Employee appreciation day has come and gone for 2014, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t show some gratitude to the people who make your company what it is. Depending on the size of your company, you may be able to splurge on a few employees, or you may want to seek out low cost rewards.
Here are some fun ways to show your employees you appreciate them – and keep them working hard with high morale.
1. Weekly Appreciation Notes
Each week, pick an employee and recognize them. You could pick something they did that week for exceptional recognition, or you could simply rotate through your staff to recognize one of their achievements. If you hold contests for recognition, consider using these thank you notes as tickets to earn prizes or raffle larger items.
If you want to get your other employees in on the game, do something to get them involved. Pass around a card for your chosen employee for signatures and personal notes. Arrange a standing ovation or other commendation before a staff meeting. Print out an elegant certificate of recognition, signed by someone high up in the company. Dedicate a section of your newsletter to their exceptional performance. The rarer the award, the larger it can be without breaking budget or overstaying welcome.
2. Small Gifts
Minor gifts can go a long way in making your employees appreciate their workplace. It’s something above and beyond their usual compensation that they don’t expect. Houseplants, books, small knickknacks and other inexpensive items can be quite the motivator. You can get a personalized gift for each recognized employee, or you can pick up a large stock of gag items, small figurines or plush animals to give out regardless of personal taste.
Just like with appreciation notes, you can make a game out of recognition items. Maybe a monthly award comes to the person most creatively displaying their item. Maybe when you award one, you find a creative place to hide it while they’re out to lunch. Maybe they, too, can be traded in for a larger prize at certain thresholds.
3. Coupons Or Vouchers
Exceptional performance may warrant exceptional rewards. Consider small gift cards or vouchers for goods and services. Free car washes, a few free cups of coffee or free lottery tickets are unexpected gifts that raise morale in a tangible way. Just be sure not to give a free car wash to someone who has no car. For a more casual approach, give workplace vouchers; casual clothes day, bring your pet to work day and other casual rules violations can make interesting rewards.
You can also arrange meetings with important people in the company. Exceptional performance might warrant a lunch with the department manager or, in the case of small businesses, the CEO.
4. Large Scale Prizes
If you make your recognition rewards less frequent, your budget can grow. Creating a monthly or quarterly raffle for large prizes is a great incentive for many employees, assuming the prize is something they want. For example, a fancy bicycle, inexpensive flight or cruise, large value gift card or gift basket might be a valuable reward. You could also snag some tickets to an upcoming event to raffle as a prize.
If you choose to run a raffle, you may need to consider how tickets are obtained. You could make it a monetary donation, either to a company fund or to a company- or consensus-chosen charity. You could opt for recognition tokens, such as the thank you notes mentioned above. Whatever your choice, make sure everyone has an equal opportunity to enter. You don’t want to alienate particular staff members in an attempt to engage the rest.
5. Milestone Recognition
The dream of a golden watch after a 50-year anniversary retirement party is gone for most employees, but you can still celebrate milestone achievements. Years of service, peer performance reviews and veteran experience are all useful milestones. Any time you might think that an employee sees a day pass and questions why they’re still working is a time you can offer an incentive to show them why.
6. Safety And Wellness
Don’t forget the things that make life livable. Minor vehicle maintenance and other machinery repairs can go a long way towards keeping your employees happy. Likewise, offering basic medical assistance – a stash of basic medications, access to health-based time off, company sponsored flu shots – can be helpful, particularly for those companies that don’t offer healthcare to their employees.
Incentives keep employees productive. Productive employees help a company succeed. Long-term incentives tend to help increase employee engagement more than short-term programs. Some health and safety incentives even lower the costs of keeping your employees employed. Making a game out of the whole thing keeps the incentive program lighthearted with a healthy dose of friendly competition.
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