Every Successful Engagement Program Needs These Four Elements

Four elements of employee engagement programs. All are similar, yet slightly different. And all are critical for success.

Compensation. Incentives. Rewards. Recognition.

What does each mean, and are you utilizing them effectively in your organization’s engagement program? Let’s break them down and explore.


What it is: This is the basic stuff that’s written into an employee’s hiring contract like salary/pay, health insurance, 401k and potential bonuses.

Why it matters for engagement: Compensation is what every worker expects and is due for their work. While it’s not likely to be the only thing to make an employee feel fulfilled and engaged, it does matter, and is a key factor in not only bringing in new employees, but keeping them on board through the years.

Ask yourself: Are your employees compensated fairly for the work they were hired to do? If their job progresses and they take on additional responsibilities, is that accounted for in bonuses, promotions or salary increases? Is the compensation package competitive for similar jobs in the marketplace? Does it match the employee’s unique skill set, experience, workload and expectations?


What it is: These are the tangible or intangible things that encourage an employee to not only do the bare minimum, but to actually want to produce good work, to stay committed to the company and invested in the long-term possibilities. Incentives can serve as an “if you do this, you get that” system, informing employees of how to get extra bonuses or rewards at work, or they can be benefits woven into the core of an employee’s job which make it more enriching and satisfying day by day.

Why it matters for engagement: Tangible incentives might include on-the-job training, support for additional education, mentorship or company perks like healthy food, events and wellness programs. Intangible incentives might include an all-inclusive company culture, flexible work schedules and direction from leadership on how to contribute to the company’s mission. These all show employees that you care about their growth and well-being, and that you’re invested in their success as a professional and as an individual.

Ask yourself: Is your organization providing motivation, support and engagement tools for employees to not just do their work, but stay engaged in the company’s mission and culture, and their own personal growth? Does your organization create a way for your employees to find greater meaning in their job, and connect it back to the purpose of the company? Does your organization find ways to support your employees’ professional development and overall well-being?


What it is: These are things given to an employee — such as gifts, prizes or special recognition — in return for doing something. Typically, rewards are given when an employee goes above and beyond the norm or what is simply required, and they come after a desirable action or outcome occurs.

Why it matters for engagement: Rewards can foster positive emotions in your employees, strengthening their personal connection to their work and the organization. Non-cash rewards like merchandise allow your employees to select rewards that speak to them personally, and experiential rewards offer the chance for employees to form happy memories and positive emotions with the experience (and thus the organization).  

Ask yourself: Does your organization offer rewards for when employees go above and beyond, pass meaningful milestones or exceed expectations? Is your rewards portfolio as diverse as your workforce? Do you have “something for everyone”? Do your employees have any options or input when it comes to selecting their rewards?


What it is: This is special attention or acknowledgement given to an employee, typically for something they have done or achieved. Recognition comes in many forms and might include: length-of-service awards, peer-to-peer recognition, management recognition, employee appreciation events and parties. Recognition can be verbal or printed, and it can occur in private, in public or shared socially on platforms like social media.

Why it matters: Recognition is so important! Aside from compensation and physical rewards or bonuses, it’s the critical way for your employees to be shown they are appreciated and that their work makes a difference. Recognition from managers can boost confidence and productivity, while coming from peers it can increase cooperation and a sense of unity. Public recognition fosters a culture of shared successes, and social recognition tells the world that you are proud to boast about your employees and their work.

Ask yourself: Does your organization have formal recognition platforms set up? Can employees give each other recognition in a peer-to-peer platform? Is management equipped to give frequent praise and feedback — and do they give it? Do you share the successes of your team and individual employees with the rest of the company, the rest of the community, the rest of the world?

For a printable cheat sheet on these four critical components of employee engagement, check out our handy infographic below. Please share with your community, as we are happy to get the word out on how to create an engaged workforce.

Does your organization include the four components we listed here in its engagement program? We’d love to hear your feedback in the comments below.