25 ideas to reward employees that won’t blow the budget

25 ideas to reward employees at work

25 ideas to reward employees at work

It’s no secret that recognition is one of the top three drivers of employee engagement but sometimes it’s hard to come up with ideas to reward employees, especially without blowing the budget.

So how do you recognise staff and thank them for a job well done without getting the accountant breathing down your neck?

In this article, we share 25 ideas to reward employees using ideas that won’t cost the earth in monetary value but will leave a lasting impact with your employees.

And whilst there is no “one size fits all” approach, in my experience the more personalised the gesture where you have actually put some thought into it the better.

A couple of examples that I still remember:

  • A manager who knew I was going on holidays and had taken the time to find out where I was staying and organise a surprise gift for me on check-in (thanks Mark Crawford).
  • My EA and colleague who when I was interstate on a trip for my birthday, arranged for a surprise packet of salt and vinegar chips and my favourite block of chocolate to be there on my arrival (thanks Lauren and Kym).
  • My very first call centre job when my manager arranged for the big boss to come down and congratulate me for winning our inaugural award (it was a big company with over 40,000 staff so it was pretty cool). Liz Burke you still rock.

The point is the ideas to reward employees don’t have to cost a lot of money to make a big impression.

For the managers reading this, I can’t emphasise enough the importance of getting to know your team members as it then enables you to understand what drives each member of your team.

No point of handing someone movie tickets when they hate the movies or paying to wash someone’s car when they don’t have one!

Above all else though, you need to be sincere in your actions.

So without further delay, here are 25 ideas to reward your staff that won’t blow the budget and can leave a lasting impression.



25 ideas to reward employees that won’t blow the budget:

1. A sincere word of thanks costs nothing and is very effective.

2. Post a thank you note on their screen/cubicle/door in their honour.

3. Throw a pizza party or cake party in their honour.

4. Create a simple “ABCD” card that is given when someone goes “Above The Call of Duty”.

5. Write about them in a company-wide email.

6. Give them a long lunch or an extra break.

7. Honour them at the start of the next staff meeting.

8. Post a “thank you” sign in the lobby area with their name on it.

9. Gift them flowers, a book, or another small gift.

10. Invite them to a one-on-one lunch.

11. Give them a card with a Tattslotto or scratchy tickets inside.

12. Give them a card with movie tickets inside.

13. Give them a card with a gift certificate enclosed.

14. Have the entire team sign a framed photo or certificate of appreciation.

15. Arrange for a boss several levels up to stop by to say thanks.

16. Send a thank you note or a gift basket to their partner.

17. Arrange to have their car washed.

18. Arrange to have their home cleaned.

19. Let them bring their pet to work for the day (within reason!).

20. Get one of the big bosses to acknowledge their performance in an email or in person.

21. Feature them in the company newsletter.

22. Pick an unusual or funny object and place it on their desk for a week.

23. Let them dress casually for a day (if that’s not already a thing).

24. Have the entire team honour them with a standing ovation at the start of the next staff meeting.

25. Offer to swap a task with them for a day or week

What’s the best reward you’ve received at work?

Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Recommended further reading: 6 Best-practice tips for motivating call centre employees

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Justin Tippett
About Justin Tippett 74 Articles

Justin is the founder of CX Central and one of the leading authorities on Contact Centres and Customer Experience in Australia.

As well as CX Central, Justin manages CX Skills, the leading source of specialist customer experience and contact centre courses in Asia Pacific. He was named as one of the Top 25 Global CX Influencers in 2019.

He is also responsible for the memes on the Call Centre Legends page followed by over 30k people 😮

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