Positive reinforcement and engagement are so important to keeping your best employees happy, loyal, and motivated. While promotions, raises, and bonuses are great ways to show staff that they’re doing good work and that it’s being noticed, these aren’t always feasible with a small business budget. And even when you can manage them, they’re not generally things you can hand out frequently. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to reward good employees without spending much—or even any—money.
Smart business owners and managers know they need to show their top workers that they’re appreciated. So, here are some ways to reward good employees that you can use even when there’s no room in the budget for bonuses or increased salaries.
Ways to Reward Good Employees on a Tight Budget
- Give positive feedback. When an employee’s doing a good job, tell them so directly. A one-on-one feedback session in which you offer praise and gratitude will make anyone feel good. It lets them know that they’re making valuable contributions to the organization and that you are in fact noticing it.
- Give them more autonomy. It also feels good to be given more freedom and trust. One of the best ways to reward good employees without spending any money is to give them more autonomy. Scale back supervision or instructions, allow them more decision-making power, encourage more contributions of suggestions, and so on.
- Offer more job flexibility. Provide more work-from-home days, let people set their own hours, allow four-day work weeks with slightly longer daily hours, offer the ability to delegate certain tasks to others, etc. Your industry and the nature of the position affects what’s possible in this regard, but you can increase flexibility in some way in any job.
- Provide professional development opportunities. Great employees usually have ambitions, and they appreciate an employer who helps them reach their goals. They value professional development, which makes it one of the best ways to reward good employees. Here are some ideas for offering professional development opportunities, many of which are free or low cost.
- Implement an employee of the month program. This is a common way to offer recognition to employees who go above and beyond. While the recognition itself is nice, a program like this is better if there’s a reward that goes along it. It doesn’t have to be big. Something like a gift card or a paid day off during the month works well without being expensive.
- Hand out gift cards. If you’re willing to spend some money, reward employees with occasional gift cards. Just make sure they’re for a place the recipient will actually want to go. A prepaid Visa or MasterCard card is always a safe bet, as they can be spent just about anywhere.