Alternative ideas for rewarding great work

score Question:
I'd like to reward my employees with a trip to the Bahamas or something like that for great results, but my business can't afford it. Is there a way I can show recognition without it costing a fortune?

Everybody likes to talk about the need for financial rewards that motivate employees. But how should these rewards be structured? What types are most motivational?

Most firms give typical rewards: $50 to $100, plaques, certificates, two tickets to the movies, an all-expense paid dinner [minus liquor] or a round of golf. These are fine, but there are alternatives.

Here are some that can be used by just about any company. They should not be used to replace any bonus plans based on volume, production or sales improvement. Instead, use them for instant recognition for a job well done.

  • Each week pick the person who has done the most for the company and give him or her a two-hour lunch - including dessert.
  • for exceptional performance, such as helping a customer deal with a difficult problem, give an on-the-spot reward of $25.
  • When a person has worked overtime and really helped the firm, send the individual's spouse or companion a thank-you note and include a $50 check.
  • Take a team of managers and wash the employee of the month's car.
  • Find out the type of seminar or meeting that the employee would like to attend and pick up all the associated expenses.
  • Create a "behind the scenes" award for those who are not in the limelight but contribute to overall productivity and profitability.
  • Give a $100 award and send a similar amount in the employee's name to his or her favorite charity.
  • Have a group of managers go to that person's home and cut the grass and trim the hedges.
  • Have the president and senior staff host a luncheon with the employee as guest of honor. During the lunch, praise that person and invite questions to be asked about company operations.
  • Give a round of golf at the local country club and hire the club pro to give golf tips to the employee.

Most of these ideas do not cost a lot, but they do motivate the person because they are not the typical bonus-type awards. This is what helps make them special.

There are numerous similar types of recognition that I'm sure you can add to the list. However, the most important thing is that you commit to recognizing special performance and do it is an open and publicized way. Let people know who is being rewarded and why. Don't keep it a secret.

Do it. I'm sure you'll notice the difference, but make the recognition timely, right after the special act.

Bill Bryan is a counselor with the Service Corps of Retired Executives. SCORE offers counseling, workshops and seminars on small business operations. You can reach Bryan through SCORE, 515 N Court St. 815-962-0122, for information and appointments.

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