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101 Inexpensive Ways to Reward Employees

101 Inexpensive Ways to Reward Employees

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Here are the 101 Inexpensive Ways to Reward Employees.


Here are the 101 Inexpensive Ways to Reward Employees.


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Published by: jaisharma1 on Feb 28, 2010
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Getting Started with Employee Recognition “101 Inexpensive Ways to Reward Employees”

by Brian Mount, Executive Director, RARES

A number of years ago when I started my career in the field of marketing, I was fortunate to be recommended by a Professor of Management Theory to the then newly released book, The One Minute Manager by Ken Blanchard and Spencer Johnson. Although some of the material in that book is admittedly somewhat dated and evolving theories of management philosophy and employee recognition have further evolved, some of the information contained in that book has stuck with me to that day. The key elements of The One Minute Manager were relatively simple: 1. Set goals and objectives with your staff so that everyone knows what is expected of them; 2. Make an effort to catch people doing something right and tell them, reward them, for doing it as soon as possible; and 3. If they do something wrong instead, coach them in the right way of doing it. Don’t scold. I’ve continued to employ these simple elements in whatever I’ve done over the years – whether it was recognizing and rewarding the staff I managed, teaching college students, or in dealing with members of RARES. Since RARES, as a not-for-profit, operates on a lean budget, it has become particularly important at times for us to utilize some of these same techniques for encouraging and rewarding good responses on the part of our membership. At your request, I thought that the RARES Board and I could take a minute to share some of these ideas with you today – some inexpensive ways to help celebrate and reward your employees for a job well done. What’s the first step that you or your supervisors should be employing? Well, not surprisingly, Blanchard and Johnson talk about the “one minute praise.” Maybe we’ve evolved in our thinking a bit to realize that we don’t have to limit our praise to just one minute and still be effective. But the praise can still be short and sweet. Some key elements include: ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ Tell people in advance that you are going to let them know how they are doing. Praise people immediately for a task well done. Don’t wait for the weekly or monthly staff meeting. Be specific in telling people what they did right. Reinforce the fact to them that you personally appreciate their efforts and that their efforts benefit the entire organization. Encourage them to do more of the same.

It’s really the last step, encouraging them to do more of the same where the 101 ways to reward employees that we’ll be talking more about comes in. But first, it may be important to look at some of the reasons why people fail to do what would appear to be on the surface some relatively simple steps as we’ve outlined above. First, many supervisors simply forget to tell people that they are doing a good job. When we’re hurried, it’s often easier to point out shortcomings than instill praise. Praise takes work for many of us to initiate. Second, we often learn how to become a manager from those people who first managed us. My first manager was great at doling out criticism. Short on praise. It took me a long time to unlearn that lesson. Third, sometimes we’re afraid that telling people they are doing a good job will result in them asking for a raise. And fourth, sometimes we’re afraid that that if we tell people that they’re doing a good job that they will come to expect praise for every little good thing that they’ve done.


Yet the bottom line question remains: would you like to work for a supervisor who was afraid of offering praise for good work for any of the reasons cited above? I wouldn’t . . . Well, a few years ago an employee of the management company started and run by Ken Blanchard of The One Minute Manager Fame, Bob Nelson, co-wrote with Blanchard a book entitled 1001 Ways to Reward Employees. Nelson points out that, while one of the most basic needs for managers and employees alike is to be appreciated, many organizations fail to recognize this need as a key to success. The book highlights the research that demonstrates the success found when managers praise, recognize and reward employees. Nelson also offers examples from companies across the country, including convenience store operators and petroleum marketers. Nelson covers three types of employee recognition: informal rewards, awards for specific achievements and activities, and formal rewards. We’ll let you read about the awards for specific achievements and formal rewards. Let’s concentrate on the informal an inexpensive rewards here. While we haven’t the time or resources to rework all of the ways Nelson outlines to reward and recognize employees, we can help you with 101 suggestions. Informal Rewards: Recognition Can Be Spontaneous According to Nelson, informal or spontaneous rewards can be implemented with minimum planning and effort by almost any manager. He quotes a Wichita State University study noting that "simply asking for employee involvement is motivational in itself." That Wichita State study also determined that the top five motivating techniques were: • personally congratulating employees who do a good job; • writing personal notes about good performance; • using performance as the basis for promotion; • publicly recognizing employees for good performance; and • holding morale-building meetings to celebrate successes. • Nelson adds that informal rewards make more of a positive impact with employees and are cost effective. In most cases, the simpler the better. According to the "People, Performance and Pay" study by Houston, Texas-based American Productivity Center and the American Compensatory Association, it generally takes five to eight percent of an employee's salary to change behavior if the reward is cash and approximately four percent of the employee's salary if the reward is non-cash. Petroleum marketers have used informal rewards to recognize their employees' good works. Chevron (San Francisco, CA) keeps a large box, secured with a padlock, filled with gifts. An employee being recognized on the spot for some accomplishment is brought to the "Treasure Chest" by his or her supervisor, who holds the keys. The employee gets to choose an item from the box, which could be anything from a gift certificate, to a coupon for lunch or dinner, to movie tickets. Mobil (Fairfax, VA) has formed a partnership with Carlson Marketing Group where employees can go on shopping sprees inside Carlson's distribution center in Dayton, Ohio. Mobil officials consider the program an exciting alternative to employees selecting merchandise from a catalog. Some of the most effective ways to reward your employees is to simply say thanks for doing a great job, giving them a birthday card, or keeping them posted on changes at work that directly affect them. st Remember those gold stars that the 1 grade teacher put on your report? It may indeed sound childish on the surface, but people really do like to receive a gold star every now and then for a job well done. Other Inexpensive Ways to Reward Employees ♦ ♦ ♦ Say thanks Drop them a handwritten note Name a program after your employees

3 ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

Promote from within Praise staff publicly at staff & other public meetings Keep the work environment fun (this doesn’t mean that business doesn’t get done, just that it’s enjoyable to be there) Create new training programs for your staff Bring in food for your employees – encourage others to do the same

The important thing is to get started. You can’t write a handwritten note on your computer and you can’t catch someone doing something right if you’re seated behind a desk. Get up and out. That’s one of the basic principles of The One Minute Manager – get out from behind your desk and into the work lives of your employees. Reward praise profusely. And if you see somebody doing something wrong, and you will, offer suggestions on the right way of doing it. Try to avoid using the word “but” when offering such advice. This is a hard one for me. I tend to offer alternative suggestions in a less than flattering way and I constantly have to work at removing the word “but” from my advice. “Here’s another approach” or “Here’s another way of looking at the situation” can be much more effective. It takes practice. So practice! We could go on forever but here are some of the 101 Ways that we promised earlier (actually there are 108 – consider it a bonus):


101+ Mostly Inexpensive Ways to Reward Your Employees
Say thanks Change job titles Ask for advice Offer written notes Homemade cookies Change meeting venues/times Make a card Reward with food Create 110% rewards Casual dress day Staff newsletter Letter of recognition Movies at lunch Service pins Praise staff at meetings Athletic facility pass Smile Listen more closely Promote staff from within Highlight in newsletter Establish job swapping Free movie passes Day off Reward with a goodie bag Ask for input Open door policy Solicit staff ideas Free 15-minute massage at work Use staff ideas Training retreat Temporary parking space Highlight in brochure Kudos reward program Staff volunteer award Party at your house Feature staff in training videos Monthly potlucks Staff jackets/shirts Gold stars Pay staff more money Flexible work hours Better office Special coupons Reward with a CD Reward with a book/magazine Conduct rounds Set & publish your own goals Create staff committees Award named for staff Free classes Ask for advice Training retreats Evaluate staff Give credit Job swapping Involve staff Customer care award Create misc. contests Rent a billboard Rent a car Ugly tie contest Note on business card Inexpensive jewelry Exercise time Make a sticker Casino party Pay for education Employee idea award Spirit of “ xx “ award Let staff host a meeting Create contests at meetings Hold staff outings Create a “top banana” award Offer public praise Create wow cards for staff Lunch with the boss Ask for input Gift certificates Hall of fame photos E-mail a thanks Have staff thank other staff Thank you on Post-Its Cook breakfast for staff Hold regular meetings Shorten meetings Staff of the month award Other staff award program Years of service award 5 year, $500 bonus award Keep staff informed Say Hi! Evaluate staff Ask staff to evaluate the org. Answer phone for staff Birthday cards Attend conferences Staff events Gift pen/pencil set Buy a soda Offer a hot air balloon ride Host a cookout Facility plaque Tickets to events Community meetings Discounts for staff Road rallies for staff Budget supplements Acting supervisor

101 Ways drawn in large part from Bob Nelson & Ken Blanchard’s 1001 Ways to Reward Employees. Available in paperback for less than $10 in most bookstores.

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