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Low-Cost Employee Recognition Ideas

by on
in Human Resources,Office Management

Even when money's tight and unemployment is high, employers cannot let employee retention and motivation efforts fall by the wayside. Employees should be appreciated no matter what the economy. And when the economy turns around, you don't want employees jumping ship at the first opportunity. Recognizing employees for their hard work doesn't have to be expensive.

Carol Hacker, an HR consultant based in Alpharetta, GA, provided the following ideas. 

  • Start a "wall of fame" where kudos can be viewed by your entire workforce. Or send a companywide e-mail or mention accomplishments in the company newsletter. The bottom line is that many individuals enjoy public recognition.

  • Give a paid day off to employees with perfect attendance.

  • Send employees out to lunch on the company's dime. Hacker suggests making it a "requirement" that the employees are not allowed to talk about work.

  • Present a "Kudos" granola bar or "Million Dollar" chocolate bar.

  • Give a prepaid phone card.

  • Offer a grab bag of privileges. That way, employees can be sure to get a reward that they really want.

Unfortunately, there's no single formula for a successful employee recognition program. And a poorly designed program can be counter-productive. Hacker warns about these common mistakes when setting up and administering your employee recognition program.

  • Criteria for winning a reward are unclear. Be sure that the criteria are definable.

  • Employees don't like the reward choices. Allow employees to provide input on the program.

  • Favoritism is shown. Proper management of the program will help you to identify and prevent issues such as this.

  • Rewards are not timely. Employees shouldn't have to wait too long to be recognized.

  • The program is treated as an "event." An effective recognition program is one that is ongoing, rather than a "band-aid" solution. 

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