focus on having an innovative and diverse rewards program, but they fail to factor in the cultural nuances to make it truly effective and satisfactory for their employees from different countries and cultures across the globe.

Why creating an employee recognition program for a multi-cultural workforce is so challenging?

It is a well-known fact that different things might hold completely different meanings in various cultures. That is why the lack of understanding of the cultural values and nuances of different groups within the organization can make even the most well-intentioned rewards and recognition meaningless, and may even be hurtful and insulting for the recipients.

This can impact the overall motivation and engagement levels of the employees and even force them to seek other employment options. In comparison, organizations that focus on the cultural differences between members of their multi-cultural workforce while developing their employee recognition programs enjoy better retention rates along with higher employee performance and efficiency.

What are the key points to consider for creating a multi-cultural employee recognition program?

Creating an employee recognition program, suitable for a workforce comprising of members belonging to several distinct cultures, requires the organization to focus on several important points:

1. Understand the Recipients and their Cultures

Before an organization creates an rewards and recognition program for its employees, it should invest time and effort to understand the different cultural backgrounds of its employees. The organization should especially focus on learning about how sensitive certain employees are about their culture and its nuances.

Certain cultural groups might find a specific action or communication attractive, while other groups might find it offensive. Making an effort to understand the cross-cultural sensitivity of the recipients can help design the employee rewards and recognition program much better and in a more balanced way..

2. Learn about Overlapping Cultural Aspects

Organizations should also try to learn about some major cultural aspects, especially those aspects that might overlap with other cultures but might have an entirely different meaning in another group. This is especially true in the case of employees belonging to Asian, African or even Middle Eastern communities.

This will prevent the organizations from making any serious mistakes while rewarding the employees of a multi-cultural workforce due to a lack of proper understanding of the seemingly insignificant cultural nuances. In some cases, a single oversight may prove catastrophic as it might lead to the alienation of an entire section of the workforce belonging to a specific culture.

3. Verify the Truth of Cultural Stereotypes

Cultural stereotypes can lead to unconscious bias and often cloud the decisions related to designing the best rewards programs for employees. As such it is important for organizations to ensure that they verify the truth behind these cultural stereotypes and how relevant these may be for the employees about to be rewarded and recognized.

This is applicable for both positive and negative stereotypes, although following the latter blindly is likely to cause greater damage. In case the stereotypes are verified to be true and are likely to influence impact of the employee reward and recognition significantly, then it is advisable for the organization to seek alternative solutions.

4. Establish Clear Lines of Communication

Most organizations communicate with their top-performing employees through indirect channels. This can give rise to a lot of assumptions and confusion, especially with respect to cultural nitty-gritties. Hence it is important for organizations with a global multi-cultural workforce to establish clear and direct lines of communication between the employees and their managers.

This proves beneficial as the managers can get a first-hand understanding to any doubts and queries about the culture and ethnic beliefs of their team members.

5. Focus on Building a Unique Organization Culture

One effective way for organizations to make their employee rewards and recognition programs work for their multi-cultural workforce is to focus more on building a unique company culture. They can integrate the various positive aspects of different cultures to develop a homogenous culture at the workplace that seems familiar yet distinct to every individual employee.

The employee rewards and recognition program should then be developed in alignment with this workplace culture rather than the different cultural backgrounds of employees. This is also an effective way to instil a deep sense of camaraderie and teamwork between the members of the workforce.

Read the Comprehensive Guide for Engaging a Multi-Generation Workforce


The rapid globalization of businesses has necessitated the growth of a multi-cultural workforce even for small and mid-sized organizations. They can keep their workforce happy and motivated by implementing effective employee rewards and recognition policies.

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HiFives ( is an employee rewards, recognition and engagement SaaS platform that enables organizations to digitize, automate and transform their employee experience. The platform enables supervisors and co-workers to nominate, recognize and reward employees using a points-based system. Budget management, jury-based evaluation and multi-level approval workflows are built into the platform. HiFives has social features such as a wall of fame and gamification features such as leaderboards, e-certificates and digital badges. It also has a global redemption system with country-specific e-gift card options. HiFives integrates with all leading HRMS systems, Office 365, Google Workspace, MS Teams, Slack and other popular tools used at the workplace. HiFives is used by many large enterprises, small businesses and startups across 25+ countries in the world, in many industries including manufacturing, retail, technology, financial services and media.