5 Ideas for Rewarding and Motivating Employees That Don’t Cost Money

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“I’ve got some great team members who regularly go above and beyond the call of duty, who give me 110%, and are really making a difference for my company. Then I’ve got others who are steady and good, not stellar, but solid. I want to reward the stellar employees and let them know how much I value their contribution without messing up my whole compensation structure. Do you have any ideas for perks or rewards I could use that don’t involve pay?


I have yet to find an effective reward that doesn’t cost money. That seems to be the way we all keep score. People value their own being by their income and if you want to reward or motivate someone, they seem to need to see dollars. For our business, roles don’t help. Time off with pay works, but that still costs something.”
Dan Constance, Owner, Northshore Fireplace

5 Ways to Reward Your Employees:

1. Celebrate Your Success
“Logo t-shirts and coffee mugs are popular, so if we get any for customers, we include staff too. Birthdays are celebrated with cake and cards signed by everyone. We sometimes give out one-of-a-kind certificates for acts of special significance – like the shipping clerk who chased a customer on foot down several blocks with a forgotten package. We recently had a spectacular month, and to celebrate, we ran a week-long lunchtime bag-toss tournament culminating in an outside-catered onsite barbecue lunch. Turned out the tournament was a huge amount of fun, and we will definitely repeat it next year. People always appreciate being able to go home early before major holidays, and since this is not a very productive time, it is of little cost and shows our staff that the company recognizes they have lives outside of work!”
Chrissy Hansen, Marketing Manager, Cozy Products

2. Treat Employees as Co-Workers
“I, personally, really care about our employees and their families. I treat them as co-workers and not employees. I work as hard as they do. For example, during the rush of the end of the month, I will stay at work up to the time the last moving crew comes back. When the employees see you, the boss, waiting for them to come back and they realize that you are as tired as them, they will show up the next day waiting to see you at work as well. And they do. And that makes them feel part of the company. But most of all, my employees know that I will be there for them during good times and hard times. I have been there for weddings, anniversaries, baptisms, wakes, funerals and hospitals.”
Mina Georgalas, Bernard Movers


3. Let Your Team Choose Activities
“I make them come up with ideas! While it’s a small monetary investment, we have a $400 monthly budget for any sort of “fun” activities that’s pretty much first come first serve. It allows us to have all sorts of events (movie nights, ping-pong tournaments, happy hours, etc.).”
Erik Severinghaus, Founder, Simple Relevance



4. Word of Mouth Recognition
“We do a lot of work with helping companies create a culture of innovation and incentivizing employees is a critical part of the process. Ironically, when we query employees, most do not necessarily want to be financially rewarded for their actions. First and foremost, they want recognition by their peers and superiors for a job well done. From a simple mention in a staff meeting to a formal plague or trophy for a job well done – word of mouth recognition is always welcomed. Establishing a formal award system like an “Employee of the Month” program with preferred parking, a Friday afternoon off or other special treatment are also well received. Don’t hesitate to ask your own employees how they’d like to be “compensated” for a good job…customizing the gift to each employee goes a long way to making them feel empowered and supported.”
John Edelmann, Cloverleaf Innovation


5. Hire the Right People
“Motivating our employees effectively without spending too much money is a balance and once again, starts with hiring the right people who embody the values of the company. This enabled us to create an environment where our employees feel that it is their company/business and they care about its progress, growth and reputation.”
Dr. Jason Jared, Chiropractic Physician, ProACTIVE Chiropractic & Physiotherapy


It’s important to reward your top performers, but it doesn’t always have to be about the money.


About the Author: Brad Farris is the founder of EnMast, a community of business owners committed to being better leaders and growing better businesses. He is also principal advisor of Anchor Advisors, with experience leading businesses & business owners into new levels of growth and success. Through his work with over 100 Chicago area small businesses he has experience in guiding founders and business owners through the pitfalls and joys of growing their business. Prior to joining Anchor Advisors, Brad spent over 10 years managing business units for a family-owned conglomerate with sales of $2 million to $25 million. When not working Brad enjoys cycling, cooking and the NFL. He is married with 5 children and lives in Chicago, Illinois. Connect with him on Google+, Twitter

Comments

  1. says

    Hi Brad,
    Awesome post and thanks for sharing it with your friends on BizSugar. Generally I think treating employees as co-workers is a great strategy and a good idea for team building. Though I think it can be important to maintain a healthy distance for when tough decisions need to made, in general it is important to let employees feel they are part of your success and part of the process, not simply hired hands.

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