How to reward your employees with creative and inexpensive bonuses and incentives.
As companies grow so do employee bonus expectations. In today’ economy it is of the utmost importance to get the most out of your company’ dollar. Managers often forget that bonuses can be effective yet economical. This article will give you 10 cost effective ways to reward your employees and still stay within budget constraints.
- Candy: It isn’t just for the kids. Even adults enjoy the occasional sweet treat. Keep a variety of mini candy bars and suckers on hand. Encourage your managers to “toss” out a piece of candy each time an employee does or says something notable.
- Dollar Box: Fill a box with miscellaneous office supplies that are not normally furnished by the company. You can purchase these at any retail or office supply store. Regularly check the clearance sections for these bargains. The key to keeping this economical is to have a budget for each of the items found in the box of one dollar or less. Let everyone in the company know you are keeping track of customer and manager compliments. Ask them to forward any complimentary e-mails, letters and phone calls to the HR Manager or General Manager. When one of these is received, let the employee with the positive review choose one item out of the box. Be sure to thank them for their continued positive customer relations.
- Birthday Cakes: Pass around a form and have each employee write down their birthday and cake preference. On their birthday buy a cake of their preference and share it at lunch with all employees. Let the birthday employee bring home any leftovers. If an employee does not like cake ask them to name some other treat that you can buy to make their day special. For large companies buy one cake monthly for all employees with a birthday within that month.
- Cards: Cards can be purchased as cheap as 50 cents apiece. Keep a variety of cards on hand such as birthday, anniversary, congratulations, in sympathy, thank you, and blank cards. Each time an employee has a milestone fill out a card. Events that might warrant a card; employee anniversary, birth, death of loved one or pet, new house and going above and beyond normal job duties. An easy way to keep track of minor events in employee’s lives is to monitor time off requests.
- Drinks: Many companies are not large enough to have a drink machine on the premises however, most have a company refrigerator in the break room. Stock a few varieties of soda and bottles of water in this refrigerator. In the winter stock packages of hot chocolate in addition to the cold drinks. Encourage your employees to help themselves to these. To make this more convenient ask the employees to restock (not buy, just refill) the refrigerator when it is low so this doesn’t become another HR or General Manager duty.
- 6. Gift Cards: Purchase multiple five dollar gift cards at local retail stores such as Wal-Mart, Target or Quick Trip. Each time an employee does something that is above and beyond their normal job duties, without being asked, give them a gift card. Make sure gift cards are given out for tasks that are beyond the employee’s normal job duties. Make a note in the employee file each time they earn an “Above and Beyond” gift card. These notes will be helpful during annual reviews.
- 7. Time Off: If business is slow and you can do without the extra help for a short amount of time, let an employee go home 15 to 30 minutes early. The employee is excited about the extra time off and the company actually saves money by cutting payroll hours.
- 8. Company Potluck: Designate a day for a company potluck lunch. This is best done on your slowest day of the week, avoid Mondays. Give it a theme such as “Soup and Salad Day” and ask the employees to sign up to bring one item each for the lunch. Employees can sign up for different categories such as soup, salad, crackers, drink, dessert, or cheese. The cost is minimal because everyone participates in bringing in food. Encourage participants to share the recipe they used in preparing the food.
- 9. Company Auction: Each time an employee does something exceptional, give them monopoly money. Twice a year have a company auction and let employees use their monopoly money to bid on and purchase items furnished by the company. Possible auction items are new office chairs, pen sets, stationary sets and miscellaneous containers for organizing office spaces. Purchase items for the auction throughout the year at clearance sales. This works best if you have one higher priced, desirable item that everyone wants to bid on.
- 10. Praise Board: Whenever an employee does something exceptional, write a short description of the act and the employees name on a bright piece of construction paper and pin it up on a bulletin board designated for this purpose. The bulletin board needs to be placed in a prominent place in the office or break room so everyone can see it.
Keep in mind that not everyone will be motivated by the same things. By using a variety of incentives you have the most effect on employee motivation and job satisfaction while developing a good working relationship within the company.