20 Free Ways to Reward Employees from Dan Benoni

Show Your Employees Some Appreciation

Employee recognition is an important element of good management.  Here are several different recognition ideas that keep people fired up and motivated at work.

Only A Fool Would Work Here This Long: Alaska Sealife Center has an Employee Anniversary recognition lunch on April Fool’s Day. Everyone is invited, and they recognize employees in five-year increments such as five years, ten years, etc. They receive a certificate signed by the Mayor. This program was developed for the City of Seward, Alaska.

Easter Egg Hunt: The Thursday before Easter, Open TV stuffs and hides approximately 100 eggs. They have all employees gather in the conference room. They place their names in a bag, and draw teams. Employees are given 15 minutes to find the eggs. The team with the most eggs wins. Past prizes have included a $15 gift certificate to Borders or Blockbusters per winner. They announce the winners at their weekly lunch, which the company provides each Thursday. E-mail is sent to the entire staff announcing the winners, just in case some employees were unable to attend the lunch. Total cost is less than $100. They use plastic eggs and stuff them with Easter candy. They provide plastic grocery bags for the “baskets.” By mixing up names and assigning people on different teams, people who previously did not know each other become acquainted.

Culture Change Team: USIS formed a culture change team. As an introduction project, they asked the employees to read a free copy of the books we gave them such as Who Moved My Cheese? and Fish and to agree to a follow-up discussion in the future. They displayed a chart with the employee’s name on it. When they read the books, they placed a “cheese” or “fish” sticker next to their name.

They had the follow-up discussion with them, asking three questions about their job, and the company.
1. What do you like?
2. What do you dislike?
3. How should we be doing things–what would you like to change?

Fish Philosophy Recognition: Valley Federal Credit Union encourages employees to give each other Fish! Cards for pats on the back. Each card is worth “worms” to fish in fishing pond for prizes. The more worms, the bigger the prize. Have Fish! Days when employees fish for prizes, special fun games and prizes.

On The Spot Award: RSM McGladrey has On The Spot Awards, given by upper level management to anyone in increments of $50. It goes directly to payroll, and is applied on their next paycheck. Management writes why they gave the employee this award for positive reinforcement.

Thanks for the Inspiration: International Cont. uses “Thanks for the Inspiration” cards. Each is worth $50. It represents any new idea implemented that generates company cost savings.

Friday Ho Hos: Each Friday afternoon, Genentech provides their employees Ho Hos. They gather in the café with snacks and drinks. This gives the employees an opportunity to mingle and unwind at the end of the week.

Breakfast with the President: At Buffalo Wild Wings, each month they gather a person from each department, and collectively have a two-three hour roundtable with the president of the company. This includes sharing ideas, and changes they would like to see.

Play Day for New Hires: Managers give their new hires a T-shirt with a bullseye, a nerf gun, and goggles. They have a play day at 4:00 p.m. every Friday.

Recognition of Anniversaries: National Research Group, Inc. recognizes and announces employee anniversaries. They give them a certificate and/or make the announcement on the bulletin board.

Ring that Bell: Vinson & Elkins has a bright idea. In Human Resources, when they hire someone or complete a project, they ring a bell real loud. Everyone gathersIMG_1869 around to celebrate and share in what has happened.

Shining Star Pin: At Rich SeaPak Corporation, managers, and department heads are asked to reward one associate in their department per quarter. They receive a “Shining Star Pin” for something that an associate has done. That person will then be recognized in their quarterly newsletter.

Pancake and Sausage Breakfast: At Johnson County Community College, every Christmas supervisors of all departments come to work early to prepare a pancake and sausage breakfast for all employees in the company. Employees are asked to volunteer for a company choir, and they sing Christmas carols during the company breakfast.

Bar Chart: At Virtua Health, they put a bar chart on the wall to show hires per month as a team. Each employee is color-coded, but the results posted are listed as a team. They set a team goal for each month. If the goal is reached, they engage the staff. The most successful recruiter for that month is also rewarded.

How do Employees Want to be Recognized: At Eli Lilly & Company, they have created a tool managers can use and give to their employees to fill out. The goal is to find out how employees want to be recognized. (Their favorite office supplies, favorite candy, etc.) The manager can then individualize their recognition.

Stash of Candy: At the American Speech/Hearing Assoc., Human Resources has a stash of candy, which they distribute to people who have done something good, or to those who have had a bad day. This stash has expanded to an entire file drawer, and people stop by all the time because they “need” a piece of chocolate, and usually end up talking about problems or things that have happened. It has opened up great opportunities for informal communication.

Employee Appreciation Lunch: MeritCare Health System employees decide within each service to have a variety of activities throughout the week; draw Secret Service, and do something nice for each other on the special day of the week.

Rumor Mill Meetings: KANA’s CEO conducts meetings, several sessions throughout the day, to address organizational rumors, allow employees to ask questions, and inform employees of future plans of the organization. All questions are answered to the best extent possible.

Thank you to Marilyn West for her Thank You Award she created.

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