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7 Great Alternative Ways to Reward Employees

7 Great Alternative Ways to Reward Employees_Yellow Spark Blog
Photo by Kira auf der Heide on Unsplash

7 Great Alternative Ways to Reward Employees

At Yellow Spark, we believe that people make businesses successful. An accomplished business leader, be it Richard Branson or Jeff Bezos or N Chandrasekaran, will second this without a doubt. Your employees dictate how steady the growth path of your company is. It is no doubt then that you have to keep your employees happy and motivated in order to be successful.

Employees carry forth the vision of the company – they create new opportunities, help you and work with you to overcome challenges, manage the day to day operations to help you achieve consistent growth over time. Without satisfied employees, your productivity can erode away and the progressive upward trend of your company can collapse.

To keep the positive morale flowing in the office, you need to reward your employees regularly, or at least when they’ve done something exemplary. It reinforces positive behaviour for the individual and also sets an example for the whole organisation and demonstrates your appreciation for the team.

When we talk about reward, I do have to say this upfront though, if you’re going to use rewards to motivate your team, then you need to do it wisely. Rewards shouldn’t just be used as a tool to manipulate behaviour, instead, they must be used as a form of recognition, and to signify to employees that you genuinely value their contributions.

Let’s face it, resources are always limited. As your company grows, the one truth all managers face is how to reward employees and keep them happy other than giving them a raise and promotion. The problem is that rewarding your employees through monetary means such as raises or bonuses—are not always economically feasible, especially for new and developing businesses. Also, beyond a point, monetary rewards don’t always have an impact on motivation. Even if you can afford to give a raise or a bonus as a reward for a job well done, it may be worth your while to consider at least one of these alternative rewarding strategies.

Here are some ways in which you can acknowledge your employees without monetary compensation.

1. Offer Flexibility as a reward:

We have discussed in a number of blog posts about how to adopt flexible work options, which is ideal in today’s scenario where people are ridden with terrible work commutes and sandwiched with responsibilities of caring for elderly parents and / or children and so on. While there are still several gaps in expectations and execution of this idea, the benefits far outweigh the challenges. For the most valuable members of your team, consider offering alternative work schedules.

One way you could do this is, if your team meets its monthly sales targets early, leaving a few days to spare, allow them to go home early the last few days. If your marketing team finishes work on a big campaign with no hiccups, let them come in late a day or two, in the following week. Or at least don’t pull them up if they happen to come late.

You can also let your most valuable employees work from home occasionally, or offer other types of flexible scheduling. Just make sure to tie the benefits to a real-world accomplishment so it proves your appreciation.

2. Provide more amenities at work:

This type of reward is best saved for your entire workforce, rather than one specific team or team member. This can be anything from table tennis or pool table, or a yoga and fitness class, or hobby hours, or counselling services, free healthy snacks.

For instance, keep a revenue target / or if you have won a new client / or you’ve exceeded the profits for the year, then you can implement this special request of your team. The point is to provide for amenities that they seek rather than implementing those that fit the organisations pocket or those that are common to every organisation. Of course, they have to earn it, but you will have to set the prize before the race.

These amenities will likely cost less than distributing raises on an individual basis, and they’ll do their job of making your employees feel rewarded and satisfied with their work.

3. Rework their salary structure to include additional or allied benefits:

If you can’t increase the salary of employees, it may be well worth considering how to rework the salary package so the employee gets more money anyway.

The excellent part is most employee benefits are a tax-deductible expense for businesses, meaning they’re going to cost you less in the long-term even if they require a bit of money upfront. Rewarding your employees across the board with greater benefits can also function as a sign of goodwill – that you appreciate all your employees.

It also builds the reputation of being a considerate employer, and importantly that the company is doing well enough to afford the extra benefits.

4. Find creative ways to recognise individual accomplishments:

If your staff doesn’t mind, celebrate birthdays! And if that’s too many people to acknowledge it may be nice to recognise birthdays on a monthly basis too! You could do this by simply ordering a cake or some special snack to share with colleagues. Another idea is to give the employee a day off that they can use whenever they want in the future. You could chat with the employee and give them what they would really appreciate – if it’s not unreasonable!

You could get creative with ideas galore. From handmade greetings, to acknowledge frames, to dinner with a celebrity or sponsored vacation; if you put your mind to it, the list can be very long. The concept is, to simply do something fun and recognise the colleague for their good work.

As an extension, it’s important to create an environment where people congratulate and appreciate each other. Tell managers to offer praise whenever it’s appropriate, and foster good relations between your employees. Eventually, you’ll cultivate an environment of positivity, and the rewards will show for themselves.

5. Give employees an opportunity to contribute to social good:

Providing volunteer opportunities goes far beyond feeling good. Employees who participate in these programmes often become more engaged in their daily work, and increased engagement directly impacts the bottom line. Also, with more millennials in the workforce now, it helps to remember that they value things like diversity, and work culture more than just salaries while looking for new jobs.

While millennials do bear the job hopper label, they are more likely to stay when opportunities for development are offered. So as a reward it would be highly effective if social volunteering is offered as a reward or perk. It is worth noting though that this might work for few and wouldn’t for others, so it is important to pick whom to offer it to.

To quote my own experience, when I was employed at Lintas I got one month paid leave go an volunteer for the Siddhi Goma Tribe in Bhavnagar. This option was given to all 175 employees at the time, however, 13 of us took it up. While it was a month off from work, of course, we had to submit a small one-page docket to summarise our work and experience there. This was very invaluable learning for me.

Other ways to implement this is allowing them time off from work or working hours or providing paid leaves or let them promote the NGO or cause they support in office or even simply creating a coffee session to allow everyone to discuss how they are contributing to social good.

6. Engage the employees’ family:

Although everyone recognizes how the spouse or the entire family impacts the engagement levels of an employee, one of the neglected and least explored aspects of employee engagement is the relationship and bond of the company with the employee’s family. Engaging the family of an employee impacts the commitment, connect and the discretionary effort of an employee.

This is in no way new. Many companies give housing quarters to their employees. They offer medical treatment or reimburse expenses not just for its employees but the family and sometimes extended family (in-laws) as well. Going a step further, some companies have schools for the children of its employees or recreational facilities and other benefits at no or lower costs.

More recent phenomenons include having ‘bring your family to work day’, or annual day celebrations, or Diwali and New Year parties where the family can participate. There are so many examples other than just inviting family members to award functions or for family day at work. One organisation gathered the details of all employees’ mothers and sent them flowers on Mother’s Day with a note ‘thank you for, he/she is a valuable asset to our company’. Such initiatives improve the confidence and respect for the organisation and families are more accommodating to the employee, be it extended workings hours, increased business trips or any other inconveniences.

7. Lastly, allow your employees to have fun:

While this isn’t exactly an employee reward, it is definitely a way to break the monotony and keep the employee happy. These can range from being CEO of the day, or a potluck lunch for the team, theme parties for brain-storming, day picnics or offsite, having an office talent contest, or an open-mic, the ideas are endless. The key is to make the employee feel like they connect, and relate to the company goals and visions, and they feel like making a contribution to the work.

Celebrate ‘world’ days – recently one of our clients celebrated ‘world gratitude day’ where all employees gave and received gratitude from each other voluntarily. Companies could handpick 12 days of the year to celebrate, and there are enough ‘world days’ to have a new set of 12 annually.

The more appreciated your employees feel, the more committed they’ll be to your company, the harder they’ll work, and the more benefits your entire team will be able to collectively enjoy. Recognition, appreciation, and rewards for important contributions and outstanding performance are other key factors that keep employees motivated and ready to go the extra mile for the organisation.

While different factors may motivate different employees, recognition is something they all strive for. The reward system should be transparent, impartial and credible so that it enhances trust among the employees. An ineffective reward system, on the other hand, can further push away the employees and make them feel cheated and uncared for. Lastly, companies must try to avoid monotony and try to keep an element of surprise in the rewards they offer.

At Yellow Spark, we offer innovative and fun employee recognition solutions to suit the company’s needs. To know more please write to us at contact@yellowspark.in

Author Profile: Deepam Yogi is an adventurer at heart, socially conscious in her gut and professionally a strategic consultant. She co-founded Yellow Spark to support organisations to build workplaces that people love being a part of. Deepam describes herself as a shy yet opinionated writer and firmly believes that most answers to complex issues lie in simple communication.