10 Innovative Ways To Reward Your Employees

By Kentin Waits on 4 December 2011 (Updated 21 December 2011) 1 comment
Photo: rocknrollfun

Rewarding employees is often equated with big bonuses and shrinking bottom lines. But recognition for a job well done can come in all shapes and sizes. Small tokens of appreciation given at the right moment not only provide well-deserved acknowledgement—they can keep your employees motivated and dedicated. Let’s explore the art of saying “thank you” in new and innovative ways.

1. Get Flexible

Reward dedicated employees by offering flexible work hours. Either start with flexible Monday and Friday schedules or institute it more broadly for the entire work week. This vote of confidence in your employees’ ability to self-manage and get things done is a great acknowledgement and motivator.

2. Go Remote

For businesses that can leverage the work of off-site employees, offer telecommuting arrangements for your best and brightest. Remote workers can skip long commute times, tolls, parking hassles, and stress. Sometimes one energetic and happy employee in pajamas is better than two frazzled commuters in corporate casuals.

3. Rock Star Parking

Depending on the size of your office, a good parking spot may come at a premium. Reward rock star employees by assigning them rock star parking for a month or for a quarter. Consider dedicating a permanent parking space for this very purpose and rotate it among your star performers.

4. Reward Effort

In our bottom-line world, we tend to focus on end-results and not realize the effort involved in simply trying. The best way to keep employees trying hard and working toward success is to reward effort. Take a moment to discover who’s giving it their all and find a small way to acknowledge those efforts personally.

5. Give a Freebie

Recognize and reward a job well done by offering a day or two of discretionary time off. Coordinate with HR to add the bonus as no-strings-attached vacation time. Once it’s on the books, send a card to your employee letting them know how they earned it.

6. Throw a Party

For a group of employees or an entire department that continues to knock your socks off, throw a party. The very best parties (the ones that truly feel like a reward) are “planned surprises.” Have your employees clear their schedules for an hour or two in the afternoon to prepare for a company or departmental meeting that’s really a party in-disguise. Without pressing appointments, waiting clients and calls to return, employees can relax for a bit and truly enjoy themselves.

7. Lunch Bunch

Reward an entire department by treating everyone to lunch. Acknowledge a single employee by making a group reservation for her and five of her good friends or colleagues. Leisurely lunches are the best lunches—give your staff at least two hours to relax and enjoy themselves.

8. Decompress

Celebrate the end of a long and successful project by treating your key employees to an off-site massage or spa visit. To sweeten the deal, don’t let those muscles tense up again afterwards—give them the afternoon off.

9. Make them a Member

Consider covering the cost of a year’s membership in the trade or professional association of your employee’s choice. Annual costs can often be daunting to families, but can be written off as an employee development expense for businesses. This sort of reward not only thanks your employee, it can help create valuable business connections down the road.

10. Say the Magic Words

Your mom was right—a simple and heartfelt “thank you” goes a long way. Taking the time to call an employee into your office for the sole purpose of a thank you or sending a hand-written note in the mail is a personal and profound gesture. In our hectic, abbreviated and automated world, don’t forget the more human connections that make employees feel valued.

Whatever method of acknowledgement you choose, be specific about why you’re thanking your employee. What impressed you the most? What set this employee apart from peers in the office? What small detail or effort made all the difference on the project? Ultimately, your thank you should reflect what you’d like to see more of in all your employees.

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Jillyan Scott

These are great ideas to hype up team spirit and morale. It is also one sure way to promote friendly competition between teammates. I usually do #7, if my team outranks others in our department I would treat everyone for all the hard work and effort.

I will surely try each and every suggested ideas here.