Everyone wants to feel the metaphorical blood, sweat and tears they put into their work is being valued. And often an annual cc: all employees ‘thanks for all your hard work this year’ email doesn’t cut it.
What’s the best way to show your people they’re appreciated without breaking the bank every time? We’ve put together a list of recognition and reward ideas to get the ball rolling for you.
Positive, public feedback
Creating a recognition-rich culture at work is the simplest and most cost-effective way to encourage your team. It might feel like thanking them every single day would cheapen the thanks, but positive feedback little and often can have a big impact. If you notice someone's smashing their to-do list or has solved the office mystery of the missing forks, let them know — and let everyone else know as well!
Lead by example and build an atmosphere of public recognition where employees at all levels feel comfortable giving and receiving praise. Positive vibes are catching and quickly it’ll become standard practice to give someone a shout out for something great they’ve done — whether they’re in that person’s immediate team or not. As well as strengthening work relationships and colleagues wanting to see each other succeed, it can also boost people’s drive to do better and be recognised themselves.
Gift an experience
We all know work can be stressful, especially after COVID-19 has kept everyone cooped up for so long. Show your people how much you appreciate their hard work with a spa voucher or bring a masseuse into work for a day (this was very popular when we did it for Health and Wellness week)!
Why not book experiences your employees have never done before, like skydiving, or treat them to a meal at a nice restaurant? It doesn’t have to cost a bomb and can be saved for really big rewards, but knowing an experience like one of these is on the table could have a big boost in motivation for the team. Plus, employee recognition programs like BlueBoard exist to help you plan incentives just like this, so it's no time out of your day.
Make it individual
Rewards shouldn't be one-size-fits-all. Tailor recognition to the person and be specific. If someone’s not a big drinker, don’t give them a bottle of fizz for a big sale they made just because that’s what the last person had. If you choose to have a reward scheme (we’ll get on to that later), make sure it’s flexible with a range of bonuses.
Don’t forget rewards don’t have to be designed for outside work. Encourage hard workers to shadow their bosses if they're interested in moving up in the company. If team members want to build their skills, invest in training and qualifications they might not have previously considered. Career-based rewards show your investment and commitment to your people long term. Be sure to celebrate work anniversaries with perks like cake and cookies — and check if anyone's gluten-free or vegan!
Shout it from the rooftops
Public praise doesn’t just have to mean shouting about success inside the office walls. Make your appreciation known outside the company. Reward excellent work with some social recognition, like a social media shout-out.
If you have a monthly newsletter or blog, include your gratitude there. Or create a wall of fame on your website. Include some employee appreciation quotes from their peers. Not only are you showing your people that the company values them and their hard work, you’re also telling new employees and potential clients that you actually give a damn.
Food, glorious food
Is there really any better reward than food (besides a wheelbarrow full of cash, obviously)? If someone in your team has a big win, take them out to lunch and thank them in person. This is a great reward because it also gives them some one-on-one time with a higher-up which they might not otherwise get.
Alternatively, food in a workplace is always a welcome surprise! Our cake Wednesdays never get old. Get some in-office street food or a caterer next time the team finishes a big project. Don't forget to send something to your freelancers and staff who work from home, too.
Monetary rewards aren't everything, but they are a sign that the company is willing to invest in hard work. Setting up a reward scheme can give your people a visible ladder for them to build their rewards and cash them in for something great. From gift cards and restaurant vouchers to gym memberships and even annual leave, find the rewards that will drive your team to do even better.
Point-based schemes mean employees know exactly how far they are away from a tangible reward. And incentive platforms like Bonusly do the hard work for you. Integrating this kind of scheme in team chat software like Slack also means it couldn’t be easier to have a dedicated appreciation channel for some real-time recognition. Not only does it make everyone in the team aware of people’s hard work, it enables others to jump on the reward and add extra points as well.
At Runway East, we love our Thursday happy hour and the beer trolley on a Friday. But it’s important to take the team out of the office — and offer something for everyone. Try rewarding employees with trips out like crazy golf, a board game cafe or a ping-pong bar. That way, people can have a drink if they want to but no one is excluded. And hanging out with colleagues away from your workplace can make a big difference to relationships when you get back to the office.
Thank you notes
Employee rewards can be as simple as writing a message to thank them for their dedication. Be specific so they know what you're recognising them for and what they’ve done well.
You could create an appreciation area so people can leave notes in a public part of the office — it could even be spelled out using magnetic letters on the fridge! Morale is all-hands work and a positive company culture will create better team players.
Who doesn’t want to be handed a trophy? Award it to whoever's gone the extra mile or overcome a big hurdle that week. It might seem goofy, but embrace that — it'll create a positive atmosphere in the workplace.
Certificates are a great rewards programme, too. They’re a low-cost, non-monetary reward for day-to-day things like attitude or great ideas — or living the company values. Try getting co-workers to nominate each other for some fun company-wide bonding.
Get everyone out of the work environment and into some team-building exercises, like a paid day to volunteer together. It benefits the community, makes your staff members feel great and fits in with most companies' core values. Alternatively, you could donate to a charity that staff members help choose.
Extra days off
If your team has been working extra hard on a project, give them a day off at the end of it. Space out the days off if you need to or add an extra day to their paid holiday. Time off is precious and it will go a long way with your team. Alternatively, if your sales team hit their target, let them go home! It'll motivate them to get the work done quicker as standard.
Employee recognition ideas go beyond thank you messages and employee recognition software. Most of these take only a few minutes out of your day and almost all can be done peer-to-peer. While bigger treats, like days off, can seem like a lot, it's important to recognise that your employees need a work-life balance. And rewarding employees' wellbeing can go a long way to improving work ethic.
At Runway East, we focus on well-designed work environments that encourage employees to make connections with other entrepreneurs, build their skills and feel ready to make great work. From our Friday beer trolleys to our industry talks and dog-friendly offices, a positive company culture is built into our workspaces. Book a tour and see it for yourself today.