Easy ways to show employee appreciation without breaking your budget

Easy ways to show employee appreciation without breaking your budget

Your employees are essential to keeping your business running, but when you’re busy it’s easy to neglect letting them know they’re appreciated. Many employees only hear how they’re doing with their evaluation…or sometimes not at all. Showing appreciation can do more than make your employees happy. 80 percent of employees say it can inspire them to work harder when they feel their boss appreciates them and it makes them more likely to stay at their job.

It can be a struggle to keep employees happy, especially if you have a limited budget. In working with a staff of professionals known for some of the highest turnover rates, and vast job opportunities, I found that I needed to get creative in methods to show my team that they’re appreciated. Taking the time to listen to employee input, and implementing small changes, made a big difference in increasing job satisfaction and happiness for my team, and for me.

  1. Ask for their input

    Just because you think something is important, that doesn’t mean it’s important to your employees.

    Take a survey – A quarterly survey provides an anonymous voice to identify and remedy dissatisfaction early, and gather suggestions. Your employees will realize they always have an opportunity to be heard. Make sure that the survey incorporates questions regarding general organization policies and procedures along with job satisfaction while also exploring what makes your employees feel appreciated.

    • To increase the response rate, make the survey short and convenient. Aim for around ten questions and use either multiple-choice questions or a numerical rating. Distribute the survey based upon the most effective communication channel with your employees, whether it’s by using Survey Monkey online, or on paper.
    • Leave an area for comments and suggestions you might not have considered.
    • Allow employees to get involved by providing an option to identify a question for the next survey.
    • Include non-monetary options to help your employees identify what makes them feel appreciated such as flexible start times, dress down days, additional office celebrations, or methods of recognition.

    Make an Idea Box – Forget the negativity associated with complaints. Encourage positivity and solutions with an Idea Box.

    • Obtain a locked box that offers the ability to insert a small sheet of paper.
    • Encourage comfort in submitting ideas and allow anonymity by placing the Idea Box in a low traffic area.
    • To inspire problem solving, create an idea submission form that includes a section where employees can offer potential solutions to problems.
    • Share or incorporate suggestions, or if the idea won’t work, explain why so your employees know their opinion matters.
  2. Celebrate together

    The average person spends about one-third of their life at work. Add some fun to that time without making party planning an additional office obligation. Often employees become burdened with uncertainty whether they have to buy a gift, donate for a cake or pick up a card.

    • Develop a Celebration Committee that would determine just what, and how, your team would like to celebrate. Remove the responsibility, but keep the fun!
    • Identity what will, and won’t, be an office celebration such as: birthdays, holiday parties or gift exchanges, local team sports, internal promotions, or personal milestones.
    • The committee will recruit volunteers. Perhaps you have a photographer, baker or someone who loves crafts or decorating that would love to share their personal skills at work.
  3. Foster team spirit

    People like to know they’re a part of something meaningful.

    Brag Board – Place a bulletin board in a central spot and label it, “Brag Board.” Assign one or two employees to manage the board. They can ensure the information displayed is appropriate, remove old items, and keep the information fresh and relevant so people return to view it.

    Designate half the board for the organization to highlight employees’ achievements and praise and on the other side, let the employees do their own bragging about themselves, or their coworkers.

    • Employer bragging- Include customer/client praise for employees, recognize small achievements such as certifications, project completion and promotions. Post your survey results here so your employees know you’re listening.
    • Employee bragging- Encourage employees to recognize a helpful coworker by posting a thank you note, or an accomplishment they are especially proud of that month. Make special monthly themes such as having one month to share holiday memories, another to submit photos to guess that baby, while another month employees could share photos of pets or grandchildren, hobbies, etc.

    Team spirit Give back to the community by having employees donate money to an agreed on charity in order to wear jeans or their favorite sports team logos to work. Have departments decorate a door and donate money to charity in order to vote on the winning decorations.

  4. Employee newsletter – Ensure your announcements get read by including them with employee spotlights, news and other fun facts to help employees get to know each other better.
  5. Treat them like an individual

    Sometimes the little things mean more. Show appreciation to your employees as individuals.

    Certificates and awards – Give certificates and awards for years of service, achievements, attendance and/or employee of the month.

    More than one way to say thank you – Recognize exceptional work efforts with a handwritten note, or card, and post it on your Brag Board, or on your social media platform to let everyone know that going above and beyond gets noticed. 

    Monthly drawings – Determine criteria to earn entries by things such as picking up an extra shift, finishing a project early, perfect attendance, or an exemplary work effort. Offer small incentives like gasoline cards, gift cards etc. to display appreciation for ongoing contributions to the organization. Winners can be chosen by either the department head, or the Celebration Committee and then posted on the Brag Board.


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