Recognition is a critical component to job satisfaction. People can only pat themselves on the back for so long before they need someone else to do it for them.
Employee recognition needs to be tailored to an organization’s culture, but more importantly, it needs to be customized to the recognized employee. You may hear bashful, socially awkward, or timid employees say they don’t want recognition for good work. Well, that’s just not true. Those folks don’t want public recognition, but they do want to be acknowledged for their contributions.
Even though you need to be thoughtful about how you recognize a given employee, the actual recognition part isn’t that hard. In many cases, you can use recognition to motivate employees without money. Try one of these easy and fun employee recognition ideas next time you need to show appreciation to your employees.
1. Say thank you.
No one ever said employee recognition has to be a big production. Sometimes the most meaningful form of recognition is when one person looks another in the eye and genuinely says, “thank you.”
2. Write a note.
A simple note of two or three sentences can mean a great deal to an employee. People rarely receive handwritten thank-you notes these days. Don’t be surprised if your note ends up on a cubicle wall for years to come.
3. Provide professional development training.
When an employee does well at something, double down on that strength by offering the employee more professional development training. If the employee manages a project well, you can offer to send him or her to a seminar on project management techniques. The employee is rewarded, and you gain a more skillful staff member.
4. Award extra time off.
Being stuck inside when the weather outside is perfect can be a real downer. Rewarding employees by letting them knock off early on a pretty day can be very motivating when you tie it to behavior you want repeated.
5. Bring in food.
Free food is always appreciated. It doesn’t have to be much. Bring in a box of donuts to celebrate an accomplishment, milestone, or completed deliverable. People will be happy to work toward the next feat you’ll want to celebrate.
6. Give up your parking spot.
If you’re a boss who gets a designated parking spot, give it up once in a while to recognize an employee who does something great for the organization. The fact you’re giving up something of your own makes it special.
7. Put them on blast.
If you have a team that’s done something great, let the rest of the organization know about it. Send an email or put a story in your company’s internal newsletter. People like to read their names in print.
8. Give dollar store toys.
Buy a dozen or so toys from a dollar store. When you want to recognize someone, figure out a way to tie in one of the toys to what you’re recognizing. For example, you can give someone a toy magnifying glass for catching an error everyone else missed. Tying the trinket to the recognition gives meaning to an otherwise meaningless object.
9. Loosen the dress code.
If you’re a buttoned-up office when it comes to workwear, give employees a casual Friday for meeting an organizational goal. Did the company meet profit projections this quarter? Jeans on Friday!
10. Hold an employee appreciation day.
If your organizational culture doesn’t promote employee recognition, the way to start a turnaround is to hold an employee appreciation day. Food, games, and relaxed conversation can do wonders for employee morale; however, make sure the employee appreciation day is a start to a sustained culture change rather than a one-time event.