Employee awards can go far in boosting workplace morale, resulting in above average productivity and increased sales and profits. It’s widely known that a “carrot” is more effective than a “stick” in motivating employees (or students or your spouse) to do good work and care about the undertaking. So what are some of the most effective ways to incentivize your employees?
This is the most obvious choice. You can give a one-time cash bonus or make it a regular incentive program. If going this route, you need to be careful to give a respectable amount. According to the website howstuffworks, “To be effective, experts recommend that bonuses be equal to at least 10 to 30 percent of annual income. If an employee makes $50,000 a year, for instance, he or she should be rewarded with nothing less than $5,000.”
2. Stock options
If you’re a new company or start-up, you might offer stock options to employees. Microsoft did this in the early ’80’s and thousands of their employees became rich over the next 10-20 years. The New York Times reported that “there were approximately 10,000 Microsoft millionaires created by the year 2000.”
3. Pre-paid gift cards
Increasingly, companies are using pre-paid gifts cards as an alternative to cash. Open cards, like a Visa or American Express gift card, can be used like a traditional credit card on almost anything. Closed cards are restricted to a particular retailer or establishment. According to the Incentive Research Foundation, “The use of tangible, non-cash rewards for employees, partners and customers has become a $46 billion plus industry in the United States (Incentive Federation, 2007). This represents more than double the $22.8 billion spend ten years earlier (World Incentives, 2000).” If you choose to give employee awards in the form of a closed gift card, you’ll want to choose based on their interest. Time magazine reported, “About $65 billion is spent on gift cards in the U.S. annually, and $6.8 billion of that is never redeemed.” So if you know that your employee likes to be pampered in their off time, get them a SpaFinder gift card good at over 20,000 spas worldwide. Or perhaps they mentioned to you how they want to play more golf or go fly-fishing. There are gift cards for those. Whatever you choose, make sure the card will be appreciated by its recipient.
Rewarding employees with flex time or an extra day off is always appreciated. Flex time doesn’t mean working less hours–the employee simply gets to choose which hours work best for him/her outside of the traditional 9-5 schedule. You can also allow the employee work from home one day a week. Alternatively, an extra day off is a great reward for an employee who has worked extra hours or on weekends in order to successfully finish a project.
5. Corporate memberships
If you’re a larger company and can offer special privileges like box seats at a baseball game, lunch in an executive dining room, a prime parking spot, or a corporate gym membership, these are great employee awards that shouldn’t be restricted to just the top brass at your company. Oftentimes it’s the employees who are lower on the corporate ladder who appreciate these perks the most.
Whatever incentive you choose, consider checking in with your employee to see what reward they would most appreciate. Taking the time to choose the right incentive is just as important as the act of giving the reward itself. It shows thoughtfulness and consideration for your employee’s preferences. Ultimately a little recognition can go a long way in earning an employee’s loyalty and good will.