5 budget-friendly ways to reward your staff

Job satisfaction surveys have consistently concluded that the rate and level of remuneration is only a moderately useful indicator of employee engagement, with other factors frequently playing a greater role in making employees happy.

So, the boisterous end of financial year jamboree and outrageous office Christmas celebration may soon become a thing of the past. While parties can doubtlessly be riotous fun, tales of suboptimal outcomes from such lively jaunts are also (unfortunately) enduring.

How can small business owners look to reward their staff effectively without generating too significant a hit to the bottom line of the business? Considered below are five economical ways in which you might look to reward your staff.

1. Consider team-building games

The hallowed team-building exercise! At one time or another we have all been subjected to or forced to participate in them, and some assignments are undeniably better than others.

Organised well and planned efficiently, an inspiring team-building experience can improve employee relations while adding to staff skills and accomplishment.

However, it can be devilishly difficult to strike the deft balance between an event that is too physical or extreme for some of your staff and a team building exercise that is just plain dull. What matters is that staff have fun. Scavenger hunts, raffles and non-physical games and contests tend to work well for diverse groups.

2. Eat and be merry

A weekly catered lunch is a proven and effective way to bring staff together for a morale-boosting break on the premises without necessarily busting the budget.

Gourmet sandwiches or takeaway pizza may strike the right note, while forward-thinking companies have further realised that providing a health-conscious lunch has additional benefits through increasing the wellbeing of the workforce.

Staff lunch treats can save employees money and time in preparing their own lunchtime nourishment, increase staff connectivity and make teams feel appreciated.

3. If possible, offer discounts and benefits

Offering staff a discount on ‘what you do’ can be a fruitful and potentially economical treat.

Naturally this works more effectively in some industries than others, but an employee discount scheme on the products or services provided by your business can offer an invaluable way to motivate and reward staff.

As a small business owner, you may also have the opportunity to negotiate discounted deals for your staff from your suppliers.

4. Be open to flexibility

Employees are increasingly discerning in their choice of employer in the modern era, and many take flexible working hours as a given today.

Two of the most effective ways to reward staff for hard work include time off in lieu of additional hours done and work-from-home days.

While some technology companies have begun to shy away from allowing staff to work from home, employers should consider allowing some flexibility to performing staff in this regard, since rewarding staff is a known driver of employee engagement.

5. Treat employees as responsible adults

The best way to reward staff can often be simply to treat them as responsible adults and to improve their working environment — we are all human and have an inherent desire to be treated accordingly. Give trusted staff more variety and responsibility in their work, and they are likely in turn to reward you and your business.

How else can you reward staff and allow them to flourish? One way is to pay for training courses, which allow staff to invest in their personal and professional development. In return employees can add value to the business with their new skills and renewed enthusiasm.

A much-overlooked point is that when staff are doing a great job, as a small business owner you should tell them so! Too often in today’s hectic world, appraisals and performance reviews focus on what staff cannot do instead of recognising their worthy achievements.

Finally, if you are unsure what rewards would best motivate your staff, instead of guessing, why not simply ask them? After all, nobody can know the answer better than they do themselves!

Final words

Employee job satisfaction is rarely correlated directly to the level of employee remuneration.

Studies have instead continually demonstrated that workplace variety and a strong sense of working as a team, when blended with the awarding of responsibility and recognition, can lead towards the optimum level of employee engagement.

It therefore follows that staff rewards should be inclusive and varied, while at the same time letting staff know that they are recognised and appreciated.


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