7 Ways to Reward Employees Without Big Money

By LISA SWAN

Whether you are an entrepreneur, an executive, or a middle manager, it is important to keep your staff happy, and reward those who are doing great jobs. But what can you do to reward staff and improve morale if you don’t have a big budget to give out raises and bonuses? Here are some tips to make your employees feel happy, even if you only have a small budget to work with:

  • Employee of the Month awards: Yes, these time-honored awards are still a good idea when it comes to showing employee appreciation. You can pick people yourself or ask your managers for nominations. One of the more recent trends with this issue is to ask your staff to nominate their peers; you may not only find a deserving candidate, but see who your employees think is doing the best job.
  • Comp days: Getting a day or two off is something employees will enjoy, especially if it’s a no-strings-attached day off, in which they won’t have to check their work email or answer phone calls.  Just make sure you give the staff time in which to take the time off.
  • Food: Even if you don’t have the budget to take your employees to five-star lunches, you can still incorporate meals into the mix. Why not have a pizza lunch once a month or so? Some companies have bagels or other breakfast foods brought in occasionally. Another idea is a potluck lunch, where your employees can have a leisurely meal talking to each other, instead of wolfing down a sandwich at their desk. Not only do these ideas show appreciation for your staff, but they can also foster camaraderie and teamwork.
  • Public appreciations: Instead of having staff meetings filled with telling your employees what they are doing wrong, why not recognize what they are doing right? Individual  and public acknowledgement of their hard work in front of the company could work wonders when it comes to increasing morale.
  • Thank-you emails:  Instead of a cursory “thanks” or, as it is often abbreviated in emails, “tx,” why not write thank-you emails pointing out the positives in your staff. If you are a middle manager, be sure to cc your boss, so that your staffers know that management knows how hard they are working.
  • Work at home days and flexible hours:  Having a more flexible schedule, including the ability to work from home, is a way to show that you understand that your staff has their own responsibilities aside from work. But make sure that anybody you give these privileges to is getting all their work done.
  • Gift cards: If you have a project that the team has to get done, why not offer a gift card for those who get their part done the quickest? You’d be surprised how much more efficiently things might get done around your company just to get a Starbucks or a restaurant gift card.
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