20 reward and recognition ideas for apprentices

The way that you reward and recognise your people for the value they bring is of key importance for levels of motivation and engagement – which in turn supercharges your peoples’ performance. But it can be tough to know what will drive these outcomes, especially as we see new generations entering the workplace.

For example, research from Deloitte has indicated that Gen Z (born 1995-2012) value salary less than any previous generation… they want work which is interesting, meaningful and personalised to them.

workplace satisfaction

So if you’re struggling to think of some fresh ideas for showing your apprentices that they’re valued and that the work they’re doing is being recognised, here are some quick ideas to get you started… and if you want more support and inspiration on how to make your apprenticeship scheme the best it can be, get in touch!

  1. Pay a fair wage. Without paying a fair wage for the work they produce, all the extra recognition and reward in the world won’t make a difference. You can find more details on what a fair living wage would look like through the Living Wage Foundation
  2. Host a ‘graduation’ ceremony. When your apprentices complete their training, why not hold a big bash to celebrate this? It’ll give them a defining moment of achievement and closure, and provides a great opportunity to signal your recognition as an organisation of the work they’ve put in. You can even award prizes for distinction etc. in the same way as a university graduation.
  3. Get them involved with your purpose. Consider creating opportunities to help your apprentices understand the bigger picture of what your business does and how it contributes to the world, as studies have shown that having contact with end beneficiaries significantly impacts motivation and performance.
  4. Set up a mentoring scheme. Boost the connections your apprentice forms while working with you by linking them to mentors in the organisation who have experience in fields your apprentice is particularly interested in.
  5. Create an innovation award. The only constant right now is change! So why not create an award which specifically recognises the ‘fresh pair of eyes’ your apprentices bring. Publicly nominate and award those who solve tricky challenges or create new and improved ways of working.
  6. Provide branded swag. It might sound small but providing branded items such as notebooks, clothing or totes can go along way. Plus it’s free advertising!
  7. Feature them in internal newsletters/magazines. Create a fixed slot to round up news from your apprentice cohort and introduce them to the business.
  8. Allow flexibility and show trust. Allowing apprentices to work the way that suits them, in terms of hours and/or location, signals you trust and value their work.
  9. Organise a coffee/lunch for the apprentices to meet the senior team and ask questions about the company and their personal career progression.
  10. Reward assessment outcomes. Many organisations link pay rises over the course of the apprenticeship with learning milestones.
  11. Provide meaningful feedback. Every mistake is an opportunity to learn, and it’s these ‘moments of truth’ that can make or break an apprentice’s relationship with you as a business. Coach managers to ensure they deliver feedback in an effective way.
  12. Make time for fun! Set up a social committee and get your apprentices involved in organising events, socials and charity fundraising.
  13. Set up rotation into other departments. It can be very challenging to know where to go with your career, so providing opportunities to experience different departments while on the scheme is a great way to support your apprentices and it helps them understand how the business operates as a whole.
  14. Empower the managers of apprentices. Why not assign a budget to each apprentice manager specifically for small rewards like buying coffees for catch ups, or a lunch out to recognise when projects are completed. Not everything has to be centrally organised!
  15. Implement volunteering days. The ethics, practice and social impact of businesses is of increasing importance to generations entering the workplace. Allocating time for volunteering is a great way to signal you take this seriously.
  16. Say thank you publicly (if that’s what they want). It varies person to person but taking time in team/company meetings to say thank you for work completed can amplify the feeling of recognition.
  17. Make their life easier/better. When designing rewards or benefits, think about what will really make a difference for the apprentice. A generous pension scheme probably isn’t top of their list right now, but financial education (e.g. mortgages and budgeting) or online courses might be.
  18. Take care of their wellbeing. Incentivise behaviour which supports wellbeing, like being physically active and mindfulness, by providing flexibility to practice this during the day, or discounts on gyms/online platforms.
  19. Fix problems quickly. It’s not conventionally seen as a reward, but simply asking what could be fixed or improved can make a big difference! There’s nothing more frustrating than putting up with slow or faulty equipment for example.
  20. Ask them what they want. Last but definitely not least, why not survey your apprentices and ask them for their input on what they see as most rewarding and the style of recognition they prefer.


There you have it! Plenty of inspiration for making your apprenticeship scheme truly platinum-standard when it comes to reward and recognition.

If this has whetted your appetite for more apprenticeship scheme support, why not check out our brand new We invest in apprentices accreditation, as recommended by Minister for Apprenticeships and Skills Gillian Keegan MP!

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These numbers cost no more than a national rate call to an 01 or 02 number,  please note that our calls may be recorded for training purposes.