In a risky economy, businesses often feel that they don't have the resources to keep their employees happy because they can't afford to raise their salaries. While a salary raise or a big bonus is often seen as the ultimate in employee reward, rewarding employees definitely doesn't require a big budget with money just one motivator that businesses can choose to use.
Surprisingly, it's often the other things that motivate employees towards higher performance and productivity, with several studies finding that as long as employees are paid at market-rate, or even close, money is not the deciding factor behind performance or staff turnover.
A non-financial employee rewards program is a fantastic way to keep your costs down whilst getting maximum results from your efforts – allowing you to reward and motivate employees and help your bottom line.
To get the biggest bang from your buck, here are my tips for a successful non-financial rewards program:
1. Be clear on what you want to reward
To ensure your rewards program will have the desired impact, you'll first need to identify the activities/behaviour that you'd like to reinforce and reward. This can include job performance, such as the achievement of specific goals, or you can choose to reward behaviours, such as exceptional service or leadership.
Identifying these criteria will allow your reward program to focus on what truly leads to success in your business, promoting these activities/behaviours to your employees and motivating them towards even higher performance in these areas.
2. Find out what motivates your employees
What motivates one employee will not always motivate another. It's important to have flexibility in the types of rewards on offer, to ensure the program has the desired effects on staff motivation and performance.
Consider holding group brainstorming sessions, where employees can brainstorm different ways in which they'd like to be motivated. Of course, the chosen rewards need to fit into your budget and into your workplace culture but this can be an easy, cost-effective way at roughly finding out what will actually motivate. As a general rule, the majority of rewards should fall between a $0-$30 limit to remain cost-effective.
3. Be creative
There are countless ways to reward employees for their achievements, whilst sticking to your budget. Here are some simple ideas that might be suitable for your business:
• Personally thank an employee for a job well done! - A simple thank you can mean a lot to staff - it shows that you value their achievements. (Cost: $0!)
• Small rewards tailored to the individual's likes – such as a box of their favourite chocolates, a gift voucher to their favourite store or lunch delivered to their desk (Cost: $5-$30). To make this administratively easy, why not consider having a range of rewards that the employee can then choose from?
• Offer a little flexibility – Consider giving 2-3 hours leave to use one morning/afternoon as a reward
• Make work a little more fun - Improve employee morale and engagement with simple and budget-friendly employee events, i.e. a monthly event for each team to help your staff bond
The act of recognition itself and the esteem that it gives to its employees is the key to non-financial recognition's effects on motivating employees. Employees expect to come to work and expect to be paid to do a job. Most employees however, do not expect their employer to say 'Thank You' and because of this, it's a small but effective way of increasing staff satisfaction and motivating higher performance.
While financial rewards are not always feasible, your business can still reward and motivate its employees with a little planning and creativity and experience the benefits with a healthier bottom line and higher staff productivity.
Paula Maidens is the Managing Director of Recruitment Coach, a unique coaching and consulting firm for small-medium businesses, specialising in recruitment and retention techniques.