The good news? Most workers don’t need a high-priced award to feel appreciated. A January 2007 survey by Accountemps found that “frequent recognition of accomplishments” is the most effective form of non-monetary compensation named by full- and part-time office workers.
Even if you don’t have a lot of money to go around right now, there are still ways to treat your employees right and show them that you appreciate the extra effort they’ve been putting in recently.
Use a few ideas from this list of 10 low-cost employee incentives to show employees you care without breaking the bank:
- Hold an event for no reason. Come up with a themed event each month, even if there isn’t a holiday to celebrate. Some examples: Crazy Hat Day, Favorite Sports Team T-Shirt Day. Have employees bring in some snacks from home and treat them to a few pizzas on the company’s tab.
- Allow employees to take family days. For those days when kids may be off school, but parents may not be off of work, allow employees to work from home. Whether it’s a school half day or snow day, let employees skip the commute and spend more time with their kids, while getting work done.
- Create a contest. Hold a contest that everyone can get involved in - post a trivia question on the company intranet or fill a jar full of thumbtacks and place it on the receptionist’s desk. Let employees guess the answer and give a small prize to the person who guessed the closest.
- Celebrate small achievements. Reward employee achievements with small tokens of appreciation. Give a set of movie tickets to someone who went over their sales goals this month or present a small gift card for coffee to an employee who went above and beyond to help out a colleague.
- Give a discount on what you do. Give employees a small discount on the products or services you sell. Encourage employees to pass the offer along to friends and family. It’s a partnership that benefits everyone involved.
- Free food. Hold a pizza party on a Friday afternoon or bring in a few dozen bagels one morning. It’s a small gesture that everyone will enjoy and a simple, low-cost way to show your appreciation.
- Have employees recognize each other. Ask coworkers to write something they admire about an employee on a small piece of paper. Frame their message along with a photo of the employee and hang them along the hallways.
- Create a VIP parking spot. Reserve one of the best spots in the parking lot for employees who have done something outstanding. Give a new employee VIP parking privileges each month.
- Turn the break room into a game room. Stock the break room with some classic board games - Chutes and Ladders, Sorry!, Operation, even checkers. The games don’t cost very much and provide some entertainment for employees when they take their break.
- Say “thank you.” Leave a handwritten note at an employee’s desk telling them ‘thank you’ for a job well done. They’re two small words that can deliver the highest ROI when it comes to employee incentives.
Improve the productivity of your staff by showing them some well-deserved appreciation from time to time. Even the most simple employee incentive ideas can be just as effective as other high-priced options when you want to show how much you care.
Check out these related posts for more ideas:
5 tips to build employee morale in a down economy
Employee incentive ideas on a budget
Looking for new employee incentive ideas? Listen to Aretha Franklin
Incentives and rewards: Now is the time to act
Incentive programs: Where’s your follow-through?