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Employee Recognition

50 Custom Reward Ideas: Inspiring Ways To Motivate Your Workforce

Rebecca Noori
Last Updated June 6, 2024

Every company culture is unique. While gift cards can appeal to most workers, it's important to consider what rewards your employees might gravitate toward.

Nectar has a suite of gift cards, Amazon products, swag, and even donation opportunities, but sometimes a company wants to take its recognition system to the next level. So, we've built an easy-to-manage custom reward system to help companies offer the right prizes to their workers. Staring at a blank canvas is never fun, though.

Today, we will dive into custom reward examples and ideas you can use to take your program up a notch.

50 Custom Rewards Ideas To Include In Your Employee Recognition Program

We can't stress this enough: your custom rewards must be tailored to your organization and its unique company culture. If you're looking for inspiration, these 50 custom reward ideas make a great starting point—feel free to adapt them to suit your company.

1. Pizza Party

A pizza party is a classic reward. It's perfect for team building and celebrating a job well done. Make the prize even more creative by allowing employees to customize the pizzas with their favorite toppings. Better yet, you can get a chef to host a pizza-making class.

2. PTO Day

Paid time off is always appreciated, as it gives employees a chance to relax and recharge. Consider offering an extra day of PTO as a reward in your company's recognition program.

3. Concert Tickets

Allow employees to see their favorite bands or performers by offering concert tickets as a custom reward. You can make it more exciting by giving them backstage passes or VIP upgrades. Decide whether the concert must be held locally or within a specific month or quarter of the year.

4. Team Building Activity

Choose a team-building activity your employees will enjoy, such as escape rooms, cooking classes, or even a day at an amusement park. Plan the activity during work hours so everyone can participate without using their personal time.

5. Custom Swag

Custom swag, such as t-shirts, water bottles, or tote bags with your company's logo, promotes brand pride. It's a simple yet effective way to show appreciation for your employees' hard work. To make the swag item more personalized, consider giving the recipient the option to choose their own color or design.

Design custom swag as a reward for your employees.

6. Pass To Skip A Mandatory Meeting

Meetings can be a timesuck, with Harvard Business School professors finding that workplaces have added 13% more meetings to their calendars since pre-pandemic times. Reducing unnecessary meetings can be difficult, but your employees will likely embrace the chance to dip out of a routine town hall or other mandatory meeting. You might prefer to specify a particular day or type of meeting to skip. For example, you won't want employees to use this reward to skip crucial health and safety meetings or managerial discussions.

7. A Free Item From Your Retail Store

If your organization is in retail, why not offer employees the chance to select a free item from your inventory? This shows appreciation for their hard work and allows them to become familiar with your products and services. For this reward, you might limit the item's value or designate certain eligible items.

8. Prime Parking Spot

It can be hard for office workers to find a decent parking spot that isn't a mile from the building. A prime parking spot saves your employees time and hassle. Consider rotating a few parking spots as a monthly employee reward so everyone can benefit from it. Mark these parking spots with a designated sign or sticker to avoid confusion or disputes.

9. Home Gym Equipment

Prioritizing employee wellness can have a positive impact on workplace productivity and morale. One way to promote healthy living is by offering home gym equipment as a custom reward. Ask employees which types of equipment they prefer, such as a yoga mat, weights, or even new cardio machines, for extra points. As a bonus, provide them with an online workout subscription to accompany the equipment or even create custom-branded versions with your company logo.

10. Professional Photo Shoot

From professional headshots to family shoots, employees will appreciate having high-quality photos taken. Let employees choose their preferred location and photographer to make the experience more personal. You could even offer hair and makeup services for an extra indulgent reward.

Are your team members ready for a new headshot? Consider offering a professional photo shoot reward.

11. Culinary Experiences

Cooking classes, wine-tasting, or chocolate-making workshops make for fun and unique rewards. If you make this a team or group reward, employees can broaden their culinary skills while bonding with coworkers. Ask employees if they have dietary restrictions before booking the experience to ensure everyone can fully participate.

12. Professional Services

Companies with huge offices often provide unique services like dry cleaning to make life easier for their employees. You can offer a similar treat with a custom reward. Offering a voucher for professional services such as house cleaning, lawn care, dry cleaning, or a personal chef can provide employees with much-needed relief from their day-to-day responsibilities.

13. Bring Your Pet To Work Day

Offer employees the chance to bring in their furry friends for a day of fun and relaxation. National Take Your Dog To Work Day occurs on the Friday after Father's Day in the US. But there's no need to restrict yourself to an annual celebration. There are numerous benefits to bringing pets to work, including lowering blood pressure and decreasing stress levels, so make this a routine reward that employees can enjoy as often as they earn it.

14. Office Revamp

A stale and uninviting office may dampen employee morale and productivity. Most companies offer a budget for employees to revamp their workspaces with an extra monitor, ergonomic chair, high-quality headphones, or laptop when they join a company. You can use custom rewards to upgrade an employee's office once they have been with your organization for a while. Make your reward available for on-site, hybrid, or remote workers to ensure inclusivity. To make it more interactive, encourage employees to share photos of their revamped space and vote on the most creative design. The winner can receive a bonus reward.

15. Personalized Product Design

Let your employees unleash their creativity by offering them the chance to design a product for your company. This could be anything from a new company logo, a limited edition product, or incorporating a much-needed feature into your product. This reward drives employee innovation and can result in tangible benefits for your company. Plus, it's a fun and unique way to show appreciation for your employees' skills and ideas.

Let your employee become one with their creativity and design a new product or service.

16. VIP Experiences

Reward employees with an exclusive VIP experience, such as tickets to a sporting event or concert, a box at a game, backstage passes, or a private tour of a popular attraction. This reward allows your employees to create lasting memories outside of the workplace by offering an experience that would typically be out of reach for them.

17. Name A Room In Your Office

Allow employees to leave their mark on your office space by naming a room, or having their name printed on a brick you use in construction. This is a great way to show recognition and appreciation for their contributions to the company. You can involve employees in the process by allowing them to choose which room they would like to name.

18. Staycation

Employees who have been working hard and deserve a break can benefit from a staycation getaway where you rent a local room and cover the costs. The reward could include a night at a luxury hotel, dinner, spa treatments, or even an Airbnb experience in their own city. Offer this reward during the weekends or holidays so employees can truly relax and enjoy their time off.

19. Skill Classes

While your company should offer professional development opportunities across your workforce, your employees may also want to expand their personal skills. From speaking a second language to taking music lessons, this reward allows employees to pursue their passions and learn something new.

20. Subscription Service

There's nothing like the feeling of receiving regular gifts through the post. Offer employees their choice of a subscription service, such as a meal delivery kit, candle subscription, or a book and magazine club. This reward provides ongoing joy and shows that you value your employees' well-being outside of work.

Do you need a bigger reward? Try a subscription service as a custom reward.

21. Fitness Membership

Encourage employees to stay active and healthy by offering a membership to their preferred gym or fitness studio. You may also consider offering virtual workout classes or on-site yoga sessions for employees who prefer to exercise with their coworkers.

22. DIY Projects

Allow employees to unleash their creativity by offering a DIY project as a reward, such as painting classes, woodworking workshops, or crafting sessions. Not only does this reward allow employees to tap into their artistic side, but it also promotes stress relief and mindfulness.


23. Personal Growth Stipend

Invest in your employees' personal growth and development by offering a course or workshop related to their interests or goals. This could be anything from a meditation app subscription to life coaching sessions.

24. Custom Artwork

Support local artists by offering custom artwork as a reward. You can involve employees in the process by allowing them to choose the artist or style they prefer for their personalized piece and then commission the artwork accordingly.

25. Tickets To A Local Attraction

Support local venues and promote community spirit by organizing tickets to attractions like local zoos, theme parks, or leisure facilities. You could create a list of eligible attractions or allow reward recipients to select their own.

Help your employees support local by offering tickets to an attraction in your area.

26. Health And Wellness Package

Show your employees that you value their well-being by offering a health and wellness package. This could include a massage, chiropractic session, reflexology sessions, or access to fitness classes.

27. Office Plant

Indoor plants are a natural endorphin booster; as little as 20 minutes spent with a houseplant is enough to make us feel at peace. This is why plants are a natural accompaniment for the office, especially for employees who work in a windowless space. Have employees choose their plant, take responsibility for its care, and watch it grow.

28. Be The Boss For A Day

Give employees the chance to experience a day in the life of their manager or CEO. Allow them to make decisions, lead meetings, and see what it takes to run the company. This reward shows appreciation for your employees and gives them insight into different roles within the company. It’s also great for spotting talent to slip into future leadership positions.

29. Green Commute Incentive

Encourage employees to reduce their carbon footprint by offering a green commute incentive, such as a monthly public transportation pass or a new electric scooter or bicycle. This reward promotes eco-friendliness and saves employees money on their daily commute.

30. Cover Personal Transportation

Ease the financial burden for employees with a long commute or those living in an area with limited public transportation. Consider covering their transportation costs for a set period. This reward could include gas money, ride-sharing expenses, or car maintenance fees.

If you work at an office, try covering some personal transportation expenses with your custom rewards.

31. Lunch With The CEO

Offer employees the opportunity to join a one-on-one lunch with the CEO or other company leaders. This reward allows for open communication and personal connections between top-level executives and employees. It also enables employees to share their ideas and suggestions for improving the company.

32. Food Delivery To Home

Show appreciation for employees working long hours or going above and beyond by having a meal delivered to their homes. This small gesture can significantly impact employee morale and well-being, especially during busy periods.

33. Gourmet Coffee Or Tea Sampler

For your caffeine-loving employees, gourmet coffee or tea adds a touch of luxury to their daily routine, promotes relaxation, and provides a small moment of self-care during the workday.

34. Surprise Box

As a token of appreciation, send employees a surprise box filled with small gifts, snacks, and company swag. Tailor this reward to individual preferences or theme it for special occasions or seasons.

35. Early Out Fridays

Offer employees an early finish on Fridays to honor their hard work and dedication throughout the week. This morale booster gives employees extra time to relax and recharge before the weekend starts.

Encourage your employees to get out of their office by offering an early out Fridays reward.

36. Movie Night Basket

Provide employees with a movie night basket filled with popcorn, soda, candy, and a gift card to a streaming service. This reward is perfect for employees who need downtime and is also an excellent fit for virtual team-building events.

37. Showcase Employee's Hobby

Show recognition for your employees' hobbies and passions by hosting a showcase event where they can display and share their talents with the rest of the company. This reward promotes team bonding and celebrates individual interests.

Example: If Sharon is a blue belt in karate, she might give a karate demonstration or lead a self-defense class for her coworkers.

38. Personal Concierge For A Day

Make your employees feel like VIPs by offering them a personal concierge to work through their to-do lists. The service could include running errands, planning vacations, cleaning the car, or making dinner reservations. It's a thoughtful reward that takes some of the burden off your employees' shoulders and gives them time to relax outside work.

39. Game Night Package

Encourage team bonding and friendly competition by providing employees with a game night package. This could include traditional board games like Monopoly and Cluedo, card games like Poker, or video games like Mario Kart. Add snacks into the mix, and you've got a fun and interactive way to reward employees and promote a sense of camaraderie in the workplace.

40. Personal Development Books

Invest in your employees' personal development by offering them a selection of relevant books. These can range from books on leadership and management to self-improvement and career growth.

Do you have a reader at your office? Try a personal development grant with your custom rewards.

41. Murder Mystery Party

Host a company-wide murder mystery party as a unique and engaging employee reward. This event allows employees to dress up, use problem-solving skills, and work together outside their day-to-day roles. You could book the "whodunnit" reward as part of a dinner event or buy the board game version and play it on-site in your office. For extra fun, you can give the event winner(s) points in your employee recognition platform.

42. Cooking Equipment

There's nothing more frustrating than taking a cooking class or finding the perfect recipe and realizing you lack the necessary equipment to make the meal. Get around this by offering a reward for a high-quality blender, slow cooker, juicer, or other useful kitchen appliances to help employees explore their culinary skills.

43. Cultural Experiences

Companies have diverse employees, even if teams don't typically celebrate many holidays. Employees want to share their favorite holidays and traditions with their team members. Consider a custom reward based on your team's unique holidays, foods, and traditions. For example, you could pay your local Greek restaurant to cater an authentic lunch.

44. Choose The Next Work Social

Give employees a chance to plan and choose the next work social event. Whether it's a team dinner, sports day, or quiz night, this reward gives employees a sense of ownership and input into company culture.

45. Long Lunch Break

If your company culture requires employees to work set patterns and rigid schedules, then consider working a little flexibility into your day by offering long lunch breaks as rewards. This gives them time to relax, run errands, or even engage in self-care activities such as walking or meditating.

Sometimes the traditional lunch hour isn't long enough, so offer some extra time with a custom reward.

46. Have A Seat At The Table

While some employees may want to skip meetings, others will be keen to participate in discussions they wouldn't usually be privy to. Inviting employees to sit in on a meeting or attend a focus group gives them a sense of inclusion and recognition for their hard work.

47. Access To A Financial Planner

Around 30% of Americans struggle with personal finances or feel in crisis. Alleviate some of this stress by offering employees access to a financial planner as a reward. This option can give them peace of mind and help them plan for the future.

48. Delegate Their Tasks

If your team members get stuck with the same work tasks each year, like planning the office Christmas party or organizing the annual charity drive, offer them a break by delegating these tasks as rewards. This is a win-win for reward recipients and employers who can benefit from fresh perspectives on these tasks.

49. Local Coffee Shop Gift Card

Support small businesses in your area and treat employees to a gift card for their favorite local coffee shop. This reward allows them to take a break from the office, support their community, and enjoy a delicious cup of coffee or slice of cake.

50. An Adventure Experience

Not everyone wants to hold a physical reward in the palm of their hands—some people would rather experience it. Offer your employees a chance to try an adventurous activity as a reward, from bungee jumping to skydiving, motor racing to horse riding.

If some of your team members are adventurous, consider a custom reward that let's them embrace their wild side.

What Are Custom Rewards? 

Custom rewards are a set of prizes our customers offer to their employees.

Nectar offers a suite of prizes that workers can redeem their Nectar points for, such as gift cards, Amazon products, swag, and donations.

Some companies want to go the extra mile to provide unique and local prizes, so we've built a custom reward tool that companies can use. Unlike our other prizes, the company is in charge of fulfilling these custom rewards instead of Nectar. We make it easy to manage your prize inventory and get alerts when it's time to fulfill a custom reward.

Why Are Custom Rewards Attractive To Employees and Employers Alike?

Offering out-of-the-box rewards to your employees is certainly convenient. But, taking the time to customize your prizes provides the following benefits for the company and your workforce.

1. Matching Your Unique Culture

Companies can choose rewards that align with their cultural values and mission statements. For example, if your company is committed to giving back to the local community, you might offer custom rewards like a donation to a local charity or a paid day off to volunteer.

Similarly, if your company is dedicated to the environment, you may offer rewards from suppliers known for their sustainable practices. These personalized rewards reinforce your company's brand and values, making employees feel more connected and proud to be a part of the team.

2. Providing Personalized Rewards

Custom rewards allow employees to choose prizes that align with their preferences and interests. This touch makes them feel valued and recognized more personally. Employees have a sense of control over their recognition, which boosts their morale and sense of autonomy. They can choose rewards that are meaningful to them, making the recognition process more enjoyable.

3. Delivering Data Insights

Employers can gain valuable insights into employee preferences and interests when offering a broad range of custom rewards. For example, if the data reveals your employees tend to select spa treatments over gift cards or products, this could indicate a strong interest in health and wellness initiatives within the company. This data can inform future reward offerings and may prove valuable in selecting relevant employee benefits programs.

4. Giving Employers A Competitive Advantage

Offering diverse custom rewards can attract and retain top talent. Companies must find ways to stand out and offer unique perks in today's competitive job market. Custom rewards are a valuable differentiator that sets your employer brand apart.

How Can You Use Custom Rewards Inside Nectar?

So, you know how to inspire and incentivize your employees to work hard and earn rewards. The final step is setting up your custom rewards, which is a cinch when you follow these steps in Nectar.

1. Create A New Reward

Head to your Manage Rewards tab and select Create New Reward.

2. Fill Out The Dialogue Box

Fill in the following fields:

  • Reward Name: Clearly state in a few words what you are offering, for example, "Lunch With The CEO."
  • Description: This text box is your chance to clarify what they'll receive. 
  • Cost: While Nectar doesn't charge you for custom rewards, you want these rewards to make sense within the platform. In Nectar, 10 points are worth $1, so if your reward costs $100, this is 1,000 points. 
  • Quantity: Decide how many people to give this reward to. Leave the box blank if the reward is unlimited. 
  • User Note: Toggle on or off the option for recipients to leave a message when they redeem the reward. For example, a recipient wanting to redeem "Comedy night tickets" can leave a note to specify the date or venue they wish to attend.
  • Reward Admin: Provide the username of the person responsible for fulfilling the reward. This might be a line manager or HR team member, for example. 
  • Reward Image: Adding a photo of your image makes the reward appealing and drives team members to work harder to achieve it. An image can also clarify what you're offering in case of ambiguity.

3. Save Your Reward

Hit the "Save" button to publish the new addition to your live rewards list.

Create A Custom Reward In Nectar With 3 Easy Steps

Start Designing Your Custom Rewards In Nectar

Let's recap how custom rewards fit into Nectar's recognition software suite.

Nectar offers a points-based reward system based on the following tools:

  • Recognition: Employees deliver meaningful shoutouts to each other, recognizing the behaviors and actions that align with company values. Each person recognized for their efforts receives a message of support in the Nectar feed with points attached. 
  • Challenges: Companies set up challenges covering topics like health & wellness, company branding, or employee training. By attaching Nectar points, companies can incentivize their employees to accomplish certain tasks. 
  • Milestones: Set up milestone celebrations for birthdays and work anniversaries so you never miss an important date. For example, employees might earn 100 Nectar points on their birthday.

Once your employees have accumulated enough Nectar points, they can redeem them using our rewards catalog. This includes custom rewards, but you can also offer gift cards, donations, swag, and an integration with Amazon in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom.

Ready to start designing enticing prizes for your employees? Book a Nectar demo today.

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