Meaningful Ways to Reward Your IT Team and Its Achievements

A job well done deserves a significant reward. Here's how to show appreciation to a diligent staff without busting your budget.

John Edwards, Technology Journalist & Author

July 3, 2024

5 Min Read
Team happy with the reward giving for her business success achievement. Achievement and Business Goal Success Concept.
Worawee Meepian via Alamy Stock Photo

Money makes the world go round. But let's be honest, it's a limited resource. That's why it's important to be creative when finding ways to reward an IT team for a job well done. 

To recognize employees in a truly meaningful way, organizations should look beyond tangible rewards, like money and time off, says Yvette Cameron, senior vice president, global product strategy, Oracle Cloud Human Capital Management (HCM), in an email interview. "These rewards are great short-term motivators, but leaders need to consider their long-term goal -- what will keep employees engaged, motivated, and productive at work?" 

Making it Meaningful 

Employee recognition plays a pivotal role in cultivating a strong enterprise culture and driving employee engagement, Cameron says. "If done correctly, a strong company culture can motivate employees, provide them with a sense of accomplishment, and make them feel valued for their efforts, contributions, and achievements," she explains. "It can also boost engagement and increase productivity and loyalty, resulting in higher retention." 

Rewards come in all shapes and sizes, observes Andre Nguyen, chief legal officer and chief people officer at enterprise transformation platform provider Orbus Software, via email. The best rewards, he says, are the ones that can be recalled years later. "When employees reflect on their careers, these are the ones they remember." 

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With technology rapidly advancing, it's more important than ever to invest in personalized IT team skill development and employee well-being programs, which are a win-win for employees and the companies they work for, says Carrie Rasmussen, CIO at human resources software provider Dayforce, in an email interview. 

Russ Felker, CTO at freight logistics service provider Trinity Logistics, suggests rewarding team members by building curiosity about emerging technologies. "To leverage this driver, a leader can thank team members with specific training or attendance to events, such as vendor hackathons," he notes via email. Acknowledgments need to be specific to the interests of the team member, he advises, but can have a great impact by supporting the participant in a way that helps them realize a goal, such as learning a new technology or creating something new with their skills. 

Another option is allowing team members to have a little harmless fun, such as by occasionally encouraging them to insert "Easter eggs" into an application. This type of reward is entertaining and challenges team members to think creatively, Felker says. When business colleagues are invited to participate, the challenge creates a mechanism for fostering enterprise camaraderie. 

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On a more serious note, Rasmussen encourages managers to have an "open door" policy. "I do," she says, and "have regular discussions around career development." Rasmussen says her organization also offers tuition reimbursement programs to support continuing education and career exploration. 

Providing unique experiences is key to long-term team satisfaction, Nguyen says. "For example, our IT team had the opportunity to visit Microsoft's AI labs, which enabled them to learn more about how future AI innovations will transform the industry," he notes. "During the visit, they learned and shared experiences with leading AI experts." Nguyen also advises IT team members to attend and speak at networking events, "which helps them connect with others in the industry and showcases their thought leadership." 

It's All in the Timing 

Synchronize rewards to project workflows, Felker recommends. If it's a particularly difficult time for the team -- tight deadlines, major changes, and other pressing issues -- he suggests scheduling rewards prior to the work's completion to boost motivation. "Having the team get a boost mid-stream on a project is likely to create an additional reservoir of mental energy they can draw from as the project continues," Felker says. 

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It's also important to celebrate success whenever possible and to acknowledge that the outcome was the direct result of great teamwork. "Five minutes of recognition from the CEO in a company update or other forum motivates not only the IT team but the rest of the organization to strive for recognition," Nguyen says. He also advises promoting significant team achievements on LinkedIn and other major social platforms. "This will aid recruiting and retention efforts." 

Don't Hold Back 

Recognizing individuals for their efforts and hard work gives them a sense of belonging, Cameron says. "It makes them feel more seen, supported, and empowered to be their best selves and deliver their best work." 

There's no such thing as too much employee recognition, as long as it's genuine, honest, and deserved, Cameron observes. "You should always try to give recognition in the moment -- when you see the effort, the impact," she advises. "Give those kudos right from your phone, but even when delayed that recognition will be appreciated, since it fosters a culture of appreciation, among teams and across the organization." 

About the Author(s)

John Edwards

Technology Journalist & Author

John Edwards is a veteran business technology journalist. His work has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, and numerous business and technology publications, including Computerworld, CFO Magazine, IBM Data Management Magazine, RFID Journal, and Electronic Design. He has also written columns for The Economist's Business Intelligence Unit and PricewaterhouseCoopers' Communications Direct. John has authored several books on business technology topics. His work began appearing online as early as 1983. Throughout the 1980s and 90s, he wrote daily news and feature articles for both the CompuServe and Prodigy online services. His "Behind the Screens" commentaries made him the world's first known professional blogger.

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