10 Things to Know About: Rewarding Employees Beyond Money

Want to modify, eliminate or encourage specific activities, behaviors and attitudes among your team? Getting creative with your recognition and reward programs and tying them to specific desired changes yield the most successful bottom line outcomes. 

According to Ashley Jernigan, Professional Development Trainer, Continuing Education and Outreach, Troy University, it’s not the big-ticket, traditional monetary rewards that have the most impact. “More personalized and thoughtful approaches to recognition and rewards have the greatest impact,” she said. And there are many ways to show gratitude without laying out a lot of green. Jernigan shares 10. 

To the Point: The person most likely to quit is not the over-achiever nor the employee challenging you the most. It’s the employee who shows up to work every day, quietly gets their work done and many times stays under the radar but is the most dependable. Ensure you truly know each of your employees and find unique ways to show them gratitude for their contributions. 

1. Use Your Words

Tell team members thank you or send them a hand-written thank you note. Publicly thank them too: in a staff meeting; in the company email newsletter; in an email to all employees that asks others to join you in thanking an individual for their commitment or effort; and provide them with a formal letter of appreciation for their personal file. Make it meaningful. 

2. Peer-to-Peer Pats on the Back

Ask employees to send in names of people who helped them along with a description of how and read these at staff meetings, a recognition event or include them in your newsletter. 

3. Learning Opportunities

Reward employees dedicated to your business with opportunities to explore classes or seminars that familiarize them with other parts of the business. Maybe your servers are interested in restaurants’ business operations. Helping them learn more not only keeps them engaged, it makes them a smarter, more mindful server. 

4. Small Gestures

Small gestures can be just as important as large ones. A reserved parking space for the month, letting them use the president’s office for a day, allowing flex time and casual dress days: These all show employees that you appreciate their efforts. 

5. Extra Leave

Everyone needs a break now and then. Consider rewarding extra hard work with an extra day of annual leave, longer lunch breaks or an “early-off” Friday. 

6. Time Off for Volunteer Work

This reward brings bonus benefits. Employees get a breather from their daily work routine, but it also boosts your business’ commitment to the community. 

7. ASK!

Find out what each employee would like most. One may prefer extra time off, while another may appreciate working from home. 

8. Customized Treats & “Surprise Boxes”

Have all employees provide a list of treats they like, plus their interests and hobbies. Use small treats for more frequent contributions and a “surprise box” of more treats tied to their likes for a more significant contribution. 

9. Monthly Awards for Contributions

Give a “trophy” or some other symbol that has a meaningful name specific to the change effort. Examples include: “Change Champion” with a meaningful symbol representing change and “Bright Ideas” – with an item representing “bright” (flashlight, etc.).

10. Points or “Play Money”

Give “gold points” for contributions or hand out Monopoly play money. The points or fake bucks can be converted to prizes or special privileges at work