Run employee incentive programs with Manual Awards

Elisse Lockhart
May 21, 2018
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The best employee recognition programs encourage many types of employee recognition in order to get everyone to participate.

With 360-degree recognition in Bonusly, which includes recognition between peers, recognition from managers to direct reports and vice versa, and recognition across departments and locations, you and everyone you work with can easily show and receive appreciation for your contributions.

However, there are instances when giving person-to-person bonuses just doesn't feel right. Employee incentive programs, employee recognition awards, and spot recognition fall neatly into this category, which is why Bonusly's Manual Awards are so handy.

Manual Awards are earmarked funds for specific programs, incentives, and occasions. Bonusly users with giver permissions for Manual Awards can run safety incentive programs, give spot awards, and administer referral bonuses, among other things, without drawing from their own monthly allowances. Manual Award bonuses appear in your bonus feed right alongside other pieces recognition, increasing the visibility of your employee experience initiatives.

All that being said, we’ve found that the simplest way to understand Manual Awards is to learn how other companies use them. In this post, we share a number of ways you can extend your recognition program with safety incentive ideas, common company initiatives, and referral offers. 

How we use Manual Awards at Bonusly

We've set up a handful of Manual Awards here at Bonusly so we can recognize our teammates for acts that benefit a department or the whole team, represent us positively in front of customers, or earn positive feedback from a third party.

Customer Success award

We created a Customer Success award to highlight moments when our team delights our customers. (#delight-the-customer is one of our company core values, after all.) When one of our customer success associates gets a nice shout-out on Capterra, their manager can give them a bonus via the Customer Success award. #delight-the-customer

Screenshot of a Bonusly Customer Success Award accompanied by a Rick and Morty GIF

Office Manager award

We noticed that there was a gender disparity in who emptied the office dishwasher on a regular basis and who got recognized for it. Everyone at Bonusly has giver permissions for the Office Manager award so that we're all able to thank our coworkers equally for emptying the dishwasher and generally pitching in around the office. (Claimable Awards are another excellent way to recognize people for completing if-then tasks.)

Wellness award

Our Wellness award helps our people operations team run wellness incentive programs. Incentivizing employees to get their annual flu shots and participate in Bike to Work Day is far easier when there's a bounty of Bonusly points to be earned! 💉🚲

Production Support award

When a team member jumps in after hours to make sure our product keeps operating smoothly, we can recognize them with a bonus from the Production Support award. Since after-hours production work is a shared responsibility that people volunteer for depending on their availability, recognition from an award makes more sense than recognition from a single person. 

New Customer to Delight award

The whole team loves knowing about our company's growth and learning the stories behind the people using our product. We use the New Customer to Delight award to recognize our sales team and announce when we sign on new customers.

Barketing Hero award

Our marketing team gives bonuses from the Barketing Hero award to thank our colleagues when they do something to support marketing’s goals. We give Barketing Hero bonuses, for example, when our coworkers share updates about our product and our culture on social media or attend industry events on our behalf. (Also, we love dogs and we couldn’t pass up this punny name. 😆🐶)


How Bonusly customers use Manual Awards

Our customers have come up with many more ways to use Manual Awards to support their recognition initiatives. Check out these creative award ideas inspired by our customers:


You can create Manual Awards for specific holidays, like Administrative Professionals Day (celebrated on the Wednesday of the last full week in April of each year), in order to give appropriate recognition on behalf of your company. Manual Awards like these can make HR admins' lives easier by helping them plan special employee celebrations ahead of time and run them consistently.

Program incentives

You can set up a manual award for a particular company incentive you’re running, like a fitness challenge or a canned food drive, in order to recognize employees who participates in the program. If you need everyone to update their computer security settings, for example, you could give bonuses from a security award once employees have met your specific security and compliance requirements.

Employee referrals

Employee referrals generate the best return on investment. A manual award for referral bonuses will make referral bonuses easier to give out and more visible across your organization, increasing awareness of your referral program by including it in the feed with everyday employee recognition.


Encourage your employees to help with your recruiting and interviewing efforts by creating a manual award with which to give people bonuses when they get involved in application reviews, phone screens, and interviews.



If you run friendly workplace competitions in your organization, create a dedicated manual award for recognizing participants and giving prizes to the winners! If you host a remote trivia night, for instance, you can create a Team Trivia manual award and give bonuses of various amounts to the first-, second-, and third-place winners.

Going above and beyond

Several of our customers have created special manual awards that they give bonuses from in order to recognize team members who have gone above and beyond to create a positive impact on their team. These kinds of manual awards can be especially handy when you want to recognize people in customer-facing roles, like support and sales, whose work isn't as visible to internal teams.


Many Bonusly customers want help their employees make progress on their professional development goals. With a manual award dedicated to professional development, you can give bonuses on behalf of your company to people who dedicate time to professional development and promote awareness of professional learning opportunities and budget to your whole organization.

Safety incentives

Use a manual award to recognize your team when you’ve gone a long time without any safety incidents. Safety incentive ideas are particularly popular among Bonusly customers in manufacturing or with warehouses.

Quarterly and year-end bonuses

You can use Manual Awards to facilitate larger bonuses that you want to give out during the year. Giving quarterly and year-end bonuses via Bonusly will fit into your existing bonus billing and reporting, plus your team will be able to redeem those bonuses for their choice of rewards from the Bonusly Reward Catalog.

Ready to set up your own Manual Awards?

If you’re ready to try out Manual Awards, check out this article to learn more about setting them up. You’ll be able to choose the name for your award, set its monthly allowance, decide whether to use a template, and specify who is eligible to give and receive the award.

Once you've created a manual award, follow the steps in this article to start giving bonuses from it!

We’d love to hear from you about how you're using Manual Awards to promote safe work practices, professional development, and company culture at your organization! Let us know on Twitter, Facebook, or via email.

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