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Freedom of Choice for Success of Employee Rewards Programs

To keep their employees engaged and motivated, organizations need to implement effective employee recognition and rewards programs. Given their importance, organizations need to focus on the aspects that are important for the success of employee rewards programs.

One such factor is the choice of rewards for the program.

The common mistake that organizations make is to rely on popular options and what has worked well in the past.

Why Standard and Popular Options for Employee Rewards do not work well?

It is quite common for organizations to choose popular items such as iPods, gift cards of top brands, high-end watches, or company-branded merchandise as employee rewards.

Sadly, this may not work if organizations give the same kind of rewards to all employees.

This ‘all-size-fits-all’ strategy; may backfire as employees might feel disinclined to receive the same reward that their coworkers might have received previously.


This might make the rewards seem more like a formality rather than a sincere attempt to recognize the hard work and dedication of employees.

After all, not everyone might be keen to get the same kind of item as a reward.

Most importantly, it does not take into account the individual preferences of the employees.

It can make them feel that their employers are either unaware or not interested in knowing about their preferences.

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Hence, simply using popular reward items or what has worked in the past may make the program ineffective. 

This can even leave the employees feeling disappointed with the overall program.

It might lower their motivation levels contrary to the objectives of such employee reward programs.

Why is Freedom of Choice so Important for the Success of Employee Rewards Programs?

Gift Hamper

To make their rewards program truly effective, organizations need to enable employees to choose their rewards.

Those organizations that have already implemented this strategy are getting great results from their programs.

They can set a budget for each award and provide a reasonable number of meaningful options for that budget range.


An employee rewards portal with a catalog of items of different values is the easiest way to implement this strategy.

These options could be various physical items such as electronics, lifestyle products, or even experiences.

The rewards portal should be backed by proper logistics processes to get the items delivered to the employees.

Gift Cards

A simpler option is to have a catalog of gift vouchers of different brands and denominations in the employee rewards portal.

So, individual employees can choose the items or brands of vouchers based on their personal preferences, giving them complete freedom of choice.

What are the Benefits of Freedom of Choice in Employee Rewards?

Organizations need to constantly seek new and better ways to keep their employee reward programs exciting and interesting.

Hence, the strategy of making it possible for employees to decide the reward item they receive is an effective way of ensuring the same.

Such a strategy benefits the organizations in many ways, as discussed below:

Benefits of Freedom of Choice in Employee Rewards

1. Employees Feel Empowered

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Granting the employees the freedom to choose their reward gives them a sense of empowerment. 

They are likely to feel extra motivated not only to be considered worthy of the reward but also to get the rewards of their choice.

2. Promotes Workforce Diversity

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As employees get a chance to choose the reward based on their preferences, their sense of individuality gets a boost.

They feel more secure about being different from their co-workers and this feeling helps in promoting diversity among the workforce.

So, employees can feel comfortable and confident about their different backgrounds, beliefs, and preferences as members of the same workforce.

3. Increases Engagement Levels

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Being able to choose their rewards based on their personal preferences, creates additional interest among the employees.

Hence, this increases their level of engagement and they strive to perform better and work towards getting the desired reward.

4. Creates a Positive Organizational Culture

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With employees being more engaged and happy with the rewards policy, the organizational culture also improves significantly.

This impacts the employee goodwill and employer brand value of the organization positively. It also enhances employee retention.


Organizations need to think beyond the standard and popular options for rewards to ensure the success of employee rewards programs. The freedom of choice when it comes to employee rewards is critical for deriving the desired results from such programs.

Sagar Chaudhuri

Lead author: Sagar Chaudhuri, the Co-Founder and CEO of HiFives. He is an HR Tech Evangelist with over 25 years of experience in the corporate world and entrepreneurship. In the past, Sagar has worked with companies such as Genpact, Infosys, and ICICI Bank, in leadership roles. He has an engineering degree from IIT Kharagpur and an MBA from IIM Lucknow. Connect on LinkedIn

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HiFives is a global employee rewards, recognition and engagement SaaS platform that enables organizations to digitize, automate and transform their employee experience. It is used by 100+ large enterprises, small businesses and startups in manufacturing, retail, technology, financial services and media, across 25+ countries.