Like everyone else, employees are motivated by something, and determining what those motivating factors are should be a top priority for every business. It’s assumed that a raise or a bonus will help employees focus on exceeding job expectations. Though in many cases, employee loyalty and retention are effectively enhanced by a rewards or recognition program that demonstrate employers’ appreciation for their workforce in other, more creative ways.
How can you recognize your team’s hard work and dedication without straining your budget?
Remember to say “thank you.” Not surprisingly, in the hectic pace of day-to-day operations, a manager may intend to acknowledge an employee’s above-and-beyond contributions and yet never get around to doing so. Make a point to stop by your employee’s workstation and express your gratitude for a job well done. Better yet, take time to pen a handwritten note of thanks and leave it on the recipient’s desk after work hours, so he or she will find it first thing in the morning.
“Achievers thrive not only on their accomplishments, but also want to feel appreciated for what they contribute,” notes business author Kevin Daum. “Public recognition through awards and acknowledgment helps them understand they are valued on the team.”
Create an employee recognition program. Employee recognition programs offer a healthy infusion of creativity into a culture that may have grown dormant over time.
Recognition programs can reinforce corporate culture priorities, such as:
- Employee of the month
- Superior customer support
- Outstanding length of service
- Best monthly sales performance
- Best team project contributions
Offer flexible work opportunities. Giving an outstanding employee a day off work is an immediate and uncomplicated way to show your gratitude. If that’s impractical, consider letting an employee come to work a couple of hours later in the morning or leaving early. Other options include providing an extended lunch break or a set amount of “personal time,” where a high-performing team member can take some time off during part of the day to attend to personal obligations.
Provide gift cards. Whether it’s for a movie, shopping at the mall, or taking the kids to this season’s most popular theme park, a gift card is always a welcome reward for employees. Customizing and/co-branding these gift cards for a lasting impression also heightens the occasion, making it more of a “company event.”
Free food always works. Treating the team to some free food is a surefire recognition technique. Order pizza for lunch. Arrive early in the morning with bagels, cream cheese and gourmet coffee. Host a late-Friday-afternoon happy hour for the entire office. Or, says author Mike Michalowicz, “There’s nothing like an old-fashioned ice cream party where the teams you’re appreciating make their own sundaes and desserts from a selection of ice cream and toppings.”
Ask employees for recognition suggestions. All of these ideas are effective at the right times, but you might consider polling your workforce for their suggestions. What types of rewards would they most like to see offered?
Encourage the submission of creative methods to recognize individual and group achievements. Employees invited to offer feedback will likely work harder to achieve their rewards, once a rewards-and-recognition program is securely in place.
Author Bio: Julie Feece is Vice President North America – Marketing for RPG Card Services, a sales and marketing organization specializing in offering Gift Card Program Services to nationally recognized retailers for their B2B and B2C programs. She has held leadership roles in the incentive gift card industry for over 17 years and has been with RPG for the past 10 years.