99 Rewards That Won’t Break the Bank

Rewards That Won’t Break the BankIn a previous post, I detailed nine low-cost to no-cost ideas for motivating employees, such as providing interesting work and increasing visibility and opportunity. Those are all great ideas (so be sure to review that post!), but they’re only a few of the many strategies and practices that can help increase employee motivation.

Providing employee recognition and rewards is also effective at building motivation, as demonstrated by a recent large-scale survey by Bersin & Associates that found “for organizations in which recognition occurs, employee engagement, productivity, and customer service are 14% higher than in those without recognition.” The survey also revealed that “organizations with recognition programs that are highly effective at improving employee engagement had 31% lower voluntary turnover than those organizations . . . with ineffective recognition programs.”

Clearly, recognition programs work at improving both employee performance and employee retention! But what if you just don’t have the budget to provide Google-esque perks and rewards?  Are you out of luck?

Not at all!

Here are 99 ideas for rewards that employees truly appreciate and that won’t break the bank. (In fact, most of them cost very little money—and a few even cost nothing!) Yes, some may require input or approval from your senior leadership, but aren’t your employees worth that effort? When they work hard for you, they deserve recognition.

Use this list as your starting point, adding your own ideas (and sharing them in the comments below, too!). And if any senior management balks at spending time and money on these sorts of things, remind them that it’s far more cost-effective for the company to make these minimal financial investments in employee motivation and reward than it is for the company to constantly be hiring due to massive turnover…

  1. A letter to the employee’s family, touting his or her contributions
  2. Lunch with a top executive the employee admires
  3. Free legal services from the organization’s in-house lawyers
  4. One week of shadowing the CEO (or other executive or manager of the employee’s choice)
  5. A lunchtime outing with you to a movie (or movie passes and permission to leave work early to catch a post-work show)
  6. Stock options in the company
  7. Use of a reserved parking space (with the employee’s name displayed) for a month
  8. Airline bonus miles (or a trip paid with company miles)
  9. A pizza party or lunch in the employee’s honor
  10. Public recognition as the employee of the month with a photo on a “wall of fame” in a prominent location
  11. Enrollment in a highly-rated company training program (or other professional development course)
  12. Payment of the employee’s membership fee in a professional organization
  13. A seat at the table for a company-paid event (charity fundraiser, etc.)
  14. A sincere thank-you and praise in front of the employee’s coworkers
  15. Time off (such as opportunities to sleep in and come to the office late, leave an hour early, or take a half day or full day off)
  16. The employee’s picture and accomplishments posted on the company’s Facebook or LinkedIn page
  17. A personalized company product (jacket, polo shirt, etc.)
  18. An invitation to attend a chairperson’s meeting or reception
  19. Free soda for a day
  20. Assignment to a high-profile project task force
  21. An analysis of the employee’s personal financial portfolio
  22. Credit to spend on company products or in the company store
  23. Signed copies of any books written by company executives
  24. The CEO’s own copy of a book that he or she found particularly inspirational
  25. An opportunity to work from home for a day
  26. Payment for dry cleaning services for a month
  27. A free physical in the company’s medical center
  28. Car service to and from the office for a week
  29. Article about the employee published in the company newsletter or via its intranet
  30. Mileage reimbursement for a week (for car drivers) or one-week city transit pass (for non-drivers)
  31. Gift card to Starbucks, iTunes, Amazon, or other business the employee uses
  32. Invitation to attend a company-sponsored sporting event
  33. One week’s worth of the employee’s favorite snack
  34. Free use of the company’s postage machine for a week
  35. Lottery tickets
  36. Enrollment in dance lessons, art classes, or another creative activity
  37. A prepaid gas card or vouchers for car services such as oil changes, car washes, and detailing
  38. One month of gym membership dues
  39. Housecleaning service (A former boss gave this to me 15+ years ago, and it changed my life. It’s one of the rewards I’ve most appreciated!)
  40. A picture with a celebrity who works with or is sponsored by the company
  41. Attendance at a professional conference of his or her choice
  42. An offsite breakfast meeting with the employee’s manager or the executive of his or her choice
  43. A trip to a local art exhibit
  44. A free week of babysitting at the company day care
  45. A customized screen saver announcing the employee’s recognition or award
  46. A flexible-spending bonus
  47. A subscription to a newspaper or magazine of the employee’s choice
  48. Dinner and an overnight stay at a hotel
  49. The use of an office for one week
  50. A standing ovation at a company town hall meeting
  51. A traveling trophy (one that is passed to a new award recipient each month or quarter)
  52. One month’s payment of the employee’s health plan contribution
  53. Personalized holiday cards
  54. A monogrammed pen and pencil set
  55. A recognition award named after the employee
  56. Payment of the employee’s cell phone bill for a month
  57. Personalized stationery
  58. The employee’s name displayed on an electronic board in the break area
  59. Use of a company car for one week
  60. An extended lunch hour for one week
  61. An assistant for one month
  62. An invitation for the employee to bring his or her spouse on a business trip
  63. Payment of the employee’s checking account fees
  64. A paid day off on the employee’s birthday
  65. A travel upgrade on a business trip
  66. A notice about the employee’s achievements in his or her local newspaper
  67. A cup, keychain, t-shirt, or other tchotchke with the employee’s picture on it
  68. A donation to the employee’s charity of choice
  69. A gift certificate to a local car wash (or a car wash done by the executives!)
  70. Dinner at a senior executive’s home
  71. Candy (and lots of it!)
  72. An announcement of the employee’s recognition over the company PA system
  73. Access to a personal shopper and an expense account
  74. Homemade cookies baked by the employee’s manager
  75. The employee’s choice of any project to work on
  76. Use of company equipment (such as a digital camera) for one week
  77. A gift certificate for a massage
  78. Free lunch in the company cafeteria or local restaurant for one week
  79. A letter of recognition from the CEO.
  80. An invitation for the employee to bring his or her family to the office for the day
  81. A new paint job for the employee’s office or cubicle in the color of his or her choice
  82. A new phone, a souped-up calculator, or other meaningful equipment upgrade
  83. Credit at an app store (such as iTunes, Google Play, or the Windows Store)
  84. Sessions with a personal trainer or nutritionist
  85. Valet parking for one week
  86. A trip to a customer or vendor site
  87. Services of a personal chef
  88. Use of a company condo or apartment
  89. A flight on a company plane
  90. A visit to corporate headquarters
  91. A trip to see filming of the employee’s favorite TV show
  92. An after-work party or drinks in the employee’s honor
  93. Choice of a department head or other executive to speak to the employee’s department
  94. Tickets to a concert or other event
  95. A paid day off for the employee to volunteer at the charity of his or her choice
  96. The choice of which charity the company will support next year
  97. A tree planted or park bench installed in the employee’s name
  98. Adoption of a roadside cleanup area (maintained by the company) in the employee’s name
  99. The opportunity for the employee to be supervisor for a day

What low- to no-cost reward have you given to an employee? Would love to hear!

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