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  • Forbes Coaches Council

Tight Budget? 13 Affordable Ways To Reward Your Team For Their Hard Work

Originally Published on Forbes

Written By: Forbes Coaches Council

If you want to keep your top employees, a little appreciation can go a long way. Employees who feel that their efforts are valued and recognized tend to be more loyal, and in today's competitive job market, you can't afford not to invest in employee recognition.

But what if you don't have the spare cash to offer a raise or a bonus? Don't worry; money isn't the only motivator, nor is it always the most effective. There are plenty of low-cost ways to let your team know how grateful you are for their hard work. Here are 13 of them, shared by Forbes Coaches Council members.

1. Understand What's Important To Them

Knowing what motivates your talent and team makes the significant difference in their performance and overall teamwork. By knowing what is important to them, you create a sense of appreciation, belonging and overall support. It is all about intention and meaning behind giving that special reward for a job well done. - Izabela Lundberg, Legacy Leaders Institute

2. Offer A Stretch Assignment Or Exposure Opportunity

The opportunity to learn and grow is an incredible intrinsic motivator. Reward your team member by acknowledging their strengths and finding ways for them to use them in a stretch project or assignment. If a project isn't an option, find ways to expose them to your work as a leader or other parts of the business that will help them grow their business acumen, strategic thinking and knowledge. - Jenn Lofgren, Incito Executive & Leadership Development

3. Have Them Share Their Story

Invite the employees in an appropriate forum to share how they achieved what they achieved. Encourage them to share the behavior, attitude, values and skill set that enabled them to achieve success. This will give them an opportunity to reflect on their strengths and inspire others through stories. - Deep Bali,

4. Give Them The Afternoon Off

I have found most employees feel that being rewarded for the value of their hard work through a morning or an afternoon off actually goes a long way so they can find more balance in their life to run their errands, take care of themselves or just sleep in. It helps them to feel more refreshed while feeling rewarded and acknowledged. - Manpreet Dhillon, Veza

5. Create A 'Kudos Board'

A board of appreciation is, in my experience, the best way to show you care about your team members, recognize successes and appreciate the strong effort. In order to set up a reward system for your hardest working team members, gamify the kudos board by tallying up kudos at the end of each quarter and giving out budget-friendly prizes to each recipient with the most notes of appreciation. - Andy Bailey, Petra Coach

6. Get All Team Members Involved

Gather your team, pair people, and ask each person to tell the other what they appreciate most about them. We like to feel valued, and what better way than to hear from others how you have positively impacted them? Additionally, ask them to share what they love best about their work. As a leader, you will create stronger team camaraderie and show appreciation for their hard work. - Alan Trivedi, MBA PCC, Trivedi Coaching & Consulting Group

7. Let Employees Pick A Perk

Promote alternative rewards that give employees a choice of a weekend vacation package, premium sports, theater tickets or even gift cards. The dollar value may not be as substantial as a bonus. But, by offering employees the option to choose a premium that may not otherwise be affordable for them, you help create a rewarding experience that contributes to their employee satisfaction. - Julianne Cenac PhD, The Leader Channel

8. Appeal To Their Fun Side

One way to show appreciation is to acknowledge something unique done by an employee each week. You could even make a contest out of it, motivating people to step out of their comfort zone to get a prize. A simple recognition such as a banner or funny trophy could be enough. Pass it from employee to employee each week for a budget-friendly option. Everyone will have fun trying to win. - Rosie Guagliardo, InnerBrilliance Coaching

9. Let Them Be The Boss For A Day

It costs no money, but it demonstrates you value them and gives them insights into the challenges you and the business face. It may be about inviting them to meetings they do not normally attend or involving them in decisions you typically do not have them make. When you open up your world to an employee, you build trust and broaden their view of the business at the same time. - Brad Federman, F&H Solutions Group

10. Host A Team Awards Program

Recognition goes a long way in making people feel special. Recognize their hard work, sacrifice and dedication with an awards program where they are the stars. Host it at a restaurant or conference center, invite their family and friends, and give a nice plaque. Also, small yet unique and thoughtful gifts that may be customized are appreciated and make them feel treasured and cared for. - Lynita Mitchell-Blackwell, Leading Through Living Community

11. Write A Personal Note 

The best reward is personal recognition. When a leader takes time to write a personal note that specifically speaks about the value of the team member, it can be more satisfying than a cash bonus. People are looking to their leader to see if they notice their hard work. Personal notes and thank you notes mean a tremendous amount to people and should not be overlooked. - Ken Gosnell, CEO Experience

12. Distribute A Press Release

When is the last time your company sent out a press release recognizing its employees who have done well? Few companies use the public relations platforms to recognize monthly achievements or send out a true press release. When your company says publicly that you are doing well, it feels like you have job security and peace of mind: something hefty bonuses don't always buy. - John M. O'Connor, Career Pro Inc.

13. Say A Full 'Thank You'

Employees rarely feel appreciated for their work. It's a top problem with employee engagement and a top reason people leave. A simple acknowledgment of their work will go a long way. A proper thank you should include what you are thanking them for: not just the task but the value. Go beyond just saying "thanks." - Larry Boyer, Success Rockets LLC

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