How to Reward Your Employees on a Budget

Find out how to reward your employees on a budget at your small business.

As an entrepreneur, I know my employees are a big part of Patriot Software’s success. After almost 30 years as a business owner, I know that rewarding employees doesn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg. You can show your employees you appreciate the work they do, even on a budget.

How to reward your employees: The stuff that money can’t buy

Employee rewards do not have to cost you a lot of money. Simple acts of recognition show your employees you appreciate the work they do. And, rewarding employees helps you with employee retention.

Try these five easy solutions to employee rewards and retention:

1. Know your employees

Rather than referring to my “employees,” I usually call them my “co-workers” because I work side-by-side with them every day. So, when I’m outside of the office and people ask about my employees, I always use the word “co-workers.”

As a co-worker myself, I work hard just like them. I mess up like them. I joke around with them, and they do the same with me. The way I look at it is: We’re all growing up together!
Heck, I spend most of my waking moments with them, so they’re like family to me. I treat them as my family. We laugh together, cry together, and even clash with each other (once in a great while).

2. Give time off

You can reward your employees by giving them time off. The time they take off can be unpaid. But, if it fits into your business budget, try to give your employees paid time off. The time off lets employees go on vacation, spend time with loved ones, and take care of things in their personal lives.

If employees are hurting or need something, I’m there for them. If they need to get out of the office for any reason at all, I’m the first to wave them out the door. If they’re experiencing hardships, I’ve told the other managers and leaders to tell me. And, if there’s a way that I can help, I will try.

Employees appreciate when you acknowledge their personal lives. Workplace flexibility helps you retain employees. When employees know you respect their time, they use their work hours productively.

3. Allow employees to work from home

One of the best ways to reward employees is to let them work from home. If an employee wants to work from home, if at all possible, let them.

There is a lot of discussion about cloud computing, where internet-based applications replace installed software on your computer. For me, the real power of cloud computing is how it enabled me to retain employees who have relocated. They continue to be productive workers through flexible scheduling without making the commute to the office. The benefits of flexible work schedules are felt by both employees and employers.

Here are some facts:

  • My home-based workers appreciate the flexibility of working from home, and therefore, are high producers.
  • My company retained two employees who were moving outside of commuting distance and thought they’d have to quit.
  • Cloud computing helps us meet deadlines and log fewer sick days because staff can occasionally work from home when necessary (including me).
  • Half of my employees have jobs that would allow for telecommuting at least part time.
  • My small business also benefits financially by needing less office space.
  • Bottom line: When your company puts your data and systems in the cloud, you have the ability to increase your employee retention. And less turnover is a good, good thing!

4. Say “thank you”

As my co-workers go home at night, I always say “thank you” to them. Those two words are truly sincere.

Telling your employees you appreciate them with a simple “thank you” can mean so much. Pay attention to the work they do for your company. Thank them for something specific. When employees see that you notice the work they put in, they produce high-quality work.

I genuinely care about my co-workers, and I’m genuinely thankful for them. And I believe they recognize that.

5. Have company bonding time

Company bonding occasions are fun ways to reward employees. The bonds your employees form make your company a more collaborative place. And, company bonding helps you get to know your employees, too.

When we have our annual Christmas party, summertime company picnic, and various other gatherings, we always do them during work hours. That way everyone gets paid, and no one has to endure the hassle or stress of coming back on an evening or weekend. And of course, there are gifts and prizes involved.

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