Training & Development
Low-Cost Ways To Reward Employees
(Money isn't everything)
The job market is tight. Unfortunately, so is your budget.
How do you attract and motivate top-quality workers? “While money is important to employees,” writes Bob Nelson, a management specialist, “what tends to motivate them to perform – and perform at higher levels – is the thoughtful, personal kind of recognition that signifies true appreciation for a job well done.”
Such recognition need not be expensive. In fact, according to Mr. Nelson, some of the most effective forms of recognition cost nothing at all. He gives a host of examples in his book,1001 Ways to Reward Employees (Workman Publishing, 1994). We provide a sampling here for your benefit.
A simple “thank you” costs nothing.
A sincere word of thanks from the right person at the right time can mean more to an employee than a raise, a formal award, or a whole wall of certificates and plaques.
- Post a thank-you note on an employee's door.
- Call employees into your office just to say thank you. Don't discuss any other issue.
- Have the company president or a high-level manager call employees to thank them for a job well done.
- Pre-print “ABCD” (above and beyond the call of duty) cards and encourage managers or employees to award them to deserving co-workers.
Low-cost gestures can “create a story.”
Your recognition will have a stronger impact when it creates a story that the employee can tell to family, friends and associates for years to come.
- Recognize hard work by arranging for the employee's car to be washed in the parking lot. Or pay for a housecleaning service for the employee's home.
- Rent a sports car for the employee to drive for a week.
- Arrange for a photo session with the company president.
Food is always in good taste.
Food appeals to the senses and creates a festive atmosphere when it is shared with family or co-workers.
- Deliver a fruit basket, steaks, or a batch of chocolate chip cookies to the employee.
- Personalize the label on a wine bottle with a message of thanks to the recipient.
- Treat employees to a pizza lunch or a giant hero sandwich.
- Surprise a top-performing department with a champagne picnic at a local park.
Time off is universally appreciated.
Whether it is a free afternoon or a six-month sabbatical, this form of recognition is universally welcome.
- Provide an extra break.
- Allow a 2-hour lunch (and pay for dessert).
- Grant a long weekend after a particularly demanding period of work.
Gifts create a lasting reminder of your appreciation.
It's easy to give employees a cash reward. But such tokens of recognition are quickly spent and forgotten. Consider the following instead:
- Appliances and consumer electronic products are always welcome, especially when the item is in its early stages of market acceptance (e.g., a DVD player, digital camera, or portable MP3 device).
- Award gift certificates for food, books, clothes or music.
- Allow the employee to choose any item of a given value from a merchandise catalog
Make formal awards a part of your culture.
- Establish company awards for best attendance, highest quality, best customer service – whatever behavior you want to encourage. Then hold a ceremony in which top-level executives publicly present these awards to the recipients.
- Create a trophy that moves from one high-performing department, or person, to the next. You can even have the current holder decide who gets it next.