Reward Employees when Budget is Low
Seven low-cost ways to make sure your employees are happy, healthy workers.
Happy employees are more productive employees. But in a tight economy, many business owners don’t have the means to make their employees happy because they can’t increase their salaries. Here are some tips for rewarding employees even on a tight budget:
1. Personally thank an employee for a specific job well done.
Specify what was good about it and why you appreciate it, which tells the employee you do any attention. For example, say “Thank you, Ganesh, for organizing that project so well. You made it very clear what should happen, when and why.”
2. Put that specific praise in a letter of thank-you note.
When you take the time to write something down, you clearly value it. This makes the praise even more meaningful. Sharing the praise with management lets the employee know you support his or her success at your company.
3. Provide as much information as possible about the company.
Share as much as you can about how the company is doing, where it’s making money, where it’s losing money, how its products are doing in the marketplace, what new initiatives are being considered and why, and how the employee can best contribute to these efforts.
4. At every opportunity, include your employees in the decisions you make.
In many cases, your employees understand a side of an issue that you may not. If you need to create a more efficient delivery system, ask your deliverymen how they would improve the current system. If you want to improve workflow for support staff, discuss with your secretaries and clerical workers how to best keep the work flowing. Use their ideas, and give them the credit.
5. Give employees the opportunity to learn as many new skills as they are able to.
Most people like to learn, to grow and to improve their marketability, and the more skills you enable your employees to learn, the more they will value their position with you. Cross-train whenever possible so employees know each other’s jobs. An added benefit is that employees who understand the realities of one another’s positions are more willing to cooperate and feel more like members of the same team.
6. Celebrate successes.
Celebrate an employee’s successful completion of a project or a salesperson’s landing a big client. After a particularly tense week, bring donuts and coffee and gather everyone together to applaud a hard-working team. buy a plastic crown to place on the head of an employee who mastered a difficult skill or finished a course of study. Mark the successes of your staff and celebrate them. Don’t be afraid to be goofy in your celebration; it’s a refreshing change from hard work.
7. Provide free time and flexibility.
Set aside an hour here and there for employees who have delivered an extra level of effort. Make it clear that the free time is a reward for a specific accomplishment, such as finishing a challenging project or delivering month-end reports early, Alternatively, you can reward all your employees together, for example by letting them leave an hour early to miss rush-hour traffic. Give extra time for lunch to an employee or team who has worked through lunch to deliver something to a client. Allow time off for personal or family responsibilities.
Admittedly, these rewards are not entirely free. They require time and energy to implement. Your investment will be rewarded by happier, more dedicated employees, who will make it their job to make you and your company more successful. It’s a classic win-win situation.