How to celebrate employee achievements without making anyone feel left out.

So your sales team just blew their monthly quota out of the water. You’re immensely impressed and want to reward their success by treating them to lunch. Who do you invite?

A. The whole sales team
B. Just the sales managers
C. The entire branch

Some people might argue that the whole team deserves to go because their achievement was a group effort. Others believe the accomplishment wouldn’t have been possible without solid guidance and support from the sales managers, so they’re the ones who’ve earned it. But to what extent did you consider inviting the entire branch? Disregarding logistics and budgetary constraints for a second, rewarding everyone at the branch is the fairest way to go.

Each department relies on the other

The truth is the sales team didn’t exceed their quotas on their own. Marketing backed them with promotional strategy, design supplied them with collateral, accounting approved their funding, and so on. Every department operates as part of a whole, borrowing the strengths and resources of the others to achieve their goals, which in turn propels the organization forward. For this reason it’s impossible to say that the quotas were met solely due to sales efforts.

This applies to other situations as well. Engineering can only build practical products if research and development provide accurate data. Warehousing is only capable of fulfilling orders if manufacturing delivers the goods on time. Actors and models rely on agents to forward them gigs. You get the idea. At the end of the day it’s a mistake to think any one department can survive without the other, so it’s important to celebrate achievements as a team.

Rewards don’t have to break the bank

By now you’re probably wondering how on Earth you could be expected to cover lunch for your entire organization. Even if you work at a small company it can be tricky to rustle up funds for activities that don’t directly affect the bottom line. However, we strongly believe employee engagement is a relevant business expense. Numerous studies have proven investing in employee engagement benefits organizations by improving employee productivity and retention. Employees who feel appreciated are more loyal and dedicated to their roles, which ultimately makes them happier and better at their jobs.

Of course, treating over a hundred people to lunch might still not be feasible, so depending on the size of your branch or organization, here are some other ways you can thank your staff:

  • Get them cupcakes, donuts, or pizza
  • Send personalized thank-you cards
  • Give them a day off
  • Set up a foosball table in the lounge
  • Shout-out a different department in each company-wide update (eNewsletter or otherwise)
  • Let them pursue a special project of their choice
  • Plan a company retreat or outing (ex: bowling or running a marathon)

When in doubt, you can always ask your staff how they’d like to be rewarded. You’ll likely get some obvious answers, but a few may surprise you and could grow to become part of your workplace culture.

Give everyone an equal chance

Many organizations choose to reward success internally by giving individual employees prizes. While there’s nothing wrong with doling out the occasional cruise or concert tickets, it’s imperative that everyone has a fair shot at winning. Offering incentives to one department and not another can come across as biased, leaving some employees to feel overlooked or unimportant. It may not always be easy to measure and compare achievements across departments, but you should try to find a way of communicating to everyone that they’re all worthy of recognition.

Employee support is about more than just rewards

It’s awesome that you’re interested in showing your employees how much you appreciate their hard work, but have you thought about how to support them under other circumstances? Our total well-being platform can help you with that. We have over 1500 videos, podcasts, and tip sheets that cover work-related topics like career advancement and leadership, as well as more personal subjects like parenting, fitness, nutrition, and finances. For more information, book a demo with us today.


Also published on Medium.