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Employee reward and recognition is a complex but essential part of modern business. There is a range of payment, remuneration and bonus scheme models, each suited to different company structures and goals.

The wealth of possibilities can be paralysing for HR professionals, both at larger businesses and smaller organisations. The key to avoiding this is preparation and research, which means identifying exactly what your workforce needs and wants.

Many utilise employee engagement surveys to conduct this research, in which staff answer questions and explain their feelings towards the business in an anonymous setting. These surveys can be extremely effective but only if they are crafted correctly. In this guide, we are going to look at some of the key questions to ask your employees about reward and recognition, that will be useful if you are looking to use an employee engagement survey in the near future.

Alternatively, with over two decades of experience assisting hundreds of brands in a variety of sectors, our team are always on hand to help answer questions you might have. Be sure to get in touch if you are seeking bespoke advice from our HR experts.

That said, here are some of the most effective questions to consider.

Reward Questions

1. Do you feel that you are rewarded fairly for the work that you do?

There’s no doubt that reward is the biggest driver of employee satisfaction and in turn, a poor reward is sure to push high-quality talent away from your business. This question should be used to gain an idea of your team’s general opinion of your current pay and reward structure.

You may identify that specific teams feel underpaid or underappreciated, whilst others are content with the reward packages. Alternatively, you might find complaints across your organisation. Regardless, if there are multiple complaints of unfair reward, consider investing in salary benchmarking services to enable a comparison between your reward strategy and that of your market competitors.

2. Are there any benefits that the business could offer which would make working here easier or more valuable?

It can be difficult for the management team or your HR team to think of new ideas to improve your business’ reward package. Using a question like this one, you can generate suggestions directly from the employees that will be impacted. Allowing for the identification of common requests which should be added to your benefits or reward strategy if possible.

It’s important to note that, as with all things in business, financial viability is essential. Employees are likely to suggest ideas which aren’t fiscally plausible for your organisation, in which case, creating a progression roadmap and generating more achievable ideas is highly recommended. These strategies will make staff feel that they have been listened to, even if what they have suggested cannot be implemented.

3. Do you have a clear understanding of what you can do to progress or see an increased reward for your work?

This is one of the most important questions to ask employees about reward and recognition because it focuses on exploring how clear an employee’s progression path is within your current pay and reward strategy. The most motivated employees are those who fully understand what they need to do to reach the next stage of their career, whether that be over-achieving in their role or developing new skills. If your reward strategy offers no clear room for growth, staff are likely to feel that they are stagnating which leads to boredom, disengagement, and departure.

If large portions of your workforce comment that they are unaware of how to improve their reward package or progress, consider revising your reward strategy. Our reward strategy and design services are intended to fit around your organisation’s values and individual needs, ranging from consulting on the best pay structure for your sector to assisting in bonus and commission scheme design.

4. Rank the following types of reward in order of their value to you.

Different sectors attract different types of people. Similarly, different businesses within a sector may have wildly different cultures, attracting and retaining varying types of employee. With such variables in play, it can be difficult to gauge exactly where your workforce’s priorities or preferences lie. This question can help address that, generating a much clearer understanding of what your teams care about.

Below are some of the reward types you may consider including within your question:

  • Monetary Rewards (pay increases, bonuses)
  • Edible Gifts (going for lunch, chocolates, snacks)
  • Additional Annual Leave
  • Stock Options

5. Do you feel that rewards are handled in the same way for all employees? If not, please explain why.

Equal pay is becoming a more important issue for modern businesses to investigate and address. This question is designed to target and identify discrepancies in pay and, just as importantly, whether this is affecting the mindset of staff and impacting their productivity. Whilst pay and reward packages should vary depending on seniority and skill level, how these packages are handled should remain consistent across a business.

If staff lower down in the organisational hierarchy feel that they are treated unfairly in comparison to those in management, it can create a disconnect that leads to communication issues, low talent retention and inhibited growth.

If you do identify equal pay concerns or issues, the Paydata team can help hone in on where these discrepancies are and amend them through our detailed Equal Pay Audits.

Recognition Questions

1. Do you feel that staff are recognised when going above and beyond?

Recognition is less about what staff receive for their work and more focused on what businesses can do to ensure their employees feel valued, particularly when they do more than they need to. This question strives to point out if staff feel that their additional effort is appropriately recognised. For a business, ensuring this recognition occurs is essential for motivating employees to continue going above and beyond within their role. Without recognition, staff will no longer be motivated to work hard, inhibiting both performance and organisational success.

Recognition occurs at every level, from a manager’s thank you to an increased pay packet or bonus. If you identify any issues with staff feeling unappreciated for their hard work, consider starting with line manager training to ensure recognition is being delivered at a grassroots level. If this doesn’t address your issue, progress the strategy into a more holistic reworking of your recognition system and introduce new methods for staff to feel appreciated in their efforts.

2. Do you feel valued and appreciated by the business?

As an extension of the previous question, this choice is important because it doesn’t look at a specific part of your business’ pay and reward structure. Instead, this question is designed to indicate the general attitude of staff towards your organisation.

It’s undeniable that talent attraction and staff retention are intrinsically connected to how your workforce feels the business views them. Individuals who think the business does not care about their development or growth will not put 100% into their work and will leave the moment a better opportunity appears – if there are a large number of negative responses to this question, a review of company culture, as well as reward strategy, is essential.

3. Which achievements deserve recognition in your eyes?

This question is purposefully open-ended. By leaving employees the opportunity to come up with their own answers to this query, you can get a better understanding of the real impact of company culture. Commission-based businesses which ask this question will generate significantly different answers to sweeping public service organisations.

Use this information to identify whether company values are being embedded within the staff. Additionally, you can use this question to get an idea of what behaviours should be receiving reward or recognition, even if they aren’t within your current structure. Regardless, this is a question which gives an insight into employee thoughts, which can be invaluable when handled correctly.

4. What type of recognition do you value most?

There is a range of different ways to recognise employees and getting an idea of which methods your staff care about most will help inform any changes to your structure moving forward. Here are some examples of recognition methods to start with. All businesses differ so splitting out certain general choices or adding specifics will make this question even more beneficial:

  • Employee of the Month Awards
  • Personal Written Praise (notes and personal emails from management)
  • Public Written Praise (company-wide emails and newsletter mentions)
  • Personal Verbal Praise (a personal thank you from management)
  • Public Verbal Praise (team or company meeting mentions)

5. Do you have any recommendations on how the business can recognise hard-working employees more effectively?

It’s easy to miss great ideas about how you can recognise staff for their hard work, affordably. The best people to ask for suggestions on this are the employees themselves, which is why this question can be so invaluable. Use anything recommended here to create a shortlist of new ideas when amending or improving your reward and recognition system. This will both make staff feel that they have been listened to and improve employee satisfaction and loyalty.

Paydata’s HR Experts are here to help

Hopefully, these questions to ask employees about reward and recognition have inspired you to instigate positive change within your organisation.

At Paydata, we have been helping businesses revolutionise their pay and reward structures for over 20 years, driving growth by improving employee loyalty, engagement and satisfaction. Our range of services is designed to work for organisations of all shapes and sizes, regardless of sector or industry.

Learn how we can help with whatever problem you’re facing here or get in touch with our team for bespoke advice tailored to your needs.


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