Another key mistake I see managers make is to think all rewards need to be big. Managers are pretty good at rewarding employees for the major things like completing a big project, having a big success, etc. This is great, but not enough.
Big events don’t happen often - that’s what makes them big. If you only reward people for major projects, odds are that you aren’t given many opportunities to reward, which is a shame.
I like to put rewards into different levels (generally based on cost) and make sure I use all of them as necessary.
I use 3 levels, but you can use it how you see appropriate).
Small - a gift in the $5 to $15 dollar range.
Medium - a gift in the $15 to $75 dollar range.
Large - any gift over $75.
The large gifts are obviously saved for those major projects. A six-month system implementation that was successful, etc.
However, I try to use the small and medium sized gifts regularly. For example, someone jumped in and helped a teammate finish a project that required them to stay late or work on a weekend. A great example was a district manager for a retail organization. As he would travel to stores in the area, he would have various gift cards for food places (all $25). If he saw an employee take good care of a customer, he would walk up and say thank you (specifically calling out the behavior that he wanted to reward) and then give him a gift card. The employees were always happy and usually surprised.
Two things I liked:
He did this randomly. In other words, he didn’t do it at every location he visited. It was only when something really caught his eye.
He always talked about the behavior that he was rewarding. It wasn’t random to him, the employee knew exactly why the reward was given.
No surprise, that district always had good performance and good engagement levels.