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5 Cost-Effective Ways to Reward Employees

Rewarding and acknowledging employees is essential to maintaining a happy and productive workforce. But many organizations are missing out on the opportunities they have to make their employees feel valued. 

Looking for more ways to improve frontline team performance and productivity? Download our guide to internal communication for frontline industries.

But what if you simply don’t have the budget to launch an employee recognition initiative? Or maybe you don’t have the buy-in you need from other stakeholders? Here’s the good news: small, thoughtful gestures can go a long way towards making employees feel valued. We’ll be looking at how companies can show recognition and appreciation to employees that are cost-effective, and easy to implement.

Why Employee Recognition Matters

At the end of the day, receiving a paycheck is what motivates employees to do their best work, right?

Not exactly. Employees who thought that their voice was heard were found to be 4.6 times more likely to feel empowered to perform their best work.

Recognizing and rewarding employees can:

  • Boost productivity
  • Improve job satisfaction
  • Build a positive workplace culture
  • Increase retention rates

Now let’s look at five ways companies can show appreciation to their employees.

1. “Thank You”

Beekeeper's guide to thanking employees

Saying “thank you” can go a long way towards making employees feel valued. 

A survey found that 75% of U.S. employees believed that motivation and morale would increase if managers simply thanked workers in real-time.

The only cost of thanking employees is the time it takes to send or say a message. Over time, that small time investment can lead to more productive and engaged employees. 

With technology that enables real-time communication, not being in the same location is no longer a barrier to saying “thank you.” Mobile platforms like Beekeeper allow managers to send private “thank-you” messages to frontline employees in real time. With Beekeeper, managers can also create company-wide posts celebrating individuals or teams.

2. Personalized Rewards

creating personalized rewards with Beekeeper

Almost every company, particularly one with employees spread all over the globe, has a diverse workforce. What one employee in one location would find rewarding might not work as well in another.

Personalizing rewards demonstrate to employees that the company is willing to take the extra step to understand their needs. Despite the benefits of personalized rewards, companies are struggling to make them happen. A study by Deloitte found that only 8% of organizations say that their rewards program is “very effective” at creating a personalized solution.

Zappos is one company that’s nailing it when it comes to creating personalized rewards. At their Las Vegas office, employees can nominate outstanding team members to get a coveted parking spot closest to the entrance. Taking into account the Las Vegas heat, saving a few extra steps is a real treat.

3. Paid Time Off

Beekeeper's guide to rewarding employees with PTO

While it’s true that most workplaces offer PTO to their employees, many don’t. According to a QuickBooks survey, 69% of employees said they did receive PTO while the remaining 31% didn’t. And among those who did have PTO, 1 in 5 said they requested it to sleep or take a mental health day, and 70% used the time to work.

Adequate time off falls more into the category of “necessity” than “reward,” but giving a few extra days of PTO to employees can still make a difference. It’s good for business, too. SHRM found that 68% of employees who worked at companies that encouraged time off were much happier with their jobs.

Many workers still feel guilty for taking time off because they’re afraid of falling behind or missing out on important projects. By offering PTO off as a reward, companies can help create a work environment where time off is normalized rather than stigmatized. 

4. Flexible Hours

While many companies are offering flexible hours as standard practice, that isn’t always possible in some industries. Shift-based workers in frontline industries are usually bound to specific schedules and introducing flexible hours for everyone would disrupt production.

But research shows that flexible work matters to employees. 80% of U.S. workers said they would choose a job that offered flexible hours over one that didn’t.  

If flexible hours can’t be a permanent perk, they can be a reward for employees that go above and beyond in their performance. Offering flexible hours for a week or month could also be a great way to test it out before making it a company-wide practice.

5. Learning Opportunities

learning opportunities for employees with Beekeeper

Another way to reward employees by demonstrating that you value their growth is to offer opportunities to improve their skills and knowledge.

For example, rewarding servers with a chance to learn about the business side of the restaurant might help them consider future career prospects and improve their service skills. Manufacturing workers could shadow their manager for a day to get a different perspective on the factory floor.

With retention and turnover cited as the top management challenge by 47% of HR professionals, offering learning opportunities can be one solution. It shows that a company is willing to invest in an employee’s skills and future in the company.

Key Takeaways

It’s the smallest gestures that often make the biggest difference when it comes to employee recognition. Some cost-effective ways to reward employees include:

  • Simple “thank-you” messages delivered in real time
  • Rewards personalized by individual, team, or location
  • Extra paid time off
  • Flexible hours, even for industries that don’t have it as standard practice
  • Learning opportunities for stepping up existing knowledge and skills

Download our guide to improving internal communication for frontline teams for more tips on streamlining operations and aligning your workforce.