Employee Engagement beyond Rewards & Recognition: The Role of Feedback, Suggestions, Surveys, and Employee Satisfaction

Keeping a workforce motivated and engaged is like growing a garden. Sure, rewards and recognition (R&R) programs are essential for giving those well-deserved pats on the back, but relying solely on these initiatives is like trying to grow a garden with just water—helpful, but not enough. Just as a healthy, green lush garden needs compost, good soil and fertilizers apart from water, building a truly engaged workforce requires a mix of strategies. Here’s an example to illustrate this:

Assuming that ElevateTech is a mid-sized software company, the HR team initially focused heavily on R&R programs to boost employee morale. They implemented “Employee of the Month” awards, spot bonuses and public recognition on the company’s internal communication channel. While these initiatives were appreciated, they didn’t translate into long-term engagement or address deeper workplace issues. Employee surveys revealed that although employees felt recognized, they didn’t feel truly engaged or heard.

What could be the reason?

The employees were looking for something more fulfilling!! And what’s that? 

Meaningful work, satisfaction, solid social connections and fun at work!

And to bring all of this to the workplace, what is really needed is a comprehensive Employee Engagement strategy!

To build a comprehensive Engagement Strategy, beyond R&R, employee engagement can be categorized into three components:

  • Fun
  • Meaningful Work
  • Employee Satisfaction

How to add fun to the workplace for a happier, more engaged team?

Celebrating Personal and Professional Milestones

Imagine you’re an employee waking up to the soft chime of your phone and you find a message from the company’s internal communication channel, brightly wishing you a happy birthday or celebrating your anniversary. It’s a simple gesture, but it means a lot. You feel valued and part of a team that cares, boosting your motivation. 

Work Anniversaries & Milestones such as completion of work projects and onboarding of new clients should be celebrated. Irrespective of how big or small the achievement is, if celebrated adds to the employee experience. 

Let us take an example of Zappos, the online shoe and clothing retailer known for its unique corporate culture and commitment to employee satisfaction to understand how a small act of being empathetic and going beyond the regular KPIs helps build employee satisfaction and an ultimate culture.

A Zappos customer service representative went above and beyond when a woman called to return shoes for her husband who died unexpectedly. Not only did the representative process the return and arrange a free courier pickup, but they also sent a bouquet and condolence card. This act exemplified Zappos’ commitment to exceptional customer service and empathy. The company celebrated this small win internally as a model of their values. It inspired other employees to creatively delight customers, fostering a culture of innovation and excellence.

Personal Celebrations can be employees’ birthdays, weddings and childbirth. Alike work milestones these are also personal milestones and should be celebrated just to add the feel good factor in employees’ life and make them feel valued and recognized.

An example of this could be Netflix, which allows employees to take their birthdays off as a paid holiday, encouraging them to celebrate and enjoy their special day. This policy promotes a culture of work-life balance, recognition and employee well-being. It demonstrates Netflix’s commitment to valuing its employees as individuals and fostering a positive and supportive work environment.


Some organizations implement rewards and recognition (R&R) programs to make their employees feel valued and happy. According to a recent research involving 50 organizations, about 44 out of every 100 employees feel good as a result.

However, when these organizations also celebrate employees’ birthdays and work anniversaries, the number of engaged and happy employees more than doubles. Now, around 89 out of every 100 employees feel happy.

This research demonstrates that simply celebrating birthdays and anniversaries significantly boosts employee engagement and happiness at the workplace.


How to add meaning into work for a more fulfilled team?

360 degree feedback

When it comes to feedback, if it’s happening it doesn’t contribute to the happiness of employees much but if it’s not happening it surely does contribute to unhappiness.

360 degree feedback enables an employee to share constructive and actionable feedback with co-workers, managers, reportees employees working for other teams. It can be given to anyone by anyone. It can be anonymous as well as with a name displayed depending on the culture a company wants to promote. The goal here is to allow people to open up and be vocal and provide feedback to other folks working in organization for anything they have done good/bad.  

Let’s understand this through an example of Netflix again who believes in staying radically honest at the workplace and form a circle of feedback. After a lot of experimentation there are two processes of 360 feedback they use:

  1. State your name: A different kind of written 360 which doesn’t believe in anonymity while giving feedback and that promotes the quality of feedback, promotes discussion between feedback provider and receiver and encourages a culture of being honest and frank.
  2. Live 360 dinners is an approach of giving feedbacks on a dinner table outside office in a group of 6-8 people using start, stop, continue method with roughly 25% positive and 75% developmental feedback is given to each member sitting on the table and it has a great impact because it is given publicly which is obviously discomforting but very effective process.

What Netflix has done through these processes is they have institutionalized tools to ensure that employees are talking openly and honestly to each other and focussing on where they can improve.


Based on a recent study of 50 organizations, some organizations use R&R to make their employees feel good. This keeps about 52 out of 100 employees engaged.

But here’s the magic: when you add a feedback system into the mix, engagement shoots up to 75 out of 100!

So, think of R&R as your trusty bicycle. It’s good and gets the job done. Now, add feedback, and you’ve got yourself a turbo boost! Your employees will be zooming with engagement and happiness!


Suggestions

Picture walking into an office where everyone has great ideas, but not everyone feels comfortable sharing them. Sometimes, the best ideas come from the quietest voices and this is why a suggestion box is so important.

The reason why the suggestion box is critical is because a company has several people who get liberty to speak up their mind freely. It is more of a culture building process to let everyone speak.

For instance, one employee of British Airways suggested that airplane toilet pipes need to be descaled to make them lighter. This suggestion saved the company over $7-700,000 in fuel costs in a year. Now this is the power of suggestion mechanism at the workplace. If implemented well, it can save the money, time and fuel as well 😛


As indicated by the latest research on 50 organizations, using R&R keeps 55 out of 100 employees engaged and feeling good.

But here’s the magic: when you add a suggestion system, engagement shoots up to 71 out of 100!

Turns out, giving employees a voice along with recognition is a game-changer.


Pulse Surveys

Imagine a world where organizations could tune in to the heartbeat of their employees, could listen to their concerns, their career aspirations, their feedback and could give insights not based on the guesswork but on the collective voice of their employees. 

A pulse survey is a feedback mechanism designed to tap into employees’ sentiments, providing insights into their feelings, feedback, and areas for improvement within the organization. This allows for:

  • Immediate issue resolution
  • Data-driven decision-making
  • Optimized feedback loops
  • Increased employee value, recognition, and voice

And based on the pulse received, actions are taken to resolve the issue if any.

An apt example here could be of Adobe using pulse surveys to get real-time employee feedback, improving communication and trust. These surveys help identify areas for enhancing satisfaction and engagement, such as professional development and work-life balance. Regular feedback allows Adobe to refine programs, leading to a more supportive and productive work environment, boosting engagement and retention.

After collecting feedback, suggestions, and conducting pulse surveys, it’s important to act on the responses. By implementing the ideas and suggestions received, employees will see that their input is not only heard but also put into action. This will make them feel valued and appreciated.


According to the results of recent research on 50 organizations, some organizations use R&R to keep their employees feeling good, resulting in 44 out of 100 employees being engaged.

But when pulse surveys are added, engagement rises to 63 out of 100!

It’s clear—recognizing employees and regularly listening to them is the winning formula for a more engaged workforce! 


How can organizations measure Employee Satisfaction to know if the fun + meaningful work boost engagement?

eNPS

Just how satisfied customers are likely to recommend your product/service to others by providing good reviews and dissatisfaction are going to spread negatives about you, similarly the employee engagement can make or break your reputation. eNPS is a measure to gauge employee satisfaction and their likelihood to recommend the company to others.

eNPS is an easy to use and analyze metric for both the HRs and employees as it only asks one question that is – ““How likely are you to recommend us as a place to work for your family and friends?” 

  • For employees it eliminates the chances of filling out a huge survey form reducing the chances of survey fatigue
  • For HRs it’s  a set format survey to just ask one question and gauge the satisfaction level of employees. 

Let’s take an example of OnJuno, a modern digital banking platform that provides you with an easy way to manage and grow your idle money. When they started measuring eNPS scores of their employees it helped them measure organization health in the form of employee loyalty and they were able to predict employee attrition beforehand. How?

It all started with a very simple question – ‘How happy are you working and OnJuno and how likely are you to recommend us to your friend?’

Through eNPS survey they were able to figure out how many of their employees are promoters, passives or detractors for their company and with the help of this they were able to figure out 1 or 2 employees who gave very low scores on their experience working at OnJuno. Clearly, this helped in  understanding where the lag was there in the company and what potential solutions can be made to improve it. Measuring eNPS helped them not only identify unhappy employees but also to take necessary action to make them happy.


As revealed by the recent research on 50 organizations, while R&R keeps approximately 31 out of 100 employees engaged, integrating eNPS into the system elevates this number to around 48 out of 100.

Seems like combining recognition with employee feedback is the secret sauce for nurturing a more engaged and satisfied workforce!


How does evolving employee engagement beyond R&R help your company? 

Employee engagement has evolved from merely rewarding and recognizing employees to a more purpose driven approach. 

In the long run, prioritizing employee engagement beyond R&R not only will yield tangible results but also will help in building a brand for the employer and increased talent density at the workplace that provides constant success in a competitive market.


Conclusion: An ‘always on’ approach is better when it comes to using engagement tools for enhancing employee engagement because one strategy or the other will cover the blind spots hidden and will provide the comprehensive development of the culture of the company.

Khyati Ojha

Hi there, Welcome to my corner! I'm a Researcher and People Scientist at Springworks. I've found my calling in uncovering the secrets to workplace happiness. From my earliest days, I've been drawn to the world of HR and People-related topics, eager to shine a light on what makes us truly thrive at work. Through my research and writeups, I aim to sprinkle some extra brightness, joy and purpose into workplaces everywhere.

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