20 Employee Recognition Ideas for Your Small Business

20 Employee Recognition Ideas for Your Small Business

Take a look at the following 20 inexpensive yet effective employee recognition ideas for your small business.

Recognizing the hard work and achievements of employees has proven to be an effective, long-term motivator. It helps maintain morale within the workplace and boost productivity.

The challenge many small businesses face is finding ways to recognize stellar employee work without going over budget.  That’s why these ideas have been selected with small businesses in mind. They do not cost much, for the most part. But in the eyes of team members they can seem like big rewards.

Employee Recognition Ideas

Promote in the News

If a member of staff has done something incredible and achieved something that needs shouting about, contact the local press. See if the story could be published in a local newspaper. The achievement doesn’t necessarily have to be related to work. It could be a great fundraising effort or personal sporting achievement.

Give a Paid Day Off

Who is going to turn down an extra paid day off? Not many, we think! Offering the best performing employee a free day off is an effective incentive to help reward outstanding work.

Hand Out Lottery Tickets

They don’t cost much but they could equate to millions of dollars. Rewarding a high achieving employee with a lottery ticket for the next 12 lotteries would be a great way to say thank you. Though be warned, if they win the jackpot you could risk losing them!

Create a Company Scrapbook

Create a company scrapbook which, each month, dedicates a page to the ‘Employee of the Month’.  It is a creative way to recognize and celebrate achievement in the workforce.

Ask Peers to Nominate

Instead of relying on management to pick an Employee of the Month, get fellow team members involved.

Ask them to monitor the performance and nominate the colleague they think has performed the best in a given week or month. This will ensure greater involvement and interaction with your recognition program among employees.

Establish a Kudos Column

Publicize employee hard work and achievement. How? By setting up a kudos column in the company newsletter, on the business blog or in social media.

The ‘glory’ column will mean the member’ of staff’s hard work will be put on the public pedestal it deserves.

Throw a Pizza Party

Celebrate staff and team achievements by ordering some pizzas.  Pick the best pizza place in town. Don’t forget to add beverages, a crispy salad and cookies for dessert.

Throwing a pizza party in the office is a fun recognition and perfect to reward the entire team. Kept as a rare treat, the calories will be worth it.

Give Out Gas Cards

Reward an outstanding employee’s efforts by paying for their travel commuting expenses for a whole month.

A public transportation pass is another alternative, if associates take a bus or subway.  You can even give a week’s worth or Uber or Lyft rides.

Name a Beer After Someone

For beer-loving employees who have achieved well at work, approach a local microbrewery and ask them to put a label on a beer with the stellar employee’s name on it. This is bound to go down well.

Offer Casual Friday Exclusive

If a member of staff or a whole team has met its targets and carried out some great work, celebrate! Announce a business casual day, where employees can wear business casual attire.  Friday is a typical day for this type of team recognition.

But what if business casual is the standard attire in your company?  Then offer a “dress down day” where employees can get even more casual.  The can turn up to work in anything from flip flops to tracksuits.

Write a Simple Thank You Note

Sometimes a simple thank you is one of the best employee reward programs in a small business. For employees who have been going that extra mile and showing dedication, innovation and great team spirit — meet them in kind.  Go that extra step and show your appreciation and gratitude.

Rather than just sending your thanks on an email, go a little bit further. Send a note to their home address. They won’t be expecting it. And it will make them smile.

Give a Special Gift

Presenting a well-performing team member with a special gift is a memorable way to show your appreciation. From a bottle of wine to a pencil porcupine, there are plenty of great gift ideas that would leave your stellar employee beaming with pride.

Play Their Favorite Song

One personal and memorable way to thank an employee for exceptional work is to play their favorite song. Have it playing in the office when they show up to work in the morning. This is  guaranteed to put a smile on their face!

Give a Round of Applause

One of the most inexpensive yet powerful staff recognition ideas is literally … applause.  Greet your star employees with a rapturous round of applause when they walk into the office in the morning.

It’s a super simple way to show gratitude for hard work and to say thank you.  It will surprise them. And it will evoke positive feelings immediately.

Offer Flex Time

Research shows that offering flexible working conditions can make staff happier and more productive. Reward hard working members of staff by giving them the opportunity to work flexible hours.

Consider the prospect of working from home, too.  It doesn’t need to be every day, but just Fridays perhaps.  Or Wednesdays.

When approved sparingly, work-from-home privileges become a special associate recognition.

Send a Video Thank You

Make a video thanking a member of staff for their hard work and effort and post the video on YouTube, Facebook or Instagram.

Try to get as many co-workers and even customers featured in the video. For example, include the company owner, managing director, line managers and fellow colleagues. This will  maximize the poignancy of the video.

Hire a Special Dedicated Assistant

Show your appreciation to employees who demonstrate innovation and creativity. How? Hire some temporary help for those employees.

For instance, you could bring in a personal assistant for a temporary period of a week. The assistant could help high achieving workers with administrative duties such as data entry, office organization, and answering telephone calls.

Give Away the Best Parking Spot

Give up your reserved parking space for a week. Let your best-performing employee take your spot.

Or simply pick the best parking spot available and designate it for the employee of the week or employee of the month.  Having the privilege of parking in the prime company parking space is one incentive employees are likely to battle it out for!

Create a Wall of Fame

Dedicate a section of the office to being a ‘wall of fame’. Each month or even week, crown the employee who has outperformed his or her colleagues with the ‘wall of fame’ title. Place a photo of this employee on the wall, accompanied by a message of gratitude.

Give Them a Promotion

Of course, there’s nothing quite as effective in recognizing, appreciating and rewarding great work as offering a promotion. Ensuring there are career progression opportunities for members of staff is a key way to attract and retain talent in your workforce. Knowing a promotion could be in the pipeline is an effective way to keep staff on their toes!

In summary, pick one or a few of these employee recognition ideas. You’ll soon become known as the employer that offers cool employee recognition programs.  Simple recognitions are a low cost and creative way to build a loyal team and become known as an employer of choice in your area.

Does your small business recognize great team and high achievers? How do you show your appreciation and gratitude to employees that deserve recognition and thanks?

Best Employee Photo via Shutterstock

Gabrielle Pickard-Whitehead Gabrielle Pickard-Whitehead is a staff writer for Small Business Trends and has been a member of the team for 7 years. She is based in the United Kingdom and since 2006, Gabrielle has been writing articles, blogs and news pieces for a diverse range of publications and sites. You can read "Gabrielle’s blog here.".