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12 ways to reward your best employees

5 min read


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Q. What is the best (inexpensive) way to reward employees who are consistently great or who go above and beyond what you expected?

1. Recognition

Recognition can do more for an employee than any financial compensation. Figure out a way to recognize their contributions in a public way. Not only in front of employees, but their friends and family as well. Take out an ad in the local paper, include this person’s contributions in the newsletter to all customers, or acknowledge them on social media. – Matt Ames, MN Pro Paintball

2. Let them know you appreciate them

Let them know you appreciate them. We sometimes think of employees as robots and forget that they’re people. It’s an epidemic of humanity that we don’t realize we’re all actually people first. When you tell somebody what a big difference it made for you on a personal level, it causes them to realize that their actions have an impact on you personally. – Dan Price, Gravity Payments

3. Treat them like family

Treat your employees like you would treat your family. Remember important dates or individual preferences, and bring them up whenever you can. – Kevin Xu, Mebo international


4. Free hotel rooms and airline tickets

We reward our employees who are consistently great by providing them free hotel rooms and airline tickets. Our employees love it, and the best part for us is that it doesn’t cost a penny. By leveraging the points accrued for using our business SPG Rewards credit card from American Express, we simply redeem these points for free hotel rooms/airline tickets for our team. – Anthony Saladino, Kitchen Cabinet Kings

5. Give them more responsibility

Give them more responsibility and potentially more rank to reward their above-average output. This could be the mark of the leader, so you may want to consider putting him/her into a management position or at least provide more responsibility that makes them feel like they’re important to the organization. Many people get bored of trivial tasks that don’t challenge them. – Andy Karuza, Brandbuddee

6. Help them get where they are going

Take the time to listen to these employees and get an understanding about where they want to go with their careers and look for opportunities to help them get there. That may include providing them exposure to different aspects of the company that they don’t usually interact with. I did this several times while a manager at Intel and it worked very well. — Mike Ambassador Bruny, Brand Inside A Brand

7. Acknowledge the little things in a specific way

As a rule I always use positive reinforcement. I also like to have a candid — though professional — relationship with my employees, so when I give them constructive criticism or a compliment they know that it’s sincere. Having a one-on-one conversation to tell them what a great job they have been doing lately (and using specific examples) is the best way to show appreciation. – Simon Casuto, eLearning Mind

8. Know their interests

Getting to know your employees and what they like can be very rewarding. For example, I learned that our lead designer is a huge steak fan. One day, while working really hard on a tight deadline for a project, I gave him a top grade steak from a local butcher shop. The look on his face was priceless, and I knew that he felt appreciated as the gift was just for him. – Kenny Nguyen, Big Fish Presentations

9. Lunches and early dismissals

When employees show dedication and go above and beyond what you expect, taking them out to lunch and expressing appreciation can go a long way. In the grand scheme of things, it isn’t as expensive as other options and is an easy way to talk and catch up with the employee as well. Letting a good employee go home a little early on a Friday is another way to show appreciation. – Stanley Meytin, True Film Production

10. Prime parking

Our office building is in a congested part of the city with limited parking, but we do have five spaces right in front of our building. It is a very attractive incentive to try and win the preferred parking spot each month and it doesn’t cost us anything. It rewards our employees who go above and beyond and they know what needs to get done to win the spot. – Nick Friedman, College Hunks Hauling Junk

11. Whatever they want!

Employees who make themselves indispensable are incredibly hard to find. When I snag one, I never let them go. I find out what drives them, what excites them or what simply makes them smile, and I make sure they get it — recognition, flex options, a raise, vacation time, etc. The way I see it, this kind of employee is a diamond in the rough, so I make sure they want to stay with me. – Maren Hogan, Red Branch Media

12. A “thank you”

Those two simple words go a long way. Whether it’s by email, through a hand written letter or even in a team meeting, it’s just important that you remember to say it. Employees like to feel appreciated, and when overachieving is the norm it’s sometimes easy to forget to say those words. – Ashley Mady, Brandberry