13 Simple Ways to Recognize Employees Without Spending Money

Most people would agree that receiving extra money is a good incentive to work harder and stay motivated on the job. Maybe you offer an annual bonus but are looking for ways to reward employees for the rest of the year to keep them motivated. There are also people, however, who prefer to be recognized in a different way. The difference is employees want to be recognized, not rewarded.

Recent studies by the Incentive Research Foundation Resource Center suggests that non-cash rewards/awards are a very important component of recognition and are, in many cases, preferred over cash rewards.

There are plenty of ways to go about employee recognition without spending money. Whether you keep it simple or get creative with how you recognize those who do a good job, it’s important to be consistent.

The following is a list of ideas on how to recognize employees using non-monetary rewards:


1. Verbally Praise Employees It costs nothing but goes a long way with employees to hear how well they are doing. Practice boosting morale with words of encouragement and by catching people doing things right. Employees are used to hearing when things go wrong, but how often do you praise them for getting the job done right or meeting your expectations? Make it a daily practice to offer praise and help people feel valued.


2. Handwritten Notes go a Long Way Surprise your employee by placing a handwritten note card, sticky note, or stock thank you card on their keyboard.


3. Use Brag Boards Mention the employee’s good work on a brag board. Don’t place the board in the kitchen. Put it right as employees walk in for everyone to see. Get sparkly and add gold and silver stars to measure success. They like public recognition so everyone knows what a good job they are doing.


4. Print Certificates of Achievement Microsoft Office has a ton of certificate options that are free to download. You can create them as a yearly award. Many employees will know to expect them and will work harder to achieve their goals to get another certificate. This is a keepsake that employees can frame at their desk, office or cubicle and can hold onto for life.


5. Get Pot Lucky Provide a company luncheon to show your gratitude. Have each employee sign up to bring in a dish. It’s not even so much the food, as the camaraderie people experience at a work luncheon that makes it a hit. Socializing with management makes them feel like a valued part of the team.


6. Trust them to do Their Job For some people, the only reward they need is to feel valued and appreciated. You can show them your appreciation by allowing them some flexibility and giving them added responsibilities that you know they can handle.


7. Provide Clear and Regular Communication Be fair, objective and transparent. This can mean upper management visiting the sales team or the shop floor, for example. Be there to set clear expectations and let them know when they have met your expectations.


8. Send Ecards Thank an employee for going above and beyond with a social media post, or join an online service to offer employees unique recognition rewards.


9. Brown Bag a Picnic Take your employees out for the afternoon. Have them bring in their lunch, do business in the morning and at lunchtime, head to the nearest park. Assign someone to bring the grill, the horseshoes, and have fun.


10. Use Online Rewards Let your employees be your Facebook fans of the week and toot their horn on your page. This way, they can share their success with family and friends. Tweet the praise.


11. Make it Company News Acknowledge their efforts in your company newsletter and let it be a note from the CEO instead of the manager.


12. Lunch from the President/CEO Have the “powers that be” bring in their lunch as a nice surprise. It can be a home-cooked meal. Clear the conference room just for the achievers and have the President deliver the praise, lunch, and sit down with them to get to know more about them. All business aside! Just the thought would make them feel so appreciated.


13. Be Flexible Allow performing employees an opportunity to be more flexible with their time in order to meet family demands. Create summer hours with shorter in-office work days. Rearrange working times to an extra hour the first part of the week in exchange for lesser hours the latter of the week.


Who doesn’t like a pat on the back now and then? It doesn’t take a lot of money to show employees how much you appreciate their hard work. Use one or more of these ideas with your employees to foster a strong sense of trust and trust. These traits go a long way in satisfying employees and retaining them long-term. It doesn’t take a lot of money to run an employee recognition program. Little gestures and thank you’s are appreciated as long as they are sincere.


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