Employees want to be appreciated, but owners want to do so effectively. This means the method is appreciated by employees, and it motivates the right behaviors in the future, and of course it’s affordable.
“Cash Often Falls Flat”
Many studies show that non-cash recognition and rewards are the most effective. This quote sums it up:
“As a reward, cash often falls flat. Employees given cash rewards quickly forget how they spend the cash, and most often the cash goes toward an unmemorable expense: bills. In industry surveys, 50% of cash reward recipients said they either used cash to pay bills or could not remember how it was used.
In addition to being easily forgotten, relying on cash rewards to engage employees and drive performance quickly becomes a management challenge. Over time, cash rewards become viewed by employees as an entitlement, and managers run the risk of creating high employee expectations that cannot be satisfied. Soon, the denial of a merit raise, or a merely incremental raise, becomes a form of punishment instead of a performance-based decision.
Another study found that when it comes to gifts, it’s the thought that counts, not the price tag. “The recognition that’s conveyed through timely smaller gestures, perhaps done more frequently is just as meaningful, if not more so, than large, splashy gifts,” the report stated. Simply accompanying recognition moments with a memento, such as a handwritten note, certificate, or desktop gift reminds the recipient about the recognition transaction and drives performance.
Recognition should be immediate. For the greatest effect, praise should occur as soon after the event as possible. Delaying the recognition for a monthly or annual event diminishes the impact.
Recognition should be specific. Recognize employees for more than a job well done. Praise them for the specific actions they took that contributed to the overall success. Your praise will be more meaningful when it’s specifically focused on the individual.
Recognition should be meaningful. Meaningful recognition ties the praise and gift back to an individual’s personality, such as their persistence or attention to detail. It’s important that the gift is relevant for the situation and the individual’s personal preferences.
Recognition should be frequent. Recognizing employees every seven days is a key element to employee engagement, and it also opens the lines of communication about desired behaviors that fuel performance.”
The Right Behaviors
Whether the award or cash or non-cash, the boss first needs to decide which behaviors they want to encourage, and then be consistent in recognizing them.
Possible Non-Cash Rewards
The previous article (see Small Business Incentive Plans) mentioned gift cards as incentives. Some other ideas include a health club membership, tax advice, concierge service, or even a weekend away. Here is a list of many more reward types to consider:
1. Collate positive hand written statements about the employee from their colleagues, frame and present to the employee.
2. Provide the employee with some one-to-one coaching and mentoring sessions with a senior member of the organization for six months.
3. Register the employee for a conference or training session of their choice.
4. Share an inspirational success story with all and make it all about the employee.
5. Allocate a day in a week for them to do anything creative and of their choice for a month.
6. Give them a new job title or update their current job title.
7. Start an organizational “Wall of Fame” board in a prime spot and add their name to it.
8. Let the employee suggest a way they would like to be rewarded other than cash reward.
9. Pick up the tab to fuel their car for a week or a month.
10. Prepare, present and disseminate a short video mosaic that celebrates the employee’s accomplishments.
11. Get the employee some career counseling sessions.
12. Find out what the employee is passionate about and give them a gift related to it.
13. Pick up their family’s tab for a dinner at their favorite restaurant.
14. Present the employee with a pair of tickets to a concert or a show so that they can invite their partner along.
15. Get them an iTune voucher if they own an iPod, iPad, iPhone etc.
16. Give them a day pass to a spa.
17. Present the employee with a handwritten thank you note.
18. Name a meeting room after the employee for a year.
19. Give the employee a reserved parking spot for six months.
20. Present the employee with a bouquet of flowers.
21. Make a public thank you announcement and give money to their favorite charity.
22. Arrange for the employee to take a fun class, such as jewelry making, scuba diving or skydiving.
23. Present the employee with a tasteful framed certificate to show how valuable the employee’s contribution to the company has been.
24. Give the employee a gift card to their favorite shop.
25. Get them a voucher to download eBooks from their favorite author.
26. Cover the cost to have a professional family portrait of the employee taken.
27. Allow the employee to be flexible with their working hours for one month.
28. Give the employee a day or two off work.
29. Get a mobile car valet service to do a full valet of their car.
30. Help to pay for a trade association membership of their choice.
Help our readers! Tell us what non-cash recognition and rewards have worked for you.
Tom Gray helps owners save and grow their companies. He is a management consultant focused on small business and telecom, a Certified Turnaround Professional (CTP), a Certified Business Development Advisor, and a Certified SCORE Mentor. He can be reached at 630-512-0406 or firstname.lastname@example.org. See www.tom-gray.com. For Tom’s new book Business Techniques in Troubled Times: A Toolbox for Small Business Success, see http://www.businesstechniquesbook.com/