Some bosses feel a paycheck is the only reward an employee needs. But employees want to feel that their hard work is appreciated, whether they are paid minimum wage or a six-figure salary. Rewards like gift cards and extra vacation time are always a hit, but they’re a bit unoriginal. They still made our list because most workers like them, but don’t rely solely upon them to impress your employees. Get creative and experiment with a few new rewards - you’ll be amazed by how productive your staff suddenly becomes.
10. Gift Cards
Gift cards are a classic. Nobody ever turns down a gift card for a gas station, restaurant, chain store, or the mall. Even if they hate the place, they can always auction it off on eBay or regift it when the holidays roll around. When in doubt, play it safe with a gift card.
9. Extra Vacation Days
No matter how much vacation time your employees get, most of them still want more. Make their dreams of sandy beaches or sleeping til noon come true by awarding your best workers with additional paid vacation days. Maybe you can make it a friendly competition and the winner each quarter gets an extra personal day. That increases morale and productivity.
Remember back in grade school when your smiling teacher proudly gave you a certificate for everything from perfect attendance to good citizenship? Certificates never go out of style. Make a big deal out of presenting them at a company-wide assembly once a month (or quarter, year, etc). Sign them yourself instead of using a stamp or having the receptionist do it. It’s the little things that matter.
7. Made-to-Order Breakfast
Bagels from Panera are always a welcome treat, but sometimes it’s nice to add a personal touch. Pass out menus to your best employees each month and allow them to circle the items they want. If your company is equipped with a kitchen, you can whip up some incredible stuff. If not, stick to muffins and fresh fruit. Serve their special breakfast on fancy plates with real silverware. It sounds a little corny but it'll quickly become something unique to the company to which employees quickly start to look forward and appreciate.
6. Cyber Praise
Admit it: it’s fun to Google your own name. Many of your coworkers do it, too. There’s just something so satisfying about finding information about yourself online - as long as it’s positive. Every few months, feature several hardworking employees on your company’s website. Include a photo and a brief bio for each employee. Customers like to know who works behind the scenes at their favorite companies, so this also benefits your business.
5. Seminars and College Courses
College is expensive, and not everybody is a fan of racking up thousands of dollars in student loan debt. Surprise your staff with paid college courses and training programs, even if your company already has a tuition reimbursement program in place. If your company pays for three courses, make sure your Employee of the Month receives four. If your secretary wants to join the sales team one day, send her to a course designed to improve sales and marketing skills. Make sure you don’t force your workers to take courses related to their current job duties unless they want to.
4. New Job Title
Nothing says, “Hey, you’re awesome at what you do” like a new job title. A promotion is the ultimate reward, especially if it includes a salary increase. Even if it doesn’t, a customized job title makes people feel more valuable than a generic term like Sales Team Member #5105.
3. Tickets for Sporting Events
Go Blues! Go Lakers! Go Cubs! Surprise your sports-loving staff members with tickets to the next big game. Make sure to include several extra tickets for friends, family members, and significant others. Most people don’t want to watch the game alone. Although tickets might be expensive, it's still cheaper than a permanent raise in pay and this short money could go a long way in the goodwill department.
If your employees tell you they come to work for fun and not money, they are probably lying (or at least stretching the truth). Help them avoid overdraft fees and bounced checks by awarding generous cash bonuses to employees who get the job done well and further your business. Make sure all departments are eligible for bonuses, not just the sales team. Each employee contributes to the company, and the job wouldn’t get done without the help of everyone.
1. Mystery Prize
You’re never too old to pick a prize from a box, and neither are your coworkers. Fill a box or tub with fun prizes like the ones mentioned above, such as gift cards and tickets to sporting events. Include a few other prizes, like “Take an extra 30 minutes on your lunch break” or “Choose one employee to swap job duties with for an hour.” As the amount of prizes in the box decreases, the amount of enthusiasm in the office will increase. A little recognition for a job well done can really make a difference in your office.
After all, who doesn't work longer and harder in a fun office environment in which you're appreciated.