Good Idea for Holiday Time

by Vikki Nelson

You can reward employees without breaking the budget. Everyone likes to be rewarded. The definition of a reward suggests that the person is special and is receiving recognition for being better than expected. Rewards make people feel appreciated instead of being taken for granted.

It doesn’t take an expensive employee survey to realize that people who feel appreciated for doing a good job - continue doing a good job. The catch is that rewards can take a big bite out of a small business budget. One of the cost-effective approaches to planning a reward system for employees is to fluctuate between no-cost, low-cost and substantial-costs rewards, depending on the situation. Substantial-costs rewards are easy to identify and usually include extra money or paid time-off. More difficult is identifying the no-cost and low-cost rewards that are meaningful to employees.

Every business is different and offers unique possibilities for no-cost and low-cost rewards. The list that follows will not work for every business, but should generate some creative thoughts that are worth including in an employee reward plan.

1. Have business cards printed for each employee. They travel to a lot of places that you as the employers would not go, and they could act as ambassadors and possibly spread good will.

2. Place a big bowl of popcorn/candy/cookies/etc. in the break room one day a week.

3. Use pictures of employees in newspaper advertising or feature employees in television commercials.

4. Provide a traveling, oversized in-on badge for Employee of the Day/Week/Month.

5. Reserve a parking space for the Employee of the Month with a slot for the employee’s name.

6. Cook or serve (management staff) an appreciation breakfast or lunch for employees once a month/quarterly/yearly/etc.

7. Give employees a blank thank-you note for them to send someone at work.

8. Create activities that recognize the individuality of employees. For example, place a map of the state (country) on a bulletin board and highlight where various employees were born. Post childhood photos around the edges, connected to the birthplaces by string. After several days, reveal the names for each photo.

9. Write a profile of a different employee each month: name, job, family, hobbies, likes and dislikes and other interesting information. Include a photograph taken on the job. Use this for a newsletter, bulletin board, framed wall announcement, etc. Present a laminated copy to the employee as a keepsake.

10. Naturally, celebrate each employee’s birthday with a cake to be shared with coworkers.

11. Post a calendar that features an employee appreciation quote for each day or month.

12. Set up a “Celebration Table” and provide appropriate greeting cards for birthdays, new babies, weddings, new home, etc. so that all employees can sign. At lunch or break-time, provide snacks and coffee.

Remember that one of the virtues of no-cost or low-cost rewards is that they can be distributed lavishly and frequently. These rewards honor employees by telling them that they are valued and worth special treatment. Small companies have an opportunity to personalize employment in these ways far beyond what is possible with the larger companies.