Show your team some love on a budget

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We all know it feels good to be recognised, and for our hard work to be acknowledged. 

But if a tricky economic climate means that you might not be able to give staff bonuses (let alone pay rises), how do you make sure employees still feel rewarded and appreciated? 

The good news is that showing appreciation doesn’t always have to mean splashing the cash. It just calls for a bit of creative thinking instead. 

At HR GO we know that rewarding and recognising great people is key if you want to keep your team happy. We see that companies which incorporate recognition into their culture do a much better job at retaining top talent. 

It’s a no-brainer that being rewarded for their accomplishments makes people feel more connected to where they spend their working days.  

And industry research points to the fact that if staff think they’ll be recognised for their hard work they’re far more likely to be highly engaged (2.7 times, in fact). This is linked to better productivity - and in turn boosts the likelihood they’ll stay on the team. Talk about a win-win. 

An employee may have gone all out on a project; they may have nailed a client presentation or perhaps they’re just showing a killer attitude towards their to-do list in general.  

Whatever your sector or their situation, making it a non-negotiable to recognise great work and behaviours will bring long-term benefits. 

Pinpointing praise in an all-hands ‘thank you’ email or the weekly internal newsletter can make people feel valued and seen.  

And although ‘Employee of the month’ sounds a bit old school, recognising someone as employee of the month can still pack a powerful punch. Especially if you put a new twist on it by choosing: 

  • Two people who’ve worked well together for ‘Collaboration of the month’ 
  • Someone who’s spotted a new way of doing things for ‘Innovation of the month’ 
  • An employee who’s had an eureka moment during a tricky issue for ‘Problem solver of the month’.  

Public praise brings another benefit, too, as this good feeling can rub off on other employees. Staff witnessing their teammates getting shout outs for some great wins will be spurred on to do their very best as well.  

Seek employee input 

We’ve talked before about the importance of asking employees for feedback. That can be on anything to do with your company (and we’ve written here on how it can be positive to ask for views on how they feel about company culture).  

Running employee surveys can show what’s working well and what you need to improve on, as well as shining a light on any potential issues coming down the line. 

Plus, in general employees just like being asked what they think. It helps them feel like they’re being heard and able to make a valid contribution to how their company is going. 

Take this one step further by actively asking staff how they’d like to be rewarded and recognised. Perhaps this might be with: 

  • Career development: for example, the chance to work on a specific project or get involved with a specific team. 
  • Time off: for example, a surprise day off or day off on their birthday. 
  • Health and fitness perks: for example, on-site massages, mindfulness sessions or fitness classes. 

LinkedIn love 

Don’t wait until someone’s left your team to give them a recommendation on LinkedIn. 

Singing their praises while they’re engaged and thriving as an employee can be a powerful reward. 

Will your recommendation put a valued team member in a stronger position to find a job elsewhere? Technically, yes.  

But showing public gratitude and appreciation to them now can strengthen your working relationship and foster loyalty - so with any luck it’ll be a while until they’re actively job hunting. (You can read our tips on how to be the kind of employer that good employees want to join, instead of keep leaving, here). 

Specific and genuine thanks 

Saying ‘thank you’ is great. But are your staff likely to feel that they’re receiving genuine praise and recognition - or are simply part of a generic tick box exercise? 

You needn’t have a formal recognition programme in place. Just make sure the recognition you give is authentic and targeted, whether it’s about particular accomplishments or shows that you’ve paid attention to their win.  

Navigating through tough times 

It’s clear that many businesses simply don’t have the spare cash to give across-the-board bonuses right now. And that’s understandable. 

Just make sure you don’t scrimp on giving recognition to your top players. Letting them know how valuable they are isn’t just nice for them - it can boost the whole company and help you thrive into the future. 

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