Budget Friendly Recognition

Dear Levy,

As a small business owner, I’m on a tight budget. Many of my employees are top performers and deserve recognition. I know a lot of bigger businesses give cash rewards and bonuses. However, I’ve been researching the effectiveness of non-monetary rewards. Do you think these types of rewards are effective? What are some ideas for non-monetary rewards and recognition?

--Budget Friendly Recognition Needed


Dear Recognition Needed,

There is no shame in looking for affordable employee recognition options. Thank goodness you haven’t turned your nose up at the idea of offering rewards to your top performers as others might when faced with budgeting concerns. In today’s business markets, you can not afford to lose great employees to your competitors. Rewards and recognition are a great way to ensure employee retention and keep everyone happy in the workplace. In fact, some would say that non-monetary recognition is even more effective than monetary gifts and bonuses.

Your employees will appreciate the thought of a non-monetary gift and likely hold on to it longer than money. Here are five ideas for rewarding your employees that don’t including writing a check:

  1. Write them a thank you note. Plain and simple, saying “Thank you” for a job well done is still the most effective way to recognize the hard work your employees are doing. Best of all, it’s completely FREE!
  2. Invite them to lunch. Food stands the test of time when it comes to being an effective recognition tool. Everyone loves food. Eating together is a great time to bond and spend time together. Getting to have a nice lunch away from the office with a supervisor makes an employee feel special. And even if the conversation is awkward, at least there is food.
  3. Give them “me time.” Finding work-life balance is a challenge. Employees pushing themselves to meet their professional goals often forget about taking care of themselves. This leads to burnout and disengagement. Reward employees with a free pass to take some time off for themselves. This can be an extra paid vacation day, or just a few hours in the afternoon to leave work early and do something they love.
  4. Start a company “Wall of Fame” and add their picture to it. Not only will they feel like a superstar when their name and photo are added to a prestigious wall of famed employees, they will feel like a more connected part of the company. The gesture also helps to motivate other employees to work towards the same honor. Have fun and host an induction ceremony inviting the entire company to the unveiling of the newest photo addition on the wall. Make everyone feel good by having a cake or a fun snack to share.
  5. Encourage peer to peer recognition. Get each employee to write something positive about the person you want to recognize. Put the pieces of paper in a box or a frame and gift it to the awardee. Each time they read the words written by their peers, they will feel appreciated and loved.

I think it’s a good thing to make your employees feel that they are valued beyond a paycheck. Having a non-monetary rewards system is a great way to show your appreciation. I hope these ideas help you recognize your employees and put smiles on their faces.

Let me know if you think of other budget friendly rewards that work for your business!

Recognition Rachel

Is Cash King?