Four ways to recognise and reward your people on a budget

2020 has been a year of many challenges and uncertainty, and nobody knows what the future holds. Lack of stability has a huge impact on people; one of the key things employees need is the feeling of safety, value and that they are indeed needed. But how can you recognise and reward your people if you have had to cut back budgets and limit spending in order to stay afloat?

With so much uncertainty around, ensuring that you recognise and reward your people for their hard work is key to motivation, productivity and remaining part of the larger team. Especially while businesses are coping with teams working largely from home amid COVID restrictions and local lockdowns.

Recognition and reward on a budget

Having a limited budget for employee recognition is a common challenge amongst HR professionals. Distinct from pay and benefits, reward and recognition has an important role to play in motivating and engaging staff. By properly recognising your employees’ achievements you can implement positive change in the workspace, reinforcing the culture and values of your company.

The good news is that it’s not just about money, and effective recognition doesn’t need to be costly. Here are four easy ways to acknowledge people which all employees will value and appreciate.

1. Say Thank You

One of the most genuine and effective ways to recognise and reward one of your employees is through the most basic form of communication, by saying thank you! It doesn’t cost anything but it can truly touch the heart of an employee if done authentically and meaningfully. Acknowledgement goes a long way towards making people feel valued and in turn they will be more engaged and motivated.

Whether on a Zoom call, in an email, or at a (virtual) team meeting, a study by Glassdoor found that 80% of employees would be willing to work harder for an appreciative boss. And 70% said they’d feel better about themselves and their efforts if their boss thanked them more regularly. Remember that ‘thank you’s’ can run throughout the business – it doesn’t have to be from the top. Thanks from a colleague in the same team, or an employee saying thank you to a supervisor for a mentorship is invaluable. Thanks can also be given privately 1:1, or in a social setting – on the company’s intranet, social media, company newsletter, etc.

2. Work-related Awards

Another original way to recognise and reward team members is to offer them work-related awards. Some examples include:

  • An extra day’s holiday
  • Flexible working for a dedicated period
  • Giving additional responsibility on a particular project or task. For example, a manager can give an employee more autonomy in their role, eg managing more people on a project. This lets them know that they have earned your trust and respect, which can be a powerful thing. A 2009 survey by McKinsey found that praise from management, leadership attention and having the opportunity to lead projects are more effective motivators than cash, pay rises or other monetary incentives.

3. Learning and Development Awards

Learning and development opportunities are one of the most effective ways of supporting employees’ long-term engagement within the company. There’s also been a lot of discussion about the fact that, for the millennial and Generation Z workforces in particular, having the opportunity for learning and development is more important than financial incentives when it comes to job satisfaction.

This type of award may be particularly popular with a diverse and dispersed workforce, whereby each individual employee can benefit from their award in their own time / space. Employees may become increasingly grateful for the chance to upskill if there is any risk of impending redundancies or uncertainties of what the foreseeable future holds, as this can go a long way to help with future job security. More so, whilst investing in training may incur an initial spend, your business will ultimately benefit from the new skills that employees bring back into the company.

4. The Office Christmas Party 2020

With England’s second lockdown in place until 2nd December – and the tiered restrictions, including the rule of six thereafter – most companies are reluctant to plan much in the way of a Christmas party this year. Here are some ideas to celebrate virtually:

  • Christmas in a box: a physical home delivery with an interactive online experience, eg cocktail making or a gingerbread decorating competition
  • Online quiz – whether you choose a festive theme, Who Wants to be a Millionaire style or musical bingo, there are plenty of choices. You can either take turns hosting rounds, or there are many events companies now offering to host virtual parties
  • Virtual escape room or virtual murder mystery; held over an online video conference platform such as Zoom, people can be split into teams to add an element of competition
  • At home scavenger hunt; get everyone together online, distribute a list of items to find and give everyone a limited amount of time to locate and show their items, or give a prompt such as “raid the fridge – grab the weirdest thing in your fridge. Weirdest item wins”
  • Celebrate a variety of holidays; invite team members to share their culture’s unique celebration with the rest of the team. Participants can explain the holiday’s significance to the others and prepare a special activity for the rest of the team
  • Secret Santa: no Christmas would be complete without Secret Santa! Use an online generator such as elfster; set your spending limit, invite your colleagues and make sure everyone knows where gifts should be sent and by when. Enjoy unwrapping gifts online together
  • Online class; working best for small companies, stream a class together and learn a new skill such as wreath-making, needle-felting a Christmas decoration or cooking

Remember the basics

Employees are your company’s biggest asset, so nurturing and maintaining company-employee relationships are critical. Taking the time to acknowledge, appreciate and thank your people goes a long way, even more so when on a budget.

Thank you for reading!

If you would like to talk more about employee reward and recognition, please do get in touch.