The 30 Best Low-Cost Employee Recognition Ideas
Companies that have a culture that incorporates gratitude, appreciation, and recognition have more engaged, self-motivated employees. And every client I work with wants that!
So how do we create a culture of recognition and gratitude?
Well first, it goes beyond performance reviews and salary increases. You can't wait six months to give positive kudos on a job well done. Employee recognition activities need to happen in a timely manner to make them meaningful.
Sometimes I find that leaders fail to consider that recognition is not a one-size-fits-all exercise, surprisingly. How employees like to be recognized is a personal preference and managers should get to know their employees well enough to know what type of reward will resonate best with them.
Let me give you an example of what I mean by that.
One employee may get energized and feel great about being brought up in front of their peers and recognized for their accomplishments while another employee may feel embarrassed in the same situation. Do you think the employee that is embarrassed will want to accomplish something again if that is the reward? Everyone is different.
Remember, you get what you reward. If you recognize and reward desired behaviors, you will get more of that behavior.
Great employee recognition programs can be implemented for businesses of all sizes, small and large. Not all methods have to be expensive; in fact, there are many low-cost and free forms of reward and recognition that employees will value.
I was fortunate enough to meet Dr. Bob Nelson at a conference and he gave me a copy of his book, 1501 Ways to Reward Employees which is a very good resource on the importance of rewards and recognition as well as examples of some of the most effective forms of inexpensive recognition.
Can you believe he came up with over 1500 ways to show staff appreciation? Here are the top 30 picks below.
30 Best Low-Cost & Free Ideas for Recognizing Employees
- A simple and intentional “thank you”
- On-the-spot award – small plaque or certificate
- Coffee shop gift card
- Reserved parking space for a week
- An extra day off or come in late
- Movie passes
- Personalized company apparel
- Breakfast or lunch with the CEO or another executive
- Tickets to a sporting event – make sure you find their favorite team or sport first
- Lunch or dinner with company executive and employee and their spouse
- Article in company newsletter or website
- Choice of a project to work on or lead
- Massage gift certificate
- Letter of thanks sent home to the family praising the employee
- Visit corporate headquarters for an off-site employee
- Paid day off to volunteer with employee’s choice of charity
- Donate to an employee’s charity
- House cleaning service for a day
- Free car wash and detail
- Service award lunch
- Night’s stay at a bed and breakfast
- Babysitter for a date night
- Round of golf
- Recognition at corporate meetings/events for those employees who have received kudos from managers and/or customers
- Letter from the CEO
- Gift card for dinner with their family
- Flowers, wine, or their favorite candy
- Shadowing an executive for a day
- Picture included on a Wall of Fame
- Homemade cookies by the employee’s manager
Whether it's completing a big project, accomplishing a team goal, or celebrating employee birthdays, I hope these simple and easy ideas will come in handy to help you better recognize and reward your staff on an ongoing basis. Don’t forget, recognition should be timely and tailored to the employee!
For more information on employee recognition programs, check out these articles below: