We know that small business owners care about their employees and want to show them appreciation for all that they do. Not only that, employee recognition is also the best way to keep employees both motivated and loyal. But reading news stories or hearing anecdotes about outrageous perks like on-site fitness centers, unlimited vacation time and cash bonuses offered by bigger companies often make small business owners feel like there is no way they can offer the kinds rewards that will matter to their employees. The good news is the old adage “It’s the thought that counts,” really does apply when it comes to employee rewards. Often the gesture of offering the reward means more than the actual reward and recognition is often a more powerful motivator than a cash bonus. A recent article in Inc. gives 12 ideas for inexpensive employee rewards:2dRWWfB

  1. Ask staff to post recognition notes to each other when someone goes above and beyond on a bulletin board. Add testimonies from external customers as well. This can be an incredibly powerful motivator.
  2. Give people time off. It doesn’t have to be a lot of time, and extra day or even an afternoon where an employee can do something they enjoy will always be remembered.
  3. Send a letter to the employee’s family, telling them why their loved one is so important to the company’s mission. This can also be accomplished at a company event that includes employee spouses and/or families.
  4. Do one of the employee’s least favorite tasks for them.
  5. Give a coffee or car wash gift card. The monetary value does not have to be much.
  6. Create a fun “traveling award” such as a rubber chicken or whoopee cushion for employees who go above and beyond the call of duty.
  7. Allow people to work from home or present them with a “flexible day” certificate.
  8. Celebrate a different department or team each month. Recognize the contributions made, take them to lunch, and make certificates.
  9. Create opportunities for employees to be a mentor, chair a committee, or do a special project.
  10. Celebrate birthdays, babies, weddings, graduations, and any happy time. Bring people together for cake and socializing.
  11. Establish a “Wall of Fame” for photos and clippings that recognize outstanding achievement. Mention staff in the company newsletter, too.
  12. Say “I’m glad you’re here.” and “Thank you.” These little words are priceless.

What ideas came to mind after reading this list? What small things could you start doing for your employees today? Meet with you management team and brainstorm ways to make employee recognition a part of your company culture starting today. You might be surprised at the positive impact it has on many areas of your company.