How to give employees meaningful recognition (beyond financial rewards)

Tessara Smith, PayScale

Employees are money-motivated individuals, and why wouldn’t they be? They need a substantial income in order to survive. In return for the hard work and dedication they put into your company, you are more than happy to reward them accordingly. That being said, while financial bonuses are always considered a plus, they don’t always reflect your company’s appreciation for that particular employee. It turns out that there is a serious disconnect between how employees want to be appreciated in the workplace and what employees actually want. Money an important incentive to give to your superstars, and is probably greatly appreciated, but it isn’t everything. In order to keep your top employees motivated, they need to feel that the work they do for your company is greatly valued. Here are a few other ways to acknowledge the work that these employees do for your company without throwing more money at them.

Favorites Lists: A great way to plan out rewards for employees is to collect a list of information on a few of their favorite things such as candy, restaurants, sporting events etc. This way when you feel that an employee needs to be recognized you can present them with a small gift. The reward could be something small such as a package of their favorite candy or you could opt for something such as a gift certificate to their favorite restaurant. How you want to use this strategy is entirely up to you, but it is a great way to show personalized recognition for your employees.

Formal Recognition: Everyone, friend and employee alike, appreciates a genuine thank you. Determine which of your employees you would like to recognize and then decide if you would like to thank these individuals in person or if you want to send a note. If you choose to give verbal recognition to your employees, you may simply want to say thank you the next time you see them or you may want to have a formal meeting where you discuss the valuable work that each employee has done. If you choose to send a note, you may want to write an email to each individual employee or send a group e-mail to a whole team of employees.

Help them reach their Goals: If you notice that an employee is doing good work for your company, find out what it is they want to do and help them to achieve these ambitions. This may mean assigning them to new or different tasks, or allowing them to participate in certain projects. Some employees may seek opportunities to coach or mentor other employees, see if you can provide them this opportunity. By helping your employees to do the tasks they want, you show that you value them as individual people and that you care about their personal goals.

In any case, when deciding on your reward strategy, keep in mind cost, convenience, and consistency. While it is important to reward employees, you certainly don’t want to go overboard with gifts and emails. When coming up with your strategy, make sure that the way you are rewarding your employees it helping them to feel appreciated and above all, valued. A little recognition will go a long way in terms of keeping employees motivated and maintaining a happy work environment.

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