Did you know that 51% of the U.S. employees is not engaged? One of the most common reasons why this happens is the lack of recognition. In other words, your employees like to get a pat on the back for their hard work and that’s all right.

This leads us to two major problems employers face. First, how to know what types of incentives work for your employees? Second, today’s financial times are pretty harsh and your limited budgeting resources don’t allow you to reward your employees adequately.

But, keep in mind that these incentives don’t necessarily revolve around monetary rewards. There is a plethora of awesome ways to motivate your employees. But, to make the most of them, you need to do your homework and implement your employee rewards program strategically.

Praise Them Publicly

Even though they’re still widely used, traditional “employee of the month” programs are not that effective. First, the rewards are always the same- one’s photo on the wall of fame or a free parking spot. In short, they lack personalization. Second, they inspire unhealthy competition among your employees, which may affect the overall workplace atmosphere.

Still, this doesn’t mean you should give up on the idea of praising your employees publicly. For example, you could write a Facebook status or even schedule a meeting and emphasize one’s exceptional work in front of their coworkers. By giving your employees the exposure to your clients/customers and the rest of your staff, you will not only motivate them but also prove how much you value their effort.

Give out Gift Cards

Over the past few years, both small and large businesses have started using personalized gift cards to reward their employees. For example, you could buy gift cards at popular shops, bookstores, or even online retailers your employees love. Another great option is to invest in a prepaid visa card. People love these cards because they don’t limit them to only one store. Instead, they can use them wherever they want, on stuff they really like.

It doesn’t matter which type of gift cards you opt for, just make sure you always brand them. Add your company name, logo or even a slogan. Most importantly, don’t forget to add the name of the recipient. They’ll be glad to see that the gift card they received is designed for them specifically.

Show Personal Appreciation

There is one thing you should know- every person you hire is different. They have different hobbies, attitudes, personalities, and behavior patterns. And, your goal is to prove that their individuality is valued.

Let’s say one of your employees has gone the extra mile in completing an extremely difficult project. Like I mentioned above, praising them publicly is a great option, but you should also consider something more intimate, something that will remind them how appreciated they are as individuals.

For example, if Kathy has a sweet tooth, why not buy her a box of chocolates, write a personalized thank-you note and leave them on her desk? Some people keep thank-you notes from a boss for years or even frame them.

If Jim loves coffee, then why not take him to the nearby coffee shop and just chat. Don’t talk about the job, show some interest in your employees’ private lives to prove that you genuinely care about them.

Provide Them with Flexible Working Hours

To complete their projects on time, your employees stay late at the office or even take their work home. The tasks are constantly piling up and they don’t make time for their personal activities and hobbies. Not having time to hang out with the people they love, work out, prepare healthy meals or even have proper sleep may lead to a serious burnout.

This is something you need to prevent.

Be compassionate and help your employees balance their personal and professional lives effectively. For example, you could offer them a flexible working arrangement as an incentive for their hard work. This could be anything- giving them a day off, enabling them to telecommute one day a week, introducing casual Fridays, or allowing them to leave earlier.

Give Them Advancement Opportunities

Some of your employees don’t want flattery. They want to be given more challenging tasks. They want to be given a new responsibility in exchange for their hard work. Put them in charge of an important project, link them with one of your major clients, or ask them to sit on a panel discussion on your behalf. Another way to boost their motivation is to offer educational and mentoring opportunities to help them improve their skills. This is how you will show them that you trust them and boost their loyalty. Namely, 30% of Millennials would stay with their current employers if they are given proper advancement opportunities.

Are You Ready to Implement your Rewards Program?

When building an employee recognition program, make sure you do your homework.

Survey your employees to learn more about them and see what types of incentives work for them.

Once the strategy is built, you should clearly communicate the criteria you use to reward them and make sure you never play favorites.

Finally, these programs don’t have to be used to incentivize individuals. You can always reward entire teams by throwing an office party, order pizza, or buy lunch for everyone.

Hope this helps!

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