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How to reward your employees. And save money.

6 easy ways to create a cost-effective employee rewards program.

Office party

When you run a business, keeping your customers happy should be your top priority. But what about your employees’ happiness?

One of the secrets to running a successful business isn’t just delivering great products and services—it’s about creating a vibrant, exciting and positive workplace where your employees want to spend their time.

How can you create the kind of environment that makes your employees want to come into work every day? Some businesses use cash bonuses to reward employees for things like perfect attendance or top performers of the month. While this may seem like a great idea it could cause undesirable outcomes such as encouraging sick employees to show up at the office or bypassing quality customer service in order to make a fast sale.

Not just that, but cash bonuses can get expensive quickly and can cost your business thousands of dollars. Instead, here are a handful of creative ways to reward your employees and make them feel valued day-to-day? The bonus: these options will save you money in the long-run.

Reward Them With Food

Everyone loves eating, and there’s no faster way to an endearing reward than to pick up the tab for a team meal. Say “thank you” to your team while appealing to their gastronomic tastes in these fun ways:

● Take a team member out for lunch to celebrate an achievement, such as an employment milestone or delivering on a big project.

● Order pizza from a local restaurant for the whole office (many places offer discounts in you order in bulk).

● Bring in a box of doughnuts or bagels on a Monday morning to start the week off right.

● Indulge in the occasional celebratory office “happy hour” with a few drinks and snacks like chips and dip or cheese and crackers. Many offices have a little break on Friday afternoons for just such an occasion. (Just make sure everyone drinks in moderation).

Schedule a Staff Activity Day

Organizing an activity day can significantly boost employee morale. Team-building exercises help employees connect in new ways and share experiences together outside of their regular 9-5. Some fun group ideas are:

● Play a few rounds of laser tag

● Go-kart racing

● Volunteer at a local shelter or food bank

● Go camping or rent a cabin (if your team is small enough)

And the classic company BBQ at a local park is always a great way to reward your employees and thank them for all their hard work.

Celebrate Birthdays

One of the easiest ways to make your employees feel special and valued is to remember their birthday. Before the day arrives, coordinate with other employees to decorate their workspace, order in lunch or pick up a cake to share with the office. Remember to find a unique card and pass it around the office for everyone to sign a few days in advance.

Make sure to send out an email to the office encouraging people to join you in celebrating your employee’s special day, and start off the celebration by singing “Happy Birthday.” Spending a few minutes sharing sugary snacks and unwinding is a great way to break up the workday and make your employee feel valued—not just on their birthday, but for the entire year ahead.

Pay for Their Phone Plans

Everyone may be glued to their phones 24/7, but nobody likes to pay for all that data and daily minutes. With this in mind, if you run a business that requires your employees to communicate with one another throughout the course of the day, then paying for their phone plans can be an easy way to endear yourself to your employees.

Take the time to meet with your team to discuss their needs, since employees in different departments may need different features, such as extra data or additional minutes per month. Customizing their plans can help you save money, and creatively working this into a rewards program could be a motivating factor for your teams.

Related: Build your own wireless plan with MTS MyPlan for Business.

Take Your Team on Tours

If your business works with vendors or partners who supply you with merchandise, food or other goods, schedule a time to take your team on a tour of the facility. This is a great way to get everyone out of the office in an old-fashioned field trip style, rewarding your employees while also building their knowledge of the business operations first-hand. You can also schedule similar tours to your client offices, which can build upon key customer relationships.

And this experience can also be helpful for onboarding new employees, as it helps put names to faces and allows your vendors and clients to meet the new points of contact within your organization.

Make the Time to Say “Thank You”

With deadlines, meetings and other day-to-day tasks at hand, we can forget to show our employees that we value the hard work that they do every day. All the rewards above are great, but nothing quite beats a personal “thank you” note or card from their boss.

Write a team member a note by hand. It will show that you took time out of your busy day to do it compared to an easy-to-send email. And include a personal message that explains why you’re thanking them, the value they provided to the company and most importantly how that made a positive impact on you and the whole team. Such a seemingly simple reward can mean more than you might imagine since it shows you noticed the person and their efforts in a genuine way.

Have we missed any opportunities to reward your employees while saving money? Tell us how you show your team that you care in the comments section below.

Alyson Shane

Alyson Shane is a writer and business owner from Winnipeg, Manitoba who has been publishing content online for 16+ years. She runs Starling Social, an agency which develops digital marketing strategies that combine social media, paid advertising and content strategy to keep businesses growing and engaged with their customers. Outside the office, Alyson is a passionate urbanist who loves gardening, riding her bike and thinking about the public spaces that bring us together. She can be reached on social media at @alysonshane.

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