18 ideas to reward staff at work without blowing the budget!

18 great ideas to reward staff

Ideas to reward staff at work without spending a fortune

Happy staff equals happy customers so we’ve got some ideas to reward staff that will improve employee retention and help you develop a positive workplace culture.

Sure a free global trip on a cruise of flying business class would be great, but even if your company does have something like that, it is typically only rewarding one or very few employees.

Truthfully, whilst a big reward would be nice, it’s often the little things that matter the most.

When your manager has actually put some genuine effort into showing their appreciation.

And thankfully, many of the best ideas to reward staff at work won’t cost you a cent!

18 Employee reward ideas that don’t cost much

Sometimes it can be hard coming up with ideas so we’ve listed 18 ideas to reward staff at work without blowing your budget.

1. Plan a surprise achievement celebration for an employee or a team of employees

Buy some ice cream, some small cups and lots of different toppings.

It won’t cost you much and the employees you recognise will be delighted that their work was noticed and appreciated (and everyone likes ice-cream!).

2. Pass on the praise

If you hear a positive remark about a person, repeat it to that person as soon as possible—perhaps via email.

Copying managers and supervisors on such comments is an especially powerful way to help employees feel appreciated.

3. Call an employee to your office to thank them

Since most employees assume that something is wrong when they are called to a manager’s office, they will be especially pleased to receive your honest gratitude for a job well done.



4. Set up a suggestion program

This can be as simple as setting up a suggestions box or as thorough as completing company-wide questionnaires.

Employees who feel that their opinions and ideas are taken seriously are more likely to be engaged.

5. Express interest in your employee’s professional development

Even if your business cannot fund the employee’s professional development at this time, your employees will appreciate your interest and guidance on achieving their dreams.

6. Hone your communication skill

Refer to employees by their first name.

Listen actively and carefully to their thoughts.

Even non-verbal communication can provide encouragement and recognition; when was the last time that an honest smile or strong handshake brightened your day?

7. Foster relationships between staff and senior management

Employees like to feel that they know senior management, even if they don’t work with them on a daily basis.

Perhaps you’ll encourage interaction across your organisation’s hierarchy by sending new employees out to lunch on their first day with your CEO or Divisional head.

As a manager, take time to get to know your employees.

8. Ask staff members to nominate and vote on employee awards

In addition to awards for Top Manager, Rookie, and Most Valuable Employee, consider offering a “Behind the Scenes” award for humble employees who perform well, even if they’re not in the limelight.

Your employees will likely have even more creative ideas for awards.

9. Send thank you notes to employees who work long hours

This method may be even more effective if you send thank you notes to employees’ home addresses.

This acknowledges that you understand how much home-time the employee sacrificed to complete that complicated project.



10. Allow employees to select their next project

If you can allow employees to choose their work, they will be more engaged and dedicated. (Everyone loves to have choices, right?)

11. Hand out an invitation

Include an employee in a “special meeting” they wouldn’t otherwise attend.

12. Recognise your employee’s’ personal accomplishments

Did Claire just finish running a marathon?

Or has Peter donated litres of blood?

They will appreciate your recognition of their personal accomplishments, even if all you do is acknowledge them at the beginning of your next staff meeting.

13. Give employees an extra-long lunch break on occasions

After all who doesn’t love a long lunch!

14. Get creative in your praise

Although you pay your employees, it’s often the thought that counts in employee recognition.

If you know an employee is into rock climbing, for instance, you could give them a book on this topic with an inscription of your thanks.

Or perhaps you’ll Photoshop a million-dollar bill with the employees face on it, as a way of saying, “Thanks a Million.”

15. Ask for employees’ ideas on retreats, meetings, and other “fun time.”

Why should the administrative assistant get to decide where your next company outing will be?

You can include employees in planning company events by collecting feedback from every employee or asking a certain dedicated employee to volunteer to help plan an event.

16. Make it formal: write a letter

Here’s a simple, free, influential method for recognising your employees: personal letters.

Write a letter explaining in detail why a certain employee deserves praise.

Deliver a copy to the employee and their manager(s).

Place a copy of the letter in the employee’s file.



17. Establish a rock-solid award to recognise employees who consistently do their job well

Too often, employees are only recognised for one instance of going above and beyond company expectations.

And yet many employees work very hard to accomplish the regular duties of their job.

Encourage consistency by recognising employees for doing their job well, after all, it’s not easy to find good employees.

18. Support employees by providing space for them to promote their passions

If you highlight and support employees’ personal endeavours in this way, they will know that you care about their personal well-being.

Recommended links:

We hope you enjoyed some of the 18 ideas to reward staff at work but it doesn’t need to stop there!

Here are some further links for more inspiration:


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