Awards or virtual rewards? Who wins the race?

While the trophies or conventional awards are a token of appreciation from the employer, the millennials tend to value smaller rewards more.


All that glitters, is not gold! For glistening trophies and medals received as awards in the workplace— which a lot of people still take pride in displaying at their work desks— the saying holds even more true. With millennials constituting the majority of the workforces in the current times, the value of conventional awards seems to be diminishing. Millennials and Gen Z have different expectations from the workplace, and when it comes to rewards and benefits, the traditional means of rewarding and appreciating do not motivate them enough.

We’re talking of a generation here that’s moved on from gifting casseroles and artifacts to friends on special occasions, to gifting e-vouchers for gadgets, shopping gift cards or luxury experiences instead. While the trophies or conventional awards are a token of appreciation from the employer, the millennials tend to value smaller rewards more. Here’s why the conventional awards don’t seem to win the race anymore.

Awards make people wait

Awards are traditionally meant to be given to people annually or quarterly and are conferred upon workers for extraordinary achievements only. Acknowledging the smaller day-to-day contributions that make big differences can be easily missed out in the awarding process. In the digital world, the new generations expect instant gratification. In such times, making employees wait for a full year— where their achievements will be highlighted or awarded only after the appraisals are over— can be quite damaging for employee morale.

Awards offer accolades but not experiences

The Deloitte Global Millennial Survey 2019, that studied 13,416 millennials across 42 countries, reveals that more than half want to earn high salaries and be wealthy, but their priorities have evolved. Travel and seeing the world topped the list (57 per cent) of aspirations for millennials. This shows that this generation values monetary benefits and experiences than the conventional means of rewarding. While awards are a form of applaud and appreciation, that’s what they ultimately are, whereas virtual rewards such as reward points offer monetary benefits to people along with the desired appreciation value.

Awards are not for everyone

There’s a certain rigidity and limitation around how awards are conferred. These are mostly institutional and given away for extraordinary talent. While some awards are extremely valuable and highly coveted for their level of importance, not everyone wins them. However, in a workplace, the smallest of contributions and efforts, such as display of the right behaviour or valuing the organisational objectives and working accordingly, need to be appreciated and rewarded.

Awards cannot be customised

Trophies or medals are given out as the giver pleases, but virtual rewards can be customised for each employee. In fact, with reward points, employees have the option to choose what they would like to avail those in exchange for. There are a lot of platforms these days that make the rewards strategy much more convenient and efficient for the employer. Such platforms allow managers to instantly assign reward points to team members for meeting expectations or targets, or contributing to project success. This way, the managers have an option to instantly show their appreciation to employees , not just in kind but in cash. The employees can then use these points for shopping, dining or for buying experiences.

With instant gratification winning the game, virtual rewards and digital benefits are gaining increasing importance. Most futuristic organisations have already done away with the paperwork and tedious distribution process involved in traditional rewarding methods and are enjoying the accuracy, efficiency and ease these new point-based reward solutions bring in along with improved employee satisfaction and productivity.

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