Low Cost Activities to Recognize Employees

When you manage employees you may find yourself using words like “Employee Engagement” and “Company Culture”. Employee Recognition Programs may be on your radar as an effective tool for impacting both engagement and employee satisfaction. A survey published by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and Globoforce®[1], suggests that praise alone is not nearly as effective as praise plus prize.

While rewards generate more employee motivation than recognition alone – such as service time awards –they don’t have to break the bank.

Low-cost rewards and activities can effectively show your employees they are appreciated.  Examples include:

  1. Gift cards – Even a small gift card creates a positive impact beyond its monetary value. Compare someone handing you a five dollar bill to being handed a $5 gift card to a coffee shop. The latter implies “take a break” and evokes feelings of hanging out with friends and co-workers. With a little thought, gift cards can become a statement that demonstrates you pay attention. Reward an employee who speaks often of their pet with a pet store card, for example[2].
  2. Personal Services – If you wish to show appreciation for an employee who is putting in extra time at the office, what better way than to help them pick up some slack at home? Arrange for a house cleaning, a car wash, or a week of dry cleaning. One small business hired a yard service to clean up leaves for an employee who was putting in extra hours to cover for a co-worker on extended leave in October.
  3. Extra Vacation Day(s) – Your best employees may put in more hours without you asking. Reward them with extra time off.  This no cost reward also nets you a refreshed and more productive employee.
  4. Flexibility – As a reward for performance, you can offer certain flexibilities without creating the “but you let her…” dilemma. A short list of perks that makes sense to tie to performance recognition may include:
    • Work from home for a day (per week, or as a one-time treat)
    • Set own work schedule
    • Choose a least favorite project to “dump” or “swap” or let them choose a project they  want to take on
    • Bring a pet to work
    • Extra long lunch break
    • Dress casual
  5. Bragging Rights – Depending on the recipient, the most powerful motivator just might be public recognition. Here are several ways to show your appreciation and give your employee “bragging rights”:
    • Recognize employee in a staff meeting, through a company-wide email or company newsletter
    • Post their name in a public place with words of praise
    • Arrange for higher management to visit and thank employee
    • Throw a pizza or cake party, or cater a company lunch in their honor
    • Engage peers to sign a card and write positive notes to the employee[3]

The above are ideas to get you started. With a little creativity, you can create thoughtful, impactful prizes that employees value without blowing your budget.


[1] http://go.globoforce.com/rs/globoforce/images/SHRM_Spring2013_web.pdf
[2] http://www.marketinginnovators.com/resources/blog/holiday-gift-cards-perfect-way-thank-employees-partners/
[3] http://www.forbes.com/sites/kevinkruse/2013/03/01/25-low-cost-ways-to-reward-employees/