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Rewarding Employees Creatively

If you don't have the money for large bonuses or extravagant end-of-the-year parties, consider these methods to thank employees.
November 14, 2007

The end of the year is rapidly approaching. You want to demonstrate your appreciation for your employees, but don't have the discretionary funds for a large, formal party or bonuses.

As the entrepreneurial boss, you have two criteria to meet:

If you can't afford to throw a party, don't feel guilty. Often at these events, someone drinks too much or acts inappropriately. This can ruin the fun and create awkwardness at the office for those guilty of indiscretion.

Nevertheless, employees often assume that most companies will have some kind of an end-of-the-year celebration. In addition to celebrating the holiday, it's the perfect opportunity to recognize your employees' efforts and accomplishments. And why not? People need to have their self-esteem reinforced. They try hold the jobs that will bring them the most fulfillment, whether that comes from salary, job satisfaction, status, power or other factors.

And recognizing employee actions, efforts and accomplishments is a very significant way to motivate your workers to increase their achievement levels. When their attempts pay off, they feel satisfied and productive. It's a win-win situation for the employee and the employer.

You shouldn't wait until the end of the year, however, to recognize your employees. You should be doing this on an ongoing basis and certainly during the performance appraisals held semi-annually or quarterly. At the end of the year, you can complement your earlier efforts by publicly recognizing the good work of your employees. Basically, what you want to say is, "We value you and thank you for your performance this past year."

In addition to the formal party, bonuses are another common end-of-the-year way to recognize employee achievement. But a financial reward is just one way to say thanks. It does have some disadvantages.

Some research proves that point. Unfortunately, within a very short period of time, the employee actually forgets about the bonus. In any case, a few months down the line, the money no longer serves as a motivation. In fact, when the Wirthlin Worldwide organization asked employees how they used their bonus money, it found the following:

Rewarding employees can be done in many other ways using just a little creativity. Here's a list of some alternatives to the typical and expensive company party. Some are especially noteworthy for smaller companies whose budget isn't very large.

Participating in community events is another way to demonstrate your company's commitment to the neighborhood. While it does not specifically recognize employee achievement, it does let everyone know that the company is interested in the wellbeing of others and wants to be a good corporate citizen. In so doing, the employees can be proud of their company. Here are a few suggestions for community events:

Whatever your decision, make sure that your employees feel that you value their participation and involvement in helping your organization reach its goal. Let them know that you have had a successful year and appreciate their efforts.

After all, isn't that the best holiday gift?