How Company Awards Ideas Boost Employee Morale

1st Jul 2016

Skycraper Building

If you want your business to be productive and profitable, you must have happy employees. A positive work environment makes people genuinely want to work, plus it just makes the day more enjoyable in general. It’s important that employees and upper management are able to enjoy friendly and respectful relationships, and showing appreciation and gratitude for work well done is one of the easiest and most effective ways to accomplish that.

Taking steps to boost morale does more than just create a pleasant work environment where people don’t mind spending roughly 8 hours a day earning a living and saving for retirement. When your clients or customers interact with your staff, they’re going to recognize that your employees are working because they want to – not just for the paycheck. Companies that treat their employees well consistently have the most success, so it’s really a win-win for everyone.

How to Boost Company Morale

Most experienced management professionals are well aware of the impact that employee morale has on business productivity, but how to attain and maintain a positive work environment can be difficult, especially financially. Of course, any company could spend a fortune giving out huge bonuses and vacation time, but that’s just not going to fit into the budget. Finding ways to show appreciation without overspending is often a tough challenge, but it ‘s possible.

Let’s take a look at how using corporate trophies as employee recognition awards helps companies boost the bottom line without breaking the bank. As we explore the positive aspects of employee recognition awards for employee morale, you’ll start to really understand just how important it is to recognize employee achievements, and how even a simple kind word can go a long way. Of course, nothing says “thank you” quite like a trophy or award.

Psychological Need for Positive Recognition

Pinewood Derby Sculpture Award

World-famous psychologist Abraham Maslow (1908-1970) wanted to understand people’s motivations. After years of researching the subject at several universities, he found the answer, but it included more than one finding.

Creating what we now know as Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, Maslow formed a pyramid model whose horizontal sections express humankind’s most important motivators, listed in order of importance from the base of the pyramid going up to the top. Let’s look at the structure.

1. Physiological

As the playwright Bertolt Brecht said, “First grub, then ethics.” When people are hungry, sick, cold, etc., the physical is more important than anything else. So, physiological needs are addressed above all else.

2. Safety

In order for a person to perform their absolute best, they must be confident that they’re safe. This prevents distractions and allows the person to focus on the matter at hand.

3. Social

Bad social relationships or a lack of meaningful relationships usually don’t harm the body, but they can cause negative emotions. Our social relationships are often a mirror of how we feel.

4. Esteem

Feeling valued among our peers is a basic element of healthy pride. Without it, confidence can suffer, self-image can take a dive, and self-worth can plummet. We need to feel dignified.

5. Self-Actualization

Not realizing our full potential can haunt us for life. Fulfillment can come in various settings and ways. For many people, the workplace and job performance are two of the most important ones.

How These Principles Translate to Corporate Trophies

To summarize, Maslow discovered that, after physiological needs are met, a person naturally seeks to meet safety needs. After safety is satisfied, a person seeks social validation, then esteem, and, finally, self-actualization. In places like the U.Ss where there are plenty of social and economic resources to make it fairly easy for people to meet the first three needs, a person can quickly arrive at the need to address points four and five – esteem and self-actualization.

Suppliers of  corporate trophies may not have this pyramid in mind when they create their line of products, but awards and trophies directly represent accomplishment and recognition. In the workplace, that type of gratitude can be used to address these basic needs that boost employee morale, which in turn increases productivity and overall profitability.

There are other ways that staff leaders can satisfy employee esteem and recognition needs as they perform their day-to-day occupations and professions, such as bonuses, salary increases, promotions, and incentive-based travel trips, to name a few. However, company awards offer two advantages over many of the alternatives: They’re highly affordable, and they serve as a physical, permanent reminder of esteem and self-actualization that employees can cherish for a lifetime.

This isn’t to say that other rewards don’t matter; they do, and there are statistics that prove it. However, it only makes sense for a company to use corporate trophies as a part of its employee reward program when you also weigh the cost of these awards compared to the low price of awards. After all, improving the mood at the office isn’t just a treat for the single person receiving the trophy; it also helps to keep everyone else happy and upbeat, which naturally leads to success.

Statistical Support for Positive Recognition

In order to continue improving as a business, it’s always a good idea to gather and analyze data to determine how you could improve productivity. From a human resources perspective, these statistics help you to figure out exactly what your company needs to do to motivate employees to achieve goals and targets, as well as what the business is already doing right to motivate workers in that direction.

As Maslow’s research shows, providing employees with positive recognition of their good work helps meet the basic human needs of esteem and self-actualization. Yet, some fascinating statistics point to the fact that many employees in the U.S. feel that those needs aren’t being adequately met, to say the least.

According to Stress in the Workplace – a recent study from APA/Harris Interactive – “Only 52 percent of employees say they feel valued on the job.” In the same survey, the organization also found that “Only 66 percent of employees report feeling motivated to do their best work.” Furthermore, only “46 percent of employees report being satisfied with their employer’s recognition practices.”

Consider these statistics in light of another one: “80 percent of employees in one poll feel it is extremely or very important to be recognized when you do good work” (Nelson, 1001 Ways to Reward Employees, 2006). What we see is a corporate culture that wants more from employees than it reasonably offers them in return, especially from a psychological perspective.

It’s obvious that fair pay should be a big part of the reward plan, but the need to feel esteemed and self-actualized don’t always need to be met with dollars and cents. Positive recognition alone is highly pleasing, especially when signified by an official award. There’s no denying that corporate trophies are an economical, effective way to boost morale, and at the same time seek the boost in productivity that every company wants to see at the end of the fiscal year.

As an added bonus, the positive impact of the awards helps companies save money in addition to earning it. In a recent LinkedIn article, Peter Vasic, Director Sales & Marketing at Engraving Services Co., notes, “Replacement costs for an employee can cost a company anywhere between 100–250 percent of the employee’s annual salary.”

Case Studies Supporting Positive Recognition

Once the corporate eyes of a company are opened by statistics that address the problems caused by a lack of employee motivation, the business naturally wants to go deeper and examine case studies that further prove the point.

The Carrot Principle, an influential work of case studies, documents and analyzes performance in the workplace and beyond for individuals and for groups.

Chester Elton and Adrian Gostick researched leading corporations such as Disney, DHL, KPMG, and Pepsi Bottling Group. These case studies demonstrate “the transformative power of purpose-based recognition” on overall business performance and profitability. In a results-driven business culture like ours where employee management practices significantly impact how much money is made, this research is very important.

The Carrot vs. the Stick

These researchers talk about the “carrot” management style, which is essentially the opposite of the “stick” management style.” The stick management style means that employees are mainly penalized for shortcomings instead of being rewarded for success. While a more positive carrot management style is often ideal, stick management has its place. For example, if you were to do something clearly against the rules in the workplace, receiving a demotion might be appropriate.

In reality, most companies use a hybridized carrot and stick approach, hence the well-known “carrot and stick” idiom. But Elton and Grostick point out the mistake of favoring the stick more than the carrot. A fine example of stick management gone wrong can be seen in a telling quote from the book, in which an employee says, “When I make a mistake, I'm recognized 100 percent of the time; when I do something great, I’m not recognized 99 percent of the time."

This isn’t an official statistic, but it sets the stage for some problematic statistics in the book that are real, notably: “Recognition answers a universal need to matter to those with whom we work,” and in connection, “The #1 reason employees leave an organization is that they feel unappreciated.” Moreover, they’re leaving because their sense of esteem is out of steam, and in a larger sense, because self-actualization is stopped.

Using corporate trophies as employee recognition awards isn’t a magic solution for every worker reward scenario, but there’s one thing that Elton and Gostick would almost certainly agree on: Using the awards as a part of a “leading with carrots approach” – as opposed to a strategy of leading with “sticks” – is a psychologically and financially savvy way to motivate employees to succeed, quarter after quarter and year after year.

Using Corporate Trophies to Engage Employees

From Abraham Maslow’s research to the case studies of Chester Elton and Adrian Gostick in The Carrot Principle, the value of positively engaging employees with awards that boost morale is clear. For employees, it addresses two of the higher-level human needs: esteem and self-actualization. For employers, it helps reduce the cost of employee turnover and motivates employees to achieve the productivity that managers hope for.

With that said, the ultimate value of engaging employees with morale-boosting awards isn’t that managers and employees retire to their separate workspaces feeling more fulfilled than before. The greatest benefit is that it helps create a corporate culture where positive leadership, teamwork, and team-building thrive, and the opportunity to surpass this year’s goals next year is unchallenged by a lack of work ethic that can spread through the ranks like a bad virus.

Looking for Great Employee Recognition Awards?

If your company is interested in using corporate trophies as employee recognition awards, visit us today to see our selection of diverse, skillfully designed  trophies, plaques, medals, and other awards that are perfect for commemorating and encouraging performance. For over 30 years, Trophy Outlet has served as an award supplier for companies, organizations, and competitions that insist on not letting the commendable efforts of their valued performers go unnoticed.


To get started on designing the perfect awards for your hard working staff, call us today at (866) 282-0847, or fill out the contact form on our company website. We look forward to helping you reap the benefits of improved employee morale by providing employee recognition awards.