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Okay, so maybe you’re not the best at saying, “Thanks.” As Don Draper once famously yelled at his protégé Peggy Olson, “That’s what the money’s for!”
Hardly. Employees, and for that matter pretty much everyone on the planet, want to be appreciated for what they contribute—and that goes well above and beyond compensation.
If you’re looking for ways to say thanks, here are some tips on how to get started.
It’s important to make one quick distinction before we go forward. When we talk about the idea of “breaking the bank,” this isn’t about skimping on your employees. In fact, if you haven’t already built in budget for incentives, then you’re actually making poor investment decisions for your business.
There are hundreds of studies that have been done, and the numbers continue to be clear: structuring your compensation around bonuses and incentives drives up sales.
Need some proof? Take this study from McKinsey which reported that “Smart revisions of compensation models have been found to have a 50 percent higher impact on sales than changes in advertising investments.”
So this isn’t simply about finding cheap ways to trick your employees into thinking you care.
This is about managers training their brains to think about rewards and incentives as a model for good business.
Don’t worry, this isn’t a deep dive on incentives packages. This is still about finding creative ways to reward and thank your employees’ outside of their financial compensation.
And if you’re especially tight on those sorts of extra resources, we truly believe this is a guide that can help you access that most creative part of your brain—without emphasizing the frugal part!
One thing to keep in mind is that non-financial rewards and opportunities to shout-out employees should be structured around goals: whether they’re weekly benchmarks, personal achievements, or any other sort of gamified structure you’ve set up—goals are the perfect way to help you keep your gratitude a regular part of your management strategy. With that in mind, here are few ways to get those ideas flowing:
You don’t have to look much further than a show like “Undercover Boss” to understand just how much employees value feeling seen and understood.
So often we get caught in the cycle of thinking that our managers are just there to tell us what we’re doing wrong, how we can improve, or what new policies we might need to be mindful of. But managers can turn that on its head in an instant, from the moment that they help their employees know that they are seen—and valued.
In our world, that’s known as “employee recognition.” And it’s a topic that we bring up on the blog all. the. time.
Public employee recognition is huge—and a great incentive for your employees in and of itself. It tells your team that you see them beyond their salaries. You see them for their dreams and aspirations, you see them for their dedication, and you see them for your shared human experience.
Effectively recognizing employees for their work is as simple as it gets: if you’ve got a digital sales platform, you can start by displaying top performers numbers around the office on TVs. Or you can be quirky, make a big trophy for “sales person of the week” and pass it around the office for high-achievers to display on their desk. And if you need something even simpler than that: go over to an employee that you know has been putting in the extra effort this week, pull them aside, and just say, “I want you to know, you’re doing a great job.”
It’s amazing how much of a boost that can give someone.
Speaking of recognition, there’s nothing better than getting to tout your hard work around the office beyond the initial congratulations. It’s that TV trope we all know: Employee of the Month.
But we all know it’s true: the pride of having your name displayed among the top-performers of yore, canonizing your efforts among the greats. And beyond just posting your name on a sales leaderboard, you can pass along privileges that are both cost effective, and deeply rewarding for any individual or teammate.
Need some ideas of where to start? How about giving your employee or employees of the month the prime up-front parking for the month—and a sign with their names on it to boot? Maybe they get to take over your office for a week? They may sound like silly things to you, but putting a little creativity behind your employee recognition makes everyone feel like they’re being taken seriously, and inspires them to dream up new heights.
If you want to try something totally out of the ordinary, why not make it something that benefits employees’ minds and bodies?
As a treat to your whole office, you can bring in a local yoga instructor—even just once a month or once a quarter—to give your employees an easily-accessible way to work out, clear their minds, and get their bodies flowing. It’s a simple way to show some investment in their lives outside of the daily grind, and it’s certainly the kind of challenge that will bring everyone closer together!
For a smaller team of high-achievers, consider one of the areas of their lives that probably gets most neglected when they’re putting in the hours at work: their homes. Try sending a meal-prep kit home with them so they don’t have to worry about groceries one week. See if a local cleaning service can offer discounted prices to lighten the chore load.
It’s a simple, and small financial investment that screams, “I know it’s not always easy, but we’re in this together.”
Finally, there’s the tried-and-true, universal gift of giving back time. Whether it’s summer Fridays, a monthly day-off, or just a random, “Hey everyone, take the rest of the day off!” type of Tuesday—giving employees back some free time is a great way to recognize and appreciate their hustle.
Whatever way you decide to show your employees a little gratitude, remember that it doesn’t have to be extravagant to be totally meaningful.
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