How Else Can I Reward My Employees?

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How Else Can I Reward My Employees?

By Beth Borrego / Published November 2016



In addition to training your employees to do their jobs to your company’s level of expectation, there is the matter of retaining good workers. When a new employee is hired, he understands that certain pay and benefits will be provided to him in exchange for his service, and it’s rendered on certain days and times. But, is this enough? What else can small business owners offer as rewards to their employees in order to show gratitude for a job well done?

Even if your company is small and your budget is tight, there are rewards your company can offer that may increase employee satisfaction, productivity, and overall morale as well. After all, it’s certainly more fun coming to work when you’re appreciated than when you don’t perceive that you are. Management and motivation expert Dr. Bob Nelson reported that 58 percent of the workers he surveyed stated that they never receive a thank you. Furthermore, a poll conducted by Maritz Research suggests that those employees who receive recognition for their work are five times more likely to feel valued. This poll also suggests that these employees are seven times more likely to stay with the company and six times more likely to invest in it. Feelings of commitment also rose significantly, being about 11 times higher.

Most small business owners face overwhelming days and react to whatever demands seem to be the greatest. Unfortunately, this leaves little time for creative thinking where staff rewards are concerned. Our suggestions might not be the best ones for your company, but perhaps they’ll get you started. Let’s take a look at a few rewards that can be easily implemented and are sure to brighten your employees’ day!

  • A thank you and a hand shake. Saying thank you and shaking your employee’s hand shows him that he genuinely matters and is making a difference.
  • A hand-written thank you note. Writing a short note of thanks and giving it to an employee will show him that you took the time to think of him specifically and that you care about his contributions.
  • Have a lunch party. It doesn’t matter if it’s pizza, BBQ, or sandwiches. Everyone loves a lunch thrown in honor of their efforts. It gives them a chance to relax, to enjoy, and to feel good about the contributions they make each day.
  • Birthdays should be special. Every employee has a birthday. Recognize birthdays with a cake and sing “Happy Birthday!”
  • A standing ovation. Reward outstanding efforts with a standing ovation. Get everyone together, sing  the praises of the employee who went above and beyond, and then give him some thunderous applause.
  • See a blockbuster on the company. Everyone loves a good movie, so give your deserving staff members two tickets to a movie they want to see.
  • Concert tickets. Is there a band coming to town that your staff has been talking about? Get a couple of tickets.
  • Sports tickets are fun, too. If you  have sports enthusiasts in your midst, consider buying pairs of tickets to share with staff. If you purchase season tickets, there will be plenty to go around for everyone.
  • Wash an employee’s car. Get his  car washed while he works—who wouldn’t love going home in a clean car?
  • Theme park day. Consider having  a company outing. Going some- place fun to let your hair down is always appreciated and may not be in their budget otherwise.
  • Gift cards are wonderful. It could  be for a grocery store, restaurant, clothing store, sporting goods store, or just about any store, really. Everyone loves gift cards. At certain times of the year, many restaurant gift cards are available at a discount, making it even more attractive to purchase them.
  • Employee of the month, quarter, or year. Purchase a nice award plaque that you can have engraved brass plates added to with ease. Give your staff something to aim for that is goal-based and perhaps voted on by peers, and give them a chance to see their name commemorated.
  • A personal picnic. Send him  home on Friday with a personal picnic designed for his family to enjoy over the weekend.
  • Little tikes toy box. Set up a toy bin with inexpensive seasonal toys. For example, in the summer you might have squirt guns and plastic pails and shovels for beach use. In the winter, you might have snow slide saucers. Consider also adding boxes of sidewalk chalk and bottles of bubbles. Consider rainy day items like coloring books and book puzzles. Your staff with small children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, or siblings that they care for might really appreciate being able to walk in the door with an extra something for someone they love. You can expand on this at the holidays and perhaps wrap the toys as well.
  • Send flowers or fruit. Sometimes you have an employee with a special occasion or a serious illness. It’s appropriate and appreciated to send flowers or a fruit basket.
  • Donate money to a charity in  their name once a year to honor a loved one in their family, living or passed.
  • Set up a company library. Consider having a bookcase with books, magazines, and videos. Don’t forget to add a few children’s books to the library. You could have everyone contribute to it, or the company could purchase the items or some combination thereof. Try your local thrift shops to see if they might have items for the library, or check the for-sale rack of your local library. Set up a check-in/ check-out list and some basic rules for use. Allow your employees to check things out for their enjoyment with the condition that they return them when they are finished.
  • Put out a basket of microwave popcorn and candy on Friday afternoon for employees to enjoy over the weekend. If you implement the library mentioned above and offer videos for check out, this benefit has extra appeal.
  • Stock your office kitchen. If you have an office kitchen with a fridge and normally supply coffee for your staff, try providing other things occasionally like fruit juices. Offer fresh fruits or trail mixes as a snack.
  • Bring in breakfast. This can be as  simple as bringing in donuts or bagels to hiring an omelet chef to come in and cook everyone breakfast to order. The chef might be a great way to celebrate a profitable quarter, for example.
  • Babysitting bucks. Some of your  staff may find it hard to go out with their loved one for a simple grown-up date night because they have little ones at home, and baby sitters are not inexpensive. Not everyone has family or friends available to take the kids for an extended evening. Perhaps you should consider paying for an evening of baby- sitting services. This would be especially welcome for a couple who wants to celebrate their wedding anniversary, for example.
  • Summer produce is always a hit. In the summer, local produce is less expensive and is healthy and tasty. Pick some up at a farm stand and leave it out for your staff to take home and enjoy with their dinner. Many stands will make a deal on bulk purchases.
  • Special parking space for a month. Have a designated spot for employee of the month.
  • The golden telephone. For the office worker who has gone above and beyond, award him the golden telephone for excellent customer service. Just get a toy phone, a can of gold spray paint, and voila!  You have an award that you can use each month.
  • The golden tool belt. Again, the  idea is to reward a technician for the month for excellent service. You can use a tool belt, or any tool really, such as a hammer, wrench, etc. It too can be a plastic toy. Make sure to reward loudly, complete with peer applause, for the above two suggestions. The idea is to make it as fun and memorable as possible.
  • Perhaps you could have a golden stethoscope award, which you give to a worker who works for a set number of days without being sick or having an injury. Again, you can pick up a toy and spray paint it, then make a large, loud, fun event of announcing it.

As you can see, your creativity is the key to creating some fun and memorable rewards. Have you ever asked your employees what they liked most and least about other jobs they have had? This too could provide an insight into what means the most to them. Ask them what those companies did to reward their people, and what they did or did not like. Consider your company and the culture you have built, as well as the staff and what you know about them. Then have fun creating a reward program that’s sure to boost morale and make your company a better place to work.