Budget-minded ways to honor employees

Administrative assistant Terri Vanias works for a company that’s feeling the pinch of a protracted recession. (Many of you can probably relate.) In the past, the company has given bonus checks to employees who had worked there for five, 10, 15 and 20 years. The checks were handed out during a swanky annual dinner, in front of everyone.

For the past couple of years, though, the company has had to trim the budget. “We’re considering cutting back even more this year,” says Vanias.

Her company isn’t the only one finding ways to do more with less, even when it comes to recognizing and honoring employees:

• One admin, Mark, says his company tames costs by holding the event during the workday. “We have an in-office presentation for them on their anniversary date,” he says. “It’s free, other than the award gift.”

• Host a hot lunch in their honor, recommends admin Rebecca. Invite their supervisors, department staff and top leadership. She says, “A few words of honor are spoken on their behalf, a plaque and check are presented, and we wrap it up within an hour and a half.”

• Small gestures might do the trick, suggest several other admins on the Admin Pro Forum. For exam­ple, you might give honorees a certificate and have the manager take the honoree out for a lunch, or simply deliver a few heartfelt words of appreciation in front of co-workers.

• Roll employee recognition into other companywide events. For example, some companies recognize employees at annual holiday parties either with slideshows or awards.

• The key, says admin Susan, is not to forget how meaningful recognition is. Her boss once encouraged her to enter an awards program, and the experience “gave me new confidence in my work.”