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Employee Recognition and Reward Ideas That Won't Break Your Budget

written by: Marjory Pilley•edited by: Michele McDonough•updated: 8/22/2010

You appreciate your employees and value their contributions. You don't want them to leave. Unfortunately, you don't have a lot of money to back up your sentiments. Check out the budget-friendly employee recognition and reward ideas in this article.

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    Rewarding Employees Makes Sense

    Blue ribbon employee recognition and reward ideas! Employees that feel valued are more satisfied. Satisfied employees are more productive and promote a positive environment. Although compensation and benefits are often the most important considerations in whether to take another job, recognition is an important non-monetary factor for job satisfaction. And, satisfied employees are less likely to look for other jobs.

    Rewarding top-performing employees also makes sense because it contributes to morale and reinforces desired behaviors for all employees. In order for a reward or recognition to provide the maximum effect:

    • Tailor the reward to the individual.
    • Present it close to the time of the action.
    • Be specific about what actions led to the reward.

    Keep these guidelines in mind as you consider the following budget-friendly employee recognition and reward ideas:

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    Put It in Writing

    One of the simplest ways to recognize an employee's performance or to show gratitude is to write an employee recognition letter. Company newsletters, internal blogs or bulletin boards are other venues to highlight exceptional performance. Implement this idea right away by customizing the sample thank you letter located in the Bright Hub Media Gallery.

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    Give a Token Gift or Perk

    A token gift or perk, by itself or along with a written or verbal acknowledgement, is a common reward. Tailoring the gift to the individual is important. Some valued benefits might include an extended lunch, a gift of company merchandise or a designated parking space. Need more ideas? The University of Michigan maintains a list of 101 ways to celebrate people as part of their staff recognition program.

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    Offer a Flexible Work Arrangement

    Flexible work arrangements allow employees to perform their job functions in a non-traditional manner. Some options to consider include working from home, compressed work weeks, varied hours or flex-time, part-time work and job-sharing. The work structure allows the employee to better balance personal and work responsibilities. Successful arrangements often result in very satisfied employees and are usually a highly-prized reward for exceptional dedication and performance. Of course, the job responsibilities must be suitable to the arrangement. For example, an employee that answers customer calls may be required to work certain work hours.

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    Provide Opportunities for Professional Development

    Supporting professional development is a way to give a nod to a high-performing employee and groom her for other positions in the company. Allowing the employee to complete a training course to improve technical or leadership skills is one option. Also consider special assignments, including the person in higher level meetings, or swapping responsibilities with someone in a different area.

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    Reward a High-Performing Team

    Do you need to acknowledge the efforts of an entire group? Many ideas presented above will do the trick. In addition, almost any group would appreciate these employee recognition and reward ideas:

    • Designated dress down days or "casual Friday"
    • Celebrations with food, even if they are potluck
    • A shortened day, for example on a Friday or before a holiday

    Image Credit: http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1294754