Have you ever hesitated from employee incentives out of the fear that they would be costly to implement? Well, money is not the only way to incentivize or motivate employees. In fact, contributors to Entrepreneur.com, Dough and Polly White say, “only the prospect of receiving money in the near future is a strong enough motivator to change behavior. Once the employee receives the money, its power to motivate ends very quickly.” A very apt truth considering the fact that the lure of money is great but the effects are never as gratifying as having a shield that declares someone employee of the month or a card that expresses a boss’ appreciation. Therefore, you needn’t worry about using money to incentivize because there are other better options to choose from that will help you boost team morale and keep your employees happy.
P.S - This certainly doesn’t mean you cut down on bonuses and benefits!
So if you’re looking for creative and cheap employee incentive ideas, here’s a list of 22 things to try out.
Nothing beats a well-intended handwritten note. Imagine the surprise of your employee when he/she walks into the office early in the morning, and there is a beautiful note from the boss thanking him/her for their efforts in pulling a project through tight deadlines. Handwritten notes still hold immense emotional values. The note will be on their cubicle board for a long time to come.
Send Thankyou Cards
Imagine their glee if they received a beautiful Thankyou card for their hard work and determination. Though this may sound cheesy to a reserved boss, it is actually one of the best and the most effective ways to have employees stay motivated for a long time to come. People want acknowledgment and appreciation for the work they do, and nothing can motivate them more than receiving that acknowledgment from their immediate supervisor.
Have Treat Days
A happy treat day is all you need to make employees feel appreciated for the effort they put into getting things done on time. And it doesn’t have to be expensive meals. Ice cream, coffee, juices, or a small tea party to break the day’s monotony and to celebrate achievements is all you need to bond with employees and have them bond with each other creating a strong team spirit.
Eat Lunches Together as a Team
A culture of eating together unites people and helps minimalize the internal conflicts if any. During these meals, share your thoughts and appreciate each employee for their respective strength and effort put into getting the job done.
Free Tickets for Events
After a week of boring work, anyone would love to have tickets to a game or to a movie. If you have the flexibility, issue them tickets for two which means they can go watch a movie or attend a game with their significant others. Not only does this show care and goodwill, but it is also a great way to win your employee’s loyalty and dedication.
Have Employees of the Month Celebrations
Many organizations have, “employee” of the month where one individual is singled out to be the star performer. If you want to create equality, then choose your top three performers and change the event into, “Performers of the Month,” giving your team members a morale boost, knowing that they all contribute to tasks and projects equally.
Give Customized Souvenirs
Celebrate achievement and performance with style and award each performer with a small token like a book or a company pen, or mug. Souvenirs are a good way to build positive relations with employees.
Have a Beach Party
You can combine the beach party with the monthly employees of the month celebrations and turn it into a great weekend. You can allow employees to bring in their spouses or friends and just let them have a great time unwinding and enjoying a stress-free weekend. Add a little spice to the beach party by arranging a bar-be-que or by a night camp at the beach. Get creative.
Give the Best Performers a Voucher
Send them off for a massage or for a getaway to a destination of their choice. Spend as less or as much as you want over this one, but one of the best ways to have your employees awestruck is by giving them the opportunity to relax at their favorite spa or massage center for free
Company sponsored vacations is a lucrative deal and employees would always want to maximize their potential to get a free vacation as an award. You don’t have to arrange a costly vacation to somewhere tropical - rather a short vacation to another part of the state could work too.
Internal Awards, Frames or Shields
Did your team give a stellar pitch for a project? Were they able to sign on a huge deal? Award them with a, “Best Client Pitch,” frame or a medal. Categorize the products according to levels of achievement so say for example a one-time pitch can get team members a medal and a project finally coming to completion after months of effort can get all members certificate frames. Finally, a huge year end award can be in the form of a shield. A physical award goes a long way in making employees feel loved and valued.
Health and Fitness
If you can’t afford gym space, you can probably get a gym membership for deserving employees (and do make sure they work out!) Get a majority vote for the type of fitness they want and arrange a membership for yoga, strength or athletic training as needed.
Sponsor a Sport
What’s your office culture for sports? Do the majority love playing Scrabble or Chess? Basketball or hockey? Whatever it is, sponsor a sport and encourage your employees to be part of it.
Sponsor a Certification
Ok, enough with the parties. There are actually employees who would love it if you could sponsor an online certification or a professional program that enhances their skill set and also gives them a certificate. With options like Coursera or Lynda.com, you can help your employees gain an additional skill set that can be valuable for the company.
Hold Training Sessions
Every once in a while, employees need to brush up their skills. They will need to unlearn most things in order to learn new things and the only way this can be done is through regular training sessions targeted at enhancing respective soft skills and hard skills. If you want your employees to have a competitive edge, then the best way to incentivize them is to educate them.
Give the Office Some Life and Colors
Make employees fall in love with their workspaces again. Bring in standing desks or bean bags, bring in interesting decor or set up new lighting options. Don’t go overboard with your budget though - the idea is to keep use less money for more.
Keep Some Board Games at Work
Sitting for nine hours a day, doing mind-boggling tasks takes a toll on the best of us. People need breaks and what better way to help them take a good break by having a few popular board games at work. Scrabble, darts, whichever works like a charm.
Allow a Power Nap Hour
Now this may be a tad bit misused if there is no monitoring, but if you really trust your employees, have them enjoy a power nap hour. It will be great for their well-being and will help them feel more productive.
Send Great Job Emails
Send a company-wide “Great Job” email informing people of what the team did right and why it deserves a great job appreciation. If possible attach any of the aforementioned incentives to a Great Job email.
Be Flexible with Timings
There’s no point to bind employees to a fixed 9 to 6 routine if the most of them are quick workers and complete their tasks well before the 8 hours have passed. Be flexible with timing and focus more on tasks instead. When companies don’t bother employees with timing, they tend to be twice as productive.
Give employees a few days or hours a month where they are free to be innovative and can come up with any brilliant idea for the company. Encourage innovation and watch as grand things begin to unfold.
Make them Partners
Treat employees as partners rather than mere workers. Give them a sense of involvement as well as achievement. Make them your pillars of strength and trust them with information.
Offer a Variable Compensation
Pretty much like a bonus, a variable compensation works like equity partnership. When team members work towards achieving company goals, they get a percentage of the profit.
Give them a Reason to Love their Job
Know what your team members want and give them a reason to love their job. When employees know they are being treated well, they tend to be more loyal and dedicated. Give them a reason to love their job, and they will always help you move forward.